The government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Monday, December 6, that it had retaken the towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, two cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants. While the tiger rebels of the TPLF were 180 km from the capital Addis Ababa ten days ago, they have begun a withdrawal to the Tigray region. The Tigrayan party of the TPLF called the withdrawal a « territorial readjustment.
« This was a very important decision, » said TPLF chairman Debretsion Gebremichael. Gebremichael rarely appears in public anymore. And this time it was to explain what he called « the result of an assessment » by his staff. He did not elaborate on that assessment, except to admit that his troops’ supply lines – stretched far from north to south – were difficult to hold. And that his forces had, in his words, « other problems to deal with.
In fact, within a week, the Tigrayan soldiers had withdrawn rapidly, along an axis of nearly 200 km towards Tigray. This leaves the way clear for pro-government soldiers and militiamen to re-invest in most towns in the Afar and Amhara regions.
Withdrawal due to drone strikes
The TPLF leader also assured that the tiger forces had not been diminished by the withdrawal. A diplomat posted in Addis Ababa has some doubts, reports our correspondent in Addis Ababa, Noé Hochet-Bodin. These losses are mainly due to drone strikes, which have become more frequent since the end of November, giving Addis Ababa a clear advantage on the battlefield.
But these drones are costly to maintain and arm, however, qualifies the study center Sahan Research. Given Ethiopia’s current economic situation, according to its latest analysis, rather than shortening the war, their entry « has simply created a new context for its prolongation.
The towns of Dessie and Kombolcha are particularly symbolic of the military reversal. Their capture by the tiger insurgents in early november raised fears of a collapse of the national army. With the recapture of the two towns, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his government are once again in control of the situation.
I believe that the two main factors are the popular mobilization and therefore the extent of the resistance that the Tigrayan rebels have encountered, and the air power of the federal government, which has renewed and improved its drone equipment. This has made it difficult for the tiger forces to maintain supply lines that are not exposed. This has made it difficult for the tiger forces to maintain unexposed supply lines, and has forced them to withdraw while they develop their strategy for the future.