Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Abiy Ahmed) joins the front line, the conflict with the rebels intensifies

On November 3, 2021, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and his wife Zinash Tayachew participated in the mourning for the victims of the Tigre conflict organized by the city government Will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

According to reports, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Abiy Ahmed) went from the front to lead his security forces. War effort against the advancing Tigray rebels.

Abi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, announced on social media on Monday that he would personally “mobilize to lead the defense forces on the front lines” and urge Ethiopians to “stand up for (their) country”.

The state-affiliated news media Fana reported on Wednesday that Abiy had left to participate in the fighting and that Deputy Prime Minister Demek Mekonan Hasen was in charge of the government in his absence.

Olympic heroes Haile Gebrselassie and Feyisa Lilesa will join Abi, and they have both announced their intention to help fight the rebel organization led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) alliance.

The Prime Minister served in the Ethiopian Army during the 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea and received the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. As a leader, he later signed a landmark peace agreement in 2019, ending nearly two decades of tension between neighboring countries.

After taking office in 2018, Abiy tried to stabilize the country by concentrating power in the federal government. This move alienated the TPLF, which benefited from the previous decentralization system and brought it into conflict with the new government. Last few years.

According to the United Nations, a year of fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and TPLF and other rebel groups caused a humanitarian crisis in which thousands of people died and more than 2 million people were displaced.

A real battle, or a “public relations gimmick”?

Earlier this month, nine anti-government factions announced the formation of an alliance called the “Ethiopian Federalist and Confederate Forces United Front” threatening to march on the capital Addis Ababa.

TPLF stated that it was advancing to the capital, but the Ethiopian government denied this statement. The interruption of media and communications in most of the northern part of the country makes it difficult to independently verify such claims.

Robert Besseling, chief executive of Pangea-Risk, a geopolitical risk consulting firm, told CNBC on Wednesday that Abi’s dramatic move may be a “public relations stunt to arouse patriotic or racial sentiment against the Tigray people. improvement.”

He said that Abi’s command of federal troops on the front lines is very small, and the government in northern Amhara has supported militias to prevent opposition groups.

On November 3, 2021, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the city government organized a memorial service for the victims of the Tigray conflict. People held lit candles.

Minasse Wondimu Sea and Land | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“I also asked where the so-called’frontline’ is and where Abiy intends to join. That is, moving to the frontline will inspire nationalism and may promote the recruitment of civilians into the army and militia,” Besselin said.

“If the Tigray people are imprisoned outside Addis, Abi will be honored and receive political dividends.”

As the Prime Minister goes into battle and the people are urged to take up arms, the outcome of the conflict will also Significant impact on the country’s economic future.

According to a client research report released by political risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft on Wednesday, Ethiopia’s export-driven industries, ESG profile and key policy reforms will remain in a state of tension.

The rebels are unlikely to seize the capital

Although there were signs of success as early as November 2020 when fighting broke out, pro-government forces were forced to withdraw from Tigray State in June this year after their control over the area deteriorated.

However, Verisk Maplecroft stated that in addition to opposing Abiy, the nine anti-government groups that make up the rebel coalition are almost non-binding, which means it may prove to be an “irritable and short-lived arrangement.”

“Military momentum is currently related to the rebels, but we don’t expect the Ethiopian army to collapse immediately, nor cause the capital to fall,” a Verisk customer report said.

On November 10, 2020, the Amhara militia joined federal and regional forces against the northern area of ​​Tigray and received training in the outskirts of Addis Zemen Village, north of Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

Eduardo Sotras/AFP via Getty Images

“The Ethiopian Defense Forces are regularly replenished with military equipment from international allies from the Persian Gulf, and may retain the ability to stop the advance of the rebels.”

Verisk Maplecroft believes that the TPLF-led coalition has little real intention to attack the capital, because a static siege like this will limit its mobility, which will help its career in combat.

On the contrary, analysts believe that in order to bring Abila to the negotiating table, the threat to Addis will continue to exist, and given recent events, this strategy looks increasingly dangerous.

In May of this year, Abiy designated TPLF as a terrorist organization, which hindered the prospect of a negotiated settlement and issued a provocative and combative tone under the aggression of the insurgents.

The supply chain is in danger

Verisk Maplecroft analysts pointed out that consumer goods supply chains entering Western markets have felt the effects of conflict, and many multinational apparel companies have suspended operations and warned that the situation may deteriorate further.

They said: “TPFL and its allies will seek to pressure the government to negotiate by disrupting the flow of goods that depend on the Addis-Djibouti railway and road network, the country’s main export route.”

“If the rebels seize or destroy this transportation corridor, the country’s export-oriented industries will find that their only reliable export route is cut off.”

Export-oriented Ethiopian manufacturers will also lose tariff-free access to the U.S. market from January 1 after the country was suspended earlier this month due to accusations of human rights violations by national forces. Act (AGOA).

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