The leader of the People’s Liberation Front of Tigray (TPLF) Debretsion Gebremichael has announced the withdrawal of the army from parts of Ethiopia and that he would return to Tigray. ‘We are confident that our bold withdrawal act will be a decisive opening for peace,’ wrote Debretsion Gebremichael, the head of the TPLF, in a letter to the United Nations. In particular, the forces of the Tigrinya Liberation Army withdrew from the Ahmara and Afar regions. ‘We have just completed the withdrawal of our forces from both Amhara&Afar regions. By doing so, we believe we have taken away whatever excuse the the international community to explain its feet-dragging when it comes to putting pressure on AbiyAhmed & his regional partners in crime’: the press release arrived with this statement released through social media, by the spokesperson for the Tplf Getachew K Reda.

With that note, the Tplf spokesman announced the withdrawal of the Tigrinya army from the Amhara and Afar region. But it is not a declaration of surrender. According to information coming from the press office of the Tplf, the Tigrinya army is said to be strengthening its defensive positions in the controlled areas.

Getachew K Reda called the position of the international community “unbeliavible”, which stopped all mediation for the holiday season. The move by the TPLF does not convince the Ethiopian government. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed downplayed the announcement of the withdrawal of the TPLF and called it an attempt by the Tigrinya rebels to hide the “crushing defeat” inflicted by the national army. Abiy Ahmed also stated that the Ethiopian armed forces will not attack in the Tigray region and therefore an advance in that region is ruled out, at least for the moment. But Abiy Ahmed also warns that the decision could be overturned if “territorial sovereignty” were threatened. The Addis Ababa government must move with great balance, trying to maintain a strong recent alliance with Eritrea, the historical enemy of Ethiopia and today one of its main supporters.

The civil war in Ethiopia has been going on for over a year. Ethiopia’s economy is in dire straits. Year-on-year inflation stood at 34% in October, while food prices peaked at 41% in the same month. According to a recent UN report, an estimated 22 million Ethiopians will require humanitarian assistance in 2022. The international community cannot find a solution for Ethiopia. In the background, the Addis Ababa government and the TPLF accuse each other of crimes against humanity. Last week, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva voted to establish an international commission to investigate reports of violations during the conflict.