Long standing observers of Ethiopia (and Tigray in particular) like Professor Tronvoll, has sounded a warning.
The complex and sometimes hostile relationship of the Eritrean and Tigrayan authorities appears to have hit another low.
An official statement from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) [below] contained strong warnings for President Isaias. He was told not to interfere in Ethiopian affairs.
Esteemed People of Eritrea
The people of Tigrai and TPLF have never wavered or compromised on the quest of the Eritrean people for freedom. As a result of the sacrifices we jointly made, we won over the brutal Dergi regime and achieved victory. You have determined your destiny and the people of Tigrai and the TPLF are, as always, proud of this achievement. Nonetheless, in the last 20 years we had been locked in an unnecessary conflict and we both paid dearly as a result. We all realize the scar this has left.
It should not be forgotten that the relationship between the TPLF and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) have been littered with periods of cooperation and conflict.
The EPLF helped the TPLF when the Tigrayan movement was first formed, with training and equipment. They then fell out over strategy and tactics, before cementing an alliance that resulted in their forces co-ordinating the capture of Asmara and Addis Ababa in 1991. Eritrean troops even provided Prime Minister Meles with security in the first months of his rule.
But bitter disputes have also characterised their relationship. The Eritrean closed the route into Tigray at the height of the 1984-85 famine, leading to thousands of deaths. PM Meles warned his Eritrean hosts not to ‘scratch old wounds’ when he came to celebrate the formal independence of Eritrea in 1993. And – of course – there was the tragic border war of 1998, sparked by a conflict over the village of Badme.
Now there is increasing tension along the Eritrea-Ethiopia border once more. The TPLF blocked the removal of heavy weapons and equipment by the authorities in Addis Ababa in January 2019. The Tigrayans feared renewed fighting along the border.
There is now a war of words once more, while the land border between Eritrea and Eritrea is closed.
The bitter words from the TPLF were matched by President Isaias, during his recent interview on Eritrean television.
An extract of what President Isaias had to say is below.