What Tigray and Ethiopia need for peace talks to succeed
On August 24, 2022, an unexpected problem arose from the nine-month truce between the Tigrayan and Ethiopian governments, with a very large military assault across dozens of fronts in Tigray.
In December 2021, the informal ending of hostilities was reached following Tigrayan forces' withdrawal from the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.
In the ensuing period, the two parties called for intervention to put an end to the war as northern Ethiopia's humanitarian situation deteriorated. Intervention efforts by the United States to restore the ceasefire in early September failed.
The fatal war in Tigray, which claimed the lives of over half a million people, left over 5.6 million Tigrayans hungry and displaced another two million, has reappeared.
For a while, the signs have been ominous in some ways. At the beginning of August, the Addis Ababa government criticised a joint visit by envoys of the United Nations, European and US Union to the region's capital Mekelle and refused to lift the siege on Tigray.
Still, a new opportunity for peace has emerged. If parties to the conflict and bodies like the UN, which is currently meeting in New York, can make use of it urgently.
On the Ethiopian New Year on September 11, 2022 – the government of Tigray showed its readiness to continue negotiations arranged by the African Union, effectively making Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responsible for what happens next.
Proactive mediation is now needed to stop the whole region from sinking into a greater abyss, alleviate the suffering of millions and save tens of thousands of lives.
Negotiations between the Ethiopian and Tigray governments will determine the future of the region and the country.
66 million people in the Horn of Africa are already affected by drought. The international community stakes are very high. What can then be done to restore the truce and build a permanent ceasefire? What requires to be accomplished for a successful mediation?
On one side are Amhara, Eritrean and Ethiopian forces marshalling the resources of more than 120 million population with two sovereign states as well as their foreign allies providing military-grade drones.
On the other side of the war are the Tigray Defence Forces (TDF), representing the popular resistance of fewer than eight million people in Tigray.
The war of attrition will be two years on November 4, 2022.