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OPEN LETTER WITH RECOMMENDATIONS TO ANTONY BLINKEN

 WHY DO YOU NOT CONDEMN TERRORISM IN ETHIOPIA?

Al Mariam’s Commentaries

Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State
Washington, DC

Sir:
The Immigration and Nationality Act § 219 (Title 8, CHAPTER 12  SUBCHAPTER II Part II § 1189; 8 U.S. Code § 1189 – Designation of foreign terrorist organizations) authorizes the Secretary of State to designate an organization a “foreign terrorist organization” by making a finding that the

1) organization is a foreign organization;
2) organization engages in terrorist activity (as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B) of this Act [8 U.S.C 1182(a)(3)(B)] or terrorism (as defined in section 2656f(d)(2) of title 22), or retains the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism); and
3) terrorist activity or terrorism of the organization threatens the security of United States nationals or the national security of the United States.

Pursuant to the foregoing statutory authority, the US Secretary of State has designated dozens of groups globally as “foreign terrorist organizations” over the past three decades.

More recently in Africa, the US Secretary of State has designated the following groups as “foreign terrorist organizations”:

March 18, 2008- Al-Shabaab, Somalia
November 13, 2013- Boko Haram (Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād) northeastern Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and northern Cameroon
December 19, 2013- al-Mulathamun Brigade, Algeria
January 13, 2014- Ansar al-Shari’a, Libya
January 13, 2014 – Ansar al-Shari’a, Tunisia
May 19, 2016- ISIL-Libya
February 28, 2018- ISIS-West Africa
May 23, 2018- ISIS-Greater Sahara
September 6, 2018 – Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) Maghreb and West Africa
March 10, 2021- ISIS Democratic Republic of the Congo
March 10, 2021- ISIS Mozambique

Informal findings of terrorist activity in Ethiopia that threatens the security of United States nationals/national security of the United States

Beginning in earnest in November 2021 and at various times in 2022, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa has issued a barrage of warnings about the high potential of terrorist attacks in Addis Ababa and other part of Ethiopia that threaten American nationals and American national interests.

On November 3, 2021, the US State Department issued a “Level 4 Travel Advisory” warning American citizens in Ethiopia:

Do not travel to Ethiopia due to armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping in border areas.

On November 23, 2021, the US Embassy tweeted about the ongoing possibility of terrorist attacks and advised Americans to avoid places “frequented by foreigners.”

On August 26, 2022, the US Department of State issued a travel advisory advising U.S. citizens to “Reconsider Travel” to Ethiopia because of terrorist-instigated violence in “several “Do Not Travel” areas, including the Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions, specific areas in the Oromia region, and Ethiopia’s border areas with Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya.”

On September 8, 2022 the US Department of State issued a travel advisory advising U.S. citizens to “Reconsider Travel” to Ethiopia because of terrorist-instigated violence in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions, specific areas in the Oromia region, and Ethiopia’s border areas with Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya.”

On October 4, 2022, the US Department of State issued a travel advisory urging U.S. citizens to “Reconsider Travel” to Ethiopia “due to armed conflict, civil unrest, communications disruptions, crime, and the potential for terrorism and kidnapping” and designated as “Do Not Travel To” areas to include Tigray, Amhara and Afar Regions, Border areas with Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya.

The advisory also underscored the potential for “terrorism and ethnically motivated violence in the Wollega Zones of the Oromia Region.”

I will note in passing that I found it curious the US State Department should characterize the conflict on the Kenya border as caused by “terrorism and ethnically motivated violence” but describes the terrorism in “Wollega Zones of the Oromia Region [as being] due to violence and civil unrest.”

I shall address the Wellega Zone terrorism below.

In the May 10, 2022 “Country Security Report,” the US State Department concluded:

Terrorism Environment​:

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Addis Ababa as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. The U.S. Department of State has included a Terrorism “T” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Ethiopia, indicating that terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist(Boldface added.)

For all intents and purposes, the US State Department has made informal but substantial fact findings establishing the existence and presence an ongoing threat of terrorism against US nationals and interests in Ethiopia.

Why not make it formal and designate the well-known terrorist groups in Ethiopia “foreign terrorist organizations”?

US Condemnation of terrorism, terrorist activity and attacks in Africa

On April 28, 2015, the US State Department condemned the Boko Haram terrorist group for killing 48 Nigerian troops on Karamga Island in Lake Chad and other casualties.

We condemn the violent actions of Boko Haram and its continued disregard for human life. Boko Haram has perpetrated countless unprovoked attacks on men, women, and children in their homes, schools, places of worship, and businesses. Their brutality and barbarism know no bounds.

The US promised to help Nigeria “degrade and destroy Boko Haram.”

On February 22, 2018, the US State Department “condemned in the strongest possible terms the (Boko Haram) terror attack on a school in northeastern Nigeria.”

On June 18, 2018, the “United States condemned in the strongest possible terms” the Boko Haram terrorist attack in Damboa, in Nigeria.

On March 24, 2022, the US condemned al-Shabab terrorist acts declaring, “The United States stands with Somalis against terror.”

On March 25, 2022, the US sanctioned “six individuals for their support of the terrorist group Boko Haram.”

On May 7, 2022, the “US condemned terrorist attack in the Sinai targeting members of the Egyptian military.”

On October 30, 2022, you condemned al Shabab, “We stand with Somalia in the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Mogadishu.”

On  November 18, 2022, the United States along with the Great Lakes Special Envoys of Belgium, France and the UK condemned the M23 terrorist group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

When has the US ever condemned terrorism in Ethiopia?

In 1991, the US installed a terrorist a terrorist-cum-rebel group known as Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to power in Ethiopia claiming “the rebel leadership has assured us that they plan for a broadly based provisional government leading to a democratic constitution for Ethiopia.”

On September 16, 2006, the U.S. Embassy concluded the TPLF had indeed engaged in acts of terrorism while it was in control of the Ethiopian government and tried to blame others.

On November 4, 2020, the TPLF launched a devastating terrorist attack on the Ethiopian Northern Command in Tigray region in an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of Ethiopia and reinstall itself to power.

As a result of the terrorist attack, thousands of federal Ethiopian soldiers were shot, hacked, run over by trucks, maimed and tortured.

The US issued no condemnation.

In contrast, the US issued “condemnation in the strongest terms” when a few dozen Nigerian and Egyptian troops were attacked by terrorists.

On November 9, 2021, Amnesty International issued a report extensively documenting the terrorist acts of the TPLF including rapes, robberies, looting and massacres.

The US issued no condemnation.

Throughout 2020-21, the US provided TPLF terrorists satellite intelligence on Ethiopian troops movements and satellite communication equipment to TPLF leaders to connect with foreign anti-Ethiopian elements.

Throughout 2020-21, key leaders in the US Senate and House of Representatives sponsored legislation to sanction and otherwise undermine the legitimately elected government of Ethiopia and in support of the terrorist TPLF.

Throughout 2020-21, the US has coordinated with major media outlets to propagate disinformation and fake news against Ethiopia and its government and in support of the terrorist TPLF.

The TPLF has long been listed in the Global Terrorism Database for documented acts of terrorism including armed robberies, assaults, hostage taking and kidnapping of foreign nationals and journalists and local leaders, hijacking of truck convoys, extortion of business owners and merchants, nongovernmental organizations, local leaders and private citizens and intimidation of religious leaders and journalists.

The TPLF is also registered as a terrorist organization by the Terror Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).

The U.S. government had classified the TPLF as a “tier III” terrorist organization until 2014 when it issued an exemption in a policy memorandum.

On August 31, 2021, Sean Jones, head of the USAID mission in Ethiopia, told Ethiopian state television TPLF terrorist looted its warehouse of humanitarian supplies.

The US issued no condemnation.

In February 2022,  Amnesty International documented TPLF terrorists had “deliberately killed dozens of people, gang-raped dozens of women and girls – some as young as 14 – and looted private and public property in two areas of northern Ethiopia’s Amhara region.”

The US issued turned a blind eye and issued no condemnation.

In August 2021, TPLF terrorists massacred hundreds of innocent people in the Afar region.

The US issued no condemnation.

Truth be told, since November 2021, the US State Department, the US Embassy in Addis, USAID, Susan Rice, USAID Boss Samantha Power and dozens of  Senators and House Representatives have issued statements and tweeted to dramatize, mythologize, legitimize, glamorize and militarize the terrorist TPLF since November 2021.

Truth be told again, they have also demonized, ostracized and tried to delegitimize the Ethiopian Government, often in the same tweets championing the TPLF terrorist cause.

TPLF lapdogs engaged in terrorist activities in Ethiopia: OLF Shene

Since November 2021, the US State Department has issued a number of travel advisories urging American nationals to avoid the “Wollega Zones of the Oromia Region because of terrorism and ethnically motivated violence.”

The terrorism committed in Wellega Zone and other parts of Oromiya region of Ethiopia is by the so-called OLA Shene ragtag terrorist group.

In June 2021, the Ethiopian Parliament designated the TPLF and OLA Shene “terrorist organizations.”

The TPLF has publicly acknowledged forming an an alliance with the OLA Shene to overthrow the democratically elected government of Ethiopia.

The TPLF has also made alliances with other rebel/terrorist groups in other parts of the country providing funds and weapons to, among others, the “Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front” to destabilize the Afar region; the “Qemant Committee” to intensify the conflict in Amhara region; and in the Benishangul-Gumuz region to “Peace, Development and Democracy”, the “Benishangul-Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement” and  “Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement.”

The Shene terrorist group and other allied terrorist groups have been responsible for untold numbers of deaths and destruction of property as well as infrastructure and caused internal displacement of millions in Ethiopia.

All of the foregoing terrorist and rebel groups have been financially and materially supported by TPLF and other foreign elements.

The TPLF and its lapdog terrorist allies are committed to accomplish one and only one objective: State collapse of the democratically elected government so that they can seize power during the ensuing chaos.

Despite the hundreds of incidents of terrorist attacks by the TPLF and its lapdog terrorists in Ethiopia, the US has not expressed “condemnation in the strongest terms” against them.

In the May 10, 2022 “Country Security Report,” the US State Department concluded:

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

Historically there has not been strong anti-U.S. or anti-Western sentiment in Ethiopia. However, increased focus on the Tigray crisis, rising inter-communal violence in the country, and Ethiopia’s stance vis-a-vis its neighbors regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project has been met with a corresponding increase in anti-U.S. sentiment. In May 2021, various groups coalesced to protest the U.S. and other diplomatic missions for a perceived bias against the government’s handling of the Tigray crisis, GERD, and other local concerns.

During the height of the Tigray crisis, significant anti-U.S. or anti-Western sentiment developed in Ethiopia due to perceived involvement of international and U.S. organizations in the regional conflict between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces. Organizations faced harassment, abuse, and threats on social media and in person. Members of the Ethiopian diaspora held protests in the United States against U.S. policy. Two sizable demonstrations occurred at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa in the November / December 2021 timeframe as a result; both were peaceful protests and well-controlled by host national police. (Italics added.)

There is a quote commonly attributed to President Franklin Roosevelt, who when  asked about the wisdom of supporting Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza said, “Somoza may be an SOB but he is our SOB.”

The vast majority of Ethiopians believe the Biden administration supports terrorists in Ethiopia using a double standard.

In other words, “The TPLF and its lapdog terrorists may be SOB terrorists but they are our (US) SOB terrorists.”

As the Security Report clearly suggests, most Ethiopians believe the Biden administration supports the TPLF and its lapdog terrorists because it believes these terrorists are the best tools at its disposal to destabilize Ethiopia and enable it to control Ethiopia and the entire Horn region.

Unfortunately, I firmly believe the Biden administration’s intentions and actions towards Ethiopia are base, ignoble, underhanded, mendacious and duplicitous as I have documented in my series, “The Five Pillars of US Policy in Ethiopia.”

Suffice it to say that in my November 21, 2021 commentary, I have made the legal case against US-supported state terrorism in Ethiopia.

On December 4, 2022, you said:

We will always condemn acts of terrorism or violence targeting civilians.  There can be no justification for it ever, and anyone who engages in it must be held accountable.

Will you make a declaration at the US-Africa Summit, which begins on December 13, 2022, that you condemn acts of terrorism and violence targeting civilians in Ethiopia?

Might makes right/Might is right

There are those who say, “Might makes right. Might is right.”

As someone who has learned, taught and practiced American constitutional law for more than one-half century, I believe in the rule of law, never the rule of might makes/is right.”

As a newly-minted Republican, having been pushed out (and not voluntarily left) of the Democrat Party by the Biden administration, I invoke the memorable words of President Dwight Eisenhower who said:

The world no longer has a choice between force and law; if civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law.

So, you too must choose the rule of law, and not because President Eisenhower said.

Perhaps President John Kennedy’s message in his 1961 Annual Message to the Congress may appeal to you more.

The hopes of all mankind rest upon us–not simply upon those of us in this chamber, but upon the peasant in Laos, the fisherman in Nigeria, the exile from Cuba, the spirit that moves every man and Nation who shares our hopes for freedom and the future.

I would add the farmers who are making Ethiopia Africa’s breadbasket before our eyes and the factory working women locked out of their jobs by US sanctions to that list.

In the spirit of President Eisenhower and Kennedy and in full support of the Peace Agreement between the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF, I offer you the following recommendations to fight terrorism in the rational self-interest of American nationals and American national interest in Ethiopia and the horn.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The US Should Not Underestimate the Intent and Capability of Terrorists Operating in Ethiopia to Attack United States Nationals or the National Security of the United States Within the Meaning of 8 USC§ 1189 (a) 1 (C)

Unfortunately, the US has bad habit of underestimating the potential, intent and capability of foreign terrorist groups to threaten American nationals and American national interest abroad and at home.

In December 2011, the  SUBCOMMITTEE ON COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES made the following painful observation:

Historically, Boko Haram has been focused on Nigerian government targets. Until recently, Western intelligence services did not widely view Boko Haram as a potential threat. Even after the U.N. attack, Nigerian experts remain skeptical about Boko Haram’s intent and capability to strike U.S. interests and the homeland.

U.S. Intelligence Community has recently underestimated the intent and capability of terrorist groups to strike the homeland, most notably Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Tehrik-iTaliban Pakistan (TTP). These underestimations had near-deadly consequences on Christmas Day 2009 over Detroit and in May 2010 in Times Square…  Boko Haram has the intent and may be developing capability to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level with al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Shabab. (Boldface added.)

I say with all due respect and earnestness that the US never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to nip terrorism in the bud or to learn from history.

Terrorists in Ethiopia and Somalia are working collaboratively to re-create a Boko Haram in Northeastern Africa.

“The Somali terrorist group al-Shabab has trained several thousand fighters for its Ethiopian “command,” mainly ethnic Somalis and Oromos inside Ethiopia.”

In July 2022, al-Shabab terrorists attacked inside Ethiopia in large numbers until they were repelled by Ethiopian troops.

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General Stephen Town assessing the situation said:

“This is not a fluke. … I don’t believe this is a one-off… It’s only been less than a year ago that al-Shabab emir [Ahmed] Diriye called for an increased emphasis on external attacks and increased emphasis on attacking Western targets in the Horn of Africa… This is a response.” (Boldface added.)

The US should not underestimate, as it has so many other terrorist groups, the potential, intent and capability of Ethiopia, particularly the Shene terrorist group operating in concert with al-Shabab, Boko Haram and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups including Al Qaeda and ISIS.

  1. The US Secretary of State Should Conduct an Investigation Into Whether Certain Well-Known Terrorist Groups in Ethiopia Should be Designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization Under 8 USC § 1189

AFRICOM General Stephen Townsend has said al-Shabab terrorists in alliance with terrorists in Ethiopia have the potential, intent and capability to “attack Western targets in the Horn of Africa.”

In the May 10, 2022 “Country Security Report” , the US State Department concluded:

Terrorism Environment​:

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Addis Ababa as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

There are tens of thousands of American nationals visiting, living and working in Addis Ababa.

A “MEDIUM” terrorist threat against them should be regarded with the utmost concern and determination to eliminate the source of the threat.

I surmise that when the US assessed the threat of terrorism as “MEDIUM” in Addis Ababa, it is fully aware of the terrorists groups that are operating in the country, their capabilities as separate groups and collectively, their history of terrorist acts, the tactics they use and their intentions against the Ethiopian Government as well as the commercial, diplomatic and political interests of the United States in Ethiopia and in the Horn region and US nationals in the country.

A ”MEDIUM” threat signifies minimally that there is a preponderance of evidence that terrorist acts could be directed against American nationals or interests in Ethiopia by terrorists operating in the country.

In light of the foregoing illusrative evidence, it stands to reason that the US Secretary of State should undertake an investigation of terrorist groups in Ethiopia and determine whether FTO designation is appropriate.

The old idiom is instructive. “A stich in time saves nine.”

Mending a tear in a piece of clothing right away will only require one stitch instead of the 9 stitches necessary later if the tear goes unfixed and the threading in the piece of clothing unravels.

With terrorism, timely, swift and determined action early and frequently will save 900 innocent lives and 90 thousand people from internal displacement and becoming refugees.

  1. Increase U.S. Intelligence Community Collection on Terrorist Organizations in Ethiopia.

I do not pretend to have a clue about the scope and breadth of US intelligence surveillance on terrorist groups in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Government, opposition elements, diaspora Ethiopians or anyone else.

However, the anecdotal evidence on US intelligence surveillance on Boko Haram and al-Shabab suggests the US undertakes considerable intelligence collection against terror groups including human intelligence (HUMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT).

It is well-known that the US intelligence community works closely with the Nigerian Intelligence community to deal with Boko Haram’s terrorism.

Ethiopia was once America’s most reliable African partner against terrorism.

In July 2015, President Barack Obama describing US-Ethiopia counterterrorism alliance observed:

Ethiopia is an outstanding partner against terrorism. They have one of the most effective militaries on the continent.  And as I noted in my earlier remarks, they are also one of the biggest contributors to peacekeeping.  And so they’re averting a lot of bloodshed and a lot of conflict because of the effectiveness of their military, and we want to make sure that we’re supporting that. (Boldface added.)

Today, unfortunately, the Biden administration plays the game of three wise monkeys in Ethiopia.

The US should partner with Ethiopia to increase intelligence collection on terrorist groups and organizations in Ethiopia.

  1. Increase U.S. Government Support for Ethiopian Counterterrorism and Intelligence Programs.

In 2006, at the behest of the US, Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia and delivered a heavy blow to the al-Shabab terrorist group.

In the aftermath, the US has provided Ethiopia financial, logistic, intelligence, and military assistance to fight terrorism.

The US even maintained a drone base in Ethiopia for years to engage in counterterrorism strikes against al-Shabab in Somalia.

In September 2020, the US cut off counterterrorism and related aid to Ethiopia because Ethiopia refused to sign away its rights to build, manage and operate its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Given the similarity of the terrorist threat in Ethiopia and Nigeria, the US should reestablish its former strong relationship with Ethiopian security services and help rebuild their capacity to combat the terrorist threat posed to American nationals in Ethiopia and American interest in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

  1. Strengthen the “Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism” (PREACT)

In 2009, the US established the Partnership for Regional East Africa counterterrorism program designed to build the capacity and cooperation of military, law enforcement, and civilians across East Africa to engage in comprehensive counterterrorism planning and actions.

The Partnership had laudable goals including reduction in the operational capacity of terrorist networks, enhancing border security,  countering the financing of terrorism and reducing the appeal of radicalization and recruitment to violent extremism.

Participants in the Partnership include Djibouti, Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, and Sudan.

The Lead Inspector General’s Report for 2020 on counterterrorism operations in Africa concluded:

The U.S. Government will continue to face many challenges as it works to degrade and contain the evolving and dynamic VEO (violent extremist organizations) threats in Africa.

The Report advised:

The U.S. Government will need to effectively leverage and coordinate the diplomatic, humanitarian, and development capabilities of multiple agencies to address the underlying drivers of extremism, including poor governance, humanitarian crises, and lack of economic opportunity.

The Lead Inspector’s analysis of the drivers of extremism/terrorism in Africa is generally correct.

The assumed causal relationship between the factors in the causation of terrorism is intuitively impressive, but the empirical literature offers a nuanced perspective.

Poverty and lack of opportunity do not produce terrorists nor eliminating them eliminate terrorism.

A terrorist group’s ethnic or religious grievance or sense of social injustice stoked by a charismatic leader mouthing an ideology or belief system and a conviction terrorism will produce the desired goal plays a more critical role in the onset of terrorism.

Terrorists in Africa are not engaged in an ideological struggle, nor are they committed to good governance and human rights violations.

They are gross violators of human rights.

Terrorists in Ethiopia are not about reducing poverty improving education, health, and the economic well-being of the people.

The principal and singular aim of terrorists in many African countries (Somalia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon), and certainly in Ethiopia, is to engender state collapse.

The terrorists aim to bring about widespread insecurity and a complete breakdown of government authority in maintaining law and order creating chaos which will allow them to sneak into power.

That is most certainly the case in Ethiopia

Can the US create credible and sustainable counterterrorism partnerships in Africa?

The US role as a neutral arbiter and honest broker/mediator between government and discontented ethnic, religious, and other groups is becoming less and less tenable as evidenced in US support for the TPLF terrorist group between 2020 to the present.

The US could best help fight terrorism in Africa by working with African governments by providing them the tools to engage in good governance, not by preaching the tired old gospel of human rights or haranguing them to adopt Western-style democracy.

The US can make significant headway against terrorism in Africa by providing African governments financial incentives to tackle corruption, and strengthen the rule of law, civil society and democratic political institutions.

Lecturing, hectoring, humiliating and interfering in the the internal affairs African countries will only enrage and make them defiant.

By far, the most immediate necessity is to create mutually beneficial and respectful partnerships to help strengthen African national security forces to fight terrorism and enhance their intelligence and tactical capabilities.

In this regard, it is best to undertake a comprehensive review of the “Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism”, revitalize it and transform it it into an effective strike force against terrorists in the partner states.

U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit

As I wish you a successful U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, I must express my disappointment counterterrorism was not listed on the agenda as a focal item.

An agenda item that purports to “advance peace, security, and good governance” in Africa just does not cut it for me.

I recall counterterrorism was a major agenda item when President Barack Obama held his US-Africa Summit on August 4-6, 2014.

The African countries that suffer from lack of peace, security and good governance are the same countries that face the greatest threats from terrorism.

Terrorism in one form or another is the root of insecurity, conflict and good governance in Africa, not the other way around.

African countries facing terrorism respond with repressive measures which results in reduced commitment to democracy, human rights, and civil society.

I wish counterterrorism was given the weight it deserves at the Summit.

I am also in a state of anticipatory disappointment.

I recall President Barack Obama held his US-Africa Leaders’ Summit on August 4-6, 2014 under the banner, “Investing in the Next Generation.”

The big idea back then was to focus on the next generation of Africans (youth) and creating educational, employment, entrepreneurship and other opportunities for them within a nurturing political, social and economic environment.

Did that happen “for the next generation of African youth” over the past 8 years?

In 2014, Obama told African leaders at the Summit:

I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect.

Did the US create partnerships with Africa grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect over the past 8 years?”

In 2022, in preparation for the US Africa Summit President Joe Biden said:

I look forward to working with African governments, civil society, diaspora communities across the United States, and the private sector to continue strengthening our shared vision for the future of U.S.-Africa relations.

Will the US in the next 8 years partner with African governments, civil society, diaspora communities across the United States, and the private sector to continue strengthening our shared vision for the future of U.S.-Africa relations?

I believe NOT!

But as Ben Franklin quipped, “I’d rather be a pessimist because then I can only be pleasantly surprised.”

Sir, I eagerly await to be pleasantly surprised!

 

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