Jeffrey Feltman , who was named as U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa in April of this year, is visiting as Ethiopia is preparing to undertake the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam during the rainy seasons
The U.S. Department of State announced over the weekend that U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman is travelling to Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan between May 4 and May 13, 2021
He will be holding talks with government officials in the region. Also, he will be meeting with African Union and United Nations officials as well as “political stakeholders” and humanitarian organizations.
Regarding the purpose of this trip, the state department said “The Special Envoy’s travel underscores the Administration’s commitment to lead a sustained diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security, and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa, and he will coordinate U.S. policy across the region to advance that goal. ”
The United States has been putting immense political pressure on Ethiopia in connection with “what it calls humanitarian crisis and human rights violations” in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
The United States wants an end to the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia – which has been described as a law enforcement operation and an internal affairs by the government of Ethiopia – , and a political dialogue between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian government.
As well, the United States wants the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Last month, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Asmara to meet with president Isaias Afeworki to discuss the same issue.
In a statement from the US State Department last month, The United States has demanded that the troop withdrawal has been to be verifiable.
Furthermore, the US government has been expressing concern about alleged human rights abuse in the region. Ethiopia invited international investigators to investigate the claim. Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the United Nations Human Rights Commission have agreed an agreement to conduct a joint investigation.
Mr. Jeffrey Feltman is also expected to discuss the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – about which there is no agreement between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt after ten years of negotiation.
The U.S. government, under president Donald Trump, demonstrated a tendency to support Egyptian position on the issue of operation and filling of the Grand Renaissance Dam. Ethiopia withdrew from U.S. brokered GERD negotiation in February 2021 as the US began to dictate the terms of the agreement.
It was following that development that the African Union began to take a leading role in facilitating the GERD negotiation. The latest round of negotiation took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in early April 2021 only to be stalled again as Sudan and Egypt proposed to elevate the U.S.’ observer role to the level of the African Union – something Ethiopia rejected out of respect, as it calls it, to the African Union led process.
It remains to be seen if Mr. Jeffrey Feltman discussion with the leaders of Ethiopia will change Ethiopia’s position or not. Ethiopia has currently zero share from the Nile River also more than 85 percent of the water originates from Ethiopian soil.
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