New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa
May 24, 2021
On May 23, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced visa restrictions “for any current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security forces or other individuals …responsible for or complicit in undermining the resolution of the crisis in Tigray.” According to the State Department press statement, the Biden administration has “imposed wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia and will bring our defense trade control policy in line with them.” Although not explicitly stated by Blinken, the U.S. will suspend $130 million of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia, originally paused by the Trump administration. Multiple government sources report that the Biden administration is in the process of taking additional punitive measures against Ethiopia, including pressuring the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to hold back funds already designated for programs in Ethiopia. Additional U.S. sanctions have not been ruled out.
With the announcement of these bilateral and possible multilateral assaults against Ethiopia, the U.S. will not only reverse decades of cooperation between the two nations, but potentially could endanger the entire Horn of Africa, and beyond. Ethiopia has played an indispensable role in providing security and stability in East Africa. This new U.S. posture towards Ethiopia, meant to appease the international liberal establishment, is reckless and perilous.
These types of measures, usually reserved for enemies of the U.S., are being implemented against a longtime trusted ally. A nation that has vigorously collaborated with the U.S. under both Republican and Democratic Presidents in fighting terrorism and violent extremism in the region.
Expressing the gravity of this abrupt policy shift by President Biden, Cameroon Hudson, of the Atlantic Council said to Foreign Policy: “This is a major strategic shift in the Horn of Africa, to go from an anchor state for U.S. interests to become a potential adversary to U.S. interests.”
This foolishness and lack of judgment by President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and the U.S. Congress, can potentially lead to a calamity for Africa, not seen since the disastrous decision by the Obama administration to overthrow the Libyan government in October 2011. Nations in the Sahel and millions of Africans living in that region are still suffering today from the misadventure by President Obama and his zealot regime change advisors, who removed President Kaddafi from office. Look at Libya today, and the affects almost a decade later on North Africa. Attempts to weaken Ethiopia through economic strangulation and political isolation, in this turbulent period of Ethiopian society, are downright dangerous and could cause severe harm for millions of Africans.
This draconian assault against Ethiopia by the U.S. can potentially lead to a weakening of the Ethiopian nation by encouraging more ethno-nationalist attacks on the government. Were that to happen, be forewarned, that like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, who lamented, “what, will these hands ne’er be clean,”–the blood stain of millions of Africans may never be removed from the hands of the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress.
There are evil forces, who would like to see Ethiopia devolve into a balkanized territory of hostile competing ethnic fiefdoms. This would be a disaster for Africa and the world, and is not in the self-interest of the U.S.
Changing the Narrative
Woefully, war is always ugly and always leads to atrocities, but let us remember the cause of the conflict in Tigray. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) conducted a surprise attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) in Mekele in the early hours of November 4, 2020. They attacked the armed forces of the Federal government i.e., the nation state of Ethiopia. Like President Lincoln, who responded to the confederate attack on the Union’s Fort Sumpter, by declaring war, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had no other choice, but to respond militarily. Otherwise, the nation of Ethiopia could have been dismembered by emboldened ethno-nationalist forces declaring their independence from the central government.
There have been attempts by numerous individuals and organizations in and outside of Ethiopia to falsely claim an equivalence between the TPLF, an ethno-regional organization, and the national government of Ethiopia located in Addis Ababa. Some even try to equate the ENDF with the TPLF militia.
Various news organizations have now intentionally resorted to blurring the actual cause of the war. A recent article by Associated Press referred to the TPLF attack in Mekele as an “allegation” even though TPLF leaders have proudly admitted their action. The New York Times claims that Prime Minister Abiy’s armed response was in reaction to TPLF “defiance” rather than the truth, which was the slaughter of ENDF troops by the TPLF.
Does the U.S. Congress Possess Intelligence?
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 97 (S.Res.97) on May 19, following multiple requests by the Foreign Relation Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives for sanctions to be imposed on Ethiopia.
There has been no official report of evidence by the U.S State Department or intelligence services verifying allegations of “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” by the Ethiopian government. It is pathetic, yet valuable to know that accusations against Ethiopia by the State Department, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, have in large part come from news organizations. Whatever happened to U.S. intelligence capabilities? Has U.S. intel gathering been so corroded that it has to rely on private organizations, who have their own agenda? Should the U.S. be making foreign policy decisions without independent knowledge of events? CNN brags in its own May 21st article that it was their news (sic) organization and a pro TPLF lobbying firm ,Von Batten-Montague-York, that was responsible for convincing U.S. Senators to support S.Res.97. The U.S. Senate, sometimes called, the world’s greatest deliberative body, was in fact led like lemmings, by CNN and a DC lobbying firm to condemn Ethiopia’s government. Is that what the founding fathers of this great republic contemplated when they created the Senate? I think not.
No Respect for Ethiopia’s Sovereignty
Despite the fact that very few, if any U.S. Senators have a deep-seated knowledge of the complexities of Ethiopian culture and society, they did not refrain from encroaching on Ethiopian sovereignty, which obligates the central government to act in the interest of safeguarding the nation.
S.Res.97, ignores the responsibility of Prime Minister Abiy to defend his nation, demanding instead: an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Tigray Region; strongly disapproving of the escalation of political tensions between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) into armed conflict; and most egregiously urges the government of Ethiopia to engage in a full cessation of hostilities. In essence, S.Res.97, rebukes the Ethiopian government for defending its nation from an insurrection, and demands reconciliation with the insurgents.
Breaking up the Union, only weeks after President Lincoln took office, was the explicit intent of the southern states, who insisted that the U.S. government, no longer represented them. President Lincoln would not allow the republic to be divided. He waged a relentless war that ultimately led to the deaths of upwards of 750,000 Americans. He ignored all pleas to come to the peace table and negotiate with the enemy of the Union, who he would only refer to as “rebels.” The only negotiation President Lincoln would accept from the “rebels” was unconditional surrender. Under no condition would he allow some other country to dictate to him, the President of the United States of America, how to conduct the war to save the Union.
Read my earlier posts:
U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election Is Foolish & Very Dangerous
Horn of Africa Endangered by Untrue Media Attacks on Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s Conflict: A War Won to Preserve the Nation-State
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton
3 thoughts on “New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa”
When the history of present day Ethiopia is written, the name Lawrence Freeman will be displayed among those gallant individuals who fearlessly, eloquently and emphatically sung her praise, defended her dignity and raised the spirits of her patriotic children in the times of her need.
Ethiopia today, for the first time in her long and glorious history (mankind’s first home!), are enjoying the elements of a democratic society, i.e. free speech, election, association, religious practices, etc.
What is so alarming about the unwarranted pressures the West is putting on Ethiopia is it’s timing. Why condemn her at the time of her success in regards to achieving what the West has been pushing her to accomplish.Shouldn’t this be a time to celebrate and encourage further progress to cement the advances made on the road to fuller and robust democratic governance?
So, what’s the problem here? Is Ethiopia being readied to be the sacrificial lamb for the West’s market competition against China in the African marketplace? If so it’s not only an absurd economic strategy but also a complete looser. Devising Strategies start at the point of existing advantages. American-Ethiopian friendship is built on a long history of blood and sweat. I remember way back when I was a kid when soldiers belonging to the Imperial Body guard came to our house in very colorful uniforms and bid farewell to my parents. They said they were going to help America in the war. In latter years I learned that was the Korean War. When Many African countries started gaining their independence Ethiopia was the anchor for moderation when firebrands like Kwame Nkrumah and Gamal Abdilnaser were advocating a rupture from the colonialist West. Today, Ethiopia is ensuring the peaceful social and economic development of the horn by bringing adversaries together and transforming relationships thereby securing a peaceful space for markets and further collaborations, the Ethiopian Airlines has become Africa’s preferred and reliable cargo and passenger carrier. Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union not only solidifying political cohesion internally but with sister organizations like the UN & the European Union. What kind of strategic planner plans to destroy such assets to gain market advantages?
Such foolishness belong to bygone eras. The eras of gunboat diplomacy. No country in Africa will trust such salesmen for fear they will turn against them tomorrow.
As Lawrence constantly and tirelessly advocates, the way forward is one built on mutual benefit via infrastructure building. To get a birds’ eye view of this proposal just compare America’a and China’s investments in the last ten years in this and other areas. Even in symbolic gestures to promote mutual support and recognition, the African Union headquarters is China’s gift to Africa. America needs to prove to Africa the advantages of its incredible economic assets and the genius of its techno savvy people NOT TRY TO PIN DOWN it’ proven friends and allies.
As Dr. Abiye Ahmed has humbly stated recently many powers of the respective eras have tried to pin down Ethiopia but have not succeeded. The secret of this success lies in an age old truth. The heart is where all victories are treasured in. A people who do not submit to humiliation will never be defeated. History has also proven Ethiopians to be known as impeccable friends. So let’s start afresh and build a collaborative Ethiopia, Africa and USA together. This is a new age!
Biden administration please check your sources and make sure you get the right story first before making such a big decision like this. Ethiopia has always been a strong ally for the US for more than 100 years.
Dear Mr. Freeman:
You have become the bastion for truth in the informational warfare trained against everything that is Ethiopian. I do not know if you have a theory or at least a speculation as to why the US goes as far as it did to support secessions after It fought an ugly civil war itself. Lincoln prevented the dis-union of its states albeit the constitution’s avoidance of the rights to secede.
It saddens me to note that the US when engaged in full or in proxy wars, [Germany ,Korea ,Vietnam, Kosovo ( Yugoslavia) etc. ], people suffer.
The US helped Eritrea , the norther province (state) of Ethiopia to secede. Mrs. Clinton was there to celebrate the break-up. when Eritrea betrayed the US and joined other anti-US forces, the later quickly reconstituted a formerly socialist, terrorist faction of Tigre, the TPLF , paid off the Ethiopian Military government to abdicate power to leave and live in exile and replaced it with the TPLF.
The TPLF was supposed , from the very start, to prepare for the annexation of Assab port to Eritrea, assassinate the leadership of Eritrea, take a piece of Gondar. take ownership of the Tana region (the source of the Nile river), unite Eritrea and the new territory name it TIGRERTRA and increase the area of American influence. What is wrong with that? America is happy. Egypt is happy, Israel is happy because Egypt is happy.
The problem with the staff in the State department is that after every new president is elected into office , they follow the foreign policy of the previous administration for the first two years of their own administration. By then it becomes to late and terrible mistakes are made.
Clinton followed the policies carved by the Older Bush( the first CIA chief elected to the presidency) who gave us our problems with Iran, Lebanon, Yemen and Egypt ( these, he gave us working as a CIA officer). America has not changed its draft policy since then and that had gotten us into every trouble we got into every where around the globe. Younger Bush got us into it big time, Iraq, Afghanistan, Clinton got us into messing with Eritrea, Obama followed Clinton and got us into the Arab Spring, Libya, Egypt Syria and Eritrea.
There is a timely and relevant Ethiopian prover for this sort of situation: to paraphrase, “no one can wake up a person who has deliberately chosen to to remain asleep”, whether by sheer laziness or by simple ignorance or because of overwhelming feat of information, America is hurting its own economy, its credibility and its future in maintaining a democratic republic. These wars were not necessary.
The country is walking into self inflicted harms because it has too much in its hands and the fact that the least informed politicians are the handlers of such dangerous matters does not help. I am sorry for the ignorance demonstrated by the leadership of the State Department. It is time to depend of the wreath they think they have earned in their earlier academic and political performances. It is time to ask questions about policies from individuals like yourself and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I will add to that list the Pankhurst family. thank you for caring about the truth.