Since November of 2020, Ethiopia has been suffering from a deadly internal conflict that has claimed an estimated 50,000 lives and displaced over two million. The United States, the African Union and others in the region have attempted to secure a cease-fire between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) but have made little headway. In contrast, China has remained mainly on the sidelines of peacebuilding efforts even though Ethiopia — the second most populous country in Africa — is a centerpiece of its Africa policy.
The United States’ top priority is the “unity and integrity of the Ethiopian state” and its “commitment to the Ethiopian people,” U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington on November 2. Noting that the average civil war lasts 20 years, Feltman said a war that long would be disastrous for Ethiopia and urged all parties to the conflict to “give peace a chance.”
As China steps up its engagement in Africa amid lagging vaccination rates and tensions in Ethiopia, USIP’s Joseph Sany says U.S. policy must avoid a narrow, competitive mindset: “[China] is doing what a major superpower does … [the United States] must address African interests, not impose American interests.”
USIP’s Women Preventing Violent Extremism (WPVE) program aims to shape national policies and community approaches to countering violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. USIP does this by empowering women-led organizations and building local capacity that fosters collaboration between community-level activists and national-level policymakers.