Eritrea Urged Not to Meddle Ethiopia’s Internal Affairs

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“The potential entry of Eritrea into that theater complicates the entire equation when it comes to the search for peace”


Reports that Eritrea is
mass-mobilizing reserve troops has raised international concerns that the
reignited war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region could quickly escalate.

A Tigrayan forces spokesman said Tuesday that Eritrean troops
have launched a “full-scale offensive” supported by Ethiopian forces.
Eritrean and Ethiopian officials have yet to comment on the reports or a series
of airstrikes this month that hospital officials say killed Tigrayan civilians.

In a tweet, a spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front said Eritrean
forces have launched a full-scale attack in parts of the Tigray region with the
help of forces from the Amhara and Afar regions.

Getachew Reda said TPLF forces were defending their positions against their enemies.

The U.S. special envoy for the Horn of
Africa, Mike Hammer, ended his visit to Ethiopia last week, the third visit
since he was appointed in June. In a news briefing Tuesday, Hammer said Eritrea
must stop interfering with its neighbor’s internal affairs.

“We’ve been tracking Eritrean troop movement across the
border, they are extremely concerning and we condemn it. All external foreign
actors should respect Ethiopia’s territorial integrity and avoid fueling the
conflict. We couldn’t be any clearer. We’ve said this repeatedly,” Hammer
said. “We will encourage those who might be able to communicate directly
with Asmara that this is of extreme concern and must stop.”

Eritrea supported the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when
the war between Ethiopia and the TPLF broke out in November 2020. Tigray
officials accuse Eritrea of committing rights violations against its people, a
claim it denies.

Hassan Khannenje, head of the Horn Institute for Strategic Studies, said
Eritrea’s mobilization of troops is guided by the government’s fear of conflict
spreading into its territory.

“There is a sense that Eritrea perhaps expects some kind of
incursions or attack from TPLF and so, in part, is an attempt to preempt that
by increasing its own readiness as well as being ready to offer whatever
support perhaps that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed may need,” Khannenje said.

A report released Monday by the United
Nations Human Rights Council accused all sides of the Tigray conflict of crimes
against humanity. It warned that resuming the conflict increased the risk of
more crimes against the population.

According to the report, the human rights researchers said there were
reasonable grounds to believe that the Addis Ababa government and its allied
regional state administrations have committed and continue to commit crimes
against humanity such as ethnic persecution and other inhumane acts.

The U.N. investigators said some violations include
extrajudicial killings, starvation, rape and sexual violence.

A five-month cease-fire in the Tigray conflict came to an end last month.
Khannenje said the return of Eritrean troops to Tigray will complicate the
peace efforts ahead.

“The potential entry of Eritrea into that theater
complicates the entire equation when it comes to the search for peace,”
Khannenje said. “And so it’s going to be important that the players, not
just within Ethiopia but especially those who are trying to help the parties,
come to a negotiated agreement that step the efforts in ensuring that this kind
of escalation doesn’t take place and that Eritrea is limited with regard to
their engagement in Ethiopia.”

Hammer said the Ethiopian government and Tigray regional
administration must resolve their differences through dialogue.

“What is important here is that the parties recognize the
United States is trying to serve their best interest, the best interest of
Ethiopia, which is again to begin a process that allows them through dialogue
to resolve outstanding complex and difficult political issues that the fighting
is not going to yield victory for either side,” Hammer said.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in the
Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions by the war.



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