Ethiopian Prime Minister heading to war front

by mcardinal

Megan Udinski, FISM News


As the Ethiopian crisis escalates, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced yesterday that he plans to “head to the war front to lead the defense forces in person.”

Abiy declared a “state of emergency” earlier this month as Tigrayan forces slowly encroach upon the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. In his statement on Twitter late Monday, the prime minister urged his constituents to go to war alongside him:

Those of you who aim to be one of Ethiopia’s children who will be celebrated in history, rise up today for your country, let’s meet at the war front. 

He further added, “This is a time when leading a country with martyrdom is needed.”

The announcement comes as the most recent development in the standoff between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebel fighters. 

A Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesperson responded with a tweet of his own saying “our forces won’t relent on their inexorable advance towards bringing [Abiy’s] chokehold on our people to an end.”

It seems that Abiy’s decision comes after the TPLF announced on Saturday that they had captured two towns on their way to Addis Ababa. One of the towns is Shewa Robbit, only 136 miles northeast of the capital. The federal government has not confirmed this claim, however.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Africa last week to promote diplomacy but did not visit with Ahmed on the trip. In an interview with CNN, Blinken commented on how Abiy’s choices on how to deal with the rebel threat saying, “There’s no military solution to the challenges in Ethiopia. That’s a path to destruction for the country, and misery for the people of Ethiopia who deserve a lot better.” Blinken instead suggests bringing both sides together to find a diplomatic end to the destruction. 

Blinken also cited the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as a tool to learn from in dealing with the Ethiopian crisis. While the U.S. has special forces on standby in Djibouti to provide emergency assistance to the embassy, senior State Department officials clarified, “There are no plans to fly the U.S. military into Ethiopia to facilitate evacuations or replicate the contingency effort we recently undertook in Afghanistan, which was a unique situation for many reasons.”

Prime Minister Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea that lasted 20 years. Some, however, are now doubting his qualifications for this prize after the year-long civil war with the TPLF that has been characteristic of genocide. It is unclear exactly what the prime minister and other party officials will do as their first step in joining the war on ground.

A State Department official told reporters yesterday that America still believes “a small window of opportunity exists” for diplomacy to win out before the country digresses into a full-out civil war.