Afar news sources claim that Tigray fighters have two main objectives behind the new offensive on Afar. Two days ago, the Tigray government announced the launch of a new military operation in the neighboring Afar region. Since then intense fighting is being reported between Tigray and Afar forces in several woredas of the Afar region.
Tigray government says it only wants to push Afar and Eritrean forces out of and away from Tigray borders. Afar news sources on the other hand today claimed that Tigray fighters are pursuing two main objectives in Afar.
It is being said in Afar that Tigray fighters want to take control of Afdera lake in Afdera woreda. Lake Afdera is located in Administrative Zone 2 of the Afar Region. Rock salt has been mined at Lake Afdera and the surrounding areas for decades.
Tigray fighters are after the mineral wealth of northern Afar i.e. salt, high-grade potash, and gold, Afar news channels say.
Tigray forces have not entered Afdera woreda of Afar so far. Fighting is being reported in woredas situated to the west of Afdera like Erebti, Abala, and others.
Afar-based news sources further say that TDF wants to take control of Abala-Erebti-Afdera road. The road joins the strategic Ethiopia-Djibouti road which passes through Afar. In the past 6 months or so, Tigray forces have tried more than twice to get to the Ethiopia-Djibouti road but they could not.
Tigray government denies having any ambitions to remain in Afar. It is not clear how deep Tigray forces will penetrate Afar. Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced from 6 woredas of Afar within the past few days.
In the coming days, things would be clear regarding TDF’s real ambitions behind the new offensive on Afar.