Africa’s second most populous country is in the midst of an increasingly rocky political transition that began in 2018, with the ascent of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. At first, the change seemed to hold great promise, but fissures have grown, partly between and among the country’s numerous ethnic groups. At stake is the state’s stability and the post-1991 ethno-federalist system, which many Ethiopians support as guaranteeing local autonomy, and many others oppose as sowing division and undermining effective central government. War between the federal and Tigray governments broke out in the northern region in late 2020 as these tensions came to the fore. Through its research and advocacy, Crisis Group works to end the fighting and ward off similar conflict elsewhere, with the long-term goal of encouraging comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue about the country’s political future.
A rebellion in the Amhara region risks plunging Ethiopia into wider conflict. The federal government should seek talks with the militants as part of efforts to resolve the country’s interlocking crises. Outside powers should keep nudging Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to take this conciliatory tack.
Hostilities continued to intensify in Amhara region, talks between govt and Oromo Liberation Army ended without agreement, and frictions within Tigray’s leadership simmered.
Fano-federal violence continued in Amhara, with heavy clashes in Lalibela town. Hostilities between federal forces and Amhara militias known as Fano intensified in Amhara region. Notably, fierce clashes 8 Nov erupted around Lalibela (North Wollo Zone), with Fano militants briefly taking control of town before withdrawing 9 Nov amid heavy artillery and drones. Fano fighters 25 Nov reportedly entered strategic Addis Zemen town (South Gondar Zone). Meanwhile, news agency Reuters 7 Nov reported that skirmishes between armed Amhara and Oromo militia in Oromia Special Zone killed 30 civilians.
Talks to end Oromia insurgency broke down. Govt and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) early Nov resumed high-level talks in Tanzania, facilitated by Intergovernmental Authority on Development, U.S. and Norway; talks 21 Nov ended without agreement, sides traded blame for breakdown; previous talks failed due to disputes on key political issues, such as OLA demands for greater political role in Oromia. Meanwhile, govt-insurgent fighting continued. Notably, radio network VOA Amharic 1 Nov reported that shootouts in North Shewa Zone left at least twelve civilians dead and displaced unknown number.
Tigray’s interim administration dismissed four top officials. Tigray region’s Interim Regional Administration (IRA) 8 Nov announced it had 28 Oct removed four high-ranking officials for failing to adequately perform their duties; IRA had dismissed six others late Oct. Move comes amid simmering power struggle between IRA and disgruntled senior faction of region’s ruling party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Another high-level meeting between IRA, TPLF leadership and Tigray military leaders began 12 Nov to address disagreement.
In other important developments. After PM Abiy’s Oct remarks on securing access to seaport raised concerns in region, Abiy 14 Nov reiterated he has no intention of using military force; still, he underscored importance of seaport access for Ethiopia’s development and warned failure to resolve issue now could trigger future conflict. U.S. development agency 14 Nov announced resumption of food assistance to Ethiopia, suspended in May due to aid diversion and theft.
Any serious failure in implementing the agreements [between Ethiopia's federal government and Tigrayan leaders] raises the risks of a disastrous return to large-scale war...
The deal [with Tigrayan leaders] was a huge diplomatic and political victory for the [Ethiopian] federal government.
Now Tigrayan reports ... of a large-scale incursion into Tigray from the north by Eritrean and federal forces. So, it is evident that the conflict is now seriously escala...
This week on The Horn, Alan speaks with Michael Woldemariam, associate professor at the University of Maryland, about the new crisis engulfing Ethiopia’s Amhara region and escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The CrisisWatch Digest Ethiopia offers a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments.
A victim’s relative is among those accusing Meta in a Kenyan court of failing to adequately police incendiary speech on Facebook during Ethiopia’s civil war. Much greater effort from the company is warranted. But Meta’s task is hardly straightforward.
In this video series, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia William Davison explains the context surrounding the recent truce that put a stop to the fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray region. He discusses the situation preceding the ceasefire, what it looks like, and the challenges it faces in its implementation.
Ethiopia’s federal government and leaders in the war-torn Tigray region signed a peace accord on 2 November, followed by an implementation deal ten days later. After making these steps toward ending the conflict, all parties must act responsibly to build a solid foundation for peace.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Murithi Mutiga, Crisis Group’s Africa director, about last week’s cessation of hostilities between the Ethiopian government and leaders from Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, and whether it can end what has been a horrific war.
This week on The Horn, Alan speaks with Michael Woldemariam, professor at the University of Maryland, about the tumultuous relations between Eritrea and Tigray and how the historical grievances between both sides have shaped the recent conflict in northern Ethiopia.
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