Africa File

A biweekly analysis and assessment of the Salafi-jihadi movement in Africa and related security and political dynamics.   Each edition begins "At a Glance." Country-specific updates follow.

Ethiopia Crisis Update: Ethiopian Prime Minister reshuffles cabinet as Tigray crisis continues

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Ethiopia’s prime minister reshuffled his cabinet to consolidate support for a military campaign against Tigray regional state, signaling intent to continue the armed conflict in northern Ethiopia. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed replaced the army chief of staff and reshuffled the intelligence chief and foreign ministers on November 8. The new army chief is a general who recently referred to the ongoing conflict as a “war.” Ethiopia’s parliament voted on November 7 to replace Tigray regional state’s leadership with an interim administration.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leader said on November 8 that the TPLF, which controls Tigray regional state, is willing to negotiate with the Ethiopian government. Abiy has not commented on the possibility of negotiations but instead reassured the international community on November 9 that the Tigray conflict will not cause Ethiopia “to descend into chaos.” Hostilities first broke out on November 4 when Tigrayan regional forces attacked an Ethiopian army base after months of escalating tensions.

Fighting between TPLF and federal forces has escalated and may lead to intrastate conflict between Tigray and neighboring Amhara. Federal forces launched airstrikes around Tigray’s capital on November 8. Tigray and federal forces also clashed along the Tigray-Amhara regional border. Ethnic Amhara militiamen from Amhara regional state have deployed to Tigray to support federal troops in the conflict. The border fighting and Amharan deployment risk reviving a land dispute between Amhara and Tigray.

The ongoing conflict is eroding Ethiopia’s federal institutions and heightening interethnic tensions. Some ethnic Tigray have defected from Ethiopia’s armed forces to Tigray’s regional forces. Police in Ethiopia’s capital arrested more than 100 people accused of supporting the TPLF. Abiy *urged citizens not to target Tigrayans. At the same time, his government is cracking down on the independent media to control the conflict’s narrative. Police arrested a journalist working for an independent Ethiopian news outlet on November 7. They accused him of “attempting to dismantle the constitution” but have since released him. Ethiopia’s government has shut down phone and internet service in Tigray since the current fighting began.

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