Dessie is still under the protection of the Ethiopian Defense Force

October 30, 2021(GMN) - Dessie is still under the protection of the Ethiopian Defense Force, Amhara region special forces, FANO Militia and volunteers from the city who have been patrolling the city on a 24/7 basis.

The latest attempt to enter the city was made, according to sources from Dessie, on Friday in the morning. However, TPLF did not deploy a huge army as it has been suffering heavy losses in the battles around Dessie which are said to be stretched on three fronts: from North West, from the North, and from the North East. 

Two National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) leaders, who are currently in Dessie, disclosed that TPLF attempted to enter the city from Ruga area, which is west of Tossa, but the military move lasted only for about 20 minutes as the TPLF forces, who are said to be under 100, were annihilated. 

The strategic importance of Dessie town

In the past three months, Dessie city has been the center of fighting between the ENDF and Tigray’s forces and each group fought fiercely to either maintain control or take over the strategic city of Dessie.

What is controlling Dessie city mean for Tigray’s forces?

Dessie was founded by Emperor Yohannes IV who was camping in the highlands to the west of the Chefa Valley in 1882 on an expedition to forcefully convert the Amhara Muslims who lived in the region to Christianity. As he was looking for a place to centralize his power in the newly conquered region of Wollo, he stayed overnight in a pre-existing town that is now contained within Dessie.

He was so impressed by the sight of it that he interpreted it to be a sign from heaven to found his capital city there. Thus, he named it Dessie (Amharic: "My Joy"), as a reference to the elation that the comet had made him feel.

Dessie is situated on the western escarpment of the Great Rift Valley at an elevation of 7,500 feet (2,300 meters). The city is a commercial and communications center, 16 miles (25 km) northwest of Kembolcha, which is at the junction of roads to Addis Ababa and Asmara and Asseb in Eritrea.

Dessie has a border with Afar and Oromia region and is 397km from Addis Ababa and 375km from Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Region. Dessie is a town located in a mountainous area, so to expand the city most of its important facilities such as the Airport have been relocated to the east of Kombolcha.

It is located in a strategic location with four strategic roads leading in and out of the area:

  1. Gerba, Bati, Mile, Samara to Djibouti road.
  2. Tigaja Road, Debasit, Mekene-salam, Gindhaweyn to Bahar-Dar.
  3. Kutabar Road, Wichale, Weldiya to Maqale.
  4. Shawa-Robit road, Debra-Berhan to Addis Ababa.

If the TPLF takes control of Dessie city, it has the following strategic importance for them in their fight to break the Tigray siege and cripple Abiy and Amhara forces beyond repairs and they can easily defeat the remaining forces in Gondar and Bahar-bar, easily position themselves better in responding to any government’s forces maneuver in on the Eastern Front in Afar Region and parts of Oromia Region by linking with the Oromo National Liberation Front (OLA) of which they have a military compact and easily reach out to the Oromo people to cooperate and to carry joint operations that could result in regime change to move towards the Ethiopian capital and easily take over Addis Ababa.