Ethiopia as a pressure cooker. With Susan Rice as a gatekeeper of African affairs, the Obama Administration is incapable of coming up with a coherent and functioning approach that can place Ethiopia in particular and the region as a whole out of imminent instability.
By Amanuel Biedemariam,
Washington is the most critical ally and supporter of the minority TPLF regime ruling Ethiopia with brute force.
Following the death of the late dictator Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Obama administration intended to ensure continuity by giving full support to Hailemariam Desalegn.
On April 24, 2012, President Barack Obama called Desalegn personally to advertise his unequivocal support and assure world leaders that Washington is confident and behind Desalegn.
Meles Zenawi was the perfect agent that funneled their agendas. His death was personal for US officials as he was a close confidant and faithful agent. A New York Times op-ed described Susan Rice’s eulogy at Zenawi’s funeral as follows,
“ON September 2, Ambassador Susan E. Rice delivered a eulogy for a man she called “a true friend to me.” Before thousands of mourners and more than 20 African heads of state in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ms. Rice, the United States’ representative to the United Nations, lauded the country’s late prime minister, Meles Zenawi, she called him “brilliant” — “a son of Ethiopia and a father to its rebirth.” “Few eulogies give a nuanced account of the decedent’s life, but the speech was part of a disturbing pattern for an official who could become President Obama’s next secretary of state. During her career, she has shown a surprising and unsettling sympathy for Africa’s despots.”
The New York Times is being kind to Rice. Susan Rice’s hand is soaked with blood in Rwanda, Eritrea – Ethiopia war, and Libya, to mention some.
Confident that Susan Rice cannot pass congressional scrutiny to succeed Secretary Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State, President Obama appointed Rice to his National Security team and gave her prominence and unhindered access.
Due to her past engagement with Africa, Rice can act as an expert and influence African matters, particularly Ethiopia, based on her narrow outlook that has been deadly to Africa for decades.
The Obama administration remained the primary supporter of a regime that claimed to have won 100% votes and won the 2015 election. The people of Ethiopia were enraged when Susan Rice laughed at Ethiopia’s regime’s 100% election victory claim and called it ‘democratic. ‘
It demonstrates that Washington funnels US policies of the region through the TPLF regime at the expense of the people.
The problem is that the TPLF works against the interests of Ethiopia and the region. As a result, the people of Ethiopia have been campaigning and lobbying Washington to change its approach, denounce the atrocities, urge the regime to be accountable to the people, and hold the TPLF responsible for its actions to no avail. Instead, Washington kept parroting the regime’s false claims of progress, stability, and democratic advances to the detriment of the future of Ethiopia and the region
Ethiopia in Danger of Civil War
Where is Ethiopia today? Ethiopia is on the verge of civil war and ready to collapse. And the template for the breakup of the country was set by Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). When TPLF took power in 1991, the first primary objective was to write a constitution that divided Ethiopia based on ethnicity. Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution gives any ethnic group the right to ‘Self-Determination’ to the point of independence.
The complications arose when the minority regime from Tigray (a region representing 6% of the entire Ethiopian population) asserted control over the rest of Ethiopia’s 90 million people. It created an unsustainable imbalance to the detriment of the country’s future.
The Tigrayan dominated minority regime controls the military, the economy, the political power backed with full diplomatic support from the US and EU. The US and EU promote and protect the regime from international scrutiny for its human rights abuses.
The TPLF and its surrogates are the number one investors inside Ethiopia. The TPLF diverts Ill-gotten aid money, Ethiopia’s revenue streams, and international development assistance to benefit the regime. The regime uses the money and resources to control the nation and enrich itself. Few from the clique possess the country’s vast riches. The TPLF has investments in Oromia, Gambela, Ogaden, Afar, Amhara, and Ethiopia.
They control Ethiopia with the brutality that is uncharacteristic of the cultures in the region. They have committed genocides in Gambela, Ogaden, Amhara, Benishangul, and other places. They are committing atrocities with impunity while Washington officials and the EU are being made aware every step of the way. Ethiopians have been campaigning to draw attention with demonstrations and other campaigns for over 20 years.
Hence, after 25 years of oppression, the people of Ethiopia concluded that the regime was not representative of the people and that it was the enemy of the people. Ethiopians have concluded that no nation would come to aid.
After successive rigged elections, the regime’s forces directly shooting at innocent unarmed demonstrators attacked countless peaceful demonstrations with brute force. After thousands of opposition leaders ended up in jails without any outsider voicing support, Ethiopians have given up on the international community. As a result, Ethiopians are taking up arms everywhere to defend their lives and livelihood.
Furthermore, the federal arrangement that the minority regime created based on ethnicity has become the fault-line for the nation’s breakup. Today every ethnic group is fighting the TPLF regime separately. They are fighting for their rights, fighting for land the TPLF forcefully took, fighting for their identity, and some are fighting for independence. Above all, they are fighting for their life.
Several groups are fighting the regime. The Arbegnoch-Ginbot 7 (AG7) is fighting without an ethnic banner for a united approach. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the Afar People’s Liberation Movement (APLM), and the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement (TPDM) are fighting with an ethnic banner to defeat the regime. The absence of a united approach means Ethiopia can face civil war with the different organizations confronting each other for territories, resources, etc.
For the last five months, the Oromia region was in revolt, and in the previous three weeks, the people of Gondar in the Amhara region started to resist. These are locals arming and organizing as militias to protect themselves from the regime’s brute forces.
Up until now, the minority regime’s stronghold Tigray region was untouched as the revolts were further from its boundaries. The uprising in Gondar brings a different dimension to the overall resistance taking place all over Ethiopia.
Various regions of Ethiopia and Eritrea surround Tigray. Amhara in the South, and Afar in the East. Those regions are fighting with the TPLF because TPLF took their fertile lands, forcefully changed the regions’ maps and forced the people to change their identity as Tigrayans. The TPLF is also at war with Eritrea.
The people of Tigray enjoyed free access to Eritrea’s ports until the TPLF ignited the war, occupied sovereign Eritrean territories, declared No-War No-Peace asymmetric warfare, and waged a regime change campaign.
As a result, the people of Tigray are surrounded and isolated. All goods that Tigray imports must pass through Amhara, Afar regions, Sudan or Eritrea. All these areas are hostile to the regime except Sudan. Wollo and Gondar are Tigray’s lifelines because Tigray is connected to central Ethiopia via Gondar and Wollo.
It is what the Genocide Watch, an organization based in Washington DC, warned. Dr. Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch has warned the international community by writing letters to the State Department, waging campaigns to educate people, and placing Ethiopia in Stage Six of countries that are the second-highest level for risk of genocide.
Dr. Stanton is concerned for the people of Tigray because the minority regime is looting Ethiopia in the name of Tigray. He is afraid that Ethiopia can resent Tigrayans, and the backlash could become deadly. The longer the government stays in power, the worse the situations across Ethiopia will become, and it will be hard for Ethiopia to stand as one.
These are the realities in Ethiopia today. With Susan Rice as a gatekeeper of African affairs, the Obama Administration cannot formulate a coherent approach that can place Ethiopia in particular and the region as a whole in a positive direction. Instead, Washington is still pushing its outdated agendas to the detriment of Ethiopia and the region. Many have been urging this administration to change its approach to no avail. The stumbling block is Susan Rice.
All will not be lost if the Obama Administration wakes up and addresses the concern of the people of Ethiopia and the region and changes direction, side with the people and the rule of law. It requires a complete reversal of approach and strategy to give peace, stability, and the people’s future a chance and priority. It requires rejecting the TPLF regime. It means allowing the Ethiopian people an opportunity to create a legitimate government. The Obama administration must recognize that cooperation with Eritrea is a must for that to succeed. That means Washington must change its approach with Eritrea as well.
The window of opportunity is minimal. Therefore, let us hope better senses prevail to save Ethiopia. And also, lest not forget that the upcoming US presidential election could be decided in Virginia, where a sizeable Ethiopian population resides that could help determine the outcome.