International calls for a ceasefire solution in Ethiopia have grown over the past three days as Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces and their allies have exerted more pressure on the central areas of the country and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed prepares the defense and a counter-offensive that could have devastating humanitarian outcomes – “we will bury them in blood,” commented the former Nobel Peace Prize winner of the rebel advance.
The Tplf is now only 160 kilometers from the capital Addis Ababa, ready to fight the government forces to the capital. The Oromo Liberation Army (Ola), an allied group of the TPLF in opposition to the central government, claimed to have reached 30 kilometers from the city, but the reports on the ground did not support the claim: the conflict weighs on the burden of disinformation also because the government has almost completely cut off internet connections.
The Ola, the TPLF and several other ethnic-based resistance groups have formally announced a military and political alliance to “establish a transitional agreement in Ethiopia”. In Addis Ababa, house-to-house searches have increased as the government rounds up ethnic Tigrinya male residents, raising fears of a violent backlash against the ethnic group, regardless of their political loyalty.
As tensions rise, the international community is calling for calm, also because the humanitarian crisis is already open. Jeffrey Feltman, the United States envoy for the Horn of Africa, arrived in Ethiopia on Thursday for talks with Abiy aimed at securing a ceasefire. While Feltman continues contacts with Ethiopia and as the US presses regional partners to find a way to negotiate, US citizens have been advised to leave the country. US Embassy personnel also received State Department clearance to leave Ethiopian territory on Thursday.
As Foreign Policy revealed, Washington has put in action a special task force (diplomatic and military) to handle the situation. US President Joe Bidenhas already threatened to cut Ethiopia’s preferential trade access to push the Abiy government to negotiate, and may go further with information indicating it will soon impose sanctions based on a September executive order: the order identifies both the Tplf and the Ethiopian government as potential targets.
In a sign that Abiy may not be interested in peace soon, Ethiopia appears to be in contact with Turkey to accelerate the purchase of drones, relatively inexpensive models that have better capacity and effectiveness than the Chinese and Iranian models already equipped with the army of Addis Ababa. Any arms transfers could push the fighting even further.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta toohe expressed his concern, calling for an end to the fighting. The risk of a regional enlargement of the conflict is evident. And if Nairobi is worried from the south, the developments risk involving the Afar region in the north, touching Djibouti. The political balance of the area is unstable, secessionist instances inflame some local movements in a country where ethnic division risks exploding (the divisions between the Somali ethnic majority of the Issa clan and the Afar ethnic minority are tense and often resulted in violence) .
What could be produced is above all the blocking of land transport routes, increasing the congestion of goods and at the same time producing a crisis connected to the paralysis of the Ethiopian market. The risk and impact of situations like these on the socio-economic sphere of Djibouti. The creation of new tensions could overlap with those tearing apart the country’s society. And one of the elements to be taken into consideration for Rome as well. Djibouti and the (military) anchor of the Italian strategy on the Horn of Africa, hosting the Bmis “Amedeo Guillet”.
It is a logistic node located on a strategic crossroads for maritime communication lines that are directed from the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, to the Persian Gulf, South East Asia, South Africa and vice versa. The sum of these effects, together with the creation of a vast crisis area between Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia (which then extends towards the Sahel), all areas of Italian international political projection, makes the ongoing conflict a national interest. for Italy.
Interest also reaffirmed during a recent meeting in Washington of the Speaker of the House, Roberto Fico: as Gabriele Carrer said in these columns, the US sees Italy as a “trusted” interlocutor to manage certain practices – which they intend to entrust more and more to allies.

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