Blinken appoints new special envoy Satterfield to Horn of Africa

Associated Press / Bilal Hussein

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday announced the appointment of David Satterfield as U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, stating that the turmoil in the region required sustained American diplomatic engagement. 

Satterfield, who currently serves as the Ambassador to Turkey, will take over the position from Jeffrey Feltman, who has served as special envoy to the Horn of Africa for nearly a year.  

Blinken praised Feltman’s work, saying that the veteran diplomat stayed in the position beyond his original commitment of six months. The area has seen a rash of violence recently as Ethiopia devolved into a brutal civil war with interference from Eritrea, and Sudan’s democratic transition was thrown into chaos by a military takeover.  

“When we asked Ambassador Feltman to take on this role in early 2021, we had intended his appointment to be for less than a year. However, the ongoing instability in the Horn of Africa and the region’s interlinked political, security, and humanitarian challenges demand sustained focus by the United States,” Blinken said.  

“Ambassador Satterfield’s decades of diplomatic experience and work amidst some of the world’s most challenging conflicts will be instrumental in our continued effort to promote a peaceful and prosperous Horn of Africa and to advance U.S. interests in this strategic region.” 

Blinken added that Feltman will continue to serve in an advisory role working closely with the secretary and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee.  

“We are fortunate to be able to rely on these two extraordinary diplomats in support of U.S. diplomacy amidst the regional challenges and opportunities we face,” Blinken said. 

The announced transition comes as Feltman is in Addis Ababa meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Feltman informed Abiy of the transition in the position, while reiterating that the U.S. called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to the fighting between Ethiopian forces and rebel forces from the Tigray region in the north of the country.

“All of those topics were raised and were discussed during the special envoy’s discussions with the prime minister earlier today,” Price said.  

Tags Antony Blinken

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