Thursday, December 2, 2021

White House pulls lever to try to stop Ethiopian conflict

The White House is taking a tough stand with its one-time close ally, Ethiopia, threatening sanctions and postponing a major economic program on what Washington says is “in an ethnically motivated conflict”. internationally recognized human rights violations”, in which thousands of people have died. people in the past year.

The harsh words come as the East African country faces a rebel siege in the capital in the coming months or earlier. The Tigre People’s Liberation Front, one of the main parties fighting the government, has joined forces with the Oromo Liberation Army in recent days and is advancing on the capital, Addis Ababa.

Human rights group Amnesty International warned Friday that the nation is “on the verge of human rights and humanitarian catastrophe” after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed imposed a state of emergency this week and urged Addis residents to take up arms to defend the city. . In making this call, Abi used such strong and provocative language that Facebook removed his post.

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A short time later, President Joe Biden issued a warning that he would revoke the country’s membership in the African Development and Opportunity Act, a program that allows African countries to export US duty-free content. Ethiopia’s government says the program created 200,000 direct jobs and 1 million indirect jobs in the poor nation.

Representatives of nine factions in opposition to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attend a signing ceremony to form a new coalition called the “United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces” at the National Press Club in Washington on November 5, 2021.

A senior administration official told the VOA, “We look at the impact of the removal but the law is clear in this matter and there are rules that governments must follow to maintain their AGOA eligibility.” “If Ethiopia’s AGOA benefits are revoked, the responsibility will fall entirely on the government of Prime Minister Abiy. There is still time to reverse this resolution. We will ask the Ethiopian government to extend human rights, humanitarian and political rights until January 1st. urge them to address the crisis or regain their AGOA eligibility.”

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry called the decision “misguided”.

“Unreasonable threats to endanger the economic livelihoods of innocent civilians, which we believe are motivated behind the scenes by Ethiopia’s enemies, will not lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” the ministry said in a statement.

now what?

What will be the solution to this dispute that has been going on for a year? The Biden administration said it had used several other options before reaching this point.

“The United States has held talks with the Ethiopian government for months, raising our concerns about gross violations of internationally recognized human rights,” the senior administration official said. “US officials have repeatedly warned that Ethiopia risks losing its eligibility for AGOA under US law if these violations are not resolved.”

In September, Biden threatened harsh sanctions against all parties involved in the war, including the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea. No individual was named in the executive order warning of the restrictions, but the criteria are broad and broad, including even the spouses and adult children of individuals whom the State Department considers to meet the criteria. The order also provides for sanctions against the regional government of the Amhara region and the rebel TPLF.

FILE - Jeffrey Feltman, then UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, speaks during a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka on March 3, 2015.  Feltman, who is now the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, is in Addis Ababa to meet with Ethiopia.  Leader about the Tigre conflict.

FILE – Jeffrey Feltman, then UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, speaks during a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka on March 3, 2015. Feltman, who is now the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, is in Addis Ababa to meet with Ethiopia. Leader about the Tigre conflict.

US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman arrived in Ethiopia’s capital on Thursday and has since met with the country’s deputy prime minister and defense and finance ministers. It was not clear when he would meet Abi or not.

growing humanitarian crisis

But human rights advocates say it is much more than a diplomatic disagreement. The conflict has led to the world’s biggest hunger crisis, leaving millions in need of humanitarian aid.

“The serious humanitarian and human rights crisis that began in the Tigre a year ago is spreading to other regions of the country,” said Depros Muchena, regional director for East and South Africa at Amnesty International. “to stop the situation” [from] Being out of control, Ethiopian authorities must urgently take serious action to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.”

Makila James, a senior adviser to the US Institute of Peace and former US diplomat in Africa, said the situation is particularly sad given the long ties between the United States and Ethiopia. The US is the biggest aid donor to Ethiopia.

“I think it’s very important to underline: America has been a long-time partner of the country and the people of Ethiopia,” James said. “This is not a new relationship. It goes back many, many, many, many, many decades. And especially with Prime Minister Abiy, the US government was a strong supporter, a strong partner of their democracy and reform agenda. And so there is a lot of despair and worry about what is happening in the country, which has derailed all that.”

FILE - Current and former Ethiopian military personnel and the public remember federal soldiers killed by forces loyal to the Tigre People's Liberation Front at the start of the conflict a year ago at a candlelit event outside city administration.

FILE – Current and former Ethiopian military personnel and the public remember federal soldiers killed by forces loyal to the Tigre People’s Liberation Front at the start of the conflict a year ago at a candlelit event outside city administration.

Ahmed Soliman, a researcher at Chatham House in London, said time was running out to find a diplomatic solution.

“We are at a stage where the pendulum has shifted, but the next shift is where we are talking about an irreversible state,” he said. “So unless the parties can no longer be brought to the table, they will not be brought to the table, because one side will potentially usurp the other. … I think that’s the kind of influence we need to have on the parties.” That is, there is still an opportunity to step back from the brink.”

James insisted that the solution should be diplomatic.

“There is no military solution to this conflict,” she said. “It is he who is all around loser.”

On Friday the US State Department urged all Americans to leave Ethiopia “as soon as possible” in a post on the website of the US embassy to Addis Ababa.

Cindy Sen contributed to this report.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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