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United States Policy of “My Way or the Highway” Degrades Peace and Stability in the Horn of Africa

Aklog Birara (Dr)

I must admit that the trust and confidence most Ethiopians within and outside Ethiopia have in the Ethiopian social, economic, and political system, the country’s governance, economic and fiscal management, and its core national institutions are, some say, hopelessly degraded. But “Throwing the baby with the bath towel” is hardly the remedy.

It is true that Ethiopians have not enjoyed peace, stability, sustainable and equitable development for half a century. We can attribute a myriad of factors and variables to this unfortunate circumstance. Regardless of ethnicity or faith, you cannot fault ordinary Ethiopians for the malice that persists in the second most populous country. In the recent past, I have argued that punitive sanctions do more harm than good. It is ordinary citizens who pay a price.

In the light of the above, I argue in this commentary that the passage of US Senate Bill S-3199—Ethiopia Peace and Democracy Act— sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Senators James Risch (R-Idaho), Christopher Coons (D-Delaware) and Thomas Tillis (R-North Carolina) will make matters worse and not better.

Potential passage is taking place against important initiatives in Ethiopia. First, the declaration by the Government of Ethiopia to stop fighting and give peace and reconciliation a chance. Second, the establishment of Ethiopia’s National Dialogue Commission that just began its work.

It is imperative that Ethiopians at home and abroad, the rest of Black Africa and Ethiopia’s friends across the globe support and give legitimacy to the new Commission. The imposition of unprecedented and harsh punitive sanctions by the Government of the United States on Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people endangers this important initiative.

The purpose of this commentary is two-fold:

  1. To ask the Congress of the USA not to pass the Bill; and
  2. To ask that Ethiopians, Eritreans and their friends across the globe express their outrage and opposition to the US and House Bills S-3199 and HR-6600 as amended and blended.

Below are my reasons why?

When passed, the Bill:

  1. Degrades Ethiopia’s national security and exacerbates human insecurity and instability in Ethiopia and throughout the Horn of Africa.
  2. Empowers and emboldens terrorists, jihadists, and secessionists.
  3. Worsens human peace, personal security, and instability.
  4. Aggravates unemployment and hyperinflation.
  5. Impedes, incapacitates, and closes Ethiopia’s opportunities to access capital markets, receive loans and credits from multinational financial institutions such as the World, Bank, ADB, IMF.
  6. Criminalizes Ethiopian Diaspora mobilization and transfers of technical, professional, and financial assets and expertise in support of Ethiopian war and other victims.
  7. Places the terrorists TPLF, Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), OLF/Shane at par with the elected government of Ethiopia.

This unprecedented measure may result in the unintended consequence of prolonging the civil war.

  1. Forces Ethiopia to severe its 118 years of mutually beneficial relations with the United States

This may strengthen the reaches of contending powers such as China, Russia, Turkey, and other competitors to the West and enable them to possess a commanding role in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

  1. Denies the American private sector access to a growing lucrative and profitable market in the second-most populous country in Africa that also serves as the seat of the African Union and other regional and international institutions.
  2. Degrades the trust and confidence of a vast segment of Africa’s 1.3 billion people, most of them youth, that the West dominated and led by the USA still adheres to a colonial and imperial mindset in foreign policy of “My Way or the Highway.”

The potential unintended consequence of this mindset is that it pushes Ethiopian and the rest of African youth away from the values, cultures and institutions that distinguish the USA from the rest of the world.

For these core reasons, I urge the US Senate not to pass the Bill.

March 28, 2022



2 thoughts on “United States Policy of “My Way or the Highway” Degrades Peace and Stability in the Horn of Africa”

  1. Subject: “United States Policy of “My Way or the Highway” Degrades Peace and Stability in
    the Horn of Africa” by Dr. Aklog Birara, MARCH 28, 2022

    Humble Reaction
    I FULLY agree with the Title. I do not need to say a single word.

    Having said that, I wish to comment on the COMMENT by the Reader tegenaw goshu.
    I fully agree agree with the comment. I will be honest >>> Ethiopian Intellectuals should do much, much, much better than what we read. Intellectual Ethiopians have the obligation to protect the pillar of Ethiopia — not just talking about it. Please take my words as a genuine commentary — not an iota of criticism.

  2. Comment to Aklog Birara

    A belated response. Sorry, I had somehow missed this post.

    “7. ….Places the terrorists TPLF, Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), OLF/Shane at par with the elected government of Ethiopia. “

    First things first:
    TPLF, OLF and PP (governing party) are all terrorists. Let’s not worry about which one of them would win the Miss Terrorist contest. Second the governing party is illegitimate and not ‘elected’. The corrupt election board of Birtukan Mideksa was responsible for this grand crime against the nation. The election was so fake, even the European Union and the US, who had ‘observed’ and declared TPLF’s fake elections ‘free and fair’ before, refused to send observers. They refused to stoop any lower than they had stooped before. “How low can you go? Can you go down low?”, was the song that PP kept singing and these old neocolonial imperial institutions with cracked bones could not go any lower, it seems.

    We know that there are elements within the US government who are hell bent on controlling the geography and resources of the Horn of Africa. These are the same forces that kicked the TPLF out of the Addis Ababa saddle. Now they have resuscitated a chastised, castigated and dying TPLF so they can get it to cough up its tens of billions of loot to purchase arms. A lasting peace is not what they want, but a war where they would be able to make some money as they expand their hegemony.
    That said, and conceding that sanctions generally hurt the poor, we should not be dishonest about the dishonesty of Abiy Ahmed’s gestures towards peace and dialogue. Abiy does not want the dialogue to succeed. He intentionally handicapped the process by rigging the process and the very composition of the commission.
    In addition to including, against the rules, a veteran OLF VIP and a Stalinist EPRDF member, he unilaterally installed three members in the Commission of 11 at the very last minute, outside the process followed by the parliament. Worse still, in an ethnic-based political system, Abiy excluded the Amhara majority from being represented in the Commission. So much for starting an all-inclusive dialogue.
    Abiy has miserably failed to even nominally uphold the rule of law. Moreover, his government has been implicated in the assassinations, abductions, massacres, ethnic cleansing campaigns and genocide against the Amhara and Orthodox Christians. With regards to these atrocities, the TPLF and OLF are the government’s partners in crime, though they are all vying for power.

    It is clear that the US government is not interested in justice or democracy in Africa but an independent investigation under whatever pretext would be most welcome as the findings could be used to bring these criminals to justice at some future date. Would they do that? Or would they choose to look at X and ignore Y, like they have been doing so far? Staring at one and blinking at the other, Anthony Blinking style.

    What we should push for is an independent investigation of any and all atrocities committed by EPLF TPLF, OLF and PP against the people of Ethiopia living anywhere in the country. Would the US be interested in doing that? That is the real question. What would they gain from such a lofty task?

    The miserable record of the US government over the past four years in regards to expressing concern over atrocities speaks volumes. Ethnic cleansing, genocide and the burning of property, farms and churches has been raging all over Ethiopia and the US government stifled such news let alone express concern over the atrocities. The only time they started complaining was when they chose to echo the woes of the TPLF. In fact, US government authorities shamelessly became TPLF mouth pieces. Before the PP-TPLF power struggle war, there were millions of people internally displaced with massacres, mass graves, burnings of entire villages and towns being commonplace occurrences. Not a single word of concern. During the war in Tigray, these same Ethiopian-government-sanctioned atrocities continued unabated in Benshangul Gumuz and Oromiya but Anthnoy Blinken selectively yapped about Tigray.
    In light of these facts, most Ethiopians have become suspect of the US government’s actions. Gone are those days when Ethiopians used to believe that the US stood for peace, democracy and justice. Even the aid organizations practice discriminatory actions as they ignore millions displaced in other parts of Ethiopia while shedding crocodile tears that they were not able to deliver aid to Tigray.
    Our message should be, “Yes, help the needy in Tigray; but do not discriminate against the Amhara, persecuted before, during and after the war just because helping them does not fit your geopolitical agenda.”

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