Ethiopia-Tigray peace treaty: Time to (cautiously) celebrate?

Ethiopia-Tigray peace treaty: Time to (cautiously) celebrate?

Plus: Thousands of employees escape from the world’s largest iPhone factory, an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Imran Khan, and why Russia rejoined the Ukraine grain deal.

Hi there Intriguer. Do you remember when as a kid you’d draw the sun with a smiley face? Turns out we we were all onto something. Happy Monday!☀️

Today’s briefing is a ~4.9 min read:

  • 🕊️ Ethiopia-Tigray peace treaty: Time to celebrate?
  • ➕ Plus: Escape from the world’s largest iPhone factory, an assassination attempt on Imran Khan, and why Russia rejoined the Ukraine grain deal.

A tentative peace in Ethiopia

In brief:

  • Ethiopia’s central government and the Tigray forces have agreed to a ceasefire two years into their civil war.
  • As part of the truce, the Tigrayan forces will demobilise and disarm in exchange for humanitarian aid returning to their region – but critical questions remain about how the treaty will be implemented.

The Ethiopian government’s negotiator shakes hands with Tigray’s negotiator after the accord was signed. Source: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe.

We have good news!

The Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan armed forces have agreed to cease hostilities, ending their two-year civil war.

  • The truce was signed last Tuesday after more than a week of African Union-led negotiations.

This is, in no uncertain terms, a big deal. As Ann Fitz-Gerald, Director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs put it:

“It’s an important day for African voices & the continent’s ongoing capacity to steer productive dialogue with meaningful outcomes. Also an imp[ortant] day for democracy, legitimacy & the long-awaited peace that the people of Ethiopia deserve.”

What it means for…

  • The Ethiopian government

The Ethiopian government made very few concessions, in part thanks to the leverage they gained from recent battlefield successes.

According to the peace treaty, federal rule over Tigray will be restored within an “inclusive Interim Regional Administration”, and the Ethiopian military will be recognised as the country’s only defence force.

  • The Tigray Defence Forces

The Tigray Defence Forces, which include various Tigrayan armed groups, have committed to disarm in exchange for essential services and humanitarian resources.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front will be allowed to participate in future regional and federal elections, which addresses their grievance of being marginalised by the federal government.

  • The African Union

The African Union has been the critical diplomatic force behind the peace agreement, an accomplishment that will undoubtedly raise its prestige.

As Ethiopia analyst Brook Abdu explains:

“The deal is also a great stepping stone for the @_AfricanUnion. Despite a lack of trust and dependability from the [international community], the AU managed to deliver an important deal in Africa.”

But the AU’s got more work ahead of them to help actually implement the deal.

What’s next?

While the treaty is cause for (cautious) celebration, it only marks the beginning of the Ethiopian peace process.

  • Several key issues remain unresolved, including whether Eritrean forces fighting with the Ethiopian government will accept the treaty terms and retreat.

As Africa analyst and conflict advisor Kjetil Tronvoll put it:

“The #AU, #UN, #EU, #US & [International community], should be vigilant in monitoring the process going forward – there are plenty of spoilers around in every camp. It is too early to pop the 🍾.”


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North & Central Asia

🇦🇲 Armenia

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan travelled to Iran to meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to discuss regional tensions.

  • Iran shares a border with rivals Armenia and Azerbaijan and has been taking more interest in their conflict.
  • Iran opposes the creation of a transport link between Azerbaijan and its exclave territory of Nakhchivan, a project it fears will encroach on Iranian territory.

🇨🇳 China

Thousands of employees escaped from Foxconn, the world’s largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China, after labelling it an unsafe working environment.

  • Foxconn’s workers complained about Covid contagion risks as well as a shortage in food and medicine.
  • To keep workers incentivised to stay, Foxconn quadrupled the daily attendance bonus for assembly line workers, who manufacture up to 10% of Apple’s iPhones.

🇰🇵 North Korea

North Korea is secretly supplying Russia with artillery rounds, according to the US White House.

  • The weapons are reportedly being moved through countries in the Middle East and North Africa to avoid detection.
  • Russia has been shopping around for military equipment; beyond North Korean shells, Moscow is reportedly also using Iranian-made drones in Ukraine.

🇵🇰 Pakistan

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot in the leg in an apparent assassination attempt during a protest march he was leading.

  • Khan was travelling in a large convoy to Islamabad as part of his pressure campaign to force the government to hold early elections.
  • Political violence isn’t new to Pakistan – former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007.

🇰🇷 South Korea

South Korea and Germany have agreed to collaborate closely to confront North Korea’s growing provocations.

  • German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol to discuss deepening their security and economic ties.
  • North Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented rate – last week alone, it fired 25 missiles in a single day.

About that grain deal…

Grain news! Last week, Russia announced it would return to a Turkish-brokered deal that allowed the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

  • Russia abandoned the deal 10 days ago after it accused Ukraine of attacking its Black Sea naval fleet with drones.

Some context: The deal was designed to alleviate the global food crisis by promising safe passage to Ukrainian agricultural exports travelling through the Black Sea.

  • Since July, more than 10 million tons of agricultural products have left Ukrainian ports.

Behind the U-turn: Russia lost its high-stakes game of chicken – despite Moscow’s withdrawal from the deal, Ukrainian, Turkish, and UN ships continued to sail through the Black Sea largely without incident.

  • As analyst Yaroslav Trofimov put it: “Faced with the choice of sinking third-country merchant ships or an embarrassing climbdown, Putin chose a climbdown.”

Why it matters: Russia’s decision to return to the deal means that (at least some of) the country’s top policymakers are operating according to basic strategic calculations.

  • According to political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya: “This is a damning confirmation of the not very convincing thesis that Putin can and does back down when needed […] he remains a rational politician, able to retreat if necessary.”

Whatever the reversal does or doesn’t say about the decision-making of Vladimir Putin, the resumption of the grain deal is unambiguously good news for the rest of the world.


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