US Special Envoy Arrives Ethiopia as America Scrambles to Avert Bloodshed in Addis Ababa

he United States Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, arrived Ethiopia yesterday for a two-day visit to secure a ceasefire as the American government scrambles to avert bloody war after Tigray rebel attack forces announced they had inched closer to taking over Addis Ababa.

The US is an ally of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government but insisted it would not tolerate unjustified violence on the part of the Ethiopian government.
The special envoy is in Addis Ababa to stop military operations and had a ceasefire roundtable between the warring parties.

Reuters reported that the African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat met Feltman to discuss efforts towards dialogue and political solutions to the conflict, which pits the central government against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies.
The European Union and the East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), joined the chorus of bodies calling for a ceasefire.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced an IGAD meeting on November 16, to discuss the war.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, according to NBC News, also appealed for an immediate ceasefire, imploring the parties to engage in peace talks.
On his part, Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta said “the fighting must stop” on Wednesday, urging the government and rebels to, “put down their arms and to cease the fighting, to talk, and to find a path to sustainable peace.”
Similarly, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had spoken to Ahmed on Wednesday “to offer my good offices to create the conditions for a dialogue, so the fighting stops.”

Before his trip to Ethiopia, at Washington-based think-tank US Institute for Peace, Feltman said as many as 900,000 people in Tigray faced famine-like conditions, while 90 per cent of the population needs aid.
He added that the most serious obstacle to getting food, medicine, and other critical assistance was the Ethiopian government, which imposed bureaucratic obstacles and expelled seven senior UN humanitarian and human rights officials in October.

“This, unfortunately, suggests an intentional effort by the authorities to deprive Ethiopians who are suffering of receiving lifesaving assistance,” said Feltman.
Meanwhile, the special envoy said the government’s airstrikes and TPLF’s alliances with other disaffected armed groups were “alarming,” and warned that the country risked sliding into a bigger conflagration.

“A multi-decade civil war in Ethiopia would be disastrous for its future and for its people,” Feltman warned.
“We urge the government of Ethiopia, the TPLF, and the other belligerents to give peace a chance, to choose a different path and engage in dialogue without preconditions.”

Feltman deflected accusations that the US was biased toward the TPLF.
“Let me be clear: We oppose any TPLF move to Addis or any attempt by the TPLF to besiege Addis. This is a message we have also underscored in our engagement with TPLF leaders,” said the US envoy.

He also denied claims that President Joe Biden’s administration planned to replace Ahmed with a TPLF-dominated regime.
According to USIP, Feltman said the Biden administration was prepared to impose sanctions targeting all parties to the conflict and those obstructing humanitarian operations, leaving thousands killed, hundreds raped, and over 2.5 million people forced to flee their homes.

In September, the US president issued an executive order to impose sanctions on parties “complicit in prolonging,” the conflict in the Tigray region.
On November 2, citing “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights,” Biden informed Congress of his intent to end a preferential trade designation for Ethiopia as of January 1, 2022. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides market access to the US for some sub-Saharan African countries.
Meanwhile, Ahmed declared a six-month state of emergency on Wednesday, calling on his compatriots to defend their neighbourhoods if rebels arrive in the capital.
On Sunday, he boasted on Facebook that: “We will bury the enemy with our blood and bones.” His rhetorics have drawn the ire of Facebook, which removed a post by Abiy urging Ethiopians to rise up and “bury” the Tigray rebels.

According to the social media’s spokeswoman Emily Cain, Ahmed’s post on Sunday violated Facebook’s policies against inciting and supporting violence.
“The obligation to die for Ethiopia belongs to all of us,” said Ahmed, telling Ethiopians to fight the rebels by “holding any weapon or capacity.”
The US and other countries have warned Ethiopia about “dehumanising rhetoric” after the prime minister in comments in July described the Tigray forces as “cancer” and “weeds.”

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s government yesterday said it was on the brink of victory in an “existential war” against Tigrayan rebels and vowed to fight on, in an apparent rebuke of international ceasefire calls on the conflict’s first anniversary.
“This is not a country that crumbles under foreign propaganda! We are fighting an existential war!” the government’s communications office said on Facebook, following advances by rebel groups towards the capital.
The combative statement could dampen hopes for a negotiated settlement between the government of Prime Minister, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, and the TPLF rebel group.

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