Amhara Special Force (ASF) and Fano militia have been told to leave Wolkait Tsegede today. ASF and Fano entered Wolkait Tsegede in November 2020 after the start of Tigray conflict.
Wolkait Tsegede Humera (also called Western Tigray) has been a disputed territory between the Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia.
Both regional governments claim ownership of Western Tigray. According to Amhara regional government, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) annexed the area by force during its rule over Ethiopia starting from 1991. Tigray has its own arguments to prove that the area was never part of the Amhara region historically.
Unlike most parts of Tigray, western Tigray is fertile with Sesame one of its major crops. The area is of strategic importance too, especially for Tigray. Western Tigray shares a border with Eritrea and Sudan. Tigray-Eritrea relations have remained largely hostile since the creation of Eritrea in 1991. Tigray and Eritrea have been involved in numerous border clashes. For Tigray, this western zone is its only land connection with a country other than Eritrea.
Tigray regional government was in control of Welkait Tsegede Humera when war erupted in northern Ethiopia in November 2020. But immediately after war broke out, Amhara Special Force and Fano militias took control of the area with the help of Eritrean Defence Force and Ethiopian National Defence Force.
Since then Tigray has been demanding the withdrawal of Amhara Special Force, Fano and Eritrean Defence Forces from this territory. More than a month ago, Ethiopian Federal and Tigray Regional governments announced a truce to facilitate the delivery of food aid to Tigray which has been under siege for more than 17 months.
Despite the announcement of the truce, core issues of Wolkait Tsegede Humera remained unresolved. But in recent days, some developments have been seen pointing towards a solution to the deadlock about this zone.
Reportedly Amhara Special Force and Fano militia have been told to withdraw from Welkait Tsegede and they have been told to start their withdrawal today. Earlier on Thursday night, some Eritrean military convoys were seen withdrawing from Humera into Eritrea.
Two days ago, Colonel Demeke Zewdu, head of Wolkait Tsegede Amhara Identity Restoration Committee issued a statement urging all Amharas to be prepared to help the people of Welkait Tsegede. Colonel Demeke Zewdu has been struggling for years to make Welkait Tsegede part of the Amhara region. He is now working as Deputy Administrator and Head of Security of Wolkait Tsegede. His statement indicated that he was under pressure from Ethiopian government to leave Wolkait Tsegede. Read more..
It seems that Ethiopian government has decided to make all regional forces and militias withdraw from this disputed territory. Amhara region based groups have been warning Ethiopian federal government against any such decision. They have been warning that Wolkait Tsegede is part of the Amhara region and any attempts to push Amhara Special and Amhara region based Fano militias will meet with resistance.
While Ethiopian National Defence Forces has told ASF and Fano to leave, question remains: Will ASF & Fano peacefully withdraw from Wolkait Tsegede Humera?