Brief: The Implications of Ethiopian Unrest

The latest ethnic clashes need to be seen in the broader context of Ethiopia’s political and foreign challenges.

Background: In Ethiopia, regional administrative divisions are drawn largely along ethnic lines, so political unrest, too, tends to be defined by these divisions, often with the federal government coming in to stop it. The current fighting between the Tigray region and the federal government reflects this dynamic, but this time it could also have international implications. What Happened: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Thursday that state security forces fended off attacks in the Amhara and Tigray regions by militants from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, but still plans to send more troops to the area. A news agency owned by the TPLF reported that the federal government also bombed the regional capital of Mekele. Abiy has accused the TPLF of trying to “expose” the country to outside enemies – a reference to a statement last month in which he said attacks were conducted by fighters trained in Sudan. On Thursday, Abiy spoke to his Sudanese counterpart to address stabilizing Tigray. In addition, Eritrea’s Ministry of Information has said it does not support the TPLF. Bottom Line: The latest fighting in Tigray needs to be seen in the broader context of Ethiopia’s political and foreign challenges – especially the […]

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