Congress passes sanctions on Ethiopia and Eritrea to halt Tigray atrocity restore democracy

 
House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Young Kim (R-CA) that requires the administration to take additional measures to seek an end to the brutal civil war in Ethiopia.

While Abiy Ahmed and his supporters thought further American action against violations against humanity was not forthcoming they made a major misjudgment. Although the United States State Department, African Union, and United Nations had been meeting with Ethiopian government and Tigray leaders for months no significant progress had been made  to bring stability to the Horn of Africa. Famine threatening millions , mass killing of civilians, displacement and deprivation of human needs including medical care are worsening in Tigray.  Significant interference in Ethiopian affairs by Eritrea and other countries only seems to create chaos.  This reality  caused the United States Congress to take action against Ethiopia, Eritrea, and any others contributing to the instability.

Despite promises of the Ethiopian government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made months ago to the United Nations to “allow unfettered access” of humanitarian aid, peace negotiation, and real investigation of human rights violations Congress could wait no longer such that yesterday a bipartisan bill (Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act) passed with the following key features according to Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey:

    • Require the State Department to develop a plan for supporting democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, including plans to combat hate speech online, support accountability measures for atrocities and efforts to buttress a national dialogue;
    • Authorize the President to impose sanctions on individuals who undermine negotiations to end the conflict, commit human rights abuses, exacerbate corruption, or provide weapons to any hostile party;
    • Suspend all security assistance to the governments of Ethiopia until it ceases offensive operations, takes steps towards a national dialogue, improves protection of human rights, allows unfettered humanitarian access to conflict areas, and investigates allegations of war crimes;
    • Require the administration to oppose loans or other financial assistance from international agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea unless for humanitarian purposes until they take steps to end the war and restore respect for human rights; and  
    • Require a determination from the State Department concerning allegations of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Ethiopia.

This latest actions follows a United States Senate Resolution passed in May 2021 with bipartisan support stating calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and condemns all violence against civilians. Further, the resolution calls on Eritrea to withdraw its military forces from Ethiopia, and it urges all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities and work to protect human rights. The resolution also calls on relevant U.S. agencies to take specified actions that encourage an end to the conflict and provide humanitarian support.

Additionally many are noting the request by Somaliland to be identified as an independent country which is offering use of the Berbera port and establishment of US military base to solidify protection of United States strategic interests in the Horn of Africa. 

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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