Abiy roadshow heads to UAE to pay homage

Just three months ago, Addis Ababa looked set to be captured by Tigrayan forces. Now, Ethiopia’s prime minister feels secure enough to venture out of the country, dropping in on friends, allies and patrons of the state, who helped turn the war in the government’s favour.

More than a week ago, it was a visit to the United Arab Emirates, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was received by Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Emirates News Agency noted that Abiy thanked his counterpart for “the UAE’s stances and its initiatives that support peace and security” in Ethiopia.

A BBC investigation described what that support looks like. It found evidence of 119 cargo flights over five months last year between UAE military airports and the Harar Meda air- base near Addis Ababa, as well as Bole, the main international airport in the capital.

The broadcaster analysed satellite images and footage of the remnants of a missile used in a 16 December attack on Alamata marketplace in southern Tigray.

It found that Ethiopia had been using a type of Chinese-made drone and missile, models that are stockpiled by the UAE.

The attack killed at least 28 civilians.

The introduction of drones appears to have changed the balance of the war. By October last year, Tigrayan forces were routing the national army. Then the drones arrived, allowing the government to destroy their armoured vehicles, artillery and other supporting equipment.

The rebels have since been forced back.

Abiy will have more countries to thank, as Iranian and Turkish drones have reportedly been used in the war, too.  


This article first appeared in The Continent, the pan-African weekly newspaper read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy at mg.co.za/thecontinent.

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The Continent
The Continent is a free weekly newspaper published by the Adamela Trust in partnership with the Mail & Guardian.

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