US senator calls for de-escalation of Tigray crisis amid heightened clashes
WASHINGTON - A top US senator has called for a de-escalation of Tigray region clashes in Ethiopia, just over two weeks after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered military operations within the region, following "provocation" by the Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF], a party that he had broken ranks with.
Hundreds of Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] have been battling with those from the TPLF over the control of the region, with the latter being accused of first attacking the former's bases within the Tigray region. The clashes have caused a humanitarian crisis within the country.
But Senator Bob Menendez, who sits in the influential Foreign Relations Committee, now wants the International Community to urgently intervene before the crisis blows into a civil war after months of stability in the country under the leadership of Abiy Ahmed.
“I rise today to call upon the Administration to take urgent diplomatic action to address the escalating conflict in Ethiopia, a country in the midst of what many in the international community--including myself-- had hoped would be a historic political transition to democracy," he said in a statement.
"Instead the country is sliding into civil war. Unless the international community acts quickly to forestall further violence, I fear that bloody and protracted conflict is unavoidable," added the veteran politician.
According to him, Ethiopia remains strategic for the US in the Horn of Africa, noting some of the initiatives Addis Ababa is playing within the region. He recognized the fact that Ethiopia has been on the frontline in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
"We cannot afford to let that happen. Ethiopia is the second-most populous African country, home to the African Union, and one of the world’s top contributors to UN peacekeeping missions—a tradition that dates back to the Korean War," he noted.
"It has been a pillar of US engagement in the Horn of Africa for decades, partnering with the U.S. on counter-terrorism and with the U.S. and international community to stabilize protracted conflicts in neighboring Somalia and South Sudan."
This comes amid reports that Abiy Ahmed has accepted proposals by Kenya to mediate over the crisis. Nairobi is in the process of dispatching a delegation under the former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to lead a peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia following proposals by President Uhuru Kenyatta, sources said.