Wednesday, January 19

The United States warns that Ethiopia may implode and sanctions Eritrean entities

The United States is “very concerned” about the possibility of Ethiopia imploding, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday, as the United States stepped up sanctions over the conflict.

“One way forward is outright conflict that could lead to the implosion of Ethiopia and spread to other countries in the region,” Blinken told reporters during a press conference in Washington with the Qatari foreign minister. “The other way is to stop all the military actions that are currently taking place, sit down, negotiate a real ceasefire.”

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Blinken said the United States supports the efforts of Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, to mediate between key parties, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Debretsion Gebremichael.

Blinken plans to travel to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal next week, and the conflict in Ethiopia will be high on his agenda. The United States is giving the ongoing talks room to move forward, Blinken said, warning that the United States could still sanction the Ethiopian government and the TPLF.

On Friday, the US Treasury Department issued sanctions against Eritrean entities, including the Eritrean Defense Forces and the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice, the ruling party in Eritrea.

Eritrean forces have been involved in the Ethiopian conflict by siding with federal forces, dispatching troops from the beginning, and have been accused of perpetrating some of the worst atrocities on record since the fighting broke out.

“This unilateral sanction, which blames and scapegoats Eritrea on the basis of false accusations, contravenes international law and constitutes a flagrant violation of the sovereignty, independence and liberation of peoples and nations,” the Ministry said. Office of Eritrea. it said in a statement.

The year-long war there has killed thousands of people, displaced hundreds of thousands more, and prompted the United Nations to warn that more than 400,000 people were at risk of starvation in what was one of the world’s largest economies. rapid growth of the region. More than 1 million people are considered to be in need of humanitarian aid.

Tensions with the TPLF, the country’s top power broker for decades, escalated after Abiy began marginalizing the group just after he came to power in 2018.

Discord erupted into violence last November, when Abiy ordered a military raid on Tigray after the TPLF attacked a military base. Abiy initially declared victory after taking over the region’s capital, Mekelle. Since then, the government offensive has failed to defeat the rebel forces, who are now some 186 miles (299 kilometers) from the capital, forcing the government to declare a state of emergency.

Mass arrests
The rebels have threatened to march on the capital, with a newly formed alliance of rebel groups, including the Oromo Liberation Front. The United States and the United Kingdom are among the countries that have advised their citizens to leave the country.

Amnesty International on Friday accused Ethiopian security forces of targeting Tigrayans, including children and the elderly, with arbitrary arrests and mass arrests. The human rights group reports that hundreds of Tigrayans are being detained at various locations in the capital Addis Ababa.

“These mass arrests have instilled such a climate of fear that the Tigrayans Amnesty International has spoken to are afraid they may be detained at any time,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. “Those currently locked up have not been charged or brought to court and many have been targeted solely because of their ethnic origin.”

Earlier this week, the United Nations said that 16 staff members and some 70 UN-contracted truckers were detained in Ethiopia.

Both parties to the conflict have been accused of committing violations that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Human Rights Office found in a joint investigation.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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