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:
- To ask the Congress of the USA not to pass the Bill; and
- 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:
- Degrades Ethiopia’s national security and exacerbates human insecurity and instability in Ethiopia and throughout the Horn of Africa.
- Empowers and emboldens terrorists, jihadists, and secessionists.
- Worsens human peace, personal security, and instability.
- Aggravates unemployment and hyperinflation.
- 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.
- Criminalizes Ethiopian Diaspora mobilization and transfers of technical, professional, and financial assets and expertise in support of Ethiopian war and other victims.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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