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U.S. Envoy in Ethiopia in Peace Push

U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman’s trip is likely his last effort to secure a cease-fire amid a government advance.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, leaves after meeting with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, leaves after meeting with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, leaves after meeting with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Sudan's capital of Khartoum on Sept. 29, 2021. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: U.S. envoy heads to Ethiopia to push for peace talks, Russian-led security bloc to send peacekeepers to Kazakhstan, and Novak Djokovic’s visa troubles spark Australia-Serbia tensions.

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U.S. Envoy in Final Ethiopia Visit 

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: U.S. envoy heads to Ethiopia to push for peace talks, Russian-led security bloc to send peacekeepers to Kazakhstan, and Novak Djokovic’s visa troubles spark Australia-Serbia tensions.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


U.S. Envoy in Final Ethiopia Visit 

U.S. Horn of Africa envoy Jeffrey Feltman is in Ethiopia for talks with senior government officials amid fresh hopes for a cease-fire in the 14-month-long conflict.

The Ethiopian government’s fortunes have shifted since November, when Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) troops forced their way south, coming within 200 miles of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Since then, a government offensive has managed to push TPLF forces farther north, out of Afar and Amhara and back into their home region of Tigray.

As well as morale-building visits to the front by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the advance appears to be another advertisement for the effectiveness of Turkish Bayraktar drones, with the relatively cheap air support proving instrumental in targeting TPLF forces.

Aid groups in Tigray have criticized the aerial assaults as indiscriminate, saying at least 143 people have been killed and 213 injured since October in the strikes.

It’s another example of how the Turkish drones have quickly become a feature in 21st-century warzones, after helping to turn the tide in Libya’s civil war and handing victory to Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. (The acquisition of Bayraktar drones by Ukraine has been given as one reason for Russia’s military buildup near its borders.)

Feltman’s visit Thursday is likely to be his last as U.S. envoy, after his impending resignation was reported on Wednesday by Reuters. Feltman will be replaced by David Satterfield, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Turkey.

Ethiopia has repeatedly rejected U.S. calls for a cease-fire, prompting the United States to increase pressure by removing the country from a preferential African trade program. State Department spokesperson Ned Price, speaking last week, said the Ethiopian government’s decision not to pursue the TPLF farther into Tigray was an “opportunity” for both sides “to halt conflict operations and to come to the negotiating table.”


What We’re Following Today

Kazakhstan turmoil. The Collective Security Treaty Organization—a group made up of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan—has accepted a request from Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to deploy peacekeepers in the country as it experiences historic—and violent—unrest, spurred by the government’s removal of fuel price caps. The Kazakh government has since resigned, and Tokayev has removed the powerful former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev as the head of the country’s Security Council.

Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry has reported that eight police and National Guard members have been killed in the protests, with 317 people injured. In Almaty, the largest city, protesters have set fire to the mayor’s office and seized the airport.

U.S.-Japan relations. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meet virtually with their Japanese counterparts, Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo, under the auspices of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee. As well as discussions over security and the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. sides are likely to hear fresh calls for a first White House visit for new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Lithuania and Taiwan deepen ties. Taiwan plans to set up a $200 million investment fund for Lithuania focusing on improving the Baltic nation’s technology industry as the two countries improve ties after Lithuania allowed a de facto Taiwanese embassy to open in its capital of Vilnius. It’s one of several moves Taiwan has taken to offset Lithuania’s apparent punishment from China, with a Taiwanese company buying 20,400 bottles of Lithuanian rum blocked from entering China.


Keep an Eye On

North Korea’s missile test North Korea said its Wednesday missile launch involved testing a “hypersonic glide warhead,” the second time it has tested the technology designed to outwit modern missile defenses. The state news agency KCNA said it “precisely hit” its target 430 miles from its launch site.

Kosovo’s energy troubles. Kosovo has become the latest country to ban cryptocurrency mining as it attempts to rein in energy use amid rising prices. Those measures have included imposing rolling electricity blackouts, which have led to protests as residents blame Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli. Kosovo joins Iran, which recently enacted a temporary ban on cryptocurrency mining to prevent blackouts, and China, which has banned the practice for environmental reasons.


FP Recommends

On the anniversary of the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, is the United States any closer to a true civil conflict? From our print edition, Stephen Marche explores how prepared the U.S. military really is for an attack from within.


Odds and Ends

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has spoken out against the “maltreatment” of his countryman Novak Djokovic, the men’s world No. 1 tennis star, after the player’s visa was canceled on entry into Melbourne, where he had hoped to take part in the Australian Open. Djokovic remains at an undisclosed location awaiting an appeal following a 10-hour standoff with Australian officials. He could face deportation on Monday.

Djokovic has long voiced opposition to vaccines and had received a medical exemption from state authorities for his unvaccinated status to play in the tournament, but a barrage of criticism from Australians amid accusations of a double standard prompted a government U-turn. “Rules are rules. No one is above these rules,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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