Amhara Has Become Ethiopia’s Latest Battlefield

Amhara Has Become Ethiopia’s Latest Battlefield
A destroyed tank is seen by the side of the road in an area of western Tigray annexed by the Amhara region during the then-ongoing Tigray War, in Humera, Ethiopia, May 1, 2021 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

The end of the war in Tigray in November 2022 brought relative peace to the region and eased international pressure on Addis Ababa. Yet, it has precipitated the explosion of another devastating war, this time between Ethiopian government forces and their erstwhile partners in the Tigray war from the country’s Amhara region.

Beginning in late July, local militias known as the Fanos overran rural areas of Amhara as well as the regional capital in Bahir Dar, establishing de facto control over the region. The president of the Amhara regional government, Yilikal Kefyale, called for the intervention of the federal government, after having reportedly fled Bahir Dar over fears for his safety. On Aug. 4, the federal government declared a state of emergency in the region, followed by an intense military campaign by government forces to retake control of Amhara.

The outbreak of fighting is just the latest security crisis that Amhara has faced in recent years. In June 2019, the region’s security chief, Gen. Asaminew Tsige, attempted to seize power in a failed coup that cost the lives of the then-regional president, several Cabinet members of the regional government and a number of security personnel. Parts of the Amhara region were also affected by the Tigray war. On top of that, repeated clashes between regional security forces and Fano militias on one side, and members of minority ethnic groups—such as the Qimant and the Oromo of Amhara’s Oromia Zone—have rattled the region over the past five years. And clashes across regional borders between Fano militias and armed groups from the Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions have also become common.

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