Antony Blinken, the nominee to be President Biden’s Secretary of State (Foreign Minister) had a nomination hearing in the US Senate on Tuesday.
He is a long-serving government official and diplomat. Blinken served as Deputy National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2015 and Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017 under President Barack Obama.
Speaking at this hearing he made his views clear on several issues, including the Horn of Africa.
Horn of Africa
The U.S. needs to be more actively involved in the horn of Africa and “not be AWOL as problems emerge” like in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Blinken said.
We must use the diplomatic weight with the government of Ethiopia, he said.
“Eritrean refugees are on the receiving end of atrocities. We have Eritrea possibly getting there and we have other states that are now affected. The potential for this to spill over is a real concern,” Blinken told the Senators.
There needs to be greater access to the region, more accountability, a restoration of communication and humanitarian assistance, and an effort to put dialogue in place to address key issues, he said.
Otherwise, Blinken said, he worries that the violence has the potential to destabilize the region. He also said he would consider appointing a special envoy in the region.
This was the assessment of the Washington Post.
There was every indication that Blinken would be confirmed with a strong bipartisan vote, although Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the incoming chairman, said earlier in the day that a panel vote was unlikely until at least Monday. After that, floor votes will have to vie for Senate time with President Trump’s impeachment trial.
One sign of the committee’s direction came from Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a strong Trump partisan who opposed Blinken the last time he appeared before it, for confirmation as deputy secretary of state six years ago.
“I think you’re an outstanding choice, and I intend to vote for you,” Graham said this time around.