The United States wants negotiation between the Ethiopian government and TPLF in exchange for “delay of sanction.” Many Ethiopian activists see the US move as an attempt to make TPLF relevant
“President Biden today signed an Executive Order (E.O.) establishing a new sanctions regime in response to the crisis. ”
Financial sanctions and visa restrictions on individuals and entities whom the United States view as “responsible for threatening peace and stability, obstructing humanitarian access or progress toward a ceasefire, or committing serious human rights abuses.”
The US government sees the sanction as a manifestation of its determination to employ what it called “appropriate too” in pursuit of bringing a “relief” to the “region.” It is notable that the statement used the noun “region” rather than making a reference to Ethiopia or the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
This new tool underscores our resolve to use every appropriate tool at our disposal to bring relief to the long-suffering people of the region.
What the US seeks to achieve with the sanction regime is a ceasefire and negotiation between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF forces. In what seems to be a push to move the Ethiopian government along that path, the US expressed readiness to “delay imposition of sanctions and focus on supporting a negotiated process” if its prescription is accepted.
The US State Department said, “The United States calls on the Ethiopian government and the TPLF to cease ongoing hostilities and enter into ceasefire negotiations immediately and without preconditions.”
The statement from the State Department also made accusations against the Government of Ethiopia, the Government of Eritrea, the Amhara regional government, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for failure to stop fighting and resort to “diplomacy.”
It went on to narrate that the conflict has led to “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” and indicated that over five million people have been affected by it. Over 900,000 people are under famine circumstances, it was added.
The statement failed to make a reference to the Ethiopian government declaration of a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire at the end of June and withdrawal of troops from the Tigray region of Ethiopia with the aim to facilitate, among other things, humanitarian access to the Tigray region of Ethiopia. In the ensuing weeks, TPLF launched a military operation and controlled areas in the Afar and Amhara region of Ethiopia, where it carried out multiples of massacres targeting civilians, including children and women, in both regions.
Many Ethiopian activists and politicians tend to believe that the U.S. ‘s push for negotiation between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF is intended to make the latter relevant in the Ethiopian political process.
Furthermore, the majority of Ethiopians believe that the U.S. is backing TPLF terrorists. U.S. nutritious food aid that was meant to be distributed for those in need in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has been consumed by TPLF fighters. It was established after TPLF forces captured in battle were caught with aid biscuits. Days after the story made news headlines, the USAID Ethiopia announced that the TPLF had looted its warehouses. Also, TPLF fighters registered as refugees with UNHCR in Sudan were caught in battle in Gondar with refugee I.D.s they were issued with by the UNHCR.
The U.S. sanction regime against Ethiopia came at time when the Ethiopian government announced finalization of military preparation to drive the TPLF forces from the areas they controlled in Amhara region of Ethiopia. Currently, 4.5 million people in the Amhara region are reportedly in TPLF controlled areas facing starvation and human rights violations including summary executions -a fact that the U.S. government ignored.
Full statement from the State Department is featured below :
Issuance of New Executive Order Establishing Sanctions Related to the Crisis in Ethiopia
ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE
SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
In the midst of ongoing violence, abuses against civilians, and growing humanitarian plight in Ethiopia, President Biden today signed an Executive Order (E.O.) establishing a new sanctions regime in response to the crisis. With it, the United States will be able to impose financial sanctions on individuals and entities in connection with the conflict, including those responsible for threatening peace and stability, obstructing humanitarian access or progress toward a ceasefire, or committing serious human rights abuses. Designated individuals are also subject to visa restrictions. This conflict has sparked one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with more than five million people requiring assistance, of which over 900,000 are living in famine conditions. This new tool underscores our resolve to use every appropriate tool at our disposal to bring relief to the long-suffering people of the region.
For too long, the Government of Ethiopia, the Government of Eritrea, the Amhara regional government, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have failed to stop fighting and invest in diplomacy required to solve the ongoing crisis. Instead, violence has escalated and spread, and human rights abuses and obstruction of humanitarian access continue. The Administration, in concert with our international partners, including in the region, has employed a range of diplomatic tools. Most recently, the United States designated Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) Chief of Staff General Filipos Woldeyohannes under the Global Magnitsky sanctions authority in connection with serious human rights abuses committed by the EDF in Ethiopia. In May, we also announced a visa restriction policy on the issuance of visas for individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the resolution of the crisis in Tigray.
The United States calls on the Ethiopian government and the TPLF to cease ongoing hostilities and enter into ceasefire negotiations immediately and without preconditions. Talks to achieve a negotiated ceasefire should lead to a broader dialogue to find a durable political solution to the conflict. Eritrean forces should immediately and permanently withdraw from Ethiopia. If the parties take immediate steps in this regard, the United States is prepared to delay imposition of sanctions and focus on supporting a negotiated process.
Absent clear and concrete progress toward a negotiated ceasefire and an end to abuses – as well as unhindered humanitarian access to those Ethiopians who are suffering – the United States will designate imminently specific leaders, organizations, and entities under this new sanctions regime. Any sanctions imposed under this new authority would target those responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that are prolonging the conflict in northern Ethiopia, obstructing humanitarian access and a ceasefire, or committing serious human rights abuses. We have taken a series of steps to help ensure legitimate humanitarian assistance (including COVID-19 related assistance), as well as personal remittances, food, and medicine continue to reach the Ethiopian and Eritrean people and that the activities of international organizations and non-governmental organizations in Ethiopia and Eritrea can proceed.
Today’s action demonstrates that the United States will continue to use all appropriate tools at our disposal to end the conflict.
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