About 100 drone strikes reportedly occurred across different parts of Ethiopia’s Amhara region following the government’s declaration of a state of emergency there in August 2023. However, this estimate lacks independent verification due to restricted access for journalists and Human Rights Activists to the region.
Until recently, the Ethiopian Government, through the Communication Services Ministry, had not disclosed any information about the recurring drone strikes.
This week Ethiopian Defense Chief FM Berhahu Jula confirmed the drone attacks in the Amhara region during an interview at the Ethiopian Air Force Premise in Debre Zeit (Bishoftu). Not only did he publicly admit to the use of drone attacks by his forces, but he also vowed to continue doing so, asserting that the Fano movement had been significantly impacted. “Whenever we identify quality targets, we will strike… We acquired the drones to use them, not for display,” he emphasized.
Reports covering drone strikes in the region have indicated civilian casualties, including during religious ceremonies. The Defense Chief denied these claims, stating that civilians were not the intended targets. However, he cautioned individuals to stay away from Fano combatants.
Since August of this year, hundreds of civilians have reportedly died in the Amhara region due to drone strikes and artillery shelling—a fact confirmed by human rights organizations within and outside Ethiopia.
Aside from confirming drone strikes in the region, the Defense Chief addressed various key political issues in the country, the undisclosed negotiations with the militant ethnic Oromo nationalist group (“Oromo Liberation Army” – OLA) and the rights to self-determination up to secession. Although the Ethiopian government has not publicly disclosed details regarding the upcoming negotiations with OLA, Field Marshal Berhanu Jula indicated that there would be a third and final one. The second phase took place in Tanzania in November this year and ended without agreement.
While asserting that Fano forces in the Amhara region have suffered substantial losses, he cautioned that Ethiopia could face disintegration if an armed faction seized power. He highlighted that the current situation differs from the past and emphasized the potential shift towards “the right to self-determination, possibly leading to secession.” On the other hand, credible reports by news outlets with links in the Amhara region indicate that Fano Forces are stronger than they were before. Politicians like Yilkal Getnet predict the end of Abiy Ahmed’s political game in a matter of two-to-three months.
His characterization of the killings of ethnic Amhara individuals, which have occurred repeatedly in Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions and other parts of Ethiopia, drew widespread criticism. He stated, “In order not to be killed, do not kill first.” It is public knowledge that tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara civilians had been massacred in the Wollega region of Ethiopia over the past five years and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government appeared to be unwilling or unable to end them. The OLA is linked to the massacres.
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