Saudi embassy in Ethiopia asks citizens to leave country amid unrest

News of rebel groups’ alliance has raised concerns

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Ethiopia has called on its citizens to leave the African country immediately.

The embassy asked Saudi citizens to leave “in light of the current circumstances” in Ethiopia, after fighting intensified between government forces and rebels from the northern Tigray region who could advance on the capital.

Saudis were urged to contact the embassy in case of an emergency.

The US followed suit and ordered non-emergency government employees to leave Ethiopia, its embassy in Addis Ababa said on Saturday.

“Incidents of civil unrest and ethnic violence are occurring without warning. The situation may escalate further and may cause supply chain shortages, communications blackouts and travel disruptions,” the embassy said.

‘Existential war’

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government declared a national state of emergency on Tuesday, saying it was locked in an “existential war” with forces from Tigray and their allies.

On Saturday, Mr Abiy said Ethiopia must be ready to make sacrifices to “salvage” the country.

A day earlier, nine rebel groups said they would form an alliance built around the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which has been locked in a year-long war against government forces.

TPLF representative Berhane Gebre-Christos said the alliance aimed to “remove the regime”, as he signed the agreement in Washington.

On Saturday, Mr Abiy tweeted that “there are sacrifices to be made, but those sacrifices will salvage Ethiopia”.

“We have seen the tests and obstacles and it made us stronger. We have more allies than the people who turned their backs on us.”

Rebel advance continues

Last weekend, the TPLF said it had taken two strategic cities in the northern Amhara region, where its fighters advanced after retaking Tigray in June.

The conflict in the north of Ethiopia started a year ago when forces loyal to the TPLF seized military bases in the Tigray region.

In response, Mr Abiy sent in forces that initially drove the TPLF out of the regional capital of Mekele, but that have faced a sharp reversal in fortunes since June this year.

The US has said it is “gravely concerned” about the fighting and called for a halt to military operations in favour of ceasefire talks.

On Friday, the UN Security Council expressed alarm about the worsening conflict in Ethiopia.

Updated: November 6th 2021, 4:22 PM