Tigray has accused Eritrea of sabotaging ongoing efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Ethiopian conflict. Since November 2020, Ethiopian Federal forces supported by Amhara regional forces and neighboring Eritrean government troops have been at war with regional forces of the Tigray region.
Tigray Presidential Spokesperson, Getachew Reda, last night claimed that Eritrean forces had launched fresh attacks against Tigray near Shiraro town. The town is situated on the Tigray-Eritrea border.
TPLF leader Getachew further accused Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki of sabotaging peace efforts. He said Isaias had advised Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad to abolish ethnic federalism
Two days ago, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, in a TV interview with Eri TV, lashed out at Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in Tigray, accusing it of being the main cause of instability not only in Ethiopia but also in the entire Horn of Africa.
Tigray regional government and neighboring Eritrea have fought two major wars in the past. There are long-standing border disputes like Badme between the two rivals.
While it is said that Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad are close friends and the two of them see TPLF as their common rival, can Eritrean President Isaias unilaterally undermine any peace initiatives launched by the Ethiopian government?
Isaias Afwerki, being a long-time ruler of a repressive government, appeared on Eri TV, Eritrean state TV, at a very crucial time. He aired his interview while the Ethiopian government has released some former top leaders of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) like Sebhat Nega, Abay Wedlu, etc and the Ethiopian National Dialogue is about to start in the coming days.
In his 3-hour long interview, much of which focused on Ethiopia and TPLF, not once did he urge talks to resolve the Ethiopia Tigray conflict. His interview can be seen as advice to the Ethiopian government to continue military operations against Tigray People’s Liberation and not start a dialogue.
One of the main reasons behind Tigray’s allegation against Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is that Tigray forces are trying to open a land corridor with Sudan by capturing western Tigray which is under the control of Ethiopian Federal and Amhara forces. Eritrean troops have also been seen supporting Ethiopian soldiers in the area. Through international pressure, Tigray wants to force Eritrea to withdraw all its forces from western Tigray so that Tigray forces could take back the area by launching a major offensive against Ethiopian government forces.
While continued armed hostilities between the Tigray region and the Ethiopian Federal government would suit the Eritrea government’s ambitions to keep Tigray as weak as possible, it would be next to impossible for Eritrea to sabotage any peace efforts if Ethiopian stakeholders to Tigray conflict pursue the path to peace with sincerity.