The government statement also calls on all Ethiopians to be “the eyes & ears of the country in order to track down & expose spies & agents” of the Tigray forces.
A sense of desperation is setting in among the Ethiopian government.
On August 10th, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued a statement calling on all Ethiopians capable of wielding a weapon to enlist in the military and crush the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). He said that “now” was the right time for all capable Ethiopians “who are of age” to join the Defense Forces, Special Forces and militias. The purpose for this is for citizens to show their patriotism, and fight against other citizens of their own country.
The statement also takes aim at some in the international community, blaming them for the “machinations of foreign hands” in the nine-month war that has spilled from Tigray into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.
The call by Ahmed furthermore reinforces the idea that the unilateral government-imposed ceasefire has entirely failed, after being openly mocked by the TPLF.
Tigray forces say they want to secure their blockaded region, end the fighting and see the prime minister leave office. The TPLF claim they don’t want further gains, or control over large swathes of the country. This isn’t Afghanistan and the Tigray Forces are not the Taliban. Still, the central government is painting a picture of existential crisis, in which the TPLF threaten the everyday existence of the normal Ethiopian citizen.
To reinforce that, the government statement also calls on all Ethiopians to be “the eyes and ears of the country in order to track down and expose spies and agents” of the Tigray forces. Everybody could be an enemy, and the very status quo, the way of life is under threat, at least it is presented as such in claims. All these claims are accompanied by dubious attacks and raids, all of which are denied by the TPLF.
After retaking control of most of Tigray in late June and early July, Tigrayan forces have pushed into the adjoining Afar and Amhara regions, capturing the United Nations World Heritage site of Lalibela. In an alleged attack in the Afar region on August 5th, 12 people who had been forced from their homes by violence were killed, said Mohammed Yesuf, head of the Dubti Hospital. 46 people were treated for injuries at the hospital, he told Reuters by phone.
The TPLF entirely denied responsibility for these attacks, while the central government accuses them.
When the tables were turned and Addis Ababa was in control of Tigray’s capital Mekelle, there were opposing claims saying the government was hunting ordinary citizens and detaining them for allegedly spying and other “crimes”. Quite questionable conduct for a Prime Minister who won a Nobel Peace Prize. Furthermore, what Abiy Ahmed is doing now is stoking full-blown civil war, because the TPLF wishes for him to resign and a new government to be formed.
If the “full mobilization” strategy turns into reality, it is entirely unknown how the pieces will fall and what the remains of Ethiopia will look like in the ensuing chaos.