Is The US Trying To Divide The Horn Of Africa?

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

The Eritrean government has accused the U.S. of attempting to divide the four countries in the Horn of Africa by stoking conflict in the region.

Eritrea believes that the U.S. is trying to turn Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan against their East African neighbor, and wishes to sow division throughout the rest of Africa, according to the AfricanExponent.

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The accusation came directly from the country’s information ministry following the lifting of sanctions on Eritrea in November.

The United Nations decided to lift sanctions and an arms embargo on the country, which dates back to 2009, according to News24.

Horn of Africa
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signs a peace accord with Ethiopia. Photo – AP – Saudi Press Agency

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to remove sanctions against Eritrea following an improvement in relations between the nation and other neighbouring countries, but decided to maintain an arms embargo on Somalia and a ban on trade in charcoal, a major source of funds for terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Progress in the Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa region has gone through a period of diplomatic progress this year, with new Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, elected in April and making moves to unite the countries within the region.

As the regional power, Ethiopia’s efforts have had a unifying effect, with Ahmed accepting the international boundary commission’s border decision in favor of Eritrea, while improving relations between Eritrea and Somalia.

The country has also facilitated talks between the leaders of Djibouti and Eritrea in search of a more collaborative and peaceful future, according to TheEastAfrican.

Eritrea’s accusations against the U.S. stem from the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in September, when Tibor Nagy, the U.S. State Department assistant secretary for Africa, made it clear that the country was unwilling to back the lifting of sanctions in Eritrea, the SudanTribune reported.

The U.S. explained that the country’s poor human rights record was their reason for backing continued sanctions, but despite the U.S.’s position on the matter, the U.N. Security Council saw fit to drop the nine-year-old sanctions.

The eventual lifting of sanctions was celebrated by Eritrea in a statement as a victory for “the vigorous defiance of the people of Eritrea inside the country and abroad against injustice”.

In the same statement, Eritrea pointed a finger at the U.S., accusing it of instigating the sanctions and victimizing the country through a “travesty of international justice” that was designed to tear the Horn of Africa apart.

Following the recent signing of a peace pact between Eritrea and landlocked Ethiopia, the regional powerhouse now has tax-free access to the Red Sea ports in Assab, in the south of Eritrea, and in Massawa in the north, according to AllAfrica.

Ethiopia currently spends over $1.5 billion annually to make use of ports in Djibouti, and this agreement will ensure cost saving. The benefits also extend to Eritrea, with their industries now open to the Ethiopian market and over 100 million consumers.