As fighting continues between government forces and Tigrayan rebels, it is a new concern for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: a new front was opened last weekend between Afars and Issas.
It is a strategic and controversial sector between the Afar and Somali regions. Somali authorities accuse Afar militia members of committing a massacre in a city and reviving an already protracted conflict between these two neighboring peoples in the northeast.
The battlefield is a long corridor that crosses the Afar region from south to north, a major road that connects the federal capital Addis Ababa and the regional capital Semera. Several places inhabited by Issas, therefore Somalis, are along this road, which runs along the Afar side of the border with the Somali region.
And it was one of them, Gedamayitu, that Afar regional forces attacked on Saturday, according to several official sources. No assessment could be made from an independent source, but Somalis are talking about “hundreds dead”.
For several years, Issas, who lives in this corridor, has demanded his connection to the Somali region, sometimes with his arms in his hand. But this time, this house of violence for violence is revived while the Africans who support the federal army also face the Tigrayan uprising, a few tens of kilometers away in the west.
The Tigrayans are trying to reduce the supply route between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, which is important for the government and the federal army. However, the road where Gedamayitu is located is an alternative road to Djibouti.
This is also the case for the train that connects the Ethiopian and Djibouti capitals. But it is also cut now due to the opening of this new front between Afars and Somalis.