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US sanctions Eritrea’s military, president’s political party for conflict in Ethiopia

“The US stands ready to pursue additional actions, including against the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, if there is not tangible progress toward a cessation of hostilities,” Gacki said.

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The US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Eritrea’s military and a leading party for their role in blocking progress on a solution to the war in neighboring Ethiopia.

Washington also threatened to impose sanctions on Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) if there was no progress on a ceasefire.

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“Today’s action targets Eritrean actors that have contributed to the crisis and conflict, which have undermined the stability and integrity of the Ethiopian state,” a statement from the Treasury Department read.

Eritrea’s Defense Force and President Isaias Afwerki’s political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), were sanctioned along with the head of the Eritrean National Security Office and the economic advisor to the PFDJ.

Two other entities linked to the PFDJ were also designated.

Captured Ethiopian soldiers paraded by Tigray forces through the streets in Mekele, Oct. 22, 2021. (AP)
Captured Ethiopian soldiers paraded by Tigray forces through the streets in Mekele, Oct. 22, 2021. (AP)

“Eritrean forces have operated throughout Ethiopia during the conflict and have been responsible for massacres, looting, and sexual assaults,” Treasury said.

“We condemn the continued role played by Eritrean actors who are contributing to the violence in northern Ethiopia, which has undermined the stability and integrity of the state and resulted in a humanitarian disaster,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Andrea Gacki.

“Parties to the conflict must come to the negotiating table without preconditions. The United States stands ready to pursue additional actions, including against the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, if there is not tangible progress toward a cessation of hostilities,” Gacki said.

The PFDJ was designated for being a political party that has “engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, activities that have contributed to the crisis in northern Ethiopia or have obstructed a ceasefire or peace process to resolve such crisis.”

November marked one year of fighting between Ethiopia’s government forces and the TPLF. The UN has sounded the alarm of the dire humanitarian situation due to the outbreak of fighting.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the sanctions were not directed at the people of Eritrea, Ethiopia or the greater Horn of Africa region.

“They are calibrated to impose costs on those prolonging the crisis, Blinken said in a statement.

He added: “The US Department of the Treasury has taken a series of steps to permit the continued flow of food, medicine, and humanitarian support to Eritrea.”

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