Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman has just completed his first visit to Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, and Ethiopia. His message was that the United States is committed to addressing regional crises and to supporting a prosperous and stable Horn of Africa in which its citizens have a voice in their governments.
Firstly, the United States believes a sovereign and united Ethiopia is integral to this vision. Yet there are deep concerns about increasing political and ethnic polarization throughout the country. The atrocities being perpetrated in Tigray and the scale of the humanitarian emergency are unacceptable. The United States will work with its international allies and partners to secure a ceasefire, end this brutal conflict, provide the life-saving assistance that is so urgently needed, and hold those responsible for human rights abuses and violations accountable.
The crisis in Tigray is also symptomatic of a broader set of national challenges that have imperiled meaningful reforms. As Special Envoy Feltman discussed with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy and other leaders, these challenges can most effectively be addressed through an effort to build a national consensus based on respect for the human and political rights of all Ethiopians, to include free and fair elections. The presence of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia is antithetical to these goals. In Asmara, Special Envoy Feltman underscored to President Isaias Afwerki the imperative that Eritrean troops withdraw from Ethiopia immediately.
The political transition in Sudan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that can serve as an example for the region. As Special Envoy Feltman underscored to Sudan’s leadership, the United States will continue to support that country’s ongoing transition to democracy so that Sudan can claim its place as a responsible regional actor after three decades as a destabilizing force. The U.S. is also committed to help resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and conflicts? on Sudan’s borders, so they do not undermine the fragile progress made since the revolution.
Special Envoy Feltman discussed with leaders in Addis Ababa, Cairo, and Khartoum, Egypt and Sudan’s concerns over water security and dam safety as well as Ethiopia’s need for hydropower for development. These issues should be resolved through negotiations among the parties under the leadership of the African Union.
The United States remains committed to bringing peace and reconciliation to the Horn of Africa.