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: Involvement of additional regional forces in Tigray risks prolonging conflict
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The Ethiopian government’s conflict with the Tigray regional state risks developing into a broader civil war. Regional special forces from Ethiopia’s Somali and Amhara regional states reportedly *pledged support for the federal government’s military escalation against Tigray. This development, if confirmed, would likely expand and prolong the conflict. It would risk exacerbating Ethiopia’s existing ethnic tensions and layering intrastate conflicts onto the ongoing fight between Tigray and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. The Tigray and Amhara regional states have a strained history.
The Ethiopian government intensified its military operations in Tigray. The deputy chief of the Ethiopian military said on November 5 that the government has entered an “unexpected war” with Tigray. Ethiopian troops launched air strikes in Tigray’s capital and surrounding areas on the same day. Prime Minister Abiy said the air strikes targeted heavy weapons to prevent Tigray forces from accessing them. The Ethiopian government is deploying additional troops to the region.
The UN sent a special envoy to Ethiopia’s capital on November 5, reflecting the international community’s concern for the developing crisis. However, neither Abiy’s government nor Tigray leaders have expressed interest in negotiations.
Ethiopia’s current conflict will strain counterterrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia’s military is part of the African Union Mission in Somalia, which helps the Somali government fight al Qaeda’s affiliate al Shabaab. Some Ethiopian troops have reportedly withdrawn from neighboring Somalia since the Tigray conflict began. Al Shabaab will likely advance in areas where Ethiopian forces withdraw, as they have done in the past.