Disarming TPLF is the only way to secure peace deal in Ethiopia

Photo credit to Maria Cerdan

More than a year after the TPLF insurgents launched a military campaign on the Ethiopian Defense Force in the Tigray region, Ethiopians are bitterly disappointed by the US and UN response which prolonged TPLF aggression that continues to cause humanitarian catastrophe.

In the past one month, a ceasefire seemed possible following the decision of the Ethiopian government not to enter Tigray after freeing Amhara and Afar regions from TPLF invasion. Another bold move by the government was witnessed as they opened the door for peace by freeing former rebel leaders during Christmas Amnesty and calling for national dialogue.

However, the effort by the Ethiopian government seems to hit a snag as TPLF proves beyond reasonable doubts that they are not up to a ceasefire or peace. Instead, TPLF is starting fresh attacks in Amhara and Afar regions thereby thwarting government efforts to seal a peace deal. What is most devastating is that the TPLF is weaponizing hunger by blocking humanitarian aid into the Tigray region through their attacks on the major humanitarian access route in the Afar region.

Despite the tireless effort by the Ethiopian government to relieve the people from the devastating conflict and begin the rehabilitation and healing process, TPLF still engulfs itself in war mentality and seems to buy time for spearheading more crises. Within a 20 days period, between December 23 2021 to January 13 2022, TPLF had launched more than 15 attacks in the Amhara and Afar regions according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Database (ACLED). One-third of these heavy artillery attacks targeted the Abala town in the Afar region.

50 km from Mekele, Abala is the shortest supply route for humanitarian aid to Tigray. Yet, the TPLF coordinated attacks at this critical town artery to the Tigray region interrupting humanitarian aid trucks containing life saving food and medical supplies. These attacks have also displaced over 200,000 innocent civilians in Afar who had just begun to resettle and recover from TPLF’s previous aggressions. TPLF's continued strategy of blocking essential aid supplies and displacing civilians for political gain has become a vicious cycle.

The actions taken by the TPLF in the past one month is in contrary to the letter sent to the UN by the TPLF leadership calling for the “retreat” of Tigrayan forces from Amhara and Afar region as an end to hostilities. This plea appears to be a plot to deceive the world and buy time for TPLF forces to regroup for more attacks rather than pave the way for peace.

The international watchdogs, the UN and US, continue to pile pressure on the Ethiopian government, ignoring the underlying crisis that is instigated by TPLF, which continues to cause the suffering of innocent civilians in Amhara, Afar, and Tigray regions. Even though the UN attests a looming catastrophe in these regions, there has not been any direct pressure accorded to the TPLF to halt their aggression or urging them to disarm. Yet, that is the only viable path to solve the crisis in Ethiopia.