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Ethiopia's new civil war is at risk

Ethiopia's new civil war is at risk

The government is pulling troops into Tigray province

Ethiopia may start another civil war. 4 November Prime Minister, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Abiy Ahmed dispatched troops to the northern state of Tigray after, how the military base in the state capital of Mekelle was captured by units of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (Tigray People’s Liberation Front – TPLF).

Ethiopia's new civil war is at risk

At the same time, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ethiopia was dismissed without explanation, intelligence chief and foreign minister. These resignations took place the day after, how the Ethiopian parliament voted to dissolve the Tigray government, stated, it "Violated the constitution and endangered the constitutional system". The Cabinet of Ministers announced in Tigray, northern region, bordering Eritrea, state of emergency for six months.

Abi Ahmed, received in 2019 year Nobel Prize for ending the war with Eritrea, He stated, that government forces launched airstrikes on TPLF units and "Completely destroyed missiles and other heavy weapons", making it impossible to retaliate. For his part, the head of Tigray State Debrecyon Gebremic stated, that his supporters "Able to defend themselves from enemies" and "ready to become martyrs".

Ethiopia's new civil war is at risk

Ethiopia is a multinational country. The most numerous people are Oromo (about 30 million.), representatives of the black race, Kushite speakers. There are also negroid peoples, for example the numerous peoples of the Omo Valley, but the ruling leaders and creators of the empire of Abyssinia and present-day Ethiopia are Amhara, tygrai and tiger. They are all close to Caucasians., their languages ​​belong to the Semitic group.

Tigray State is home to Ethiopia's third-largest ethnic group - the Tigers (7,3%). During 30 years the government of Ethiopia was dominated by leaders TPLF, bye Abiy Ahmed, the largest Oromo ethnic group, did not come to power in 2018 year amid anti-government protests.

Tigray's relations with the central government began to deteriorate after the, how last year Abiy Ahmed dissolved the ruling coalition of several regional parties and created a single Prosperity Party, to whcih TPLF refused to join.

In August 2020 years in Ethiopia were to hold elections, but the Ethiopian parliament postponed them "due to coronavirus". Then legislators voted to extend the powers of regional authorities, but Tigray leaders rejected this decision and held regional elections in September, which the government of Abiy Ahmed deemed illegal.

Military conflict between the central government and TPLF broke out after, how Abiy Ahmed decided to change the leadership of the Northern Command stationed in Tigray. Now the central government is pulling together troops from everywhere and transferring them to Tigray.

At the same time, in the summer, Ethiopia was close to war with Egypt in connection with the completion of construction in Ethiopia near the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile River, right tributary of the Nile, large hydroelectric power station "Hidas" (Revival). Another name of the hydroelectric power station - "Dam of the great revival of Ethiopia" (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, GERD). After commissioning, this hydroelectric power plant will become the most powerful in Africa.

Ethiopia's new civil war is at risk

Sudan and Egypt opposed the construction of "Khidasa" out of fear, that the creation of a reservoir on the Blue Nile would deplete their own water resources.

Ethiopia took advantage of the political chaos in Egypt during the Arab Spring and in February 2011 year of the beginning of the construction of the hydroelectric power station without discussions with Cairo and Khartoum. And at the beginning of July 2020 of the year, also without negotiating with Egypt and Sudan, announced the filling of the reservoir.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri announced the futility of negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan on the construction of the dam. And Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi appealed to US President Donald Trump with a request to mediate in the conflict. USA and World Bank took part in negotiations, but failed to convince Ethiopia to sign the document, agreed with Egypt in February. Washington then stressed, that the construction of the dam should not be completed without the signing of an agreement, while Ethiopia accused the US of exceeding its neutral observer role.

Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces Major General Birhanu Jula Gelalcha says, that Ethiopia is on the verge of war with Egypt, which will become inevitable, if Cairo and its allied Sudan continue to interfere with the completion of the Addis Ababa hydroelectric power station "Hidas".

In September 2019 Fattah al-Sisi warned the UN General Assembly: "The Nile question is a matter of life and death for Egypt". In March 2020 Egypt won the Arab League to condemn Ethiopia for "Violation of the historical rights of Egypt to the waters of the Nile".

12 May 2020 of the year Ethiopia declared, what will begin to fill the reservoir of the Hydase HPP in July 2020 of the year. In response to this, 19 May 2020 Egyptian President al-Sisi brought the Egyptian armed forces to the highest alert.

For Ethiopia, the construction of the Hydase HPP has become a national super task. Half of the country's population lives without electricity, which condemns millions of people to desperate poverty.

The differences between Ethiopia and Egypt with Sudan boil down to, that Addis Ababa insists on fast filling of the reservoir (in three years), striving to start full-scale electricity generation as soon as possible and repay loans from international organizations. Cairo and Khartoum disagree, where insist, that the filling of the reservoir should be gradual - for at least ten years. Otherwise, due to reduced Nile runoff, water scarcity could cause unprecedented drought in Egypt and Sudan, interruptions in the operation of the Aswan waterworks and even mass famine. Besides, one-time discharge of water "Khidasa" could lead to the death of millions of people in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia itself.

In summer 2020 years in the expert community began to tend to, that Egypt will not get involved in a direct military conflict with Ethiopia, with which he has no common border, but will try to organize a proxy war with her. Opinion was expressed, that to this end, the Egyptian special services can push the Sudanese military sympathizing with Egypt to invade Ethiopia.

However, events turned out differently. In March 2020 of the year, as reported by the agency Eritrean Press, representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tygra (TPLF) held a secret meeting in Cairo with the Egyptian authorities and offered Egypt joint ownership of the Hydase HPP, if Egypt helps TPLF return to power in Ethiopia. “Cairo assessed the proposal of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tygra (TPLF) as a positive step towards the implementation of one of the largest infrastructure projects in Africa: dams of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance ", - noted Eritrean Press.

Ethiopian intelligence learned of these secret negotiations, in May 2020 of the year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, that some structures are conspiring "With enemy forces against the interests of Ethiopia".

Without external support, Tigray's leadership would not dare to challenge Addis Ababa. Associated Press does not doubt, that the leaders of Tigray have "powerful patrons" (powerful backers). New Ethiopian Civil War "Will be disastrous and destabilizing for the Horn of Africa", - writes Associated Press.

International Crisis Group (International Crisis Group, ICG) He stated, that the confrontation between Addis Ababa and Tigray “Can provoke destructive conflict, who will split the Ethiopian state ". Such a war “Would be a disaster for the second most populous country in Africa and send shockwaves and refugees to other countries in the Horn of Africa, and also across the Mediterranean Sea ", - says the report ICG.

None of the warring parties in Ethiopia has yet expressed intent for reconciliation, and the danger of a new civil war in Ethiopia increases.

Vladimir PROKHVATILOV

A source