Opinion: Special Envoy Feltman is not the right man for the Horn of Africa

A career diplomat and a man who is controversial. Is not the sort of figure you send to fix or amend issues. An outspoken and ideological man like Jeffrey Feltman will only configure the conflicts and the situations at hand for the benefits of American interests. That is what he has done in his position most of his life.

Except for his stint under Ban Ki-Moon in United Nations and prolonged under Antonio Guterres. He has been a career diplomat across the Northern Africa and Middle East. His role in Lebanon and elsewhere is where his most noteworthy from.

Feltman is a person that take sides. When he actively takes sides in divided landscapes as a senior career diplomat. What will he do as Horn of Africa Envoy? I doubt he will wind beneficial middle-ground or emphasis on the common grounds between the parties. He is afraid of the Iranian and possible Turkish involvement in the region. As he also seeks to promote and secure the American interests first.

That means we know that this Special Envoy will be partial and be affected by his allegiance. He will not come with a clean slate or be working accordingly to the problems at hand. This man will not solve the issues or come with clear mediation. No, this man will further U.S. interests. These words are taken from Karim Makdisi who teaches at the American University in Beirut. Who assessed Feltman’s role in the area as an ambassador.

When you are known for things like this and going into the Horn of Africa at his very moment. The person should be less questionable. Joe Biden appointed him since his been a person trusted in the Obama Administration and has a diplomatic record spanning over years. This is a token recognition of that. However, his still a man peculiar fella who suddenly going into a mine-field.

A person who believes in “non-interfering” but interfering to avoid “enemies” interfering. Therefore, that split-personality trait doesn’t make much sense either. Except he lives in a cold-war paradigm with Iran. Which clearly could be shifted to anywhere in the world.

Feltman will pick sides whether it is in Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia or Sudan. This man will also pin-point and look after the U.S. interests. That is why this man isn’t just a random a dude travelling and taking a safari. No, this man will not be the best diplomat. A man who could easily ask for a military government in Lebanon (wikileaks leaked cables proved that). He could easily assess a situation and confess to the sustainability now. Just to buy peace and the comfort of having a U.S. ally on the throne.

As a Special Envoy he is supposed to mediate in Tigray conflict, which has been going on since 4th November 2020. There he will by default have to intervene with the Tripartite Alliance and get vouched by them for talks. However, Abiy haven’t been in favour of any real talks or outsiders looking into it. As that would devastate his image and tarnish his “reformist” mind.

The Special Envoy is also supposed to mediate in the Al-Fashaqa triangle. Where the Sudanese have sent more forces and secured their border points. While the Ethiopian with their Tripartite Alliance have entered in here as an escalation of the Tigray conflict. Abiy have held small talks with Al-Burhan, but nothing sincere. It seems likely that the Special Envoy needs a miracle and I wonder, if he would booster the new ally in Khartoum or try to appease Addis Ababa. Hard to know, but with the likes of Feltman will have to be calm and figure out what matters here.

The last piece of trouble ahead is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the Nile dialogue between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. The three has held negotiations and talks, but haven’t landed on a agreement to settle the shared water. This here is both a talk of sovereign use of water sources and how that will affect the up-stream nations. This is why the Special Envoy have to dwindle into colonial agreements and newer ones as well. While being able to play ball with Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa. His career task alone to finalize and be able to please all parties. Someone has to give, but we can wonder who will do that.

The GERD negotiations and talks alone will be more hostile. As the Ethiopian claims in the Al-Fashaqa region/triangle and their skirmishes inside Sudan. The relations has soured over this. That will not help the Special Envoy before even entering. As well, as his intervention or possible mandate hasn’t been granted by any of the parties involved. Who hasn’t a favourable view of American touches here. As the previous administration was taken Egypt’s side and this feeling might linger on.

Therefore, the likes of a Special Envoy in the first place is a noble idea of Biden. Nevertheless, taking a career diplomat should been seen as a positive. However, the history of Feltman and his manners. He can be seen as a spinster for American interests over the needs to salvage peace. This man isn’t the one who should have been sent. Maybe, Biden should have tried to get someone appointed through the African Union or boost IGAD itself. Even though these mechanisms are weak, but joint ventures with United Nations has helped in the past. Therefore, if Biden and UNSC had intervened with a UN-AU prospects into both Tigray, GERD and Ethiopian-Sudan tensions. The possible outcome could have been better and properly monitored by the International community.

However, a Feltman will only serve Washington D.C. and their needs. While being a token American interfering for these interests. He will not be there to be a peacemaker. Just like Abiy isn’t a man of peace either by any stretch of imagination. Al-Burhan and the Sovereign Council is also military men. When there is very civilians and more soldiers on the ground. There is little stopping more conflict. There is a need for mediation and talks between the leaders who orders the battalions.

Nevertheless, Feltman isn’t the man and just by the mere history. It is a flawed enterprise to send him now. Especially, when I cannot see or heard any of the parties have really asked of this of late. The need for local solutions is clear. There is a need for salvaging hope in the midst of the conflict. Feltman isn’t the man to interfere here.

He is getting a false start, as he comes as a forced surprise on all stakeholders and governments. It is not like he has been vetted or accepted by anyone else than Biden and Blinken. They have handpicked him and vouched for him. Now, he has to drop his credentials at all the mentioned capitals and after that pick a leaf for possible talks about the advanced weaponry and silence them as well.

I wouldn’t want to be in Feltman’s shoes at this point in time. First his not the man for the job. No matter about his long career. The reputation he has follows him and makes him questionable at best. Secondly, he has a mandate from Washington D.C. but not from the any of the sovereign nations his supposed to interfere in. Third, the U.S. isn’t that favourable or a “neutral” in these conflicts. Therefore, he has throw a curveball to be able to wing it here.

Feltman is in battles where he cannot win and I cannot see it coming Unless, there is a sudden miracle or a moment of nostalgia … where they changes their stances and gives way. However, that happens in movies, but not in the real world. Peace.

Ethiopia: Advocacy for Justice & Democracy Forum (Tegezo) – Situation update: West Tigray – “We’ll see if [Blinken] saves you” (14.04.2021)

Ethiopia: The Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS) letter to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank Group (AfDB) – (14.04.2021)

 

Ethiopia: Ministry of Foreign Affairs – On the Media and alleged Human Rights violations and other crimes committed in Tigray (07.04.2021)

Ethiopia: The Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS) letter to United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (06.04.2021)

Ethiopia: OLF-OLA High Command Statement (05.04.2021)

Opinion: The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is praising Eritrea!

Ethiopia MFA twitter statement: “Ethiopia is grateful to the government & people of Eritrea for neutralizing the attacks of the treasonous TPLF clique by treating our soldiers & standing with us after they were backstabbed by their own colleagues. While the world seems to misunderstand, wittingly or otherwise, Ethiopia’s efforts to enforce law and order in Tigray, we appreciate those, like the people & government of #Eritrea, who understand our context. Ethiopia also lauds the solidarity of the Eritrean diasporas with their Ethiopian counterparts in the recently held rallies in major cities in the West supporting Ethiopia’s determination to fight misinformation & prejudice on critical issues to the country” (Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 05.04.2021).

We are living in 2021 and things not stopping to surprise me. Today is a day where the Tripartite Alliance is in full effect. The alliance between Ethiopia, Amhara and Eritrea is now in full force. As the Eritrean are continuing to defend their actions in Ethiopia by their Shabait website or Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are now praising the Eritrean effort in the Law Enforcement Operation. That is clear by the tweets written and published today on their account there today.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is clearly telling they are thankful and grateful for their actions. The Eritrean Defence Force (EDF) who is using vile force in the Tigray Region. An army that has been looting, raping and even causing horrific massacres an-mass there. We don’t know the full scope of war crimes happening in the region, but what we do know is devastating.

The Eritrean army have caused havoc. Have used all means to silence, stop and assault the region. There has been no tools they are not allowed to use. The Eritrean soldiers have used not only weapons, but inciting fear. They are using all means to go after the TPLF. While the Eritrean state is calling all reports as “bullshit” and saying they are “innocent”. Which cannot be true, when they are allowed to do everything and witnesses is telling what has happened after the fact.

What is evident today is that there is an official axis between Addis Ababa and Asmara. They are now brothers in arms against one enemy. They are beholden to each other and support each other. That is evident by their articles and words. They are sparring for each other and defending each other too.

That is why Shabait have articles dismissing and telling all ills of the TPLF. Because Asmara only did this all in self-defence. However, that is not all true and they we’re pre-planned to happen. The Ethiopian and Eritrean allies had moved troops and ordered it to happen before the 4th November 2021. That has been reported and shown how the troops moved ahead of the launch of the Law Enforcement Operation. Which was meant to be … even before the Northern Command ever was stormed by the Tigray Defence Force (TDF).

We can clearly see the Ethiopian-Eritrean alliance is working in tandem. They are defending each other. Not only with their soldiers, but by their acts too. Their official stances and statements are becoming friendly. That’s because they need each other and they are fighting the same battles.

Abiy and Afwerki is now both warlords. The PM and President is fighting the same war. They are bound by the fate of this war and the reports that comes from it. These two are no aligned and have to co-operate to get their objectives done. That’s why Addis Ababa is sending tokens of appreciation and cheering on for the EDF.

The war in Tigray is clearly showing the lack of heart in the administrations of Asmara and Addis Ababa. When they are praising the rivers of blood and the suffering of one region. Because, they need each other to able to cope with one guerrilla outfit. Peace.

Opinion: Abiy’s Law Enforcement Operation have become a guerrilla war

Currently, the national defence forces and the federal forces are in a major fight on 8 fronts in the north and the west (parts of the country) with the enemies which are anti-farmers, anti-civilians and caused strife among Ethiopians and are paying a sacrifice” – Prime Minister Ahmed Ali Abiy (03.04.2021)

On the 15th November 2020 I wrote about the Law Enforcement Operation that the Prime Minister had opened the “Pandora’s Box”. Which is now revealed all too be true. The ordered operation that was supposed to end at end of November last year. However, we know that this is on-going and a continued warfare in the region. The civil war in Tigray is continuing to this day.

It seems to have no end and that the “conventional” war with the tripartite alliance of forces isn’t able to totally counter the defensive forces. The Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), Eritrean Defence Force (EDF) and Amhara Paramilitary Group “Fano” doesn’t have it in them to beat the Tigray Defence Force (TDF)

The armed forces of the tripartite alliance is using all means to destroy, annihilate and get rid of its enemies. They have been reported of several of massacres, looting and rape. They are using all means of war. Air-strikes, shelling and other means as well. They have mechanical battalions and tanks on the fields as well. So, they have not speared the conflict any sort of advanced techniques to kill the enemy. However, we are seeing that its not bearing fruits.

The Prime Minister promised a quick operation and ending. They we’re even in the final phases. Nevertheless, it seems like he overplayed his hands and possible amount of success. The Prime Minister have been outsmarted at his own game. He went to war and has since then been stuck in a quagmire. A sort of affair, where more and more atrocities are reported. Where the international community and everyone who follows see the rising numbers of fatalities and hears about the violations of the codes of war. The PM is clearly losing this and he cannot even phantom the counter-attacks of his enemy.

The PM thought the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) wouldn’t use their advantage and know-how of their region? The PM wouldn’t consider the one attacked in their homes and villages wouldn’t use counter-attacking means? He just expected them all just to do a battle-royal on the fields and call-it-a-day. If the PM thought so… he is either blind or stupid.

The TDF is using the means of guerrilla warfare. Which is the most productive means to counter-attack such forces as the tripartite alliance. They are using the knowledge and surroundings to their advantage. They know where to hide and where to possible ambush their enemy. That is what the TDF is doing to the tripartite alliance who is invading their lands. If the PM doesn’t grasp this… he has sent these former allies and former comrades to the bush to combat him.

Now the PM and his tripartite alliance is in the midst of a guerrilla war. They are no longer in a “conventional” war… the alliance of the state has already been known for taking state buildings in towns and cities making them into barracks. Where they are stationing soldiers and using universities, schools and even hospitals as bases in the region.

Clearly, the tripartite alliance is doing its best and trying to figure out ways to combat these insurgencies and sudden attacks from its enemy. Nevertheless, this sort of warfare will not be short-lived. The enemy of the tripartite alliance will mask itself and even become the terrain if needed be. They will blend into the general public and suddenly strike as they see fit. Therefore, the 8 fronts is only in the manner the TDF can practically make the lines of attack weaker. As the tripartite alliance needs to stretch its soldiers and front-lines. They cannot focus on single targets and goals. They have to move the goal-post and not just be in area at the time. That is because the ones they are fighting is local guerrillas, that is born and raised in the region. They are fighting for their homes and rights to rule in their region. This is why they are able and can prolong it in this manner.

Prime Minister should understand this. That the Pandora’s Box that he opened in November 2020. Will be a long saga and be the blood-stain that he never gets clean his hands off. This conflict is the war that will be his legacy and mark his reign. The Law Enforcement Operation is his whole project to own and carry. That he has failed it and haven’t delivered is his fault. He promised a quick-fix, but in the end… The PM will have to manage a long-running forever war with guerrillas. Which will only give up when the invaders are leaving. Peace.

Ethiopia: Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) – Final Notice from the Government to all allied with the TPLF Outlaws (19.03.2021)

Ethiopia: Salsay Weyane Tigray (SaWeT), National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytone) and Tigray Independence Party (TIP) Joint Letter to Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Commissioner of the African Union – The Involvement of the African Union in investigating genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, massacre and rape committed on the people of Tigray (18.03.2021)