August 3, 2021

the decisive advance of the rebels marks a turning point in the war in Tigray

To stay up to date with African news, subscribe to the “Monde Afrique” newsletter from this link. Every Saturday at 6 am, find a week of current events and debates treated by the editorial staff of “Monde Afrique”.

Seven months to the day, after having to abandon Makalé in the face of assaults by the Ethiopian federal army, the rebels of the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) regained control of the provincial capital of Tigray on Monday June 28. . In this region of northern Ethiopia, at war since November 2020, the last few days have seen a dramatic reversal of the military situation, forcing the Ethiopian government to declare a ceasefire on Monday evening.

The military confrontation between the dissident local authorities, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (FPLT), and the federal government, which began on November 4, 2020, has long given the impression of being to the advantage of the Prime Minister’s forces. , Abiy Ahmed, supported by troops from neighboring Eritrea. The two armies controlled all of the towns of Tigray, tracking down for many months the fighters loyal to the PFLT in the mountains of the region.

Read also Ethiopia: NGOs question their presence in Tigray after the death of three MSF employees

From November 28, 2020, Ethiopian federal troops triumphantly entered Makalé, after three weeks of intense fighting. A few days later, a visit from Abiy Ahmed symbolically confirmed the capture of the provincial capital and the rout of the FPLT. Wearing his military uniform, the Prime Minister declared himself « happy to announce the official end of military operations in Tigray ». However, the war never ended, marked by numerous accounts of abuses against civilians, which tarnished the international reputation of Abiy Ahmed, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

Seven months of grueling battles later, those now called the “TDF” retook Makalé and its airport without a fight, or almost. The city of 500,000 inhabitants, the nerve center of the region and the base of many humanitarian organizations, found itself without a government for a few hours. The two divisions of the Ethiopian army stationed in the town retreated, sometimes even using private cars to escape. The provisional administration of Tigray, a political structure put in place by Addis Ababa, has also hastily packed its bags to reach the Ethiopian capital.

You have 67.27% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.