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has appointed Ambassador Mike Hammer as the new US envoy to the Horn of Africa to succeed outgoing envoy David Satterfield.

Hammer is the third US envoy appointed by President Joe Biden's administration to the Horn of Africa, as Jeffrey Feltman was the first envoy to be appointed in April 2021, and he left his post in January 2022. Then Washington appointed diplomat David Satterfield to the post before leaving him last April.

Between attention and disregard for the Horn of Africa

In late 2020, Ethiopia launched an attack in the Tigray region after an attack on a military base blamed on the forces of the Tigray Front, which sparked a bloody conflict that displaced more than two million people, prompting the US administration to accuse the Addis Ababa government of ethnic cleansing.

Ethiopia, which has historically been a partner of the United States, called for an indefinite humanitarian truce last March, allowing aid deliveries and alleviating fears of famine.

In the statement issued by the US State Department upon the appointment of the first US envoy to the Horn of Africa, it indicated that the goal is to lead an international diplomatic effort to address the interrelated political, security and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa.

The statement pointed out that the three issues of greatest concern to the US administration are;

These are the volatile situation in Ethiopia, including the conflict in Tigray, the escalation of tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan, and the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Blinken hopes the Hummer will bring peace and security to Ethiopia (Reuters)

Hammer was recently US ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement, "I look forward to the energy and vision that Ambassador Hammer will bring to our efforts in the Horn of Africa."

He added that Hammer's appointment means "our firm commitment to diplomatic efforts in the region, and urgently to support an inclusive political process towards peace, common security and prosperity for all the people of Ethiopia."

"The United States places high priority on resolving the conflict in Ethiopia and other regional flashpoints. We are proud to announce that Ambassador Mike Hammer will succeed Ambassador David Satterfield as Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa," said another statement from Ned Price, the State Department's spokesperson. ".

And the former Washington ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shen, points to the Biden administration's appointment in just over a year of 3 envoys to the Horn of Africa that points to a problem.

The first envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, held the position for less than a year, which he pledged early on, and the second envoy, David Satterfield, only had a few months left, which is highly unusual.


Attention without strategy

Two weeks before naming the third envoy to the Horn of Africa, US President Joe Biden signed an order allowing hundreds of special operations forces to be redeployed to Somalia more than a year after his predecessor Donald Trump ordered their withdrawal.

Biden agreed to a request from the Secretary of Defense to re-establish a continuous US military presence in Somalia, which would constitute an American presence capable of facing the growing threats in the region, and also reflecting Washington's growing interest in the Horn of Africa.

Cameron Hudson, a former White House official, and now an expert at the Center for International and Strategic Policy in Washington, notes that there are "many questions about what the powers and competencies of the third envoy will be, and what he is expected to achieve."

In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, Hudson explained, "The announcement of a new American envoy to the Horn of Africa for the third time was an opportunity to redefine the priorities of the United States in the Horn of Africa and our strategy towards it, which the State Department has failed so far."

Ambassador Shen disagrees with Hudson's vision, and Sheen expresses his belief that "the Biden administration has a comprehensive strategy for the region, although there may be disagreements about tactics for achieving that strategy."

Shen explains the Biden administration's strategy, in his speech to Al Jazeera Net, saying, "The administration wants to see the development of democratic governments throughout the region, an end to the civil war in Ethiopia, and unfettered humanitarian access to those areas of Ethiopia that suffer from serious food shortages. and social services. In addition to ensuring the continuation of the democratic transition from military rule to civilian rule in Sudan, and that Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt resolve their differences over the Renaissance Dam through negotiations. Washington also wants to end the Eritrean military intervention in Ethiopia and defeat the terrorist group Al-Shabab in Somalia," he said.


On the other hand, Hudson believes that "Washington is trying to make the most of its envoys in the Horn of Africa, but so far they have not been given a strategy to follow or clear political powers, and they do not have the possibility to communicate directly with high-ranking officials in Washington. We simply cannot appoint people without Empower them and we expect to see progress."

Hudson asserts that the absence of a clear strategy for Biden towards the Horn of Africa region and its problems and crises "represents a significant regression, and when the role of this envoy was established, there were 3 declared political goals: ending the civil war in Ethiopia, assisting in the democratic transition in Sudan and reaching a final and binding agreement between outskirts of the Renaissance Dam.

"But today, there is no clear sense of what the priorities are within the region. If every move is a priority, nothing is a priority at this moment. The administration must clearly define the powers and objectives of this new envoy and give him the political and human resources needed to succeed."

Some experts link the US move and the Biden administration's interest in the region to a broader confrontation and a struggle for influence with both China and Russia, in addition to the traditional risks associated with terrorism and maritime piracy at the entrance to the Red Sea.

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