The capture of Dessie and Kombolcha is a turning point
Source: René Lefort
October 31, 2021
The capture of Dessie, and probably soon of Kombolcha, is a turning point. Let remind that in 1991, it took a couple of days to the EPRDF force to reach Addis Ababa from Dessie.
The attempt to rebuild ENDF in a hurry has failed. It was no match for the TDF. It would now take months and months to properly rebuild a solid regular army. The military superiority of the TDF should last at least for a medium term.
The most combative were the ASF and the Fano. Their conflict with the ENDF even led to armed clashes in Dessie. What was presented as a war between the federal government and the TPLF is now a full civil war between Amhara and Tigrayans.
Abiy’s paradox: the longer the war goes on, the more the capacity of the ENDF diminishes, the weaker the federal government and Abiy become, the more regional powers assert themselves, and the further away Abiy’s war aim – to assert the hegemony of the centre – becomes.
Mekele main aim is to stop the blockade. If it lasts, Tigrean leadership agrees that TDF have no other choice than to reach Addis if necessary. For some, they would face a perilous popular Amhara upsurge. For others, as in 1991, the regular army’s collapse would be perceived as the game is over and a large-scale resistance would be perceived as useless.
Mekele would then have to fill the power vacuum, as the only force sufficiently organized and militarized to do so. This divides the Tigrean leadership: part of them refuses categorically to take over any attempt to rebuild Ethiopia.
OLA has been remarkably discreet for two months. But it just declared its second operation “Ways to Finfine”. Is now OLA strong enough to concretize its alliance with TPLF by taking a meaningful part of the stifling of Arat Kilo? The main opinion is that OLA can’t.
The mantra of the IC: negotiation between the federal government and Mekele authorities, becomes meaningless. A cease fire can be effective only if concluded between those who have fire. That’s’ the case of TDF, ASF-Fano and to a certain degree OLA, but not the federal government.
Eritrea hasn’t been involved in the recent fights. It seems that EDF is retreating from West Tigray into Eritrean territory, probably to build a strong defence line in case of a forthcoming TDF attack. This could facilitate the opening of a corridor to the Sudan border. Anyway, Issayas has achieved his main goal: Ethiopia is in a shambles.
Hard to see how days wouldn’t be numbered for Arat Kilo.