Turning point in the Tigray conflict
Ethiopia saw a turning point in the Tigray conflict last Monday. The military arm of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) recaptured the regional capital Mekelle from the hands of the Ethiopian armed forces. The Ethiopian army had captured the provincial capital about seven months ago with the support of the Eritrean military. Only a short time after the military defeat, the central government of President Abiy Ahmed declared a unilateral and unconditional ceasefire until the end of the upcoming harvest season. According to the central government, the ceasefire should on the one hand help to improve access for humanitarian aid and on the other hand enable the rapid reconstruction of the region. However, TPLF leaders have so far categorically rejected the ceasefire. The Eritrean side has not yet taken a position on the ceasefire. On Tuesday, the insurgents captured further areas in the conflict region of Tigray. These include the town of Shire, located about 140 kilometres northwest of the provincial capital Mekelle. Due to the latest developments, the USA, Ireland and the United Kingdom requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the end of the week. The future of the country depends on whether and when the conflict-parties can be persuaded to engage in dialogue. However, there is currently little to suggest that this could happen soon. Meanwhile, months of fighting have already led to a humanitarian crisis in Tigray. The United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 1.7 million people have been displaced. Five million people in Tigray are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Replacement of the leadership in Burkina Faso
On Wednesday, Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré announced that he had removed both Defence Minister Chériff Sy and Security Minister Ousséni Compaoré from their posts. In future, Kaboré will take over as Defence Minister in addition to his role as President of the country, and Maxime Koné will replace Security Minister Compaoré. The change was preceded by numerous deadly attacks, which, despite the thousands of UN peacekeepers stationed on the ground, have increased sharply since the beginning of the year. Those responsible are groups formerly from Mali and are seen in connection with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. In particular, the attacks in Solhan on 4th and 5th June this year had led to protests throughout the country. In mid-June, the political opposition called for the dismissal of Prime Minister Dabiré and Defence Minister Compaoré in view of the worsening situation. Before his re-election in November 2020, Kaboré had promised to start negotiations with the Islamists, an election promise that was met with a lack of understanding by large parts of the population and has not yet been fulfilled. Due to the latest incidents, Kaboré now came under increasing pressure – also from the civil society movement Sens – to take steps to ensure peace and security in the country. But it is not only the domestic political developments that are likely to have an impact on security in Burkina Faso. On 10 June, French President Emmanuel Macron had announced the end of Operation Barkhane and consequently the withdrawal of French troops from the Sahel after seven years. Although France does not maintain its own military bases in Burkina Faso, patrols are regularly sent into the country from neighbouring Mali. It remains to be seen how the French withdrawal will affect the tense situation in Burkina Faso.
In other news
The annual Sardine Run has reached the South African port city of Durban. Like every summer between May and July, billions of sardines swim from the cold south to the warm north. During their migration, the fish move very close to the coast because they are being chased by hungry predatory fish and birds. So, it is not only professional fishermen who enjoy an excellent yield, but also the local population who use simple plastic containers as the fish are easy to catch due to their proximity to the beach. Those who do not want to try and catch the sardines themselves can buy them at one of the stalls on the beach. The fascinating natural spectacle is so powerful that it can even be observed by satellite and attracts – under normal conditions – numerous visitors from all over the world.