Can the Tigray conflict be defused?

A brutal civil war has been raging between the Ethiopian army and the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia since November. Now the TDF has apparently gained the upper hand, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced a ceasefire. But this is not the end of the violence, commentators fear.

Open/close all quotes
Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Mediator urgently needed

Gazeta Wyborcza fears that no one either in Ethiopia or abroad has the power to resolve the conflict:

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has lied, saying that the war was over, that there are no crimes, that no Eritreans are involved and that there are only terrorists at the front with whom one cannot negotiate. He has lost his credibility. ... Before it comes to a war of everyone against everyone, as happened a quarter of a century ago in the Congo, someone must mediate, preferably a respected African statesman. But the Mandela era has long since ended.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

End of the multi-ethnic state

The Süddeutsche Zeitung also doubts that the prime minister can contribute to a solution:

“The end of Ethiopia in its current form as a multi-ethnic state is looming. Tigray is the most acute, but not the only source of conflict in this country of 110 million where dozens of different population groups live side by side. Again and again, unrest flares up, again and again the distribution of power and resources is at stake. And even if it looked different at the beginning: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is clearly not the man who can resolve this complicated situation peacefully.”

The Guardian (GB) /

From peacemaker to criminal

Abiy Ahmed is mainly to blame for the violence and hunger in Tigray, says The Guardian:

“Like his homicidal predecessor, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Abiy flatly denies the famine. Last week he claimed: 'There is no hunger in Tigray.' If justice is ever done, we might one day witness the remarkable spectacle of a Nobel laureate on trial for crimes against humanity. ... No part of the catastrophe in Tigray is natural or inevitable. Abiy, with his allies in Eritrea, is turning a thriving, prosperous region into the scene of another historic disaster. And he won’t stop until the world wakes up.”

Der Standard (AT) /

David has felled Goliath

The Ethiopian army's failure is due to the resistance of the population in the Tigray region, observes Der Standard:

“Even the greatest military superiority is of no use when an occupying army is fighting an enemy that can count on the support of the population. ... Now the apparently prematurely awarded Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed and his dangerous Eritrean friend Isaias Afwerki have been left with a bloody nose. They thought they could crush the common enemy under their military boots. But Tigray's Davids felled the two Goliaths.”