On Thursday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced during a visit to several Horn of Africa nations that the Chinese Foreign Ministry would create a new special liaison to the region, where the U.S. is struggling to maintain its former influence
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Speaking Thursday in Mombasa, Kenya, Wang said the two nations are "partners for peace in the region" and would continue to coordinate at the United Nations Security Council and other venues to increase that role.
Later, during a meeting with Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Raychelle Omano, Wang announced he would appoint a special envoy to the Horn of Africa to further those goals. "I believe that this is what we need," Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta replied. "Kenya-Africa does not need lectures; Kenya-Africa needs friends willing to work with us to achieve our goals and our aspirations."
Wang's visit to Kenya came after a two-day stop in Eritrea. The two foreign ministries declared a new Strategic Partnership, and China reaffirmed its support for Eritrea against unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States. "Regional countries know best the problems within the region, and it's up to the people of a country to properly handle its internal affairs," Wang said in Asmara.
A month prior, he made similar comments in Addis Ababa, where Washington has sanctioned Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government for the same reason as Eritrea: fighting an armed uprising by the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), the former longtime rulers of Ethiopia. The latter had fought a disastrous war against Eritrea while in power.
Wang’s visit and announcement of the new envoy also come as the U.S. puts heavy pressure on Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, aka Farmaajo, for having suspended his PM, Mohamed Hussein Roble, following accusations Roble had interfered in a corruption probe against himself.
Across the Red Sea, the U.S. continues to support the Saudi-led war in Yemen, claiming almost 400,000 lives. The coalition is fighting the rebel Houthi movement, which it claims is a proxy force supported by Iran, although both the Houthis and Iranians reject the claim.
Earlier this week, the U.S.’ special envoy to the Horn, Jeffrey Feldman, resigned after months of failing to end the war in Ethiopia or get Abiy removed from power.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also announced on Thursday that David Satterfield, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Turkey, would take Feltman’s place in the Horn.
Satterfield has long represented U.S. interests in the Middle East, including a post as ambassador to Lebanon from 1998 until 2001 and serving several roles under the George W. Bush administration, including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission with the rank of Ambassador in Iraq during the U.S.’ occupation war, and as Coordinator for Iraq and Senior Advisor to Secretary of State when Condoleeza Rice headed the department.
He also became Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Cairo in August 2013, after the U.S.-trained Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president and seized power.