US military says ready to respond to Ethiopia conflict
NAIROBI, Kenya - The United States army is ready to respond to the current conflict within the federal republic of Ethiopia, a senior general has told the BBC, amid escalating wrangles between Tigray Defense Forces [TDF] and the Ethiopia National Defense Forces [ENDF].
For a year, the ENDF and TDF have been embroiled in a serious conflict after the former attacked Northern Command, forcing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to deploy the army in Tigray. For almost six months, ENDF and allies were accused of orchestrating genocide in Tigray.
But since July this year, TDF has gained an advantage over ENDF, pushing further south, with calls for talks hitting a dead end. TDF has even vowed to conquer Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital with a rich history in the continent.
And in an interview, Major General William Zana Commander Joint Task Force in the Horn of Africa said the US was no longer comfortable with the crisis, adding that the US could respond through the military to avert the crisis.
"It's a big concern to us and strategic partners. We might be forced to respond militarily or even force a political settlement. The most important thing, for now, is to evacuate vulnerable people before we take swift action against the team."
He added: "The reason why we should not wait is that this conflict could make matters worse in Somalia or even South Sudan. We are keenly monitoring the situation and God willing, we shall ensure this conflict does not escalate."
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for his concerted effort to end the conflict. Obasanjo is the African Union envoy to the Horn of Africa and has been meeting Tigrayan leaders and authorities in Addis Ababa.
In a statement, TDF spokesperson Getachew Reda termed negotiations between Tigray leader and Obasanjo as "fruitful". However, formal negotiations are yet to kick-off and already, PM Abiy Ahmed has asked citizens to take arms against TDF.
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the head of the United Nations Security Council, asked the armed forces to increase surveillance in borders due to "threats to the country". He didn't mention a specific country that could be vulnerable but Somalia and Ethiopia are suspect.