Washington’s push to settle the Tigray war via Cairo and Nairobi

A number of initiatives are underway – not all of them are obvious. But two are public.

The US State Department has sent their special envoy Jeffrey Feltman to Kenya, following meetings with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The Feltman-Abiy meeting was itself something of a breakthrough: the Ethiopian Prime Minister had previously refused to see him. [Statement below.]

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, has been in Cairo, meeting with his opposite number, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. As Blinken announced they were dealing with bilateral questions but also “regional stability.”

These developments appear to be an American effort to mobilise the region to end the Tigray war

  • Kenya is critical to getting East African support for a resolution to the conflict.
  • Egypt is critical in cutting funding and support from the Saudis and Gulf states for PM Abiy’s war.

Mobilising the African Union and UN

All of this comes after the African Union mediator, Olusegun Obasanjo and the UN head of humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, visited Mekelle for talks with the Tigrayan leader, Debretsion Gebremichael. The talks were said to be “very fruitful.”

Following the visit to Mekelle, Obasanjo briefed the UN Security Council.

First green shoots

The Tigray war has seen the Tigrayan Defence Forces link up with the Oromo Liberation Army. They are now on a joint offensive which involves large parts of the Amhara and Afar regions. Without success on the battlefield would any of these initiatives be under way?

This war appears far from over, but tentative signs of progress towards peace are being seen – the first green shoots since PM Abiy rejected African Union mediation when the war began just over a year ago.


Visit of Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Feltman to Ethiopia and Kenya

Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman is currently in Ethiopia to underscore the United States’ grave concern with the escalation of the conflict and the risk of intercommunal violence, and to encourage all parties to engage in a dialogue on a cessation of hostilities.

From November 4 to 7, Special Envoy Feltman traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen Hasan, Minister of Defense Abraham Belay, and Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide.  He also met with AU High Representative Olusegun Obasanjo, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, UN Undersecretary General Martin Griffiths, and other international partners and government leaders.

From November 7 to 8, Special Envoy Feltman traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, where he consulted with President Kenyatta and other political leaders on the conflict in Ethiopia.  The United States will continue to work with international partners to address the crisis in Ethiopia, including through action with the United Nations, the African Union, and other relevant partners and institutions.  Special Envoy Feltman remains in the region and returned to Ethiopia today, November 8.



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