Djibouti denies sending troops to Ethiopia border as thousands gather in Addis Ababa in support of ENDF
NAIROBI, Kenya - Djibouti has come out battling claims that its troops have been dispatched to the common border with Ethiopia, even as the conflict between Addis Ababa and Tigray Defense Forces [TDF] rages, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed struggles to bring order in the country.
Reports of plans by Djibouti to dispatch troops to the border with Ethiopia emerged on Tuesday, with the end game being blocking TDF from cutting rail and road links to Djibouti as a strategy to suffocate Addis Ababa economically. Ethiopia depends on the Port of Djibouti for imports and exports.
But IIyas Dawaleh, the Minister of Economy and Finance in charge of Industry in Djibouti, denied the claims, adding that there has been no movement of Djiboutian troops to the common border with Ethiopia.
According to him, there is no "immediate" risk that can trigger Djibouti to consider that option. He also rallied for peace and stability in the Horn of Africa, adding that everyone within the region should be considerate enough to promote reconciliation.
"Dear Brother Abdi, I ignore your source but I can assure you that no single soldier or any Armor was moved to Border," he said. "We do not foresee any risks to consider for such move. Having said that, we sincerely believe that Our region deserves Peace, Stability, and Wisdom."
This is the first major statement from Djibouti over the allegations, which brought about mixed feelings for the better part of Wednesday. Ethiopia is in conflict with the Tigray Defense Forces, with the latter accusing the former of committing genocide in the Tigray region.
But despite Djibouti's defense, images taken from Google on Wednesday showed that the road from Djibouti to Ethiopia has been closed. Satellite images [Sentinel-hub] show long lines of trucks, closely packed, Stretching about 8km from the border into Djibouti, and no sign of passing trucks on the Ethiopian side.
Garowe Online had established that Djiboutian troops had moved towards the common border with Ethiopia in the North, in what is aimed at thwarting a possible threat by Tigray Defense Forces [TDF], which is embroiled in a conflict with authorities in Addis Ababa.
The TDF has been battling with Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] following the latter's operations in the Tigray region, which left thousands of civilians dead and millions displaced. ENDF was temporarily withdrawn from Tigray but TDF accuses them of blocking supply routes to Tigray.
According to sources, the Djiboutian troops in the company of armored vehicles were sighted moving towards the common border with Ethiopia, something which could escalate the conflict in the Horn of Africa.
In recent weeks, TDF, a separatist group in Ethiopia pushing for secession of Tigray, has been accusing Ethiopia of using foreign military especially from Eritrea and local Amhara regional forces to unleash on innocent Tigrayans. The TDF withdrew from the Ethiopian government once PM Abiy Ahmed took over.
The Djiboutian troops, reports indicate, are keen to boost the defense of key road and rail links with Ethiopia. At least 95 percent of Ethiopia's cargo transits through this corridor from the Port of Djibouti, which serves Addis Ababa for decades now.
Tigrayan forces are now in Afar State and could potentially cut off the transport corridor, sources say. The TDF, failed to honor the ceasefire declared by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, arguing that the national army had lost the battle in the Tigray region.
Garowe Online established that TDF has devised a new strategy to cripple the Ethiopian administration, just a week after Addis Ababa seemingly abandoned the ceasefire which it had declared, fueling tensions in Ethiopia in the latest development.
On Thursday, thousands of Ethiopians convened in Addis Ababa's Meskel Square to demonstrate in support of the federal troops who are embroiled in a conflict with TDF. There are fears that the two sides could yet again clash in the coming months.