Habesha Spotlight : The forces fighting in the Ethiopia Tigray conflict


Aljazeera | Nov 13, 2020

Conflicting Forces: Ethiopia’s military is fighting battle-hardened troops in the northern Tigray region, threatening to deepen the humanitarian crisis of the northern region and the stability around the Horn of Africa.

conflicting forces in THE Tigray conflict

Abiy has shown no sign of initiating talks with the TPLF, which once dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition.

Feeling marginalised by Abiy’s political reforms, the party broke away from the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – which ruled the country for decades – last year as the prime minister transformed the coalition into a single Prosperity Party.

The TPLF then defied the federal government by holding a local election in September, after Addis Ababa postponed all elections due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Diplomats and other observers assert that the conflict in Tigray could destabilise the region and other parts of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country of 110 million people.

These are the forces in conflict:

The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF)

Active Personnel: Around 140,000

Past Conflicts: Islamist militants in Somalia; Rebel groups in Ethiopia’s border regions; border war/ standoff with Eritrea

Armory: Its air force gives it dominance in the skies over Tigray. According to Janes, it has 15 Sukhoi Su-27SK and eight MiG-23ML fighter jets, around 20 Mi-24 and Mi-35 helicopter gunships and a range of air defence and missile systems, as well as scores of Russian T-55 and T-72 tanks.

The northern command

Active Personnel: The federal military’s powerful Northern Command has been compromised. Northern Command Headquarters are located in the Tigray Capital, Mekelle.

Loyalty: Troops remain loyal to the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF)

Armory: The northern region’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) says it has taken over the Northern Command’s assets. The federal military has acknowledged the loss of a compound,

The tigray peoples liberation front (TPLF)

Active Personnel: As many as 250,000 soldiers and militia (These numbers cannot be verified due to the communications blackout, enforced by the Federal government, and could include the Northern Command personnel located in the northern region)

Loyalty: Troops are loyal to the Tigray region

History: Tigrayan fighters led the rebel march to drive out the Marxist Derg regime in 1991 and bore the brunt of the Eritrean war.

Armory: The TPLF says it has air defence systems that have shot down a federal army jet

eritrean defence forces (EDF)

Active Personnel: The EDF controls a vast standing army which has been estimated at 200,000 personnel

Loyalty: Located on the northern border of Tigray region, the country are a long-time foes of the TPLF. Intervention of the EDF could tip the crisis into regional war

History: Ethiopian-Eritrean border war. Eritrea has a system of mandatory military service for all adults, male and female.

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