US Envoy Heads to Horn of Africa

Brinken said in the statement that Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman will visit Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan through May 13.

The Special envoy will meet with representatives of these governments, as well as the United Nations and the African Union, in addition to political stakeholders and humanitarian groups.

“The special envoy’s visit underscores the administration’s commitment to promoting sustained diplomatic efforts to resolve the interlinked political, humanitarian, and security crises in the Horn of Africa and he will coordinate U.S. policies throughout the region to achieve this goal,” Blinken said.

“The former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn, told VOA on Monday that Feltman’s travel to Eritrea is significant because “it’s for the first time in a number of years that a senior U.S. official has been allowed to meet with senior Eritrean officials.”

That in itself is a great thing,” Shinn stated. 

The United States has been pressing Ethiopia to end the conflict in its Tigray region, which has been raging for six months. U.S. officials are also calling for allied Eritrean troops to withdraw from the region.    

“If they don’t return to Eritrea, I suppose there may be an increasing tendency by the USA to look upon Eritrea as something of a pariah state in the Horn of Africa,” stated Shinn, who’s now teaching at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. 

Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region has been the epicenter of hostilities since November, when fighters from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked military bases in the region, in keeping with the federal government. The attack, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated, prompted his government to launch a military offensive to push the group out.

The fighting has left at least 4.5 million tigrayans in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the interim administration. The United Nations has appealed for $1.5 billion to help 16 million people in Tigray and across Ethiopia this year.

Separately, tensions have additionally been growing amongst Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia is constructing on the Blue Nile, near the border with Sudan.

Egypt and Sudan need a legal settlement in place with Ethiopia earlier than Addis Ababa begins filling the reservoir behind the mega dam. But Ethiopia began filling it last year, a move the other  countries see as directly threatening their water and power supplies.

The African Union has been in the lead trying to resolve the simmering dispute among the 3 neighbors.