“Eritrea has lost tens of thousands of its citizens in Tigray not to realise a discernible national objective but to avenge some perceived wrong that Isaias suffered at the hands of Tigrayans and validate his delusions of grandeur as a regional heavyweight.”

Source: Africa Report

Ethiopia: To achieve peace, take Eritrea out of the game

By Debretsion Gebremichael

Posted on Thursday, 20 January 2022 14:09

Abiy Ahmed tours Sawa 19 July 2020

Since its independence three decades ago, Eritrea has been involved in international conflicts, ranging from minor border skirmishes with its neighbors, such as Sudan, Djibouti and Yemen, to a full-fledged conventional war with Ethiopia. Its notoriety as a regional troublemaker had resulted in the imposition of crushing sanctions lasting several years.

While the Eritrean dictator, with an assist from Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, had sought to rehabilitate Eritrea’s image as a rogue state, Eritrea’s direct involvement in the war on Tigray since November 2020 and the massive human rights violations its forces committed and continue to commit have reaffirmed this well-deserved image.

Eritrea has lost tens of thousands of its citizens in Tigray not to realise a discernible national objective but to avenge some perceived wrong that Isaias suffered at the hands of Tigrayans and validate his delusions of grandeur as a regional heavyweight.

As international human rights advocates and various institutions have amply documented, the Eritrean military has committed some of the most horrific violations of the laws of armed conflict, such as the brutalisation of civilians, the deliberate destruction of civilian installations, the plundering of private and public wealth, and the use of sexual violence as a tool of war.Eritrea’s brutal military campaign in Tigray has received the blessing of the Abiy regime and that of the expansionist Amhara elites.

Despite deep, historical animus towards the Amhara, the Eritrean dictator has struck up a tactical alliance with the expansionist Amhara elites, a marriage of convenience facilitated by a convergence of interests. Isaias sees Tigray as standing in the way of his dream to run wild in Ethiopia in particular and the wider region in general; similarly, Amhara expansionist elites see Tigray as impeding the restoration of a bygone era when unitarism reigned supreme.

In Western Tigray, this rogue state’s military muscle underwrites the annexation of a constitutionally established Tigrayan territory. Eritrea also illegally occupies parts of North-Western and Eastern Tigray.

Isaias’s alliance with Abiy and the expansionist Amhara elites has two purposes. First, by lending military support to the anti-Tigray coalition within Ethiopia, Isaias seeks to marginalise and ultimately eliminate TPLF and, by extension, Tigray as a potent force in Ethiopian politics.

Isaias has been harbouring revenge fantasies against Tigray for leading the military campaign that ended his dream of becoming the dominant political and military power on the Horn of Africa and beyond.

Specifically, Isaias had been nursing grudges against Tigrayan military and security elites, which he considers to be responsible for his embarrassing defeat on the battlefield and crushing his dream of becoming a regional kingmaker. Second, he would realise his vision of destroying the multinational federal dispensation that the people of Tigray played a major role in midwifing as well as preserving it over the past 3 decades.

All in all, Isaias saw the formation of an alliance with anti-TPLF forces as critical to removing one major stumbling block to his dream of transforming Eritrea into a regional “powerhouse” and breaking up Ethiopia into a number of mutually antagonistic units.

There is a stark irony in the alliance between the expansionist Amhara elites and the Eritrean dictator. On the one hand, Amhara elites rage against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for presumably blessing Eritrea’s independence. On the other hand, the same rapacious elites have entered into a Faustian bargain with the Eritrean dictator to eliminate a “problematic” domestic rival.

The expansionist Amhara elites have sought to degrade and ultimately destroy Ethiopia’s multinational federalism, vociferously arguing in favour of, and working towards, a unitary system. By contrast, Tigrayans are adamantly opposed to this unitarist vision. A system designed to govern a diverse polity such as ours is bound to have shortcomings.

Ethiopia’s current federal system is no exception. But discarding a fundamentally sound political framework that, nevertheless, needs some tweaking in favour of a unitary system that disregards Ethiopia’s objective conditions is not a solution conducive to long-term peace and stability. The return of a unitary system, by reversing hard-won autonomy and self-administration and self-determination rights, would intensify centrifugal challenges to the central state, in the process unleashing a paroxysm of violence on every corner of the country.

As for Abiy, his alliance with Eritrea has had less to do with “ending” the Ethio-Eritrea war and ensuring regional stability than eliminating a nettlesome domestic rival. The convergence of Abiy’s interest in maligning, scapegoating and neutralising the TPLF and Isaias’s desire to see the TPLF removed from Ethiopia’s political scene led to a marriage of convenience between the authoritarian duo. This marriage of convenience was consummated in a formal agreement to “end” the border conflict between the two countries

Rather than seeing through this transparent subterfuge, the international community awarded Abiy the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, which he interpreted as legitimising the broad contours of his domestic and foreign policy agenda. Having received the legitimacy of international acclaim for his apparent reform agenda, Abiy Ahmed took a series of actions that ultimately developed into one giant calamity that is the genocidal war on Tigray.

The international community, perpetually in search of the next generation of prophetic leaders in Africa, ignored clear warning signs and conferred an undeserved honour on a man whose armed forces would commit some of the most heinous violations of human rights in Tigray and who invited a foreign adversary to participate in an orgy of violence against Ethiopian citizens.

With battlefield losses piling up, and his regime teetering on the brink of collapse, Abiy Ahmed took a different but tired rhetoric for a test drive. According to this narrative, the war pitted a cabal of “neocolonial” forces against Ethiopians, who had fought against colonial encroachments and won a resounding victory at Adwa.

However, Abiy never invokes Pan-Africanism as a substantive principle that has the potential to enhance solidarity among African nations and revolutionise an indigenous conflict prevention and resolution mechanism but as a buzzword designed to shield himself from critical scrutiny of his horrific record on Tigray. In fact, Abiy conflates being asked not starve and bomb his citizens into submission with assaults on “Pan-Africanism.”

Despite the Abiy regime’s shameless framing of the war in terms of a Western neocolonial project, and presenting itself as valiantly resisting this neocolonial encroachment, the fact is that only the Abiy regime has actively solicited and received the support of non-African countries to wage a genocidal war on his own people. Designed to frame the conflict as the West versus Africa, and, through such framing, enlist the support of African countries, the disingenuous propaganda does not pass muster except with those that have already made significant investments in this genocidal campaign.

In light of Eritrea’s deep involvement in the genocidal war on Tigray and the counterproductive alliance it has formed with the expansionist Amhara elites, any possibility of ending the war through a negotiated settlement goes directly through Asmara. This is so not in the sense of Isaias having a peacemaking bone in its authoritarian constitution, but because he has a tremendous capacity to play the role of a spoiler—an actor that sees peace emerging from negotiations as a threat to its power, interests, and worldview, and uses violence or the threat of it to frustrate attempts to achieve peace.

Abiy enunciates lofty ideals that, if sincerely committed to, could help us end the current conflict through dialogue. But he may find it difficult to wean himself off the fateful alliance with the expansionist Amhara elites and that of the Eritrean dictator. As long as he remains hostage to these forces, he will have little room to manoeuvre and exercise a degree of policy autonomy required to take a bold step towards peace. Accordingly, breaking up this unholy alliance is necessary, if not sufficient, to give peace a chance.

The use or threat of sanctions against Abiy and his regime can still have an impact on bringing him to the negotiating table. But absent robust measures that significantly affect the Eritrean dictator’s cost-benefit calculus, the quest for peace will prove elusive. As an experienced leader of a rogue state, the Eritrean dictator has practically authored a manual for how to navigate a treacherous international diplomatic terrain.

Only sufficiently robust actions that create disincentives for the Isaias regime against continual involvement in the Ethiopian conflict have a reasonable chance of helping bring about a peaceful resolution of the current conflict.


The Globe and Mail has obtained eyewitness accounts of massacres by Somali troops embedded with Eritrean forces in Tigray in the early months of the war. The new evidence raises disturbing questions about a covert military alliance between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia that has inflicted death and destruction on the rebellious Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.

Gebretsadik, a 52-year-old farmer from the village of Zebangedena in northwestern Tigray, said the dusty roads of his village were strewn with the bodies of decapitated clergymen in December, 2020, a few weeks after the beginning of the war.
Some of the priests and monks were people he recognized. Somali soldiers, working alongside Eritrean forces who had captured the village, had targeted churches and killed the clergymen, he said.
“They slaughtered them like chickens,” he told The Globe.

Source: Globe and Mail

Villagers return from a market to Yechila town in south central Tigray walking past scores of burned vehicles, in Tigray, Ethiopia, July 10, 2021.GIULIA PARAVICINI/REUTERS
New revelations about atrocities by Somali soldiers in Ethiopia’s Tigray war are casting a spotlight on an emerging military alliance that has reshaped the Horn of Africa, weakening Western influence in a strategically important region.
The Globe and Mail has obtained eyewitness accounts of massacres by Somali troops embedded with Eritrean forces in Tigray in the early months of the war. The new evidence raises disturbing questions about a covert military alliance between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia that has inflicted death and destruction on the rebellious Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.
Officially, the three governments have denied any alliance, and Somalia has denied that its troops were deployed in Tigray. But The Globe’s investigation has provided, for the first time, extensive details of civilian killings committed by Somali soldiers allied with Eritrean forces in the region.
Gebretsadik, a 52-year-old farmer from the village of Zebangedena in northwestern Tigray, said the dusty roads of his village were strewn with the bodies of decapitated clergymen in December, 2020, a few weeks after the beginning of the war.
Some of the priests and monks were people he recognized. Somali soldiers, working alongside Eritrean forces who had captured the village, had targeted churches and killed the clergymen, he said.
“They slaughtered them like chickens,” he told The Globe.
The Somali and Eritrean troops stayed in the village until late February, according to Gebretsadik, who often fled to the bushes and mountains around the village to escape attacks during that time.
The Globe talked to dozens of survivors who had witnessed atrocities in six Tigrayan villages where Somali troops had been stationed between early December, 2020 and late February, 2021. The Globe is not publishing their full names or their current locations because their lives could be in danger.
The survivors said the Somali troops were wearing Eritrean military uniforms, but they were clearly identifiable as Somali because of their language and their physical appearance. Unlike the Eritreans, they could not speak any Tigrinya, the language spoken in Tigray and much of Eritrea. The witnesses said they also heard the Eritrean troops referring to them as Somalis.
Last year, United Nations and U.S. officials said they had received information that Somali troops were present in Tigray, but few details were known. Somali parents held several protests in Mogadishu and other places in Somalia last year, complaining that their sons had been ordered to fight in Tigray after being originally sent to Eritrea for military training. Hundreds of Somali soldiers were reportedly killed in the fighting.
Up to 10,000 Somali troops were deployed in Tigray, according to current and former Ethiopian officials who spoke to The Globe. The Globe is not identifying the individuals because they face the threat of reprisals for their comments.
Until now, few details were known about the activities of the Somalis in Tigray. But the survivors told The Globe that the Somali troops had massacred hundreds of civilians in villages controlled by the Eritrean military, often beheading them. No Ethiopian troops were present in the villages, they said.
“They showed no mercy,” said Berket, a 32-year-old farmer in the Tigrayan village of Mai Harmaz. “The Eritreans interrogate you before they kill you. But the Somali troops were full of contempt for that.”
One of his neighbours, a 76-year-old priest, was among those killed by the Somali troops, he said.
Kibrom, a 37-year-old man who fled the village of Hamlo in January, said the beheadings by Somali troops became an “everyday reality” in his village.
“The churches were inhabited by the troops,” he said. “They burned the holy books and sacred objects. Churches became the most unsafe places. Villagers stopped going to churches because the Somali troops would kill anyone they found in churches.”
According to former Ethiopian officials, most of the Somali troops crossed the border from Eritrea into western Tigray in the early weeks of the war. They said the Somali troops, under the command of the Eritrean army, had already been stationed in trenches near the border before the war began.
“They undoubtedly have participated in the war,” said Gebremeskel Kassa, who was chief of staff in the interim administration in Tigray that the Ethiopian government appointed after seizing control of the region in the early months of the war. He later fled abroad, fearing for his safety when Ethiopian officials criticized him for Tigrayan military gains in the region.
Mr. Gebremeskel said he knew about the Somali deployment from his travels in Tigray and his private meetings with top Ethiopian officials and military generals.
“All of us who were top officials had knowledge of that,” he told The Globe. “The Somali troops took training in the Eritrean camp of Sawa as a result of a military deal between the three governments before the war started.”
When the deployment became politically controversial in Somalia, especially after the protests by the parents and questions by parliamentarians, the Somali soldiers were sent back to Eritrea, he said. They completed their withdrawal by March, the officials said.
The unofficial military alliance among Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, which is believed to date back to secret agreements after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in Ethiopia in 2018, is a further blow to the declining influence of Western governments in the Horn of Africa.
Eritrea had already been long isolated on the international stage, but Ethiopia and Somalia had close relations with the United States and other Western governments in the past. Ethiopia’s relations with the West have deteriorated since the Tigray war began, largely as a result of Western pressure to halt the war.
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, the authoritarian ruler of his country for nearly three decades, is a key player in the three-country alliance. “He sees this as an opportunity to reshape the whole of the Horn of Africa in his direction,” said Martin Plaut, a British-based Eritrea expert and commentator.
“Getting these Somali troops involved was just the first instalment of this much longer, much more important relationship that he was trying to build in which he would be the king, with allies both in Somalia and Ethiopia,” Mr. Plaut told The Globe.
“He has pursued his ambition of destroying the Tigrayans since the 1970s. To achieve his ends, he would like to establish a transnational relationship in the Horn that allows the individual states to exist, but to support each other, while crushing local movements.”
With a report by Geoffrey York in Johannesburg


After three weeks with no access due to the security situation, UNHCR staff managed to reach Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps in the Tigray region of Ethiopia earlier this week for the first time since the recent air strikes in and near the camps. Our team found refugees scared and struggling to get enough to eat, lacking medicine and with little or no access to clean water.

Refugees told UNHCR of increasing preventable deaths – more than 20 over the last six weeks – linked to the overall decline in conditions, and in particular the lack of medicine and health services. The clinics in the camps have been essentially closed since early January when they finally completely ran out of medicine.

Source: UNHCR

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov  to whom quoted text may be attributed  at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Ethiopia. Eritrean refugees trapped by the Tigray conflict

Eritrean refugees at two camps in Mai Aini and Adi Harush face life-threatening shortages of food, clean water, and medicine.   © UNHCR/Olga Sarrado Mur

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply alarmed at the deteriorating conditions faced by Eritrean refugees in the camps in Tigray.

After three weeks with no access due to the security situation, UNHCR staff managed to reach Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps in the Tigray region of Ethiopia earlier this week for the first time since the recent air strikes in and near the camps. Our team found refugees scared and struggling to get enough to eat, lacking medicine and with little or no access to clean water.

Refugees told UNHCR of increasing preventable deaths – more than 20 over the last six weeks – linked to the overall decline in conditions, and in particular the lack of medicine and health services. The clinics in the camps have been essentially closed since early January when they finally completely ran out of medicine.

The lack of fuel means that clean water can neither be pumped nor trucked to the camps, with refugees resorting to collecting water from streams that are rapidly drying up, leading to a severe risk of water-borne diseases.

Despite concerted efforts, the complete inability to move supplies into the region means that extreme hunger is an increasing concern. With food running out in the camp and no additional stocks available for distribution, refugees told us they had resorted to selling their clothes and few belongings to try to get food.

Basic services for Eritrean refugees in the two camps have been severely compromised for many months due to the security situation. The desperate situation in these camps is a stark example of the impact of the lack of access and supplies affecting millions of displaced persons and other civilians throughout the region.

UNHCR has been calling on all parties for a ceasefire and guarantee of safe passage that would allow us to voluntarily relocate the more than 25,000 refugees remaining in the camps to a new site provided by the government of Ethiopia in Dabat in the neighbouring Amhara region, without much progress. If food, medicine, fuel and other supplies cannot be immediately brought in, and if we continue to be unable to relocate refugees out of harm’s way to where we can provide them with life-saving assistance, more refugees will die.

We echo the UN-wide call for all parties in Ethiopia to protect civilians and to respect and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, including refugees.

Refugees must not be held hostage to this conflict.

Would Facebook make this public if they had not decided to proceed with a human rights review? Unlikely

Source: Reuters

Facebook owner to 'assess feasibility' of human rights review on Ethiopia practices

By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) - Facebook owner Meta Platforms said on Thursday it would “assess the feasibility” of commissioning an independent human rights assessment into its work in Ethiopia, after its oversight board recommended a review of how Facebook and Instagram have been used to spread content that heightens the risk of violence there.

The board, set up by the company to address criticism over its handling of problematic material, makes binding decisions on a small number of challenging content moderation cases and provides non-binding policy recommendations.

Meta has been under scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over user safety and its handling of abuses on its platforms across the world, particularly after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents that showed the company’s struggles in policing content in countries where such speech was most likely to cause harm, including Ethiopia.

Thousands have died and millions have been displaced during a year-long conflict between the Ethiopian government and rebellious forces from the northern Tigray region.

The social media giant said it has “invested significant resources in Ethiopia to identify and remove potentially harmful content,” as part of its response to the board’s December recommendations on a case involving content posted in the country.

The oversight board last month upheld Meta’s original decision to remove a post alleging the involvement of ethnic Tigrayan civilians in atrocities in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. As Meta had restored the post after the user’s appeal to the board, the company had to again remove the content.

On Thursday, Meta said while it had taken the post down, it disagreed with the board’s reasoning that it should have been removed because it was an “unverified rumor” that significantly increased the risk of imminent violence. It said this would impose “a journalistic publishing standard on people.”

An oversight board spokesman said in a statement: “Meta’s existing policies prohibit rumors that contribute to imminent violence that cannot be debunked in a meaningful timeframe, and the Board made recommendations to ensure these policies are effectively applied in conflict situations.”

“Rumors alleging an ethnic group is complicit in atrocities, as found in this case, have the potential to lead to grave harm to people,” they said.

The board had recommended that Meta commission a human rights due diligence assessment, to be completed in six months, which should include a review of Meta’s language capabilities in Ethiopia and a review of measures taken prevent the misuse of its services in the country.

However, the company said not all elements of this recommendation “may be feasible in terms of timing, data science or approach.” It said it would continue its existing human rights due diligence and should have an update on whether it could act on the board’s recommendation within the next few months.

Reuters’ previous reporting on Myanmar and other countries has investigated how Facebook struggled to monitor content across the world in different languages. In 2018, U.N. human rights investigators said the use of Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fueled violence in Myanmar.

Meta, which has said that it was too slow to prevent misinformation and hate in Myanmar, has said that the company now has native speakers worldwide reviewing content in more than 70 languages which work to stop abuse on its platforms in places where there is a heightened risk of conflict and violence.

The board also recommended that Meta rewrite its value statement on safety to reflect that online speech can pose a risk to the physical security of persons and their right to life. The company said it would make changes to this value, in a partial implementation of the recommendation.


“Diplomats with knowledge of Abiy’s campaign and dispatches from aid agencies attribute much of the successes to its aerial assaults, utilizing drones and other equipment that they said had been bought from the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.”

Source: Bloomberg

By Simon Marks +FollowJanuary 4, 2022, 8:48 AM UTC

  •  Aerial assault death toll was compiled by aid agencies
  •  Thousands of people have died in 14 months of civil war
People injured in an airstrike in Togoga receive medical treatment at a hospital in Mekele, Ethiopia, on June 24, 2021.  People injured in an airstrike in Togoga receive medical treatment at a hospital in Mekele, Ethiopia, on June 24, 2021.   Photographer: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

At least 143 people have been killed and 213 wounded in air strikes in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region since October last year, according to aid agencies.

Civil war has been raging in Ethiopia for the past 14 months, pitting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal forces against dissident troops loyal to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. The conflict has swung in Abiy’s favor over recent weeks, with the Tigrayans retreating to within their home province from the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. 

The government has attributed its advances to a land-based offensive, which saw Abiy join the Ethiopian National Defence Forces on the front lines. But diplomats with knowledge of Abiy’s campaign and dispatches from aid agencies attribute much of the successes to its aerial assaults, utilizing drones and other equipment that they said had been bought from the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. They asked not to be identified because they feared government retribution or being expelled from Ethiopia.

Abiy visited Turkey in August last year, where he met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and signed off on a military and financial cooperation accord, the Ethiopian government announced at the time. The UAE and Turkish embassies in Ethiopia didn’t respond to emails sent on Monday seeking comment.

The humanitarian aid agencies have recorded 40 aerial strikes since Oct. 18 last year. One barrage carried out on the northern town of Alamata of Dec. 16 claimed 38 lives, while 86 people sustained injuries, the dispatches show. Another on an area east of Mekelle, the Tigrayan regional capital, on Dec. 20 caused 24 fatalities, while eight people were hurt, they said. Bloomberg was unable to independently verify the information or ascertain how many of those who died were civilians.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, referenced reports about the use of armed drone use in Ethiopia and the attendant risk that civilians could be harmed during recent visits to the UAE and Turkey. The U.S. had made it clear to all external parties engaged in the conflict that they needed to press for negotiations and end the war, he said. 

Billene Seyoum, Abiy’s spokesperson for Abiy, and Selamawit Kassa, state minister of communications in Ethiopia, didn’t respond to questions about the use of drones in Tigray. Billene told reporters last month that territorial gains by Ethiopian forces were made “in very heavy battles” that cleared the TPLF from several towns. 

Last month, Tigrayan leader Debretsion Gebremichael ordered a strategic retreat by his troops and urged the United Nations Security Council to oversee an end to the civil war, which has claimed thousands of lives and left millions in need of aid. He also urged the United Nations to implement a no-fly zone for hostile aircraft over Tigray as well as an arms embargo on Ethiopia and its ally Eritrea.



“This spectrum of drone capability is like an air force on the cheap for the Ethiopian government forces. They acquired these drones, initially from Iran, then the Chinese ones from the Emiratis and finally the TB2 from Turkey, which allowed them to spot rebel ground troops and carry out precision strikes.“

Source: The Times

Rebels in Tigray say the use of drones against convoys has made progress impossibleRebels in Tigray say the use of drones against convoys has made progress impossibleREUTERS

Ethiopia’s civil war has become a testing ground for military drones that has made its people “guinea pigs”, rebel leaders have claimed.Multiple purchases of armed surveillance drones at a fraction of the cost of fighter jets and bombers have provided Ethiopia’s leader, Abiy Ahmed, with a war-winning weapon that has forced the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) into retreat.

The rebels in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia have been fighting government forces since Abiy launched a military campaign in Tigray in November 2020.The conflict has been marked by reports of atrocities, including civilian massacres and mass rapes, by both sides. The United Nations has expressed concern over reports of large-scale displacement from western Tigray. Just 12 per cent of the food and other aid needed in the region has been delivered because of violence and blocked routes, the United Nations reported this week, with women, children and elderly most in need.

Abiy was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2019 but his tendency to use words such as “cancer”, “disease” and “weeds” to describe the once-dominant TPLF has cast doubt on his appetite to use the rebels’ withdrawal as an opportunity to strike a peace deal.Initially the rebels made such progress that they were within striking distance of Debra Birhan, 75 miles from the capital Addis Ababa. The government was facing a violent overthrow.

The TPLF claimed it “never had ambitions to regime-change or take over Addis”. The drone strikes on its convoys and supply lines made further progress impossible.

Getachew Reda, TPLF spokesman, denounced the countries selling their “deadly toys being operated from elsewhere in the world”.“

Our land has become a testing ground for different weapons technologies and our people are the guinea pigs,” he said.“

We have no idea what is being used against us, there are reports of different kinds of injuries and the eyes of the world are not on what is being done and what experiments are being carried out.”

The dramatic change in fortune for the TPLF and the role that armed drones have played highlights how the concept of warfare has been transformed in recent years. With drones and foreign expertise to operate them, the Ethiopian government has been able to gain aerial superiority over rebel forces that have neither the weapons to fight back nor any form of air defence to protect themselves.

Success for the government in Addis Ababa will be studied closely by other small nations needing to arm against internal or external adversaries. It will also boost the export of armed drones by countries that have developed their own technology such as Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.“

It’s no longer just the big powers such as the US, China, Russia, UK and France producing armed drones,” said Paul Scharre, a former senior Pentagon official who helped develop US policy on drones and is author of the award-winning Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War.“

Turkey and Iran are selling significant numbers abroad and for countries that can’t afford fighter aircraft — this is a game-changer. It means these countries can have air power at a much lower cost. The drones also perform surveillance missions, thus changing the whole tactical landscape.

Abiy Ahmed’s inflammatory language about the rebels has cast doubt on whether he wants a peace deal

Abiy Ahmed’s inflammatory language about the rebels has cast doubt on whether he wants a peace dealGETTY IMAGES“

Clearly they are not as advanced as F-35 stealth fighters but these countries [such as Ethiopia] don’t need F-35s or F-16s because armed drones provide them with the level of air power that suits their requirements.“

Drones also provide other advantages over the traditional fighter aircraft. They have longer endurance and can provide vital surveillance of the battlefield, allowing for precision strikes.”

Drones had a significant impact on changing the battle landscape in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 when Azerbaijan, supported by Turkish-supplied drones, won a 44-day war against Armenia for control of the disputed enclave. Turkish drone airpower also saved Tripoli in the war in Libya between the government of national accord (GNA) and the forces of retired Major-General Khalifa Haftar.

In Ethiopia, the Addis Ababa government began purchasing armed drones about a year ago. Turkey, with its Bayrakter TB2, and Iran, selling its Mohajer-6, were willing suppliers. The United Arab Emirates provided China’s Wing Loong-2 drone.

Each Bayrakter drone costs around $5 million and can carry four small laser-guided missiles. The Chinese drone is about $2 million and is armed with eight weapons, while the Mohajer-6, at an estimated $2 million, is fitted with two missiles.

By comparison, each US Reaper drone costs about $32 million, F-35s are $78 million each and the older variant of the F-16 is about $30 million.

Ninety per cent of armed drone transfers come from China. But with the US reluctant to sell its Reaper and other drones abroad, even to allies, countries such as Turkey and Iran have moved in to snatch some of the export potential from the Chinese.

Stacie Pettyjohn, director of the defence programme at the Washington-based Centre for a New American Security, said: “This spectrum of drone capability is like an air force on the cheap for the Ethiopian government forces. They acquired these drones, initially from Iran, then the Chinese ones from the Emiratis and finally the TB2 from Turkey, which allowed them to spot rebel ground troops and carry out precision strikes.“

The TB2 can stick around for about 24 hours, so they could find rebel forces who had no way of defending themselves.”The Tigrayans, she added, were trying to acquire an effective counter to the drones. “But air defence systems are more sophisticated and expensive.”

Meanwhile, the Abiy government is seeking to pass a supplementary budget of $2.5 billion to help rebuild areas destroyed in the civil war. It is unclear whether any of it will be used to buy more drones.The use of armed drones is no longer a choice solely for nation states. Modified commercial drones fitted with makeshift explosive devices in the hands of terrorists and jihadist insurgents is already a reality (Michael Evans writes).

Four years ago Isis revealed in a propaganda video that it had developed its own bomb-carrying quadcopter drones. The off-the-shelf drones not only proved effective weapon systems in Iraq and elsewhere but also demonstrated the heightened publicity value of such attacks from the air.Drone strikes create a greater sense of vulnerability than even a fighter bomber flying overhead and generate more media attention.

The innovative methods used by Isis will have encouraged other non-state actors engaged in conflicts around the world to devise their own drones.

However, more alarming is the possibility that terrorist organisations might be able to get their hands on bigger and better drones now that the export market has expanded so rapidly.China has shown no hesitation in offering its drones to overseas customers. Its CH-4 drone which looks like the US Reaper although is not as technologically advanced, has been sold to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

More than 100 countries now have armed or surveillance drones. The potential for such systems to end up in the wrong hands must be high


Source: Gebremeskel Gebremariam

Today, I reveal a story that I have kept private to myself for several months about what were the events that finally led to the murder of Maria, Yohannes, & Tedros.

I interviewed my friend who escaped the murder & here I share the story as told to me by him [medical doctor] whose name & whereabouts I will never share publicly but only privately to those who have a sincere desire to hear directly from him.

Today marks the 6th month of the murder of María Hernandez, emergency coordinator; Yohannes Halefom, assistant coordinator; & Tedros Gebremariam, driver.

My friend has sent me some photos in which I can clearly see Maria, Yohannes, & Tedros, posing next to other staff of @MSF at Abiyi Adi Hospital, central #Tigray, days before they were murdered.

My friend told me that Abiyi Adi Hospital had been occupied by the joint Ethiopian & Eritrean troops for several months. No civilian patients nor health professionals could enter the hospital.

The hospital was completely vandalised & changed into a trench. When my friend & other MSF staff arrived at Abi Adi, they were denied access to the hospital. So, they had to start serving the people at a health centre across one corner of the town.

Finally, they went to the hospital after the invading forces left and found it empty — no medicines & medical equipment inside — expensive medical equipment was found to be irreversibly damaged.

On behalf of the people of #Tigray, my sincere gratitude goes to @MSF  for making Abi Adi Hospital give medical service by rebuilding & fixing everything starting from zero. Everyone of the staff was equally a hero, & of course, the selfless Maria was at the core.

My friend [MD] had the chance of knowing all 3 of the victims very well. He can’t find enough words to describe each one of them. Maria was very selfless & always at the forefront; Johannes was very determined to serve his people no matter what; Tedros was always there day & night to help every one of the @MSF  staff.

So, who dared to steal these beautiful souls? Why were they savagely murdered? Here I start revealing the mysterious ordeal …

My friend is a passionate medical doctor who never hesitated to go to one of the darkest places on earth in March 2021 to serve people who’re languishing to death due to the absence of medical service thanks to the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops who destroyed Abi Adi Hospital.

When my friend was heading from Mekelle to Abi Adi in early March 2021, he was stopped by a group of Ethiopian soldiers at a checkpoint on the highway that connects Mekelle-AbiAdi. After they thoroughly searched his bag, they interrogated him arrogantly but let him pass.

He joined the team of MSF staff who had been serving there in a small health centre due to the destruction & occupation of Abi Adi Hospital by the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops on multiple periods of time. The MSF team was being led by an Indian expert at that time.

Then, Maria Hernandez arrived & replaced the Indian coordinator. She & her team managed to rehabilitate & fix everything starting from zero after the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops left the hospital in an absolute mess, having looted & vandalised it beyond repair.

However, things were not always smooth with the Ethiopian & Eritrean troops roaming throughout the town & its vicinity every now & then. The MSF team had their own camp where they get rest & food. But, their camp was not safe either.

On one night, my friend, having spent a very stressful day treating so many mothers, headed to the camp. During the night, he got an emergency call from his assistant at the hospital.

One of the cars of MSF was sent to pick & bring him to treat a mother who was on the verge of death due to complications of her pregnancy. It was past midnight.

As the car was rushing to the hospital, a dozen of men in Ethiopian military uniforms appeared on the road from nowhere pointing their Kalashnikovs at the car which had an @MSF  logo & flag.

They approached the car & ordered both the driver & my friend to get off the car. They did as they were told to do so. A dozen Ethiopian soldiers encircled my friend & his driver & started fiercely interrogating both of them, especially my friend.

The interrogation lasted for 45 minutes. For the whole period, a Kalashnikov was planted on the neck of my friend and he could feel the tip of the Kalashnikov putting pressure on his neck.

They asked him who he is? He answered that he is a medical doctor & a staff of @MSF . Mind you, the car had the flag & logo of @MSF  and the driver & my friend had dressed in @MSF  jackets & had badges on them.

They ordered him to show his ID. He took out an @MSF  ID on which it was clearly written that he is a medical doctor & staff of @MSF . Then, the soldiers started mocking & demonising him, accusing @MSF  of being a TPLF agent.

He tried to explain to them that he & @MSF  have no political affiliation except helping & providing health services to the helpless civilians in the area and that the organisation is neutral to the ongoing war and does not take sides.

Unfortunately, all they could respond was that @MSF  is “a TPLF spy, a TPLF supporter, a TPLF mercenary, a TPLF sympathizer, a TPLF agent, a pro-TPLF, and anti-Ethiopia.” As time went by, he lost hope & felt death was imminent.

With every minute, his heart was beating faster. But, he calmed himself down, controlled his emotions, and kept speaking softly to the gun-pointing soldiers in the middle of absolute darkness, in the streets of Abi Adi town.

Their entire focus was on the medical doctor not on the driver. The amount of demonisation that was coming out of their mouth was beyond count & their level of hate to @MSF  was immense. That was why they were not satisfied with the logo, flag, badge, jacket, ID of @MSF 

The doctor was between two deaths. On one hand, he was thinking of the mother who was already on the verge of death & badly needed his service at the hospital. On the other hand, he himself was at imminent death.

With all this much burden on his shoulder, he had to control & rectify his emotions and try to speak with much discipline & humility which he did. After the soldiers told him that being a staff of @MSF  would not be able to save him from the imminent execution, he begged them for his life and he pleaded with them to go with him to the hospital and see the mother who was dying if they could not believe him anymore.

They told him they would not care about the dying woman & that his relation to @MSF  was a sufficient reason for them to kill him.

Luckily he’d documents with him that proved he had worked at multiple hospitals across other regions in Ethiopia & that he had been serving not only #Tigrayans but also people across other parts of Ethiopia. And begged them that he knows nothing other than serving people.

After a horrific ordeal that lasted for over 45 minutes, some of the soldiers started showing some degree of sympathy for him, not b/se he was a staff of @MSF  but b/se of the documents that proved his service across other parts of Ethiopia.

Source: The Guardian – 25 June 2021

Three aid workers found dead in Tigray, says Médecins Sans Frontières

MSF says it condemns attack on colleagues ‘in strongest possible terms’ after bodies found near car
Convoy of trucks
A convoy of MSF trucks carrying medical supplies in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, in May. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP
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Three aid workers who had been working in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have been found dead, their organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, announced on Friday.

MSF said it had lost contact with the workers while they were travelling on Thursday afternoon. Their bodies were found near their empty car this morning.

The workers were Maria Hernández, an emergency coordinator from Spain, and Yohannes Halefom Reda, an assistant coordinator, and Tedros Gebremariam Gebremichael, an MSF driver, both Ethiopian.

“No words can truly convey all our sadness, shock and outrage against this horrific attack,” the MSF said. “Nor can words soothe the loss and suffering of their families and loved ones, to whom we relay our deepest sympathy and condolences.

“We condemn this attack on our colleagues in the strongest possible terms and will be relentless in understanding what happened. Maria, Yohannes and Tedros were in Tigray providing assistance to people and it is unthinkable that they paid for this work with their lives,” MSF said in a statement.

MSF has been active in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the focus of a government offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since last year. In March the organisation said that in the aftermath of an ambush on the army, its workers had witnessed soldiers carrying out extrajudicial killings, while their own driver was beaten with the butt of a gun and also threatened with death.

Reports of rights abuses have been widespread in Tigray and the warring parties have been accused by human rights groups of occupying schools and attacking hospitals.

Earlier this month the Ethiopian aid worker Negasi Kidane was killed by a stray bullet, according to his employer, the Italian charity International Committee for the Development of Peoples. In May, another Ethiopian working with USAid was also killed.

“Every day humanitarian workers risk their own lives to help those in dire need because of man-made conflicts and natural disasters,” USAid’s chief, Samantha Power, said in a statement.

“We hope that his courage and sacrifice, and that of other humanitarian workers intimidated, threatened, harmed, or killed in the Tigray region will not be in vain, as we work with the people of Ethiopia toward a peaceful resolution and a brighter future.”

At least 11 aid workers have been killed in Tigray since November 2020.


Source: New York Times

Credit…Leszek Szymanski/EPA, via Shutterstock
Dec. 20, 2021

NAIROBI, Kenya — After Ethiopia’s embattled prime minister pulled off a stunning military victory earlier this month, reversing a rebel march on the capital that threatened to overthrow him, he credited the bravery of his troops.

“Ethiopia is proud of your unbelievable heroism,” the jubilant leader, Abiy Ahmed, told his troops on the battlefront at Kombolcha, on Dec. 6. “You were our confidence when we said Ethiopia would never lose.”

In reality, the reason for the reversal in Mr. Abiy’s fortunes was hovering in the skies above: a fleet of combat drones, recently acquired from allies in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere who are determined to keep him in power.

Over the past four months, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Iran have quietly supplied Mr. Abiy with some of the latest armed drones, even as the United States and African governments were urging a cease-fire and peace talks, according to two Western diplomats who have been briefed on the crisis and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The motives of Mr. Abiy’s suppliers varied: to make money; to gain an edge in a strategic region; and to back a winner in the spiraling conflict that has engulfed Africa’s second most populous nation. But the impact of the drones was striking — pummeling Tigrayan rebels and their supply convoys as they pushed down a major highway toward the capital, Addis Ababa. The rebels have since retreated roughly 270 miles by road to the north, erasing months of battlefield gains.

On Sunday, the Tigray leader, Debretsion Gebremichael, told the United Nations he had ordered an immediate withdrawal of all forces to the borders of Tigray, citing, among other factors, “the drones provided by foreign powers.”

Credit…Maxar Technologies, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a letter to Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Mr. Debretsion called for a cease-fire followed by peace talks. “We trust that our bold act of withdrawal will be a decisive opening for peace,” he wrote.

On Monday, his spokesman said that a wave of Ethiopian air strikes inside Tigray had killed 18 civilians and wounded 11.

An Ethiopian government spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the use of drones.

The demonstration of drone power confirmed that Ethiopia’s year-old conflict, largely a regional affair until now, has been internationalized. And it adds the country to a growing list of conventional conflicts, like those in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, where combat drones have become a significant factor in the fight, or even the dominant one.

“Increasingly, unmanned systems are becoming a game changer,” said Peter W. Singer, an expert on drone warfare at New America, a research group in Washington. “It’s not just about the raw capability of the drones themselves — it’s the multiplying effect they have on nearly every other human and system on the battlefield.”

For Mr. Abiy, the drones arrived just in time.

He launched a military campaign in Tigray in November 2020, a year after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, in coordination with the leader of neighboring Eritrea. But his forces suffered a humiliating defeat last summer when Tigrayan rebels forced them from Tigray, then started to push south. By late November the Tigrayans were approaching the city of Debre Birhan, about 85 miles north of Addis Ababa.

Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But they could go no further. Swarms of drones appeared overhead, striking soldiers and supply convoys, Gen. Tsadkan Gebretensae, a leading Tigrayan commander, said in an interview with The New York Times.

“At one time, there were 10 drones in the sky,” he said. “You can imagine the effect. We were an easy target.”

Mr. Abiy built his drone arsenal by tapping the sympathy of foreign autocrats and a booming segment of the global arms trade.

Even as he talked about negotiations, Mr. Abiy was turning to other countries to bolster his military. Nearly every day, cargo flights arrived from a military base in the United Arab Emirates, one of Mr. Abiy’s closest allies.

The Emiratis had trained Mr. Abiy’s Republican Guard and provided crucial military support at the start of the war, running drone strikes that took out Tigrayan artillery and weapons depots, a Western official and a former Ethiopian official said.

Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

The Emirati strikes stopped in January after President Biden came to power, under pressure from Washington. But they have resumed in recent months, largely in the form of the latest Chinese-made drones, the officials said.

The Emirati drone strikes, under the direction of the national security adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan, appear to be a snub to American diplomatic efforts to end the war. American officials say they are trying to draw the U.A.E. into peace efforts as an ally, but that cooperation is limited.

In a meeting with the United States regional envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, earlier this week, Sheikh al-Nahyan denied that his country was shipping weapons to Ethiopia, an American official with knowledge of the meeting said.

By contrast, Mr. Abiy’s dealings with Turkey have been relatively open.

He signed a military pact in August with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Bayraktar TB2 drone played a decisive role in Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is manufactured by a company run by Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Turkish drones are attractive to many African countries seeking battle-tested, relatively cheap hardware with few strings attached. “Even in Africa, everywhere I go, they want U.A.V.s,” Mr. Erdogan boasted in October after a tour of Nigeria, Togo and Angola. (Drones are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles).

After Bayraktar drones appeared in Ethiopia recently, Turkish officials insisted the drone sale was a purely commercial activity —  defense and aviation exports to Ethiopia rose to $95 million this year, up from $235,000 in 2020, the Turkish Exporters Assembly reported.

Understand the Conflict in Ethiopia

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A year of war. On Nov. 4, 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed began a military campaign in the country’s northern Tigray region, hoping to vanquish the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — his most troublesome political foe.

But in recent days, Turkish officials have privately claimed to have frozen exports to Ethiopia, apparently in response to international pressure over a war that has become a byword for atrocities and starvation.

At least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, according to the United Nations.

Credit…Amanuel Sileshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In response to reports of civilians killed, detained or expelled, the United Nations Human Rights Council agreed on Friday to set up a commission to investigate abuses and identify perpetrators — the latest of many international initiatives that, until now, have failed to stop the suffering.

Mr. Abiy, meanwhile, is focused on his military campaign and its foreign sponsors. On Friday he landed in Istanbul for the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit — a two-day gathering of leaders from 39 African countries that, analysts say, is also a forum for Turkish arms sales.

His embrace of Iranian drones, although much less powerful than the Chinese or Turkish-made models, has further strained his relations with Washington.

Since August a number of cargo flights have arrived in Ethiopia operated by Iranian airlines that the U.S. has accused of being fronts for the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Flight-tracking blogs have made note of the shipments as well.

American officials in Addis Ababa have made private representations to Mr. Abiy about the Iranian flights, urging him to cut them off, a United States official said.

Mr. Abiy’s drone army remains modest: By several estimates, he has no more than a few dozen combat drones at his disposal, and they can be expensive to run, repair and supply with weapons. But they remain a potent threat to the Tigrayan forces, which themselves have no access to drones.

Mr. Singer, the drone expert, said the experimentation with drone warfare in Ethiopia and Libya has parallels with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, when outside powers used the fight to test new military technologies and to gauge international reaction to determine what they could get away with. “It’s a combination of war and battle lab,” he said.

But, he added, technology is no guarantee of victory. “The U.S. had drones in Afghanistan, yet the Taliban managed to hold out for 20 years,” he said. “Human will is what determines the outcome of war.

Kerkasha Project, Eritrea – Alpha Exploration Ltd

Tuesday, 14 December 2021 09:31 Written by


Eritrea Focushttps://i1.wp.com/eritreahub.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Eritrea-Focus-1.png?resize=300%2C140&ssl=1 300w" sizes="(max-width: 329px) 100vw, 329px" data-recalc-dims="1" style="box-sizing: inherit; border: 0px; max-width: 100%; height: auto; clear: both; display: block; margin-right: auto; margin-left: auto; margin-bottom: 1em; text-align: center;">

2 Thorpe Close, Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5XL

Press Release

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Habte Hagos

Kerkasha Project, Eritrea – Alpha Exploration Ltd

On 9 December 2021, Alpha Exploration Ltd based in Alberta, Canada and listed in the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSXV: ALEX) announced the results of a recent “diamond and reverse circulation drilling at the Anagulu gold-copper porphyry prospect part of the Company’s 100% owned Kerkasha Project, Eritrea[1]”.

In November, porphyry expert Dr. Richard Sillitoe spent six days studying the drill core and chips from Anagulu with Alpha geologists in Eritrea and confirmed that “Anagulu is undoubtedly a porphyry gold-copper system centered on a distinctive, dyke-like porphyry intrusion”.

Michael Hopley, Alpha President and CEO said, “We are very happy with these latest drill results because they extend the zone of known gold and copper mineralization with gold equivalent values of over about 1 g/t to approximately 400-meter strike length; this is very encouraging given that the rock-chip and soil-sample gold and copper results at Anagulu suggest it is at least 2,000 meters long. In addition, with Richard Sillitoe’s insights into the style and controls of mineralization at Anagulu, Alpha staff will have the knowledge to continue exploration to expand the size of Anagulu.”

Eritrea Focus is deeply concerned by yet another Canadian mining company’s involvement with the hermetic and pariah regime in Asmara that has been repeatedly accused by the UN of committing crimes against humanity on its own people over three decades. The regime is currently involved in a “war pact” with the Ethiopian government and executing the largest war in the world, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people, displacement of millions of people, endemic and systematic rape of women and girls, and other heinous crimes that will leave a lasting stain on our country.

In the light of these crimes, Eritrea Focus has consistently advocated for a total divestment from Eritrea and calls upon Alpha Exploration Ltd to do so immediately. To this end, Eritrea Focus has written to Mr Hopley asking for an urgent meeting to demand the Company divests from our country forthwith. The Eritrean people have made it abundantly clear over the years that they wish their natural resources to remain unexploited until such time a responsible and accountable government is installed in Eritrea.

We appeal to all human rights groups and individuals to help us in this endeavour by emailing or calling Mr Hopley; E:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Telephone: +44 207129 1148.

Thank you.


[1] Alpha Exploration Reports 95 M of 1.30 G/t Aueq from Anagulu Porphyry Gold-Copper Prospect, Kerkasha Project, Eritrea (yahoo.com)

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