The Africa File is a biweekly analysis and assessment of the Salafi-jihadi movement in Africa and related security and political dynamics.
Ethiopia Crisis Update: Ethiopian forces to advance on Tigray regional capital
[Notice: The Critical Threats Project frequently cites sources from foreign domains. All such links are identified with an asterisk (*) for the reader's awareness.]
Ethiopian forces are positioned in Eritrea to support the military campaign in Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. While military movements remain difficult to confirm in open-source media, a range of outlets have begun to report on the presence of Ethiopian forces in Eritrea. Ethiopian federal troops are *present in Eritrean cities, including the capital Asmara, and have been *passing through Asmara’s airport for several weeks. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) launched a rocket targeting Asmara airport in retaliation on November 14. Ethiopian troops are also *present in Eritrea along the Tigrayan border. Eritrean locals *were forced to feed Ethiopian troops that fled a federal military base in the Tigray capital, Mekelle, in early November.
The deployment through Eritrea may be intended to help Ethiopian forces strike a decisive blow against the TPLF. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared a “final” military phase in Tigray following the expiration of an ultimatum for the TPLF’s surrender on November 17. Federal and allied forces have since seized several towns west and south of Mekelle. The TPLF attributed these losses to changing its defense line. The federal forces’ advance, coupled with a possible military build-up in Eritrea north of the city, suggest that Ethiopia’s government will attack Mekelle in the coming days. Ethiopian forces likely seek to encircle Mekelle, which houses a key federal military base, to weaken TPLF forces.