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Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the latest escalations in Ethiopia’s brutal war , Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure , and shaky Australian-Israeli ties .
Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at the latest escalations in Ethiopia’s brutal war, Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, and shaky Australian-Israeli ties.
If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.
Ethiopia’s Brutal War Takes Worrying Turn
Ethiopian and Eritrean forces have captured Shire, a strategic city in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, in a sharp military escalation that has fueled fears of a deteriorating humanitarian crisis and sent thousands of panicked civilians racing to escape the city this past weekend.
With Shire, Ethiopian government troops are in a stronger position to take major cities nearby—and are one step closer to the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle. The seizure of the city—which has a population of 100,000 locals and 60,000 displaced people—signals a worrying turn in a brutal, nearly two-year-long war that has killed an estimated half a million people and left millions more facing potential famine.
“We really don’t know what the fate of these hundreds of thousands of people is,” said Cameron Hudson, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Are they going to be forcibly displaced? Are they going to be killed? Are they going to be ethnically cleansed from this area?”
Since the war first erupted in November 2020, it has been rife with reports of ethnic cleansing, sexual violence, child soldiers, and other massacres. Both the Ethiopian government—which is allied with Eritrea—and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front have reportedly committed atrocities.
“They both have blood on their hands. There’s no question about that,” said Hudson. But there is “a pretty vast disparity in the number of atrocities, the degree of atrocities, committed by one side versus the other.”
Trapped between the warring parties are vulnerable Tigrayan civilians, who have been suffering under a spiraling humanitarian emergency. A government blockade has prevented critical aid and key provisions from reaching Tigray, stripping hospitals of electricity, medical supplies like insulin, and fuel. Millions are now on the verge of famine, and even kindergartens have been targeted by government airstrikes during the war.
“There’s been no electricity; there’s been no internet; there’s no banking services; there’s no postal services; there’s no healthcare; there’s no food delivery for two years,” said Hudson.
A humanitarian cease-fire collapsed when fighting broke out in August—and recent efforts to negotiate a new one have largely faltered, despite mounting global calls for peace. Eritrea has played a dominant role in the renewal of violence, with tens of thousands of Eritrean troops now participating in hostilities across the region.
“Hostilities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia must end now—including the immediate withdrawal and disengagement of Eritrean armed forces from Ethiopia,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said. “There is no military solution.”
What We’re Following Today
Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure have damaged nearly one-third of power stations and left 1,162 towns facing blackouts and power outages, officials said. To cope, many businesses have been forced to conserve energy while long queues have formed for fresh water supplies.
Australian-Israeli ties. Australia has decided not to recognize West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, officials announced on Tuesday, walking back its previous recognition in 2018. “Jerusalem is a final-status issue that should be resolved as part of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.
Both Israel and Palestine say their capital is Jerusalem, and most governments have been careful to avoid taking a side. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid criticized the move, adding he hoped Canberra “manages other matters more seriously and professionally.”
Keep an Eye On
Protests sweep France. France’s mass strikes for higher wages, which first began in major oil refineries, have since grown to encompass other industries including nuclear plant workers, nurses, and railway staff. The French Education Ministry reported that almost 10 percent of all high school educators participated in Tuesday’s strikes.
Germany’s cybersecurity fears. Germany has dismissed Arne Schönbohm, the country’s top cybersecurity official, over his potential links to Russia; an investigation is now underway.
Claims of Russian ties have “permanently damaged the necessary public trust in the neutrality and impartiality” of Schönbohm, although he is assumed to be innocent until the investigation concludes, said Britta Beylage-Haarmann, Germany’s Interior Ministry spokesperson.
Tuesday’s Most Read
• Biden Is Now All-In on Taking Out China by Jon Bateman
• Who Are Xi’s Enemies? by Deng Yuwen
• Why Putin Is Escalating Aerial Bombings in Ukraine by Ravi Agrawal
Odds and Ends
Japan’s oldest bathroom was damaged after a man backed his car into a 15th century temple, accidentally destroying the facility’s 700-year-old door, the BBC reported. The man, who works in safeguarding Japanese heritage, had reportedly traveled to the temple for his job. Officials said fixing the toilet was possible but would need “lots of work.”