The United States government on Monday confirmed that Tigrayan forces were withdrawing from some northern regions of Ethiopia as the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali backed by China continues to gain the upper hand in the yearlong conflict.
“Today we’re aware of reports of Tigrayan withdrawal from some regions in northern Ethiopia,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a press briefing in Washington D.C. on Monday.
Price tried to frame the withdrawal as a good move but his optimism is undercut by the facts on the ground, as there seems to be no movement in the diplomatic efforts between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and their allies. Humanitarian access has not been granted and hundreds of thousands of people in Tigray remain at an increased risk of famine.
“We have long, as you know, urged a cessation of hostilities, including the return of TPLF forces to Tigray. We have long urged that humanitarian access I spoke to. We have long urged an end to human rights abuses and violations and for a negotiated resolution to the conflict. So, in fact, if we do see a movement of Tigrayan forces back into Tigray, that is something we would welcome. It’s something we’ve called for. And we hope it opens the door to broader diplomacy,” Price said.
He added that the United States continues to call for “an immediate cessation of hostilities, an end to ongoing human rights abuses and violations, unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray and other parts of northern Ethiopia, and a negotiated resolution to the conflict, which not only puts at risk those throughout the country but also poses a threat to regional security in the Horn of Africa.”
“We know that there is not a military solution to this conflict. We – and to that end, we support diplomacy as the first, the last, really the only option to resolve the ongoing conflict. We reiterate our call for the Ethiopian government to start a credible, inclusive national dialogue,” he added.