The United States Department of State, in a statement, announced the appointment of Mr. Jeffrey Feltman as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa. The appointment of the envoy comes at a time of heightened tension between Ethiopia and Sudan on the dispute of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam known as GERD and the worsening humanitarian crises in the Tigray region of Ethiopia following the military campaign against the TPLF.

Amnesty International and other human rights bodies have alleged wide-scale human rights violations, including extrajudicial killing of unarmed civilians, rapes, and the displacement of thousands of civilians from Tigray. Although the Ethiopian government has previously denied the involvement of Eritrean forces in the Tigray campaign, it has recently asked the Eritrean forces to withdraw, it still denies allegations of human rights abuses in Axum and other parts of Tigray by Ethiopian or Eritrean forces.

Of particular concern are the volatile situation in Ethiopia, including the conflict in Tigray; escalating tension between Ethiopia and Sudan; and the dispute around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.” the statement said.

The statement does not mention the renewed political and security crises in Somalia following the term extension of President Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo’s mandate by the Lower House of the Parliament. The term extension has been unanimously denounced by the International Community where some countries including the United States have threatened sanctions.

Mr. Feldman is an experienced diplomat who served as an Ambassador to Lebanon and as former Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs and is currently a member of MEI‘s Board of Governors. Many regional analysts have suggested the appointment of the Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa to bring a direct engagement of the region’s many complexities beyond the traditional diplomatic channels.

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