The US State Department’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, announced on July 23 his intention to visit Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates from July 24 to August 1.
The purpose of the diplomatic mission is to help resolve the disputes related to the management of the GERD dam in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region in order to identify terms for a diplomatic solution in the interest of all parties involved (https://www.state.gov/special-envoy-for-the-horn-of-africa-mike-hammers-travel-to-egypt-the-uae-and-ethiopia/).
Mike Hammer’s visit to the region is being organized in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s announcement that it will proceed with the third phase of filling the dam reservoir to coincide with the rainy season. Announcement that provoked an outcry from Egypt and the rekindling of tensions that have long characterized relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
Mike Hammer also confirmed how in the course of the regional mission, when he will visit Ethiopia, he will meet for consultations with the leadership of the African Union, which is managing the delicate stages of talks for solution of the problem related to the GERD dam.
The visit to Addis Ababa will also provide an opportunity for Hammer to assess with federal authorities the progress in the distribution of humanitarian aid in the Tigray region, to discuss issues related to investigations into human rights violations during the conflict, and to promote peace talks between the federal and Tigray regional state governments.
The announcement of Mike Hammer’s visit to Africa follows a few days after the July 21 announcement in which U.S. President Joe Biden affirmed his intention to hold a conference for Africa in Washington from Dec. 13-15, inviting heads of state of African countries to the U.S. capital to promote an agenda characterized by the issues of security, climate change and the food emergency (https://www.theafricareport.com/225078/us-africa-biden-announces-africa-summit-for-mid-december/).
In this way, President Biden intends to demonstrate U.S. interest in and commitment to the African continent, especially as a function of the need to counter the increasingly assertive role of China and Russia, which became clear last May when the U.N. Security Council voted on a resolution condemning Russia for its aggression against Ukraine. Nearly half of the countries on the African continent abstained, while several others did not send their delegates to the floor at the time of the vote, blatantly demonstrating how and how much the position of African countries was polarized and heavily influenced by their growing relationship with Beijing and Moscow.