Blinken Warns Ethiopia Conflict Threatens Regional Security
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for efforts to end a yearlong conflict in Ethiopia to be intensified, warning that the violence poses a risk to security in the Horn of Africa region.
“One place where we are both deeply concerned is Ethiopia,” Blinken told reporters Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, following talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. “The conflict there threatens not just that country, but its neighbors as well.”
Conflict has been raging in Ethiopia since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an incursion into the northern Tigray province last November after forces loyal to the regional administration attacked a federal army base. The fighting has spilled into neighboring regions, claiming the lives of thousands of people, displacing hundreds of thousands more and leaving millions in need of aid.
The U.S. and the European Union are both considering punitive measures against Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front -- which was the the country’s preeminent power broker for decades before it was sidelined by Abiy -- over their failure to end the crisis. African Union Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo is spearheading efforts to broker a cease-fire.
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Eritrean entities, including the defense force and the ruling party. Eritrea has sent in troops to support Abiy’s forces and has been accused of perpetrating some of the worst atrocities recorded since the fighting erupted.
“There is no military solution to this conflict,” Blinken said. “Every party has to realize that and act accordingly.”
Blinken is the most senior U.S. official to visit Africa since President Joe Biden took office in January. His visit to Kenya will be followed by one-day stops in Nigeria and Senegal.
Last month’s coup in Sudan, which saw the ouster of the transitional government that took office following the 2019 removal of dictator Omar al-Bashir and was supposed to lead to elections in 2023, also featured on the agenda of Wednesday’s talks. Power is currently held by a new Sovereign Council led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the nation’s top general, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
Blinken reiterated a call by the U.S. for Sudan to revive the transition to civilian rule, and for deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to be returned to his post, saying he gave legitimacy to the process.
Blinken also urged Somalia to stage twice-delayed elections as soon as possible.
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