Who is lobbying in the Ethiopia conflict as Coons heads to Addis Ababa

Who is lobbying in the Ethiopia conflict as Coons heads to Addis Ababa

With Daniel Lippman

FARA FRIDAY: The White House said Thursday it is dispatching Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a top ally of President Joe Biden, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the president’s request to convey the administration’s “grave concerns about the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in the Tigray region,” according to a statement from national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

— Coons’ trip comes amid a spiraling humanitarian crisis there after four months of fighting between Ethiopian and allied militia forces and Tigray residents, and as the Biden administration announced an additional $52 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict. A U.S. government report obtained by The New York Times last month accused Ahmed’s forces of carrying out an ethnic cleansing in the region, a term used by Secretary of State Antony Blinken for the first time last week.

— As a result of the violence, both the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan advocates have enlisted help in Washington in recent months. Last month, the Ethiopian Embassy hired the lobbying firm Venable for government relations help through the end of April at a monthly rate of $35,000, according to documents filed with the Justice Department. Their work has included outreach to at least three Democratic senators, including at least one call between Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ethiopian Ambassador Fitsum Arega, according to DOJ filings. Venable declined to comment on their representation of the embassy.

— Last week, the Alexandria, Va.,-based Tigray Center for Information and Communication retained the lobbying firm Von Batten-Montague-York to push the Biden administration and Congress “for the removal of all Eritrean military personnel and militia from Tigray,” as well as to apply pressure to the Ethiopian government to allow open access to humanitarian assistance and the appointment of an independent investigator to prove claims of war crimes against the Tigray people.

Source: Politico