President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing sanctions against warring parties in northern Ethiopia if they fail to commit to a negotiated settlement.

In a statement, Biden described the 10-month war in the Tigray region as a tragedy, saying, "I was appalled by reports of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence to terrorize the civilian population."

A senior administration official said the executive order provided for "a sanctions regime to increase pressure on the parties that are fueling this conflict to sit at the negotiating table and withdraw their troops in the case of Eritrea."

The official said the United States does not impose sanctions now but gives itself the authority to do so if necessary.

The order gives the Treasury "the necessary authority" to punish the governments of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Tigray People's Front for the Liberation of the Country, among other parties, the statement said.

Unless these parties take "concrete steps" to resolve the crisis, the United States is ready to impose sanctions on a wide range of individuals and entities in the coming weeks, the administration official said.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray last November to oust the People's Liberation Front (PLA), then the ruling party in Tigray.

Unless these parties take "concrete steps" to resolve the crisis, the United States is ready to impose sanctions on a wide range of individuals and entities in the coming weeks, the administration official said.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray last November to oust the People's Liberation Front (PLA), then the ruling party in Tigray.

The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner said the move was in response to the MILF's attacks on federal army camps.

The United Nations says the conflict has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands more living in conditions close to famine.

Eritrea provided military support to Ethiopia by sending troops to Tigray, along Eritrea's southern border.

In August, the United States imposed sanctions on the Eritrean army commander for human rights violations in Tigre.

"Double standards" 

Although Abi promised a quick victory, fighting continued in Tigre until June, when the People's Liberation Front (PLA) recaptured much of the region, including its capital, Mekele.

The then launched incursions into the neighboring areas of Afar and Amhara, where subsequent fighting displaced hundreds of thousands and killed countless civilians.

Abe has long accused Western powers, including the United States, of condoning crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Front (KLA), which lawmakers officially designated as a terrorist group in May.

He repeated that point Friday in a three-page open letter to Biden in response to the executive order.

"Unfortunately, while the whole world has turned its attention to Ethiopia and the government for all the wrong reasons, it has failed to publicly and sternly rebuke the terrorist group in the same way as my Government," he wrote.

"This unjustified pressure, characterized by double standards, is rooted in a coordinated distortion of events and facts on the ground in relation to the rule of law operations in Ethiopia in the Tigre region," he later added.

The back-to-back responses between Washington and Addis Ababa came as the United Nations sounded the alarm over hundreds of relief trucks, which it said were "no longer" from Tigre, hampering the humanitarian response.

Ethiopian authorities and the Tigrayan rebels have accused each other of obstructing humanitarian convoys trying to reach Tigre.

A government Twitter account on Thursday noted: "suspicions that TPLF (is) seizing trucks for private logistics."

However, spokesman Getachew Reda noted the obstacles the drivers faced as they entered Tigray from the nearby Afar region, adding that they had nothing to do with Tigrean officials.

Ethiopia: Fear Tigray conflict could trigger all-out war, 20 civilians killed in clashes | WION News

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