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Ethiopian officials say Tigray ceasefire refocuses on defending dam

Senior Ethiopian officials have said troops were withdrawn from Tigray for a combination of reasons that included the defeat of the rebels as a serious threat, growing popular resistance in the northern region, mounting international criticism of the war, and the emergence of a foreign threat to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The withdrawal came as Addis Ababa announced a unilateral ceasefire on 28 June in the face of a major offensive by Tigrayan rebels.

β€œWe are shifting our focus in terms of defence from the Tigray region and working on the redeployment of forces to our western border, where a national threat is brewing,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Redwan Hussein said, according to Anadolu Agency's coverage of a press briefing he held with Lieutenant General Bacha Debele of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) on 30 June.

β€œThe recent joint military drills near Ethiopia's border, among other things, is indicative of the need to get prepared for any eventualities along the western border,” Redwan added, referring to three exercises that Egypt and Sudan have held in the latter's territory since November 2020. Both are opposed to the imminent second filling of the GERD during the rainy season as they see the resulting reduction in the Blue Nile's flow as a serious threat to their water supplies.

In a summary of the press briefing, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited Lt Gen Bacha as saying β€œthe army has to refocus its attention to protecting the country from another national threat, this time an external one, rather than fighting the already incapacitated TPLF [Tigray People's Liberation Front]”.

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