Eritrea fires shots at US over Tigray conflict
Amid concerns over involvement in the Tigray conflict, Eritrea has accused US envoy to the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer of misleading the world, in what could renew hostilities within the unstable region which is facing a myriad of challenges.
Yemane Meskel, Eritrea's Information minister, termed Hammer's remarks as unwarranted, adding that he was taking sides in the conflict instead of being part of the problem solver. The minister claimed the US was privy to Tigray People's Liberation Front's activities within the region.
According to him, the US was running away from real issues, noting that it was operating on innuendos and unfairly blamed Eritrea for the conflict. This was the first time Eritrea is sharply responding to issues on the invasion of the Tigray region, north of Ethiopia.
"His strident and unwarranted remarks on Eritrea aside, US Special Envoy to the Horn belatedly admits that he was privy to TPLF’s imminent military intentions," the minister said in a tweet in reference to Hammer's recent remarks on the conflict in Tigray.
"This provokes a host of questions and exposes the US and the European Union's misguided acts of shifting the blame to scapegoat victims of TPLF’s follies," added the minister as he scolded the Tigray People's Liberation Front over uncertainty within the border.
The US, the UN, and other stakeholders have linked Ethiopia to the ongoing conflict in Tigray, arguing that Asmara was sending troops to help Ethiopian National Defense Forces to meet violence against innocent civilians within the region.
Investigations done by independent experts established that the Eritrean troops were actively involved in the Tigray war contrary to international laws, a move which has renewed fighting in Ethiopia, a country also struggling with inter-clan conflicts which have significantly hampered stability.
The envoy, who has been calling for a ceasefire, accused the Eritreans of inflaming the conflict, which has left thousands of people dead and millions displaced. The actual number of the deaths in Tigray is yet to be published by independent teams.
"The presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia only serves to complicate matters, and inflame an already tragic situation," said Mike Hammer on Tuesday, while condemning Eritrea's involvement in the renewed Tigray war which enters the fourth week.
The envoy, who was recently deployed by President Joe Biden, asked stakeholders who can directly reach Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki to immediately ask him to pull out the soldiers from Tigray. There are concerns that Ethiopian soldiers are sneaking to Eritrea for further training.
"External foreign actors should respect Ethiopia's territorial integrity and avoid fuelling this conflict. We have said this repeatedly," he said. "Those communicating with Asmara we encourage them to inform authorities that this must stop.”
The number of Eritrean troops fighting in Tigray could not be established but they are mainly based in the Western part of the region and are suspected to be making entry through Sudan. Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] claims the foreign troops have been even sponsoring drone attacks in Mekelle.