The US State Department is now urging all Americans in Ethiopia to leave the war-torn country "as soon as possible". This after the US Embassy in Addis Ababa previously posted a "do not travel" advisory to its official website and began making preparations of its own to evacuate non-essential staff.
At the start of this week, the Ethiopian government went so far as to tell residents of the capital city of some 5 million people to start arming themselves as rebel Tigrayan fighters began a march southward from their northern enclave, with plans to overthrow the government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
In recent days rebel commanders have claimed to be holding positions just outside the capital, after previously overrunning government positions in the town of Kemissie, some 200 miles to the northeast. A six month state of emergency, or what essentially gives authorities martial law powers over the civilian populace, went into effect on Wednesday. On the same day PM Abiy vowed that "Ethiopia will not collapse. Ethiopia will prosper."
"Ethiopia will forever exist with her honor by defeating all who test her through the blood and bones of her children," he added, after days prior saying the rebels will be buried "with our blood".
The rebel coalition led by Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been in an intense war that's included government airpower being used on the Tigray region, looks to be growing and poised to soon enter the capital. A new AFP report also strongly suggests increasing United States political involvement in support of the anti-government fighters:
Nine rebel groups battling Ethiopia's government will "collaborate and join forces" Friday, they said in a statement announcing the alliance, which comes as fears grow of Tigrayan fighters advancing on the capital.
The alliance, due to be signed in Washington later on Friday, includes the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been locked in a year-long war against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government.
So now it appears Washington is playing host to an early seed form version of an "exile opposition government" - akin to what happened with Syria starting a decade ago.
"We... are pleased to announce the establishment of the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist forces," said Admassu Tsegaye, representative of Agew Democratic Movement, during a signing ceremony held in Washington. "This front is composed of forces fighting against the genocidal regime in Ethiopia."
The signing ceremony of the formation of the United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Con-federalist Forces at the Washington DC National Press Club. TPLF and OLF are some of the nine political and armed forces of Ethiopia. @SecBlinken @JosepBorrellF @SenatorMenendez @USAmbUN pic.twitter.com/OHp7RrW93d— Kassa HaileMariam (@Kuluhama) November 5, 2021
At the same time US officials have increasingly denounced war crimes attributed to Ethiopian government forces. President Biden himself early this week slammed the Ethiopian government's "gross violations of internationally recognized human rights" and cut the country from a key US trade program, the African Growth and Opportunity Act - which gave it duty-free access to US goods. The move is seen as paving the way for further and more far-reaching sanctions, which would likely target top Ethiopian officials who are overseeing the war.
On Wednesday the US Embassy described the following preparations being made in the instance of war entering the Ethiopian capital: "The (State) Department authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and family members of emergency and non-emergency employees from Ethiopia due to armed conflict, civil unrest, and possible supply shortages."
"The government of Ethiopia has previously restricted or shut down internet, cellular data, and phone services during and after civil unrest," the US Embassy said. Thursday marked the one-year point since fierce clashes erupted between breakaway Tigrayan forces and the national army.