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Posts Tagged ‘Military’

Ethiopia | TDF Made One of The Most Amazing Comebacks in Recent Military History

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on July 23, 2021

💭 ኢትዮጵያ | የትግራይ መከላከያ ኃይል በቅርብ ወታደራዊ ታሪክ ውስጥ እጅግ አስደናቂ ከሆኑት መመለሻዎች መካከል አንዱን አደረገ

👉 ከጥቂት ወራቶች በፊት ትግራይ ውስጥ የተሸነፉ የሚመስሉት አርበኞች አሁን የአዲስ አበባን አቅርቦት ለመዝጋት እየዛቱ ነው ፡፡ ያ እንዴት ይቻላል?

💭 A Few Months Ago The Rebels Seemed Defeated in Tigray, Now They Are Threatening to Cut Off Addis Ababa’s Supply. How is That Possible?

👉 Reconstruction of a dramatic – but explainable – turnaround.

They made one of the most amazing comebacks in recent military history.

Courtesy: Neue Züricher Zeitung (NZZ) (Translated from the German)

👉 ከታዋቂው የስዊዘርላንድ “አዲስ የዙሪክ ጋዜጣ” የተወሰደ፤

Vor wenigen Monaten schienen die Rebellen in Tigray besiegt, nun drohen sie Addis Abeba die Versorgung abzuschneiden. Wie ist das möglich?

Rekonstruktion einer dramatischen – aber erklärbaren – Wende.

At the end of May, the man, whom some consider to be one of Africa’s best military strategists, gave an interview. He was sitting in front of a stone wall somewhere in the hinterland of Tigray, talking to a local journalist, and what Tsadkan Gebretinssae said sounded full-bodied.

“We see clearly that their defeat (that of the occupying forces) is approaching. We have created several brigades and cells within a few months, we will use them effectively soon. We need to plug a few more holes, but we’re working on that. “

Tsadkan is a legendary guerrilla leader, he defeated an Ethiopian government thirty years ago. But at the time of the interview, hardly anyone outside the Ethiopian region of Tigray would have bet money for the one announced by Tsadkan to arrive. The Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), of which Tsadkan is the Central Command, had been hiding in the mountains, leading out of the ambush war against the troops who invaded Tigray in November 2020. The TDF seemed strong enough not to be defeated – but too weak to launch an offensive.

But then, at the end of June, the rebels did just that. Within a few days they overran the Ethiopian army in Tigray. They conquered large parts of the region, including the capital Mekele. “Operation Alula” was the offensive. It was one of the most amazing comebacks in recent military history.

What’s more, the TDF has now entered the neighbouring region of Afar, apparently trying to cut off the link between the port in Djibouti and Addis Ababa. It is by far the most important supply route for the Ethiopian capital. If the TDF succeeds, the civil war enters a completely unpredictable phase. There are rumors that the militarily lucky Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed could threaten a coup.

How could it get that far?

Disastrous rumbling attacks

Before the rebels made an amazing comeback in Tigray, they suffered an amazing defeat. In early November 2020, the Ethiopian army began its offensive against Tigray. The conflict had begun since Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in spring 2018. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Tigray’s main political force, had previously determined Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades. Abiy put an end to this, removing the Tigray faction from important posts in the military, politics and administration. The TPLF withdrew to its region of origin, soon the signs of war stood – on 4 November 2020 he broke loose.

It was first a one-sided conflict, after less than four weeks he seemed decided. The TPLF troops had rapidly lost ground, on 28 November they also lost the capital Mekele. Prime Minister Abiy declared the offensive, which he had defined as a “criminal action,” to be over.

The Norwegian politologist Kjetil Tronvoll, who is in regular contact with the leadership of the rebels, gives two reasons for the fact that the fight in November was so one-sided: firstly, the Tigrayan troops were not prepared to be attacked by three fronts; In addition to the Ethiopian army, the Eritrean army advanced from the north as well as militias of the neighbouring region Amhara from the south. Secondly, drone strikes that the United Arab Emirates allied with Ethiopia flew from a base in Eritrea would have had a devastating effect. The attacks destroyed Tigrayan tanks and heavy war equipment and killed several TPLF leaders.

The accusation that the UAE would support the campaign in Tigray with drones had been expressed early by TPLF representatives – experts believe this is possible, it is not documented.

In December and January, the rebels went for survival. The Ethiopian government maintained a “Most Wanted” list of 167 TPLF leaders. Within two weeks of January alone, the Ethiopian army captured or killed 47 of the wanted. The most prominent victim was Seyoum Mesfin, a 71-year-old former foreign minister who was shot dead by Ethiopian soldiers.

It seemed a matter of time before the list would be cut off. But it came differently.

The return of the almost 70-year-old general

For those who had saved themselves in the mountains of Tigrays were not helpless politicians, but some of the most experienced military of Ethiopia. The core of the TPLF leadership was a group of men who had fought a guerrilla war against the Ethiopian central state forty years ago. Debretsion Gebremichael, for example, the TPLF chairman, had joined the TPLF in the 1970s, when it was a rebel organization fighting the communist Derg regime.

Or Tsadkan Gebretinssae, the man who announced the defeat of the Ethiopian army in the interview. According to the BBC, he had joined the TPLF in 1976, when it only numbered a few hundred fighters. He became one of their most important commanders and led the 1991 attack on Addis Ababa, which put an end to the Derg regime. At that time the TPLF had become an army with over 100,000 fighters.

After the TPLF took power, Tsadkan was Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Army and led it into a war with Eritrea in 1998, which cost nearly 80,000 lives. Later the general was dismissed because he had resigned with the then TPLF Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. In 2019, he participated in negotiations between the TPLF and Prime Minister Abiy. They were unsuccessful – and after the war broke loose, Tsadkan joined the rebels. He later said, “I had the choice to surrender to either foreign forces or those of Abiy or to go into resistance. I chose the latter. ” Tsadkan again has a key military role, he is almost 70 years old.

Besides Debretsion, Tsadkan and the other former guerrilla fighters, many more capable military forces found themselves in the mountains of Tigray; Tadesse Worede, for example, the commander-in-chief of the Tigrayan troops, had once led UN peacekeepers in Sudan. In addition, there were officers at all hierarchy levels who had either been expelled from the Ethiopian army or deserted.

One of the most militarized regions in the world

These experienced military forces now sent themselves to organize the resistance in Tigray. According to TPLF expert Kjetil Tronvoll, they received indirect support from the American government: after Joe Biden took office, the Americans pressured the UAE to end drone strikes in Yemen. These were flown from the same base in Eritrea, from which the attacks against the TPLF allegedly also originated. According to media reports, the Emirates largely shut down the base in February.

The absence of drone strikes gave air to the Tigrayan rebels. At the same time, tens of thousands of volunteers flocked to newly established training camps. Mass recruitment was a consequence of the humanitarian drama that has been taking place in Tigray since November. The Eritrean, Ethiopian and Amharic troops are blamed for numerous war crimes. Several thousand civilians were killed in massacres, and hundreds of women were raped. American Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, among others, spoke of “ethnic cleansing” in connection with the events in Tigray.

Tronvoll says that many Tigrayans have seen no other way out than to go to the mountains and fight: “They said to themselves: If we stay home, they come, rape our sisters, kill our mothers or us. If we want to survive, we have no choice but to join the rebels. “

In training camps new recruits were trained by experienced military personnel. There was no lack of weapons, the Tigray on the fragile border with Eritrea is one of the most militarized regions in the world. According to Tronvoll, many of the new fighters brought weapons sufficient for guerrilla combat; Kalashnikov rifles, for example.

The Tigray Defense Forces, consisting not only of members of the TPLF, but also members of other parties, deserters and militias and tens of thousands of people who were civilians until recently, grew. Tsadkan Gebretinssae said in one of his interviews: “Combining these two elements – experienced and capable commanders and a society with a military tradition – takes only a short time to reorganize and take control.”

That seems to have actually happened.

The destroyed command structure of the Ethiopian army

In June, the TDF commanders considered themselves strong enough to go on the offensive. Until then, they had carried out strategic attacks, which were often just needle stitches. But in these, for example, the TDF captured heavy war equipment that would soon be useful to them.

Finally, on June 18, the TDF launched Operation Alula, named after a Tigrayan general from the 19 century. The offensive was of resounding success; the Ethiopian army, which had mainly occupied cities and main axes of traffic, was surrounded in many places and cut off from supplies. Ten days after the offensive began, the TDF captured the capital Mekele. Images and videos from the city showed fighters parading through the city in a triumphal procession. The inhabitants celebrated the rebels, they waved Tigray flags, fireworks popped.

The TDF’s stormy offensive would not have been so successful if the Ethiopian army had resisted more severely. But the army is weakened because it has suffered a spate of Tigrayan officers in recent years – they had formed the backbone of the Ethiopian army after 1991. Prime Minister Abiy arrested thousands of Tigrayan officers for allegedly not trusting them. According to Kjetil Tronvoll, the command structure of the army was practically destroyed – meanwhile, old commanders from the time of the Derg regime again assume a key role. They face their former opponents of the TPLF, to whom they are already inferior.

The TDF are no longer waging a guerrilla war, they are continuing their offensive. They also want to free the north and the west of Tigray. In addition, they have penetrated the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar in order to create a buffer zone.

“The TDF are currently running as fast as they can,” says Kjetil Tronvoll. On the one hand, they wanted to prevent the Ethiopian army from reestablishing itself. On the other hand, they tried to open access to humanitarian aid – according to the UN, more than five million people in Tigray are in urgent need of aid. The only way to get help is through Afar.

The main supply route for Addis Ababa also runs through Afar. Around 95 percent of Ethiopia’s import volume enters the country from the port of Djibouti via Afar, including fuel and food. In recent days, the signs have increased that the TDF could try to cut the route from Djibouti to Addis. It would be a disaster for Prime Minister Abiy’s government.

For the ancient Tigrayan guerrillas and their highly motivated army, perhaps the moment when, thanks to them, the leaf would have finally turned in the civil war.

Source

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