US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said Tuesday that there was “massive” progress trying to get fighting sides in Ethiopia to a negotiating process, but he warned that there was no military solution.
“What concerns us is this fragile progress risks being outpaced by the alarming developments on the ground that threaten Ethiopia’s overall stability and unity,” Feltman told reporters in a phone call.
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Feltman returned to Washington from Ethiopia on Monday.
“Unfortunately, each side is trying to achieve its goal by military force. And each side seems to believe this and it’s on the cusp of winning. After more than a year of fighting and hundreds of thousands of casualties… it should be clear that there is no military solution,” he said.
Feltman echoed earlier calls from the State Department urging American citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible.Feltman also delivered a strongly worded warning to the Tigray fighters that they must halt their advance on Addis Ababa. If they don’t stop, they could face “unrelenting hostility,” he said.
But Feltman said he was encouraged by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s priority of pushing the Tigray fighters out of regions they were occupying. “We share that objective,” he said.
On the other hand, the Tigray fighters have been saying they want to break the “siege” on their home region, which has only received “something like 12 percent” of what is needed in humanitarian aid.
Abiy to frontlines
On Monday, Abiy said he was going to join the battlefront as of Tuesday.
Asked if Ethiopia’s premier told him about these plans, Feltman said the prime minister voiced his confidence that he could push the Tigray fighters back to the country’s north.
“I questioned that confidence,” Feltman said but positively noted Abiy’s willingness to discuss how a diplomatic process could put an end to the fighting.