Ethiopia: Tigray Rebels Start Handing over Heavy Weapons

    Ethiopia: Tigray Rebels Start Handing over Heavy Weapons
    Last updated Jan 11, 2023
    Image credit: AP Photo [via Al Jazeera]


    • A spokesman for the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) announced on Wednesday that the group has begun handing over its heavy weapons — a key part of the agreement signed more than two months ago to end the brutal conflict in northern Ethiopia.[1]
    • The demobilization of TPLF forces is central to a Nov. 2 ceasefire agreement, which also included the restoration of services, humanitarian assistance, and the withdrawal of Eritrean troops who fought alongside the Ethiopian army yet were not a party to the ceasefire.[2]
    • It is challenging to independently verify the situation on the ground, as access to Tigray is still heavily restricted, but a local aid worker in Tigray told the press on Wednesday that he saw Eritrean troops and members of armed forces from the neighboring Amhara region in the city of Shire.[3]
    • Local media on Tuesday quoted the Ethiopian military saying that the federal army had received a variety of weapons, including armored tanks, rockets, and mortars. A TPLF spokesperson hoped that the handover of weapons would "go a long way in expediting the full implementation of the agreement."[4]
    • The conflict started in November 2020, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military operation to arrest TPLF leaders after they had challenged his government's authority for months. The pretext of the assault was previous TPLF attacks against federal military bases.[5]
    • The NGO Amnesty International and the International Crisis Group think tank have described the conflict as "one of the deadliest in the world." The precise toll is unknown as the conflict primarily occurred in areas with media restrictions.[5]


    Narrative A

    The TPLF has followed the deal's conditions, even as the federal government continues obstructing aid delivery to Tigray. The TPLF's leadership signed the agreement for the sake of the people of Tigray, as the region has yearned for peace and stability after the last two years of unending bloodshed. However, since Eritrea's atrocities and refusal to withdraw from the region threaten to derail the peace process, the TPLF needs to stay in the region to protect its people.

    Narrative B

    Though these developments are promising, the Western-backed TPLF has used previous ceasefires to reorganize its forces, buy more weapons, and recruit more rebel fighters. This ceasefire may not be any different. The TPLF has continued to make false statements regarding aid delivery and airstrikes. The fact that the TPLF wants Eritrean forces to exit Ethiopia — and give up their arms and ammunition — shows the terrorist group's true colors: it may be simply preparing to reignite this brutal war.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 51% chance that Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed will experience a significant leadership disruption before 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Articles on this story