The latest phone conversation between Joe Biden, US President, and Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, over the tense security situation in Tigray signals the deteriorating international acceptance of Ethiopia, geopolitics analysts say.
According to a statement released by the White House, Presidents Biden and Kenyatta discussed the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights crises in Ethiopia's Tigray region and the need to prevent further loss of life and ensure humanitarian access.
Biden emphasized the US's continued commitment to working closely with Kenya to support regional peace and security, including at the United Nations Security Council, the same source indicated.
"The incidents in Tigray, coupled with what has been reported by international media outlets, have adversely impacted the international acceptance of Ethiopia. With Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea forming a new alliance in the region and due to their direct and indirect involvement in Tigray, it is expected that the US would prefer Kenya to discuss the security situation in the Horn because of its non-partisan role," said a geopolitical analyst working for an International Organization.
The US government has been voicing its concerns over the security situation in Tigray for the last three months. Last month, the spokesperson of the State Department under the administration of Biden said all soldiers from Eritrea should leave Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region immediately, citing "credible reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human rights abuses."
"Biden appears bent towards working with democratic countries and Kenya is better at this than Ethiopia. So, alongside the conflict in Tigray, the US may choose to strengthen its relations with Kenya. But this does not necessarily mean a weakening of partnership with Ethiopia, as Ethiopia remains a critical actor in the region and influential at the African level and the US won't easily let it slide into China's arms," said Adem Kassie (PhD), a legal expert who closely follows the situation in the Horn of Africa.
"But I think it is too early to tell that Ethiopia is losing its hegemony in the Horn. Kenya was always a crucial US partner. Trump, for example, was pushing for a trade agreement with Kenya for long, even at the risk of undermining the Africa Free Trade Area. It is also not in the interest of the US to have exclusive partnerships," Adem added.
Payton Knopf, a Senior Advisor to the Africa program of the US, in his commentary published last month, highlighted the importance of Ethiopia to the Horn of Africa in light of the conflict in Tigray.
"The Horn of Africa is an integral part of the Middle East's security landscape, and increasingly so. No country demonstrates this more clearly than Ethiopia. That country's escalating internal crises pose an increasingly grave threat not only to the country's citizens but to international peace and security and to the interests of the United States and its partners in the Middle East, principally Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)," he remarked.
With Ethiopia dominating international headlines due to the ongoing crisis in Tigray, the situation in the country has become a talking point among diplomats and leaders of governments in the West. Governments have been urging Ethiopian leaders to stop the fighting in the region and ensure unconstrained humanitarian access to people affected by the war.