Washington threatens new sanctions over fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

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US President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Friday allowing for sanctions against the warring parties in Ethiopia’s Tigray region if they fail to commit to a negotiated settlement.

In a statement, Biden called the situation a tragedy and said: “I am appalled by the reports of mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence to terrorize civilian populations.”

The executive order establishes a “sanctions regime to increase pressure on the parties fueling this conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and, in the case of Eritrea, withdraw forces,” a senior administration official said.

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The United States is not imposing sanctions now but is giving itself the authority to do so if necessary, this official said.

The order gives the Treasury Department “the necessary authority” to sanction the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front among other parties, the statement says.

Unless these parties take “concrete steps” to resolve the crisis the United States is prepared to impose sanctions against a wide range of individuals and entities in coming weeks, the administration official said without specifying who or what organizations might be targeted.

In August the United States imposed sanctions against Eritrea’s army chief over human rights abuses in Tigray.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to topple the regional ruling party, the TPLF.

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

Eritrea has provided military support to Ethiopia by sending troops to Tigray, which lies along Eritrea’s southern border.

The conflict has left thousands of people dead and left hundreds of thousands of others living in conditions bordering on famine, the United Nations says.

Read more:

Hundreds of aid trucks ‘not returned’ from Ethiopia’s war-hit Tigray: UN

Explainer: Why the crisis in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray is deepening by the day

Eritrea rebuffs US ‘blackmail’ after sanctions on army chief over Tigray allegations

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