By Andrew Korybko
American political analyst
All states have the sovereign right to ensure their national security interests, especially in the domestic dimension, through whichever means they deem necessary so long as their moves are responsible and don’t contribute to regional instability. Ethiopia is no different, which is why it’s concerning that the US has suddenly decided to politicize its reported drone capabilities. Reuters exclusively reported that Horn of Africa envoy Jeffrey Feltman discussed the issue of suspected Turkish drone sales to Ethiopia during his latest trip to that West Asian country. According to the outlet, American officials have “profound humanitarian concerns” about Ethiopian-Turkish military cooperation.
That’s a dishonest stance since Ethiopia’s reported drone capabilities don’t pose any so-called “humanitarian threat”. To the contrary, if such systems have indeed been used throughout the course of that country’s ongoing anti-terrorist operations in the northern part of its territory (which Addis has yet to confirm), then they would actually have been put to use in counteracting the TPLF’s crimes against humanity in the Afar and Amhara Regions that they occupied up until the ENDF decisively pushed them out of there earlier this week. No third country should ever meddle in another’s domestic matters such as Ethiopia’s War on Terror against the TPLF, let alone by politicizing the means that they use.
What the US aims to do is revive its discredited claims of the ENDF carrying out so-called “ethnic cleansing” and even “genocide” against the Tigrayans in order to exploit them as the pretext for putting additional economic pressure on Ethiopia as its war finally draws to an end with an impending victory for its national unity forces. The kinetic phase of the conflict is almost over yet the US-led West doesn’t want to admit that their scheme to use the TPLF as proxies for dividing and ruling Ethiopia as punishment for its balanced foreign policy between the US and China in the New Cold War has failed, which is why they’re plotting to continue their pressure campaign through non-kinetic means instead.
Politicizing Ethiopia’s reported drone capabilities also serves an additional interest apart from functioning as the manufactured basis upon which to impose unilateral sanctions against it and its partners outside the aegis of the UNSC (which would thus make them illegal). America is concerned that it’s lost its prior monopoly on drone technology due to recent Turkish, Chinese, and Emirati advancements in this industry, all three of whom US-led Western Mainstream Media reports have claimed are supplying the ENDF. There’s nothing illegal or unethical about such reported military relations between these sovereign states, but the US still wants to politicize them.
That’s because its lost monopoly on these systems has restored balance to international military and security affairs. It used to be that only the US was able to produce, operate, and export drones, which gave it and its allies a military edge. America used to arbitrarily leverage this competitive advantage to decisively shift the military balance in various conflicts, but it’s no longer able to do so due to this technology’s inevitable proliferation across the world, which has in turn reduced its strategic edge in shaping the outcome of such wars. To be clear, Ethiopia’s reported drone capabilities aren’t the only reason why the tide turned against the TPLF, but they might still have played a strategic role.
That’s because their intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR) features might have enabled the ENDF to keep tabs on the TPLF’s terrorist advances and subsequently help them carry out precision strikes against the invading forces, including through complementary drone strikes. If that was the case, which hasn’t been confirmed by Addis, then it would have reduced the physical toll of this conflict, particularly by keeping the ENDF and their allies out of harm’s way as well as also enabling them to put a stop to the TPLF’s atrocities in the neighboring regions that they occupied. In the event that this is what happened, then it’s little wonder why the US is enraged by the ENDF’s reported drone capabilities.
Nevertheless, nobody should ever lose sight of the fact that wars are ultimately always won on the ground, not exclusively in the air. Even if drones played a strategic role in the ENDF’s counteroffensive, they weren’t responsible for the national unity forces retaining their gains on the ground. That’s purely because the local population views them as liberators from the TPLF terrorists. It was also brought about by their brave battles against that group. Drones might have aided them in the military sense, but they have nothing to do with the post-war situation in those regions. There’s also no credible evidence linking them to any alleged war crimes by the ENDF.
Simply put, the US is a sore loser in more ways than one. Not only have their TPLF proxies been crushed on the battlefield, but America fears that it finally lost its drone monopoly and consequent ability to unilaterally shape the outcome of multiple conflicts. This double whammy to the US’ prestige isn’t being taken well by its leadership, especially since it was an African country that survived its latest Hybrid War onslaught, hence why they’re politicizing Ethiopia’s reported drone capabilities. Be that as it may, the US will fail to deter the ENDF from ensuring its domestic national security interests throughout the course of its ongoing War on Terror against the TPLF and in scaring away that country’s military partners.