A Week in the Horn 29.04.2022


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News in Brief





Eid-to-Eid Homecoming: Remembering Ethiopia’s unique position in Islam





TPLF’s unending excuses compromising the Humanitarian Truce





The US will not win hearts and minds of Ethiopians or secure its interests in the region with HR6600





Africa and the African Union





The Chairperson of the African Union
Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat welcomes the decision of East African
leaders to deploy regional force to restore stability in DRC (April 25,
2022). The chairperson welcomes the outcome of the Second Heads of State
Conclave on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), held on 21 April
2022, in Nairobi, Kenya, particularly the decision to immediately deploy
a regional force to restore peace and stability in the DRC.





The Chairperson of the Commission of the
African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat welcomes on Thursday (April 28) the
successful elections of the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the Somali
Senate and House of the People, conducted from 26 to 28 April 2022. The
Chairperson extends warm congratulations to Hon Abdi Hashi Abdullahi,
newly elected Speaker of the Upper House, and Hon. Sheikh Aden Mohamed
Nur “Madobe”, Speaker of the House of the People. The Chairperson calls
for a peaceful, timely and credible conclusion of the Presidential
elections in line with the 17 September 2020 and 27 May 2021 agreements.





Ethiopia signed the treaty of the African
Medicines Agency (AMA) at the Head Quarters of the African Union on
Wednesday (April 27), making the country the 29th African Union member
state to sign the treaty. Dr. Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia’s Health Minister
inked the treaty. The Minister said the AMA would complement national
and regional efforts in developing a robust, predictable, and efficient
regulatory system for medical products that have a continental public
health benefit. Present at the signing ceremony, Dr. Monique
Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, congratulated
Ethiopia.





African Union remembers the 1994 genocide
in Rwanda with the 28th Commemoration under the theme ‘Remember, unite,
renew’ (April 28).





A
pre-Tana Forum multi-stakeholders dialogue with the theme “The Impact
of Peace and Security on Culture and Heritage Protection in Africa” was
held on Thursday (April 28). The dialogue unpacked the concept and
nature of peace and security’s contribution to culture, heritage, and
heritage protection. The Forum assessed current situations &
regional responses to the damages done to world heritage sites due to
armed conflicts. It identified challenges faced and ongoing initiatives
put in place to protect the world heritage sites during armed conflicts.
AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and security, Ambassador
Bankole Adeoye delivered a keynote speech during the forum.





Ethiopia





President Sahle-Work Zewde and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Ethiopia expressed condolences over the passing away of former Kenyan
president, Mwai Kibaki. President Sahle arrived in Nairobi on Thursday
(April 28) to attend his funeral. Ethiopia remembers Mr. Kibaki for his
outstanding public service that brought Ethiopia and Kenya much closer.
His visionary leadership paved the way to creating economic integration,
expanding cooperation on mutual issues, and inspiring vibrant
relationships between the people of the two countries.





Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed congratulated on Monday (April 25) the
President of France, Emmanuel Macron upon his re-election to serve his
country for the second term. Prime Minister Abiy said on his Twitter
page that he looks forward to the continued strengthened relations
between the two countries.





Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen on
Thursday (April 28) held talks with Catherine M. Russell, UNICEF’s
Executive Director about ways to scale up development projects, and
humanitarian activities the UNICEF has been undertaking in Ethiopia.
Appreciating the organization‘s development activities in Ethiopia, the
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister briefed Ms. Russell about the
steps taken by the Ethiopian government to mitigate the negative
impacts of the conflict in the northern part of the country and the
severe drought in some parts of Ethiopia. The rebuilding and
rehabilitation efforts of the government need extensive support from aid
agencies, including UNICEF, he said. The Executive Director said she
has paid a visit to East Africa to draw the attention of the
international community and donors to drought-affected areas and secure
expedited donations for emergency relief support.





After a four-day visit to Ethiopia, UNICEF Executive Director
Catherine Russell called for a rapid scale-up of support to prevent a
humanitarian disaster due to the drought in Ethiopia and the region. The
director stressed that the effect of the drought in Ethiopia is
devastating, and said, “In the Somali region, one of the worst-hit
drought areas in the country, I met children and families who have
literally lost everything. Their livestock have died and as a result,
they have no source of income. They cannot feed their children and are
on the move in search of food and water. We need to reach these families
now before it is too late.” The UNICEF press release on the executive
director’s visit to the Somali region on Thursday (April 28) noted that
four countries across the Horn of Africa; Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and
Somalia are experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades leaving
10 million children in need of urgent life-saving support.





On Wednesday, the formal opening ceremony of the Eid-to-Eid Great
Ethiopian Homecoming took place in Addis Ababa. The opening ceremony was
held at Friendship Park in the presence of government and religious
authorities, including Grand Mufti Haji Omar Idris, President of the
Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, and Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abebe and
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen. The
Eid-to-Eid Expo, which features Ethiopian-made products, was also
officially opened to the public earlier that day at the Exhibition
Center. The Eid homecoming call is a great opportunity to show
Ethiopia’s unique position in Islam. (See article)





An implementing agreement with the grant amounting to 1.5 million
euros was signed on Wednesday (April 27) between the Federal Democratic
Republic of Ethiopia and the Italian Republic at a ceremony held at the
Embassy of Italy in Addis Ababa, for the implementation of “Food Safety
Project”. The project is aimed to improve the food safety status in
Ethiopia by providing technical support in managing the food safety
risks, which are arising from food adulteration and poor food hygienic
practices in major agro-food processors, food marketers, and catering
services.





In declaring the Humanitarian Truce on March 24, 2022, the Government
of Ethiopia said the decision would save lives and reduce human
suffering in the Tigray region. The insurgents in Tigray were also
required to desist from all acts of aggression and withdraw from areas
they occupied in Amhara and Afar. The Government of Ethiopia and the
international community expressed hope that the truce would
substantially improve the humanitarian situation and pave the way for
resolving the conflict in northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed. (See article)





Close to 60 Chinese and Ethiopian import and export companies
including trade associations participated in an event held virtually on
Tuesday (April 26) to promote Ethiopian Sesame products. On the
occasion, Ambassador Teshome Toga stated that being an active player in
FOCAC and BRI, Ethiopia has proved itself as a most reliable partner of
China. Rong Weidong, Vice President of China Chamber of Import and
Export of Food Staffs, Natural Produce and Animal Bi-Products (CFNA),
said China is the biggest sesame importer in the world and imports the
import of sesame from Africa accounts for about 90pct of the total
import.  





Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act (H.R. 6600 bill)
threatens to undermine the Ethiopian government’s current peace efforts
and harm Ethiopia’s rising economy more than the conflict does. If
passed, the bill poses threats to the security of the region. Ethiopians
consider the bill as a tool to deny an independent state’s right to
self-defense by restricting its financial and military capability. (See article)





Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Service of Ethiopian Airlines
celebrated a milestone on B 767 passenger to cargo conversion on
Thursday (April 28) as the first conversion site in Africa, in
collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Ambassador of
Israel to Ethiopia Aleligne Admasu and Ethiopian Group CEO Mesfin Tasew
and guests attended the celebration.





The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia issued a statement over
the week expressing its profound sadness on the passing away of the
Ambassador of the Republic of Malawi to Ethiopia and Permanent
Representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa, H.E. Charles Peter Msosa. Ambassador Charles
Peter Msosa had been receiving medical treatment in Addis Ababa before
he was pronounced dead on Monday, April 25, 2022 around 9:00 PM. The
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia expresses its deepest sympathy
to the Government and people of Malawi on their loss and wishes for
consolation to the family, friends, and colleagues of the deceased.





Donors pledged 1.39 billion Dollars for humanitarian and development
response to mitigate the drought in the Horn of Africa, the United
Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said
on Wednesday (April 27). The drought in the region has left more than 15
million people severely food insecure across Ethiopia, Kenya and
Somalia. The pledges were made at a high-level round table in Geneva,
co-hosted by the OCHA and the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid
Operations (ECHO), and with the participation of senior representatives
from the Governments of Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.





A press statement issued by the United States announced that the US
has allocated more than $200 million in assistance to respond to
humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa. The statement issued in Geneva
(April 26) stated the assistance will “help save lives in Ethiopia,
Kenya, and Somalia, where more than 20 million people are projected to
need emergency food assistance this year.”





Eritrea





Kenya is mediating Congo peace talks, but no sign of breakthroughs
reported. Congolese armed groups in peace talks in Kenya asked for more
time before laying down their weapons, Kenyan authorities said Thursday,
signaling the talks had not yet made a breakthrough. a statement from
Kenya’s presidency said “A few” of more than 30 armed groups with
representatives at the talks “requested to be given more time to
appraise themselves with the set conditions but expressed willingness to
join hands in building their country.”





Kenya





Kenya is mediating Congo peace talks, but no sign of breakthroughs,
reported. Congolese armed groups in peace talks in Kenya asked for more
time before laying down their weapons, Kenyan authorities said Thursday,
signalling the talks had not yet made a breakthrough. a statement from
Kenya’s presidency said “A few” of more than 30 armed groups with
representatives at the talks “requested to be given more time to
appraise themselves with the set conditions but expressed willingness to
join hands in building their country.”





Somalia





Somalia’s lawmakers elected Sheike Adam Mohamed Nur as a new Speaker
(April 28, 2022). The election of speakers in the Parliament and Senate
(Abdi Haha Abdullahi) a day earlier in the country varies to the
beginning of its general election to elect the president of the country
which is scheduled to take place on May 17.





UK Minister for Africa Vicky Ford has announced (April 26) a new £ 25
Million aid package to provide vital services to almost a million
people in Somalia. The Minister also announced a partnership with Qatar
which will see the Qatari government invest 1.5 million with the UK
towards the emergency response and resilience building in Somalia.





Kenya has appointed a new Ambassador to neighbouring Somalia last
week on Friday (April 22). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya
announced May Gn (Rtd) Thomas Chepkuto will serve as Head of Mission in
Mogadishu.





South Sudan





SPLM/A-IO representatives to the ceasefire Transitional Security
Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) have participated fully
in the Technical Committee meeting on Monday (April 25, 2022) in Juba
about a month after they suspended the participation in the meeting.





Sudan





European Union and Troika countries diplomats called to expedite
talks to restore a civilian-led transition in Sudan and expressed their
support for the dialogue process facilitated by the tripartite
mechanism. Envoys from France, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, the
United States of America, and the European Union on Thursday (April 27)
held joint meetings with the Sudanese stakeholders including the
military-led Sovereign Council, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF),
the National Consensus groups and the Forces for Freedom and Change
(FFC).





At least 168 people killed in violence in Darfur region. Adam Regal,
Spokesperson for the General coordination for Refugees and Displaced in
Darfur stated on Sunday (April 24), “At least 168 people were killed and
98 winded in a fighting in West Darfur. The UN and EU condemn
atrocities of the tribal conflict. The EU statement read the Juba peace
agreement be respected by all its dignitaries.





AU’s Special Envoy to Sudan Mohamed El Hacen Ould Lebatt announced on
Sunday (April 27, 2022) that a comprehensive political dialogue among
the Sudanese political forces brokered by a tripartite mechanism of the
United Nations, AU and IGAD is scheduled to be held from Mid-May.





*******************





Eid-to-Eid Homecoming: Remembering Ethiopia’s unique position in Islam





On Wednesday, the formal opening ceremony of the Eid-to-Eid Great
Ethiopian Homecoming took place in Addis Ababa. The opening ceremony was
held at Friendship Park in the presence of government and religious
authorities, including Grand Mufti Haji Omar Idris, President of the
Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, and Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abebe.





Also present at the event, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
Demeke Mekonnen commended the Ethiopian Diaspora for responding
favorably to the national call in his opening remarks. He emphasized the
diaspora’s importance in, among other things, reactivating the economy,
promoting the national image, and opposing and denouncing unfair
external pressures.





The Eid-to-Eid Expo, which features Ethiopian-made products, was
officially opened to the public earlier that day at the Exhibition
Center. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Birtukan Ayano urged
Ethiopians living abroad to buy Ethiopian products, support local
producers, and promote the country. According to the Eid to Eid
Initiative National Committee, more programs will be organized from eid
al fitr to eid al adha as part of the Great Ethiopian Homecoming.





Eid to Eid Great Ethiopian Homecoming is the second part of the
initiative forwarded by Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed calling one million
Ethiopians, Ethiopian origins and friends of Ethiopia to come to
Ethiopia following the Gregorian New Year. Eid to Eid Great Ethiopian
Homecoming was made public during Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s address to
the parliament calling for ‘The Great Eid Prayer in Ethiopia’.





Ethiopians, Ethiopian friends, Ethiopian neighbors, and nationals of
Middle Eastern nations have been invited to celebrate Eid in Ethiopia.
Because ‘Eid Al Fitr’ and ‘Eid Al Adha’ are included in the call, a
national committee with six subcommittees has been constituted to
coordinate the two big festivities. The first phase will run from April
11 to May 11, 2022, and the second phase will run from July 1 to August
10, 2022.





There have been events ranging from a Grand Open Space Iftar to a
Grand Eid Prayer, symposiums and conferences, exhibitions and bazaars,
visits to IDPs, historic Islamic sites, and development projects.





The most important of all the festivities will be a Grand Ethiopian
Street Iftar on Friday. The organizers are planning a
world-record-breaking outdoor Iftar event. “Numerous Iftar programs have
already been held in many towns and cities, the Grand Iftar will excel
them all” stated Ustaz Abubeker, Co-Chair of the Eid-to-Eid National
Committee.





Ethiopia has a long tradition of tolerating individuals of other
faiths, as seen by the reception of Prophet Muhammad’s Companions in the
first Hijra. Ethiopia’s unique position in Islam, on the other hand,
has not been adequately explained and documented, preventing it from
gaining a suitable place in the Muslim world. As a result, the return of
Diaspora Ethiopians to their homeland will provide an opportunity for
Muslims all over the world to learn about Ethiopia’s valuable
contribution to free religious teaching. 





Because millions of Ethiopian Muslims live outside of the country,
primarily in the Gulf region, this special event aids the Muslim world
in understanding Ethiopia’s unique position in Islam and its deeply
loved culture of religious equality.





Besides, Ethiopia aims to revive its tourism sector and make its
heritage known to the international community. The event will have
Islamic and non-religious heritages on display for tourists, hoping to
bring an impact on diplomacy and boost Ethiopia’s relations with Middle
Eastern countries. In addition, the event serves the diaspora to show
its solidarity to the people of Ethiopia in countering the negative
image generally drawn by Western media outlets





Ethiopian Airlines has offered a 20% discount to commemorate the
occasion. The discount is valid for both economy and business class
visitors visiting Ethiopia in celebration of Eid-al-Fitr.





*******************





TPLF’s unending excuses compromising the Humanitarian Truce





In declaring the Humanitarian Truce on March 24, 2022, the Government
of Ethiopia said the decision would save lives and reduce human
suffering in the Tigray region. The insurgents in Tigray were also
required to desist from all acts of aggression and withdraw from areas
they occupied in Amhara and Afar. The Government of Ethiopia and the
international community expressed hope that the truce would
substantially improve the humanitarian situation and pave the way for
resolving the conflict in northern Ethiopia without further bloodshed. 





Unfortunately, the TPLF was not impressed by the declaration of the
humanitarian truce and even went on equating the encouragement of the
decision by the international community with supporting government
propaganda. The TPLF was quick to accuse the federal government of
blocking the supply of humanitarian aid within a couple of days
following the declaration of the humanitarian truce, regardless of all
possible logistical reasons from the humanitarian operators’ side. 





After the humanitarian operators managed to deliver aid to the region
by road and frequent flights, the TPLF changed its tune. Although
deceptive as usual, the group declared the withdrawal of its forces from
the Afar region. It also issued a statement and wrote an open letter on
April 21, 2022, to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres putting
conditions on the humanitarian truce, threatening to launch fresh
attacks if its demands are not met. It has mobilized a massive number of
fighters to the areas adjacent to the Amhara and Afar regions. The
irony is that the TPLF trumpets humanitarian aid should not be
conditional, while trying to justify its invasion of adjacent regions
and depriving people of their livelihoods in a bid to ensure
uninterrupted aid to Tigray.





Facts on the ground 





In addition to the daily humanitarian flights, 154 trucks carrying
food and fuel (with nine tankers) were able to enter Tigray since the
declaration of the humanitarian truce. This demonstrates the
government’s commitment to work closely with humanitarian operators and
keep the promises it made under the humanitarian truce. 





The TPLF has announced the withdrawal of its forces from the Amhara
and Afar regions, and the international media echoed these claims
without cross-checking facts. The truth is that the TPLF forces have
only withdrawn from a few areas of Eribti, Berehale, and Abala town. The
surrounding areas of Abaala- the aid corridor-are still under the
control of the TPLF. The group still maintains its grip in some parts of
the Amhara region.





Contrary to the allegations of the TPLF and its sympathizers, the
provision of aid depends on the capacity of humanitarian operators to
provide the required amount of resources and secure safe passage. The
Government of Ethiopia has never put restrictions on the amount of aid
supply to the Tigray region, while the TPLF is denying compromising the
security of humanitarian corridors.





The recent propaganda of the TPLF clique on “the shortage of
medicine” in the hospitals of the Tigray region is another deliberate
spin designed to create the illusion of scarcity. The group is reported
to divert the continuous supply of medicine, medical equipment, and
nutritious minerals from donors to private businesses and pharmacies.





How shall the international community act this time?





The international community should understand that the claims of the
TPLF not only are baseless but also will scale back the peacebuilding
initiatives taken by the Ethiopian government so far. This includes the
humanitarian truce that seemed to create an understanding between the
Ethiopian government and the international community.





To let the Humanitarian Truce function properly, the international
community should explicitly demand that the TPLF withdraw from all of
the occupied Afar and Amhara regions. Since there is a shortage of
resources compared to the number of people in need of assistance, the
Government of Ethiopia encourages the international community to scale
up humanitarian support.





*******************





The US will not win hearts and minds of Ethiopians or secure its interests in the region with HR6600





Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act (H.R. 6600 bill)
threatens to undermine the Ethiopian government’s current peace efforts
and harm Ethiopia’s rising economy more than the conflict does. If
passed, the bill poses threats to the security of the region. Ethiopians
consider the bill as a tool to deny an independent state’s right to
self-defense by restricting its financial and military capability.





HR6600 and the Economy





Some of the provisions of the bill call on the US government to
severely punish any American or anyone with assets or corporate
interests in the US who provides material or moral support (including
advice) to fuel what they call “the civil war” in Ethiopia. Support can
be construed in a variety of ways in this context. Financial aid to the
Ethiopian National Defense Forces from Ethiopians in the Diaspora, for
example, as well as restoration and reconstruction initiatives might not
be allowed. Although not explicitly declared, remittances may not be
permitted under the pretext of aiding the Ethiopian government’s
military operations.





The United States may also slash all financial assistance to the
government of Ethiopia, except for humanitarian purposes. These
financial restrictions also include loans from international financial
institutions and friendly countries of the US. Under these conditions,
getting foreign currency is daunting, which will have a serious effect
on the country’s economy. However, the bills do not oppose the export of
Ethiopian manmade or natural products.





While economic diplomacy is the cornerstone of Ethiopian foreign
policy, our missions and ambassadors will have a difficult time
convincing business people to invest in Ethiopia with the unjustified
bill flying in their faces. Since Investment decisions are inextricably
tied to a country’s political environment, the passing of the bill
indicates that things are not going well in Ethiopia, making the country
a risky investment destination. Once passed, unless and until repealed
fast (which is difficult because the laws will be enforced for several
years, if not a decade), the country’s investment and diplomacy will
suffer for a long time.





Essentially, contrary to achieving what it sets out to accomplish,
the resolution will take peace and stability out of the lives of
ordinary Ethiopians.  As we have observed in the banning of Ethiopia
from the AGOA preferential agreement, it was women and other
disadvantaged groups who suffered the most. Putting Ethiopia in a
straightjacket will neither win the US the hearts and minds of ordinary
Ethiopians nor strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations.





HR6600 and Security





In terms of security, the bill suggests imposing restrictions on arms
sales to Ethiopia (on people, governments, and financial organizations)
and primarily accuses the Ethiopian government of practically all
wrongdoing. The embargo also includes drones which many have argued
provide the ENDF with a competitive advantage over its adversaries. The
effect is clear- further weakening the country and increasing its
vulnerabilities to both internal and external threats. Only the
anti-peace elements would flourish in such an environment. What kind of
peace can this bring to Ethiopia and the region as a whole?





Since the arms embargo includes Eritrea, the vulnerability in the
region should not be seen lightly.  Apart from that, although the bills
do not seem to state it explicitly, the measures may go to the extent of
reducing Ethiopia’s influence in peacekeeping missions too. With all
these severe measures taken against Ethiopia, how will the security and
stability of the country and the region be guaranteed?  Would not that
embolden extremists, notably Al-Shabab, the number one security threat
to the US in the region?





The ultimate purpose of the United States is to promote peace in the
Horn of Africa, but H.R. 6600 is not in the best interests of Ethiopians
or the United States. The legislation fails to acknowledge the reality
on the ground and fails to understand Ethiopia’s complicated problems.
What it actually can achieve is weakening the democratically elected
government, punishing innocent Ethiopians, ramping up existing problems,
creating power vacuums, and driving the Ethiopian-American relationship
on an undesirable path.




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