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Feltman stepping down as U.S. government special envoy to Horn of Africa

Mr. Feltman is expected to arrive in Ethiopia on Thursday before he steps aside as special envoy to Horn of Africa to make way for the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield 

Feltman _ Ethiopia visit
Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman speaking during London Conference on Afghanistan (Photo credit : Wikipedia)

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Jeffrey Feltman is stepping down as a special envoy of the U.S. government to the Horn of Africa. He has been working in the post since April last year. 

He had been to Ethiopia multiple times with a mission to push the government of Ethiopia for a negotiated settlement of the war which did not happen, at least until this point. In what seems to be a punitive measure against the elected government of Ethiopia, the United States delisted from the list of African countries to benefit from Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) as of this year. 

White House spokesperson, Ned Price, did not remark about it in his latest briefing on Tuesday this week. He did, however, disclose that the 62 years old US envoy to the region will be in Addis Ababa on the 6th of January 2022. 

The purpose of his visit is, in the words of Mr. Price, “to engage with senior officials regarding the prospects for a broader peace.” 

Majority of Ethiopians have been expressing resentment at the idea of any peaceful negotiation with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a radical ethnic Tigray nationalist group that dominated Ethiopian politics and society for over 27 years while claiming to represent only six percent of Ethiopia’s 120 million people. 

For Mr. Price, the time is right for Feltman to engage with Ethiopian government officials, He cited two reasons. 1) The TPLF forces have “withdrawn to Tigray.” 2) The Ethiopian government has announced intention not to pursue them to Tigray region. 

However, according to a Reuters report which cited sources “familiar with the matter”, Mr. David Satterfield, who served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, is replacing Mr, Feltman. Unclear as to how soon it is happening but clearly after his visit to Ethiopia. 

Ethiopian government communication affairs minister, Mr. Legesse Tulu, remarked on Feltman’s planned trip to Ethiopia. He said Ethiopia has no problem with his message as long as it is “not compromising the territorial integrity of Ethiopia and Ethiopia’s reputation.” 

For many Ethiopians who discussed the matter on social media platforms, the resignation of Jefferey Feltman does not matter unless the U.S. is changing its position on the conflict in Ethiopia. 

The United States has been tacitly supporting, as many Ethiopian do believe, the TPLF forces by way of giving diplomatic and political support, among other things. 

The Ethiopian Parliament has designated the TPLF as a terrorist organization. 

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