SNAPSHOTS

In Ethiopia, Tigray Fighters’ Retreat Will Move the Conflict Back North

MIN READDec 21, 2021 | 15:23 GMT

Soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) walk in line in Wichale, Ethiopia, on Dec. 13, 2021.

Soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) walk in line in Wichale, Ethiopia, on Dec. 13, 2021.

(AMANUEL SILESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Tigray fighters’ retreat and apparent willingness to negotiate with the Ethiopian government signals a sharp change in the direction of the civil conflict. However, a standoff remains the most likely result due to enduring constraints on both sides. The head of the Tigray People’s Liberation Forces (TPLF), Debretsion Gebremichael, wrote a letter to the United Nations on Dec. 19 announcing that he had ordered his forces to withdraw from Ethiopia’s Afar and Amhara regions in an abrupt change in the northern rebel group’s strategy. Debretsion claimed that the TPLF’s retreat was driven by a desire to negotiate with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, who launched the offensive against Tigray in November 2020. But the recent loss of key locations and strained supply chains suggest that the TPLF was losing ground ahead of the announced withdrawal. ...

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