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News Analysis: Eritrea accuses Tigray of advancing for another war with support from west, vows to defend itself

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Picture captured by Reuters journalists shows “Eritrean soldiers in Shire, and main road Between Mekelle & Shire.” Dawit Endeshaw. March 2021 Archive

Addis Abeba – The Eritrean government released a statement on Tuesday 17 May accusing Tigrayan forces of advancing for another war with the “support and blessing” from “western forces”; and vowed Eritrea has the right to defend itself and the people in accordance to international law.

“They are rushing to deliver medicine, fuel, and other supplies in the name of relief before war commences,”

Eritrea

The statement blamed Tigrayan forces of attempting to gain access through Sudan by controlling Western Tigray, a territory currently under the control of Amhara regional state forces with the support from Eritrean army. In the statement Eritrea accused Tigrayan forces of attempting to regain Western Tigray and “lead the country into unending turmoil and disintegration.”

Eritrea further accused the TPLF, the party administering Tigray regional state, of having “a plan to obscure the rays of peace and cooperation that emerged in 2018 in the Horn and return the whole region back to the turmoil, instability, and civil conflict they inflict.”

Furthermore, Eritrea accused unnamed western countries of “supporting and blessing” TPLF’s actions and their intents to save it although they may not fully agree with its objectives. “They are rushing to deliver medicine, fuel, and other supplies in the name of relief before war commences,” Eritrea said.

The accusation came in the back of the latest announcement by the World Food Program (WFP) on 15 May that a convoy of “85 trucks arrived into Mekelle” the previous day, while the ninth convoy, “the biggest yet of 2022 (130 trucks) is on the way.” Since 01 April, only 250 trucks arrived in Tigray via the Semera-Abala-Mekelle, according to the UN.

“at least 4,675 MT of food commodities or 115 trucks, equivalent to a common food basket for around 276,000 people are required to move into Tigray every day”

UN

The UN estimates that “at least 4,675 MT of food commodities or 115 trucks, equivalent to a common food basket for around 276,000 people are required to move into Tigray every day to complete the current food distribution cycle by end of May. Meanwhile, the food that has arrived in Mekelle has been dispatched to prioritized Woredas and distribution is ongoing.”

The 250 trucks that arrived so far include nine fuel trucks or roughly 400,000 liters, of which 18% is used for the returning trucks, according to the UN.

On 02 May, Tigray’s leader Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD) wrote an open letter to the Chairperson of the African Union and President of Senegal Macky Sall, stating President Isaias Afwerki’s stated objective to “crush” Tigray. “That goal cannot be achieved by starvation alone and, if Eritrea is to prevail, another military operation is in the pipeline.”

Last week media reports that quoted Tigray’s leader Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD) said that Tigray state was in the “final phase of the struggle” for its self-determination and that diplomatic efforts to resolve the 18 months civil war have failed.There were also reports of renewed clashes in areas bordering Tigray and Eritrea, including Rama, located in central Zone of Tigray state. But the reports were disputed by Tigrayan authorities. Getachew Reda, Advisor to the President of Tigray and TPLF Executive Committee member, denied the reports but said that “there have been several instances of indiscriminate shelling on civilians in parts of Tigray by Eritreans, of course.”

“That goal cannot be achieved by starvation alone and, if Eritrea is to prevail, another military operation is in the pipeline.”

Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD)

In a related development, on 13 May, the Amhara Regional State Security Council ordered the region’s security forces “at all level” to be ready for “invasion” by Tigrayan Forces, adding that “the TPLF has declared war on the Amhara region, inciting the people of Tigray to fight.” Public media, media owned by or affiliated to the ruling Prosperity Party, as well as regional states media have also fielded several reports in the past week accusing Tigrayan forces of preparing for renewed attacks. Similarly, Colonel Demeke Zewdu, leader of the Welkait Identity Committee and who is currently in charge of Western Tigray after Amhara forces controlled the area in November 2020, called on all people in the region as well as the federal and regional governments to defend the area “against attacks” by Tigrayan forces whom he said were ready to launch military offensive on “Wolkait, Tegede”, a reference to Western Tigray.

In the backdrop of the rising rhetoric, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued a statement saying it was “concerned about rising tensions and reported sporadic fighting between forces of the Tigray Region and the Federal Government,” and called on “all parties to the conflict,” to show restraint and work “towards mutual understanding, tolerance, and peace.”

The Commission urged the international community including the AU, IGAD, and the UN to support national efforts to prevent war, facilitate dialogue, and achieve peace. Furthermore, the Commission urged the Federal Government, as well as Afar and Amhara Regional authorities, to facilitate safe and unhindered passage for humanitarian relief entering Tigray, and it called on the Tigray regional state authorities to provide all the necessary cooperation.

However, the Commission’s statement fell short of addressing Eritrean government and its forces, whose extensive involvement in the war in Tigray and atrocious accounts attributed to them was admitted by the Ethiopian government. AS






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