Washington fresh bid to silence guns in Addis

Monday January 17 2022
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. PHOTO | FILE


The US says Ethiopia’s allies can help the country resolve its Tigray conflict by speaking in a ‘common’ voice’, in what could be an indirect jab at Middle Eastern countries supplying arms to the government.

Last week, a senior administration official in the Joe Biden government told a pool of journalists that Washington sees now as the greatest opportunity for ceasefire and dialogue, but warned such a move could be ruined by partners pulling in different directions.

“We do see this as a moment of opportunity if the parties are willing and able to seize it. And this window won’t be open forever. So, our goal will be to facilitate that to the greatest extent possible,” the official told the National Security Council press pool, whose ground reporting rules were that he is cited as speaking on the background.

“Our approach has been to try to align all of the international actors with a voice in what is happening in Ethiopia and with any influence over Ethiopia’s leadership — including the parties, by the way, on both sides — around what I described was our objective, which is that there is no military solution, that there is only peace through dialogue between the parties.”

The official refused to cite specific countries undermining the search for a peaceful solution, by either taking sides or supplying weapons to the government, although he singled out Eritrean as playing an “all-negative” role in the conflict.

Human rights groups have recently criticised Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for providing logistical supplies to Addis Ababa, including Turkey’s drones. That has given the advantage back to the Ethiopian government, winning back crucial territories initially taken by the rebel group Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).


Ethiopia has said it retains absolute right to engage bilaterally with any partners in the region and beyond. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hosted outgoing US Special Envoy for Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman and delivered the same message that if Washington wanted to play a role in ending the conflict, it should do so by contacting Addis Ababa directly, officials said.

On Monday, President Joe Biden spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed where he praised the Ethiopian government for releasing some opposition political prisoners, but raised concerns that Ethiopia has continued to shell Tigrayan villages.