Eritrea qualified, on Saturday (November 13th), to“Illegal and immoral” the measures taken by the United States in its regard. Washington is trying to increase the pressure on the actors of the conflict in Tigray, with the announcement on Friday of new sanctions against Eritrea, because of its military support in Addis Ababa in the Tigray region, which borders its border South.
“These unilateral sanctions which blame Eritrea and make it a scapegoat on the basis of spurious allegations, violate international law and constitute a flagrant violation of […] sovereignty “the Eritrean information ministry said in a statement.
“Misguided and hostile policy”
Washington, which is pushing for a peaceful outcome in this area of northern Ethiopia, has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of these military forces, intervening in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives over the past year and placed hundreds of thousands of ‘inhabitants in conditions close to famine, according to the United Nations (UN).
The sanctions target in particular the political party of President Isaias Afwerki, the Popular Front for Democracy and Justice, the only authorized party in the country, and the Eritrean army. The latter is accused of numerous abuses – looting, rape and murder of civilians – as well as of having blocked the access of humanitarian aid to Tigray.
But for Asmara, the US sanctions are based on false allegations and reflect a “Ill-advised and hostile policy”. “It is obvious that the primary objective of these illicit and immoral sanctions is to make the population suffer and starve in order to provoke political unrest and instability”, says the Eritrean Ministry of Information.
US President Joe Biden paved the way in September for sanctions against all parties to the conflict. But the measures imposed on Friday only target the military and political apparatus of Eritrea, one of the most reclusive countries in the world and subject to international sanctions.
Addis Ababa supports its neighbor
Washington “Wants to give time and space” to see if discussions between Addis Ababa and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in power in this region “Can progress”, explained the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to justify having spared Ethiopia and the TPLF.
Addis Ababa nevertheless denounced on Saturday the new US sanctions against its neighbor. “The real target of the sanctions and tougher measures taken by the US government and the international community as a whole should be the TPLF”, said Ethiopia’s foreign ministry.
Ahead of his departure on an African tour next week, Mr Blinken also warned that the lack of a belligerent deal could lead to “To the implosion of Ethiopia and would have consequences for other countries in the region”. In early November, an investigation by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights found possible crimes against humanity committed by all parties.
In recent days, foreign diplomats have stepped up their efforts to try to achieve a ceasefire. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, African Union Special Envoy, and Jeffrey Feltman, US envoy for the Horn of Africa, visited Ethiopia this week. US Secretary of State Blinken will visit neighboring Kenya on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Addis Ababa issued conditions for talks with the TPLF, which has recorded significant victories on the ground in recent weeks and has not ruled out marching on the capital. They include a ceasefire, the withdrawal of rebels from Amhara and Afar regions, and recognition of the legitimacy of the central government. The TPLF in return demanded the entry into Tigray of humanitarian aid, blocked since October 18, while 364 trucks await an authorization, according to the UN.
The most famous of the Tigrayans, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, denounced on Friday the “Systematic blockade” of this region which prevents the sending of food and medicine. “People are dying because of the lack of supplies”, he said in Geneva.
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Conflict in Tigray: sanctioned by the United States, Eritrea castigates “illegal and immoral” measures