Asnake Kefale (Addis Ababa University), René Lefort (independent writer/author on Ethiopia) and Lovise Aalen (Chr. Michelsen Institute). The armed conflict between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the Tigrayan regional forces, which erupted on the eve of November 3, was the latest in a long series of confrontations between Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the regional state bordering Eritrea. Although the federal government by November 28 claimed to have regained full control of the region, there are signs that the conflict has moved from a conventional war into a protracted insurgency, where the TPLF will operate through guerilla warfare. 

The communication blackout in Tigray region and a propaganda war from both parties make it difficult to evaluate the actual steps and outcomes of the conflict. Conservative estimates point at hundreds killed, but the actual numbers are likely to be much higher. The conflict has already resulted in tens of thousands of refugees moving across the border to Sudan. A humanitarian and political crisis is evolving, with long lasting ramifications for Ethiopia and for the Horn of Africa region. Aiming at moving away from the strongly polarized accounts of the war, the panelists will address the reasons why the armed conflict erupted. They will discuss the implications for Ethiopia as a country and for the larger Horn of Africa region. Finally, drawing on insights from Ethiopian history and examples of other civil war contexts, they will focus on possible ways out, if any, where the political leaders can commit to a cessation of hostilities and a peaceful political settlement.