US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, will step down from his post this month, a report said on Wednesday.
Feltman, who has spent a little over nine months on the job, is expected to be replaced by the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield.
He was faced with two major crises while in office – Ethiopia’s deepening civil war between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the military coup in Sudan in October.
The news of his departure comes before he heads to Ethiopia on Thursday to meet with senior government officials about peace talks as part of Washington’s latest push to bring an end to the conflict.
The 62-year-old said he came out of “quasi-retirement” after serving as an American diplomat for more than 25 years in the Middle East, North Africa, and United Nations.
Feltman had taken up the role in the Horn of Africa with the intention of serving for less than a year, the report said.
His replacement, Satterfield is expected to provide continued U.S. focus, necessary because of ongoing instability and inter-connected challenges in the region.
One of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts, the year-long conflict between Ethiopia’s government and the leaders of the northern Tigray region has killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions and sparked famine.
Protests in Sudan have continued for weeks, including on Tuesday, two days after Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned. Following the coup on Nov. 21, he was reinstated in an agreement with the military widely rejected by protesters.
As a veteran of the US Foreign Service with more than four decades of experience, Satterfield held a challenging post as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, where he managed strained bilateral relations between the two NATO allies.
Before moving to Ankara, he lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Syria, as well as twice acting as the top American diplomat for Middle East affairs at the State Department.
Turkish drone exports, most recently to Ethiopia, will be a common theme in Satterfield’s new and old roles. In December, Washington raised the issue of armed drone sales to Ethiopia with Turkey. It is believed the government used these weapons against rebel fighters.
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