Ethiopia braces for all out war as rebel forces advance towards country’s capital Addis Ababa

A year after fighting began in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, rebel forces are now advancing on the country’s capital as the authorities urge citizens to mobilize.

The government declared a six-month state of emergency on Tuesday, days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and authorities in Addis Ababa told Ethiopians to take up arms to defend their neighborhoods against the Tigray Defence Forces, an amalgamation of forces from the region’s former ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front and other rebel groups.

On Friday, nine anti-government groups in the country announced the formation of an alliance called the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces, with a view to overthrowing the government.

The alliance includes the TPLF, which has been embroiled in a conflict with the Ethiopian National Defence Force since November 2020 that has displaced more than 2 million people and killed thousands, according to UN.

The city administration in Addis Ababa last week held a candlelit memorial service for the victims of the Tigray conflict on its one-year anniversary. However, diplomats and regional leaders are now scrambling to bring the warring parties to the table as fears grow over the possible collapse of Africa’s second-most populous nation.

Regular airstrikes are continuing against Tigray’s regional capital, Mekelle, after a major offensive launched on October 11 failed to stem the advance of the TDF.

Various parties have made conflicting claims about the status of the TDF’s advances, but announcements from Addis Ababa have shown increasing alarm

Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa authorized the departure of non-emergency staff and family members after Washington said it was “gravely concerned” about the expansion and escalation of hostilities, and also urged private U.S. citizens to flee the country.