Ethiopian Prime Minister to initiate a military campaign against the powerful Tigray region of Ethiopia

Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Abiy Ahmed’s government is mobilising troops from around the country and sending them to Tigray, after two days of clashes between government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The military operation, which began on Wednesday, Nov 04, and escalated on Thursday, came after Mr. Abiy accused the region’s ruling party of attacking a government defense post and attempting to steal artillery and military equipment.

The feud between the federal government and the powerful faction in control of Tigray has been brewing for last two-decades. The conflict in last months comes as Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, faces mounting economic and social challenges amid a volatile democratic transition.

Countries in the region fear that the crisis could escalate into all-out war under Abiy, who won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for ending a decades-old conflict with neighbouring Eritrea but has failed to prevent outbreaks of ethnic unrest.

The Tigray administration, which is led by president Debretsion Gebremichael, said on Thursday it was well equipped to deal with an attack from any direction.

Two Ethiopian fighter jets were seen flying over Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, on Thursday afternoon, two diplomatic sources told Reuters, in what was described as a show of force by the Ethiopian National Defence Forces.

Ethiopia closed the airspace over Tigray to all flights on Thursday, the country’s civil aviation authority said in a statement, and closed all the international and domestic flight routes that traverse its northern airspace.

For Africa’s second-most populous country and Ethiopia’s more than 100 million citizens, particularly for those living in Tigray, this week’s events may deepen the sense of distrust for the federal government and the prime minister. A stable Ethiopia is crucial to the restive Horn of Africa region.Ethiopia has received hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid and military assistance and has been a key ally of the US in combating extremist groups in neighboring Somalia.