Ethiopia has accused the United States of “meddling” in its internal affairs after the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on Ethiopian officials whom the U.S. accuses of fueling the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region.
“If such a resolve to meddle in our internal affairs and undermining the century-old bilateral ties continues unabated, the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will be forced to reassess its relations with the United States, which might have implications beyond our bilateral relationship,” said Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement issued Monday. The ministry added that the move “will seriously undermine this longstanding and important bilateral relationship."
The U.S. announced visa restrictions Sunday on several Ethiopian and Eritrean officials it says have "taken no meaningful steps to end hostilities” in the Tigray region.
"People in Tigray continue to suffer human rights violations, abuses, and atrocities, and urgently needed humanitarian relief is being blocked by the Ethiopian and Eritrean militaries as well as other armed actors," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
In addition to visa restrictions, Blinken also announced restrictions in economic and security assistance to Ethiopia. He added that humanitarian aid would continue.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said the "tendency by the U.S. administration to treat the Ethiopian government on an equal footing with the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is "saddening."
“There is nothing more revealing than this to understand the misguided approach by the administration,” the statement read.
The Ethiopian government has declared the TPLF a terrorist organization.
The statement adds that the Ethiopian government has been "fulfilling its commitment" to hold those accused of human rights abuses in Tigray accountable. It says it has been working with the international community to respond to the humanitarian crisis sparked by the conflict.
Thousands have already been killed in fighting between forces of Ethiopia’s central government and the armed wing of the TPLF, which dominated Ethiopia’s politics and economy for almost two decades until Abiy Ahmed was appointed prime minister in 2018.
The conflict has also triggered a major humanitarian crisis in Tigray, pushing millions into chronic hunger and malnutrition.
Tensions between the prime minister and TPLF flared into clashes last year, triggering a government offensive in November.
Ethiopian troops and Eritrean troops have been accused of massacres in the region.