Is Jeffrey Feltman carrying sanctions in his luggage as he heads for Tigray?

“The US has been mulling imposing sanctions on Ethiopia and Eritrea if a ceasefire is not enacted in Tigray and Asmara’s forces do not withdraw.”

Source: The National

US envoy heads to Ethiopia as Tigray crisis marks six months

Before his trip, Jeffrey Feltman said that a bigger crisis in Tigray could make the Syrian war ‘look like child’s play’

Washington sent on Tuesday its newly appointed envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, to Ethiopia and Eritrea as the fighting in the Tigray region enters its sixth month, with almost five million civilians in need.

Mr Feltman, who was appointed last week as America’s first envoy to the region, is set to arrive in Egypt on Tuesday and will conduct shuttle diplomacy between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan until May 13.

“Envoy Feltman will hold meetings with officials from the respective governments as well as the United Nations and the African Union,” the State Department said.

The goal of the trip is to lead a “sustained diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa,” a statement from the department read.

Of particular urgency to Washington is the unfolding crisis in Tigray. Tuesday marks six months since Ethiopian, Eritrean and allied militias began a regional offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The fighting has already displaced about one million civilians and has left 4.5 million in need, according to the UN.

On Tuesday, the humanitarian organisation Oxfam said the conflict, now compounded by a locust swarm, is pushing over 5 million people into “extreme levels of hunger”.

“Six months since the conflict erupted in Tigray, thousands of farmers have nothing to plant ahead of the rainy season as the crisis, compounded by climate-fuelled locust [swarms], devastated their tools,” Oxfam said.

Mr Feltman said that a worsening crisis in Tigray could destabilise the entire region in a magnitude similar to that of the Syrian war.

“Look at what the collapse of Syria and the chaos of civil war has meant … Ethiopia has 110 million people,” Mr Feltman said in an interview with Foreign Policy last week.

If the tension in Ethiopia morphs into widespread civil conflict that goes beyond Tigray, “Syria will look like child’s play by comparison,” he said.

The US has repeatedly called on Eritrea to withdraw its troops from Tigray and Mr Feltman is expected to deliver that message in person to Asmara.

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki arrived in Sudan on Tuesday before Mr Feltman’s arrival.

Ethiopian and Eritrean forces have been accused of carrying out massacres, extrajudicial killings, rape and torture by Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International.

The US has been mulling imposing sanctions on Ethiopia and Eritrea if a ceasefire is not enacted in Tigray and Asmara’s forces do not withdraw.

Another item on Mr Feltman’s agenda is the rising tension between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Cairo has called an “existential threat” to its Nile water supply.

Egypt and Sudan have warned Ethiopia against filling the reservoir without a legal agreement, something that Addis Ababa has ignored, fuelling a bigger rift with its neighbours.

7 comments

  1. My honest and sincere humble advice to Ambassador Mr Feltman is do not waste your time to get diplomatic solution to the Tigray conflict from Isaias. It won’t happen. The US must learn from its past failed mistakes in trying to engage with Isaias. He is a man who relishes wars and conflicts.

    Skip Eritrea from your travel plan. Don’t waste your time would be my advice to Mr Feltman.

    You will be talking to a brick wall if you did.

  2. I agree with Habte. Unless Feltman is carrying a big stick with him, Isaias would not pay attention to what the US says. I hope Mr. Feltman is not expecting any voluntary concessions from Isaias. Feltman has to tell Isaias that he will pay a big price if he does not withdraw his forces out of Tigray immediately. And such a threat should be followed by a concrete action otherwise the US will be perceived as just a paper tiger and its image and influence in the region will be severely diminished.

  3. Military intervention is the only way out u less the US interest Would drew negative many years to come with regional crises and terriorism. Saction to both goverment s and military involvment should be in place as day 1. No dectators dectates by peacefull negostiation so far.

  4. Unless Mr. Feltman has the ability to provide serious sanctions this whole trip is doomed to failure.
    His bags should contain an ultimatum i.e. Eritrean forces shall withdraw in the next 10 days or there will be serious sanctions against both governments…….

  5. don’t kid yourselves. Biden and EU have calculated (all along and now) that they’d rather (tacitly) support both genocidal dictatorships (Isaias and Abiy/PP) than risk fully Ethiopian civil war in all regions & sudan/Somolia. They are always too dumb. That will happen on the current course if they do nothing.

    the whimpy Biden should knock out Isaias w/ a few air/missile strikes on Asthsmara and establish a military base at the one UAE abandoned. Else, China will get it for their military base, and after tigray war/GERD issue Sudan will go ahead (again) with their hosting of a Russia naval base, leaving US out of the horn completely, and the 2 evil dictatorship supper powers controlling the Suez canal. brilliant, right???? US is on the (rapid) decline as a global superpower and moral leader of Earth’s future…
    ;-(

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