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Rebel Alliance Has Ethiopia on Brink of Civil War

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Ethiopia’s military conflict with its regional state of Tigray has been expanding beyond the mountainous northern province for months.

More recently, the number of groups opposing the federal government has expanded as well.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has been at the center of the struggle since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an offensive into Tigray a year ago.

Now the TPLF is not alone.

In July 2021, as its forces advanced into neighboring states, the TPLF struck a military alliance with a separatist faction of its former ethnic rivals from Ethiopia’s largest and most populous state, Oromia.

The leader of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), Kumsa Diriba, revealed the pact and said the two groups shared military information and were considering fighting together.

“It is underway,” he told The Associated Press in August. “We have agreed on a level of understanding to cooperate against the same enemy, especially in military cooperation.

“The only solution now is overthrowing this government militarily, speaking the language they want to be spoken to.”

The OLA, a splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front political party, has been in armed conflict with the government since 1974.

In August, Diriba hinted at a “grand coalition” against Abiy.

Three months later, as many as seven anti-government groups claimed to have joined with the TPLF and OLA to form an alliance intent on removing Abiy. The groups vary widely in size and strength.

Calling itself the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces, a spokesman for the new group said at a November 5 signing event in Washington, D.C., that it considers Abiy’s government illegitimate and seeks a transition to democracy.

“There is no limit for us,” Berhane Gebrechristos, a Tigrayan official and former foreign minister, told reporters. “Definitely we will have a change in Ethiopia before Ethiopia implodes.”

The TPLF and OLA, which the government designated as terrorist groups in May, are well-known, but the alliance’s other seven members are not. The new group is thought to be a broad coalition of political actors and armed groups representing different ethnic and regional interests.

The other groups are the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front, the Agaw Democratic Movement, the Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement, the Gambella Peoples Liberation Army, the Global Kimant People Right and Justice Movement/Kimant Democratic Party, the Sidama National Liberation Front, and the Somali State Resistance.

“We have recognized the urgent need to collaborate, join our forces towards a safe transition in the country,” Admassu Tsegaya, a member of the Agaw Democratic Movement, told reporters at the signing.

Ethiopian Attorney General Gedion Timothewos dismissed the coalition as a “publicity stunt,” saying some of the groups involved “are not really organizations that have any traction.”

Al Jazeera reported that experts on Ethiopian affairs hadn’t heard of some of the groups.

On November 2, 2021 — two days before the one-year anniversary of hostilities in Tigray — Timothewos declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency, as TPLF and OLA forces claimed to have advanced within 345 kilometers of Addis Ababa.

The government issued a call to arms to the capital’s 5 million residents.

“All residents must be organized by blocks and neighborhoods to protect peace and security in their home area in coordination with security forces, who will coordinate activities with community police and law enforcers,” announced Kenea Yadeta, chief of the city’s Peace and Security Administration Bureau.

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda claimed the offensive was necessary for humanitarian reasons.

“We have to make sure the siege on Tigray is broken,” he told Al Jazeera. “We have to make sure that our children are not dying from hunger and starvation.

“If marching to Addis is what it takes to break the siege, we will.”

1 Comment
  1. Joel Obudho Odhiambo says

    Keep updating us on World news. We need accurate, verified, fair, credible, impartial and balanced news, information and reporting. Our local and national Media is compromised, castrated, bribed, duped and corrupt. Thank you very much indeed.

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