The United States President, Joe Biden signed an executive order paving the way for the US Treasury and the Department of State to sanction Ethiopia over the prolonged war in the northern part of the country.
Signed on September 17, 2021, the executive order signed by the President stated the war in the Tigray region of Ethiopia was “marked by activities that threaten the peace, security and stability of Ethiopia and the greater Horn of Africa region.”
The Executive order reads “The United States supports ongoing international efforts to promote a negotiated ceasefire and political resolution of this crisis, to ensure the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia, and to promote the unity, territorial integrity, and stability of Ethiopia.”
The Authorization for the Treasury and the State Department orders sanctions to “block all property and interests in property of the sanctioned person that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, and provide that such property and interests in property may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in; prohibit any United States person from investing in or purchasing significant amounts of equity or debt instruments of the sanctioned person;
prohibit any United States financial institution from making loans or providing credit to the sanctioned person; prohibit any transactions in foreign exchange that are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and in which the sanctioned person has any interest; among others.”
Hours after Biden signed the order, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) issued an open letter to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. In the letter, Abiy characterized US policy towards Ethiopia as “hurried and rash” decision.
In his three pages open letter to the US President, Abiy explained at length how Ethiopian women, children and youth are languishing due to the war caused by the TPLF “terrorist group” while the US government and the rest of the world have taken a biased position.
The latest sanction mainly focuses on economic, diplomatic and military logistics which even threaten to punish those deemed to have taken part on prolonging the fighting and the resulting humanitarian crisis.
Reminding the long historical relations that have existed between Ethiopia and the US as well as a three decade relation in the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa, PM Abiy noted “The cries of women and children in the Amhara and Afar regions that are displaced and suffering at the hands of TPLF’s enduring ruthlessness continues under the deafening silence of the international community.”
According to Abiy, the mounting and undue pressure on a developing African country, with limitless potential for prosperity, has been building up over the past months.
“This unwarranted pressure, characterized by double standards, has been rooted in an orchestrated distortion of events and facts on the ground as it pertains to Ethiopia’s rule of law operations in the Tigray region. As a long-time friend, strategic ally and partner in security, the United States’ recent policy against my country comes not only as a surprise to our proud nation, but evidently surpasses humanitarian concerns,” Abiy lamented.
He added “Now, the destructive criminal clique, adept at propaganda and spinning international human rights and democracy machinations to its favor, cries wolf while it leaves no stone unturned in its mission to destroy a nation of more than a 3000-year history. Although this hallucination will not come to pass, history will record that the orchestrated turbulent period Ethiopia is going through at the moment is being justified by some Western policy makers and global institutions under the guise of humanitarian assistance and advancing democracy.”
Having explained what Ethiopia did with the US government during the global ‘war on terror’, Abiy underscored “the millions of Ethiopians thirsty and hungry for their right to peace, development and prosperity, are also leading our national ‘war on terror’ against a destructive criminal enterprise, which poses a threat to both national and Horn region stability.”
“Ethiopia has remained the US’s staunch ally in fighting the terrorism threat of Al Shabab in the Horn. It is our expectation that the US would stand by Ethiopia as similar terrorist organization with hostility towards the region threatens to destabilize the Horn.”
According to Abiy, developing nations like Ethiopia have been expecting a new course in US foreign policy following the election of Biden, departing from the influence of individuals that have entrenched themselves into the politics of other nations. The expectation was that the US would “extricate itself from decisions made based on key policymakers and policy influencer’s friendships with belligerent terrorist groups like the TPLF and the narrative distortions of lobby groups.” Abiy stated “We have seen the consequences and aftermaths of hurried and rash decisions made by various US administrations that have left many global populations in more desolate conditions than the intervention attempted to rectify.”
The executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Friday allows the US Treasury and State Department to sanction leaders and groups if they do not soon take steps to end the violence. Biden said in a statement, those targeted could include members of the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and the Amhara regional government.
The White House noted that all named groups have been accused of rights abuses in the fighting, which erupted between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the TPLF, more than 10 months ago.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said the US would delay imposing sanctions if the warring parties “cease ongoing hostilities and enter into ceasefire negotiations immediately and without preconditions.”