What’s Wrong with U.S. Policy for Ethiopia and Africa?

What’s Wrong With U.S. Policy For Ethiopia and Africa?

Lawrence Freeman, July 31, 2021

Knowledgeable American analysts of U.S.-African relations are disturbed by the U.S. government’s treatment of Ethiopia.  In the first six months of the Biden Presidency, we have witnessed a dramatic reversal of U.S. support for a long standing ally in the Horn of Africa.  Ethiopia, the second largest nation in Africa, has been a regional leader, with its bold economic vision to improve the lives of its 110 million people.  

Ethiopia has achieved two major accomplishments under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during June and July. First, the successful June 21st national elections, and second, the natural partial filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Regrettably, there were no robust congratulations from President Biden for either achievement. Following the freest, fairest, and most peaceful elections in Ethiopia’s history, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s only comment was: “the United States commends those who exercised their right to vote on June 21.”  Unusual for elections in Africa, not one individual died in Ethiopia’s voting process. In contrast, several Americans died during the January 6th, violent protest of the U.S. electoral vote.  

Equally astonishing, President Biden failed to praise the second filling of almost 14 billion cubic meters of water in the reservoir of the GERD, which will lead to production of electricity later this year. Following in the footsteps of former President Trump, the Biden administration and the Democrat controlled Congress, have tried to discourage Ethiopia from filling the GERD. Despite Ethiopia’s important role in Africa, Prime Minister Abiy’s notable reform movement, and the success of his Prosperity Party, President Biden has never talked to the Prime Minister.

Patient voters during the June 21, Ethiopian election

America’s Agenda for Democracy

Secretary of State Blinken along with several other officials from the Obama administration are leading President Biden’s global foreign policy with their mantra: “democracy, human rights, and rule of law.” But what do these words mean other than a desire to impose their world order on other nations.

Prime Minister Abiy’s non-ethnic based Prosperity Party won overwhelmingly in a democratic election deemed fair, free of violence and intimidation, and credible. Ethiopia Election: A Vote for Peace, Unity, and Prosperity.  Millions of Ethiopians approved of Prime Minister Abiy’s policies, giving him a mandate to lead for another five years. That is democracy.

Shouldn’t “human rights” include the most fundamental right; the right for human beings to live a productive and dignified life?  How is that possible when Africans are suffering from abject poverty, lack of food, clean water, and electricity.  It is not possible. 

The solution lies in physical economic development that transforms the conditions of life. As the Ethiopians are fond of saying: “eliminate poverty, don’t manage it.” Aid is not sufficient. Building vital infrastructure is an absolute necessity, not an option. More than anything else, African nations need electricity—a thousand gigawatts at least. Africa needs a minimum of 50,000 kilometers of high speed railroads.  With the billions of dollars in aid given to African nations, transformative infrastructure projects could have been built. Isn’t the right to electricity a human right?

Then, why hasn’t Ethiopia been profusely praised for building the GERD to produce 6,200 megawatts (6.2 gigawatts) of electricity. Physical economic development is the most fundamental of human rights.

Prime Minister Abiy, responded to the attacks on the Ethiopian National Defense Force, (November 4, 2020), by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), as a leader should.  He used the military capability of his nation to defeat the enemy within Ethiopia. Whatever grievances the TPLF might have had, a violent assault on the government’s military, is an insurrection.  Americans have learned that lesson afresh on January 6th.  Preserving the sovereign nation-state  from a rebel insurgency, is the most supreme responsibility of a Head of State. There is no higher “rule of law,” as President Abraham Lincoln properly understood.

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

U.S.-Africa Policy; Does It Exist?

There are several components of U.S. policy towards Africa that undermine Ethiopia’s noteworthy effort to become a self-governing economically independent nation.

First, the U.S. does not have a long term development policy for Africa. It is willing to spend billions of dollars on short term aid, but nothing for large scale infrastructure that would actually improve living conditions. Despite all the attacks, and rantings against China and its Belt and Road, if China were to pull out of Africa it would negatively impact the continent.  That is because the U.S. would not step in to fill the vacuum. Sadly, the last U.S. President that understood the importance of physical economic development in Africa, and acted on it, was John F. Kennedy.   

Second, one cannot underestimate the general level of  ignorance about Africa in U.S. society, especially our elected officials. Yes, there are a few members of Congress who have some knowledge about a few African nations.  However, I can report to you with authority, after observing Washington for decades, that the overwhelming majority of Congress, have little knowledge of the actual dynamics, when implementing legislation affecting African nations, Overall, there is no in-depth historical understanding of the African continent or the nations that comprise it.   

Third, the continent of Africa is close to last on the list of priorities for American Presidents. Often, U.S. policy for African nations is rarely articulated until the second year of a president’s term, except for the standard four page “talking points” paper on Africa.

Why African Leaders Are Opposed

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD, upper right, will drive economic development in East Africa with its 6,200 megawatts of electrical power.

This final point may be the most difficult for many readers to comprehend.

Following the liberation of African nations from the yoke of colonialism  three score years ago, African leaders, who fight to improve conditions of life on the continent, always face opposition from within and without.  There exists a financial-political elite, perhaps identified as an oligarchy, who see Africa for its material resources and financial gain. They attempt to exploit nations through international finance, manipulated terms of trade, and raw material prices controlled by the City of London based commodity cartels. 

The key concerns of the neo-colonialist financial institutions have always been, if they cannot control the leadership of a country, a  “divide and conquer” tactic is employed to weaken that nation.  War and chaos are the preferred fallback alternatives to losing command of the targeted nation.

They have always opposed genuine development programs that would lift a nation out of poverty, and abhor strong governments and leaders that aspire to national sovereignty. Their ideology is dominated by “geo-politics” that sees the world as a zero sum game of winners and losers.  Those with the most political and financial power are the winners. They have little desire to eliminate poverty. Except for the last one to two decades of China’s intervention, the West has dominated the African continent, with no demonstrable proof that their policies have improved the standard of living for the majority of Africans. Any progress in Africa is the result of national leaders, not Western policy.  

Abiy is seen as a strong leader with enough personal determination to move his nation forward, as evidenced in the rise of the Prosperity Party, which was founded in opposition to ethno-nationalism.

The most recent vivid example of the elimination of an African leader was the overthrow and assassination of President Muammar Gaddafi, followed by the destruction of Libya. Remember this was done by the “liberal” Obama administration, led by then Ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power. Many of those same operatives from the Obama era are now part of the Biden Administration. Have those individuals admitted their culpability in creating the failed state of Libya, and the destruction of North Africa after Gaddafi’s removal? Those same cast of characters are attempting to undermine Ethiopia today with their fake and hollow cries for “democracy, rule of law and human rights.”

There is often a coincidence of action and interests between those insisting on implementing their “liberal” doctrine, and the objectives of the political financial elites.

Samantha Power, then U.N. Ambassador under President Obama, and now head of USAID under President Biden. (courtesy of axios.com)

Almost nine months after Prime Minister Abiy chose to defend his nation, the TPLF, now been rebranded the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), continues their violent attacks on the state of Ethiopia. After the June 28, unilateral declaration of a ceasefire by the government of Ethiopia, the TDF has launched offensive military deployments against two neighboring regions; Afar and Amhara. Not surprisingly, there have been no statements of condemnation of TDF by the Biden administration or Congress.  Blinken, and the Congress have never  acknowledged Ethiopia’s declaration that the TPLF/TDF is a terrorist organization. Instead, they continued to insist on reconciliation. Thus, establishing an equivalency between a duly constituted government and a rebel insurrectionist militia that is intent on destroying the nation of Ethiopia. This crucial failure, to withhold support from the government of Prime Minister Abiy, is contributing to Ethiopia’s turmoil today.

U.S.-Ethiopia Today

Is the U.S. lack of support for Prime Minister Abiy, encouraging the TDF to continue fighting?  Is the U.S. today still demanding reconciliation with the insurrectionists who have announced their intention to march on Addis Ababa, the capital? Will the TDF military campaigns against other regions spark a greater war?  If the conflict spreads in Ethiopia, will the U.S. accept responsibility for their encouragement of the TDF?

Who benefits if Ethiopia is torn apart by war? As the case of Libya has demonstrated; not Africans.  If Ethiopia was to be torn apart in inter-ethnic warfare, tens of millions of Africans, not just Ethiopians, would suffer extreme hardship.

It is not too late for the Biden administration to correct its policy towards Ethiopia, before more Africans suffer from the spread of ethno-nationalist war.  

Watch my 20 minute interview below, where I discuss the conflict between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan, the filling of the GERD, and U.S. policy towards Ethiopia.

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

Amb Fitsum Arega Explains Why Ethiopian Dam is A Matter of Life and Death for Ethiopia

The Op Ed below by Ethiopia’s envoy to the United States, Ambassador Fitsum Arega, is an excellent presentation on the importance of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD, for the future of Ethiopia and Africa.

“Therefore, for Ethiopia, building the GERD is not a matter of choice, but an economic and developmental necessity and the way out of poverty for a nation of 112 million people.”

Reprinted from BlackPressUSA,, July 14, 2021

OP-ED: The Untold Story of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

NNPA NEWSWIRE — In 2011, Ethiopia announced to build a hydroelectric dam on its Abbay River, known to outsiders as the Blue Nile or Nile River. The dam was named the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) because it was designed to bring about the economic and renewal of Ethiopia, a nation mentioned in Genesis 2:13 as the Land in which the River Ghion (or Nile) flows. The GERD will be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and when completed it is expected to generate more than 5,000 MW installed power generation capacity and will have more than two times the capacity of Hoover Dam.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has now reached 81 percent completion that includes 98.5 percent of civil, 55 percent of electromechanical, and 55.3 percent of the hydroelectric structure works.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has now reached 81 percent completion that includes 98.5 percent of civil, 55 percent of electromechanical, and 55.3 percent of the hydroelectric structure works.

By Fitsum Arega, Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S., Special to the NNPA NewswireFitsum Arega is the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States.

Fitsum Arega is the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States.

There is a great story unfolding in Africa. It is a story that literally throws light on what has been called, “The Dark Continent.”

In 2011, Ethiopia announced to build a hydroelectric dam on its Abbay River, known to outsiders as the Blue Nile or Nile River.

The dam was named the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) because it was designed to bring about the economic and renewal of Ethiopia, a nation mentioned in Genesis 2:13 as the Land in which the River Ghion (or Nile) flows.

The GERD will be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and when completed it is expected to generate more than 5,000 MW installed power generation capacity and will have more than two times the capacity of Hoover Dam.

The total capacity of the reservoir is 74 billion cubic meters to be filled over several years. It will cost nearly $5 billion to complete the dam.

The GERD has now reached 81 percent completion that includes 98.5 percent of civil, 55 percent of electromechanical, and 55.3 percent of the hydroelectric structure works.

As seen on the photo, the two water tunnels have been completed and started operating in April this year.

Out of the 13 turbines the first two will be completed and are expected to generate 750 MW in September 2021. The dam is expected to be completed within two years.

The GERD is completely financed by the contributions of the Ethiopian people without any foreign aid or loans. It is being built with the blood, sweat and tears of the Ethiopian people.

Ethiopia generates 85 percent of the Nile River flow, but colonial-era and postcolonial agreements on the Nile, to which Ethiopia was not a party, have given Egypt the disproportionate amount of water while giving Sudan a lesser amount. These agreements gave zero water allocation to Ethiopia. Egypt today wants to keep the old colonial arrangement in place in one form or another.

According to a 2018 World Bank report, “About 70 percent of the population in Ethiopia live without electricity.”

The purpose of the GERD is to provide access to electricity to more than 60 million Ethiopians and provide affordable electricity to the service, industrial and agricultural sectors.

It also aligns with Ethiopia’s green development ambitions as it represents a sustainable socio-economic project replacing fossil fuels reducing CO2 emissions.

Therefore, for Ethiopia, building the GERD is not a matter of choice, but an economic and developmental necessity and the way out of poverty for a nation of 112 million people.

The GERD will also provide many benefits to the entire Horn of Africa region and beyond. It will provide affordable and renewable energy to Sudan, Egypt and other countries in the region.

It will also significantly help in regulating the supply of water to Egypt and Sudan during dry and wet seasons and provide regional water storage capacity with less evaporation and prevent flooding to Sudan and Egypt, all these at no cost to both countries.

In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.

Hardly a day goes by without complaints from Egypt and Sudan about the harm that could result from construction of the GERD. They claim they will get less water because of the dam.

That is far from the truth because the GERD releases the water downstream once the water is used to spin the turbines that produce electricity. GERD is not an irrigation or water consuming project.

Ethiopia has been open and transparent in its construction of the GERD. Ethiopia has invited both Egypt and Sudan in good faith to participate in the International Panel of Experts (IPOE) to discuss the design, work together on technical issues and resolve any issues of concern in the spirit of African brotherhood.

Unfortunately, Egypt has tried to pressure Ethiopia by coordinating action with the Arab League, which has issued various statement of solidarity with Egypt and against Ethiopia.

Egypt has also tried to use the Trump administration to pressure Ethiopia. In September 2020, the Trump administration “paused” U.S. aid to Ethiopia because Ethiopia would not agree to a deal on the GERD drafted by Egypt and the U.S.

Egypt has also taken the issue before the U.N. Security Council to pressure Ethiopia. Just last week, the Security Council considered the matter and determined that the African Union is the best forum to deal with the issues.

Ethiopia’s position on GERD negotiations is guided by a simple principle. “African solutions to African problems.”

While the Arab League and the U.S. could play a role in encouraging the three countries to resolve their differences diplomatically, the fact remains that the three African countries must use their own resources at the African Union to deal with their problems.

Ethiopia’s principle of African solutions to African problems is based on the belief that Africans are fully capable of taking care of their own problems without interference. Indeed, after nearly seven decades of independence, Africa has the leadership and resources to deal with its own problems.

Ethiopia is acutely aware of the fact that Africa’s post-colonial experience and more recent trends in foreign interference in African affairs has not been positive.

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan signed their joint Declaration of Principles (DOP) in 2015. The DOP is based on 10 basic principles which require the three countries to work cooperatively and in good faith to negotiate and resolve differences on the GERD.

They agreed to work cooperatively among themselves, without external interference, to ensure regional integration, prevent significant harm from construction of the dam, share data on the dam’s performance, increase dam safety and commit to peaceful resolution of disputes.

Egypt has given lip service to African Union involvement in resolution of GERD disputes.

Egypt’s reliance on the Arab League and efforts to use the U.S. to pressure Ethiopia, reflect either lack of confidence in the AU or a determination that external pressure can even override AU efforts and give Egypt greater negotiating advantage. This may account for Egypt’s lack of serious commitment and unwillingness to negotiate within the AU framework.

To date, no significant harm has been caused to Egypt or Sudan as a result of the ongoing construction of the GERD.

The first filling of the dam in July 2020 went uneventfully. The current filling which is ongoing since early July 2021 has presented no issues as well. Egypt has issued a public statement to that effect.

Ethiopia believes the GERD will bring many benefits to the Horn region and beyond. A comprehensive agreement on the GERD between the two countries is possible today if Egypt and Sudan genuinely commit to the AU-led negotiations. The negotiations could be expedited and bear fruit if Egypt and Sudan undertake the following:

  • Fully and wholeheartedly commit the negotiations taking place under the sponsorship of the African Union.
  • Apply the 2015 Declaration of Principles in guiding the negotiations.
  • Refrain from engaging in propaganda and disinformation wars during the AU-led negotiations.
  • Depoliticize the GERD, exert maximum political will and focus on resolving technical issues.

A negotiated, mutually beneficial and equitable solution is the only way to achieve long-term interests in the region.

Ethiopia is committed to continue to push for a constructive negotiation to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that ensures the legitimate interests of the three countries.

Ethiopia believes the only way to resolve the differences regarding the filling and operation of GERD is through dialogue and by resorting to technically informed consultations.

The Nile is bountiful for all countries to share and use wisely. We must all think in terms of regional and collective benefits.

Paraphrasing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are part of “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We must work together in good faith and good will for the betterment of our people.

Fitsum Arega is the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States.

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

Successful Ethiopian Election Proves Critics Wrong

Successful Ethiopian Election Proves Critics Wrong

Lawrence Freeman

July 7, 2021

On June 21, the Ethiopian people voted in peaceful fortitude to advance their nation towards democracy. Voting in their 6th General Election, the Ethiopian people exhibited with their hands and feet how important it was to choose their leadership, despite the many challenges the nation faces. The Ethiopian people exposed the patently false predictions of violence and chaos, by the Western media and governments. Nothing but political propaganda in an attempt to tarnish the election as illegitimate. However, most revealing of their intent, the same news outlets that falsely portrayed the Ethiopian election prior to its occurrence, have thus far refused to publicize its actual success. Ethiopians with calm determination, voted for unity, peace, and development as they stood in lines for hours in such large numbers that polling stations stayed opened hours longer then scheduled.

Voting on election day (courtesy nebe.org.net)

Africans Give Elections A ‘Thumbs Up’

The African Union Election Observer Mission-AUEOM, headed up by H.E. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, had a total of 65 election observers, who covered five regions, visiting many dozens of polling stations.

The June 23rd African Union preliminary statement reads:

“The Mission concludes that despite some operational, logistical, security, political and COVID-19 related challenges, overall, the pre-election and Election Day processes were conducted in an orderly , peaceful, and credible manner. There was nothing in the Mission’s estimation, that distracted from the credible conduct of the elections. The Mission, therefore, commends all Ethiopians for the demonstrated commitment to the democratic development of the country.” (emphasis added)

One day earlier, on June 22, the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) Election Observation Mission (EOM), which consisted of a total of 28 observers drawn from eight East African nations released their preliminary report with similar conclusions to that of the AU. The EASFEOM were able to observe the voting process in eight regions of Ethiopia on election day.

There were no election observers from the West except a handful of Americans, who were unable to issue any report due to their small numbers and inability to observe a credible sampling of polling stations. Thus, the only two observer missions, both from African institutions, recognized the Ethiopian General Elections as legitimate. Instead, of  the U.S. and other Western nations congratulating Ethiopia, they have been conspicuously silent.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (behind microphones) addressing the press on June 23, 2021 (courtesy of L. Freeman)

Media Caught Speechless

At a packed press conference in the Skylight Hotel, Chief Obasanjo released the findings of the AUEOM to representatives from the media. The journalists present were virtually silent during the question- and-answer period. 

This author asked the first question to Chief Obasanjo, which put the scores of press attending on the defensive.  I asked, if the success of the Ethiopian election had proven all the predictions by the West and their propaganda outlets of a “violent, chaotic, and illegitimate” election were shown wrong. He answered in a parable. He said: If a person comes to Africa intending to see a ghetto, and that is what is in his mind, even if you show  him a palace, he will insist he sees a ghetto. My question, and Chief Obasanjo’s answer, effectively muted the press. The only other two questions came from a South African newspaper and the London Times. Shortly after a second question from this author,  the press conference ended. The silence from the reporters attending was deafening, and ironically amusing as well.

Election Board Prevails

Chief Obasanjo and AUEOM emphasized the accomplishments of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in conducting an orderly election free of any type of harassment or intimidation. This environment allowed each voter to choose their member of parliament without interference. Ethiopians expressed their pleasure to be able to vote freely in what is now praised as Ethiopia’s most open election.

Quoting from the official statement released by the AUEOM:

“It is noteworthy that the June 2021 general elections took place within the context of reforms that opened the political and civic space which enhanced the enjoyment of more basic rights and freedoms in comparison to the 2015 elections. Among the many positive political developments, the most prominent were the institutional strengthening of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), the release of political prisoners and the return of exiled political activists.”

The report continues:

“Based on the overall assessment of the constitutional and legal framework for the June 2021 general elections, the AUEOM notes that it was largely adequate and meets regional and international standards for the conduct of democratic elections.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is BM-NEBE.jpg
Birtukan Mideksa, Chairperson of National Election Board of Ethiopia NEBE (courtesy aa.com.tr)

NEBE is recognized with overcoming many election challenges in this diverse nation of a 110 million people immersed in ethnic conflicts.   Yet in this historic election, 47 political parties were on the ballot, including opposition parties, with 9,300 candidates vying for 745-seat federal parliament positions and regional councils. There was a noticeable increase in participation by civil society in the election process prior to and on election day.

Much of the credit is given to Birtukan Mideksa, who was recruited to return to Ethiopia from the U.S. as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform movement, and she was immediately elected  her position as Chairperson of the NEBE in November 2018. Her history as a lawyer, a judge, an opposition party leader, who was twice detained in jail by the Ethiopian government, gave her the qualifications and authority to make NEBE independent, and free from government control.

“The AUEOM notes NEBE enjoys the trust and confidence of stakeholders. This is mainly due to the transparent and consultative process constituting NEBE as well as the positive perception of the Chairperson, Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, a former Judge and political detainee.”

At the press conference, Chief Obasanjo rejected any notion that the June 21 election was illegitimate due to the absence of voting in a  minority of the nation’s 550 voting districts. There will be a second election in September for citizens of those regions unable to vote, excluding Tigray.

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

Lawrence Freeman Discusses Key Principles For Developing Africa

Watch the 8 minute video above, where I outlined succinctly the essential policies necessary for the development of Africa. I participated in a July Fourth celebration webinar sponsored by “Watch Democracy Grow.”

In the longer video below I discuss a range of topics regarding Africa’s development. After visiting Nigeria (Kaduna and Abuja) for two weeks and Ethiopia for one week, I became more convinced than ever, that peace and stability will come only when the basic necessities of life, such as food, water, electricity, land, and railroads are provided by industrialized African nations.

Lawrence Freeman: Stories from Africa – East to West

LAWRENCE FREEMAN, POLITICAL-ECONOMIC ANALYST FOR AFRICA…
He is a highly respected researcher, writer, and speaker on a variety of topics concerning Africa, who has visited African nations 30 times.. An outspoken critic of neo colonialism and the ICC. Insisting that Africa no longer be forced to live in a dark age, he has consistently brought African governments a roadmap for transformative infrastructure projects. As the author of dozens of articles and reports on Africa. Freeman served as a member of AFRICOM’s Advisory Committee under U.S. General Kip Ward. Most recently, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Basin Scientific Committee and is currently working on a project to replenish the shrinking Lake Chad. Presently, he is teaching courses on the history of Africa, utilizing his decades of experience and knowledge. In this video he takes us through a journey in Africa where he has just returned from visiting both Ethiopia and Nigeria.

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

Ethiopia Election: A Vote for Peace, Unity, and Prosperity

Lawrence Freeman speaking with Dr. Birhanu Lenjiso of Prime Media

Below is a 30 minute interview with on the Ethiopian national elections conducted on June 21, 2021. It was conducted in the studio of Prime Media on the June 23rd, in Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian people proved all the critics, pundits, Western media, and Western governments, especially the United States and Great Britain wrong in their predictions of violence and chaos for Ethiopia’s national elections. The Ethiopian people surprised even some government supporters with their orderly, calm, and peaceful manner in electing Prime Minister Ably Ahmed and the Prosperity Party.

Hours after my interview, former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo, at a press conference in Addis Ababa, representing the African Union declared that the election was conducted in a “peaceful, orderly and credible manner.” Obasanjo echoed the observations made by the East African Standby Force in a press conference on Tuesday following the election. Both ESAF and AU has observers monitoring the election process.

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

Will The U.S. Support Egypt’s Violation Of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right to Operate The GERD?

Countries of the Nile River Basin-World Bank (Courtesy of researchgate.net)

Will The U.S. Support Egypt’s Violation Of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right to Operate The GERD?

Lawrence Freeman

June 5, 2021

Is the United States’ continued escalation of hostile policy towards Ethiopia preparing the groundwork to support Egypt’s “colonial rights” over the Nile River? As the White House and Congress threaten more sanctions against Ethiopia, their sovereign right to generate electricity for its people through the operation of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being linked to the conflict in Tigray. Is the Biden administration and the Democrat controlled Congress ominously following in the footsteps of President Trump, who shockingly gave a “green light” for Egypt to bomb the GERD? This would be a grave mistake, with more disastrous consequences than the Obama’s administration’s bombing of Libya and overthrowing President Kaddafi. While U.S. foreign policy in the region is aligning itself more closely to Egypt, it continues to undermine Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s sovereign authority to prevent the Balkanization of his nation.

Sanctions Are Not For Allies

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s still unproven, but often repeated March 30th allegation of ethnic cleansing by the Ethiopia government in Tigray, has provided the impetus for the crescendo of group-think Congressional voices to attack Ethiopia, America’s foremost ally in the Horn of Africa. On May 23rd, Blinken intensified U.S. aggression towards Ethiopia by:

  • Issuing sanctions.
  • Cutting off funds for security and economic growth.
  • Pressuring multi-lateral institutions to cease funding programs in Ethiopia.
  • altering U.S.-Ethiopia defense accords, which have been essential in the war against terrorism and providing security for East Africa.

(Read: New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa)

Addis Ababa February 5/2021 (ENA) Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held phone conversation with United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Thursday.

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives support Secretary Blinken’s sanctions against Ethiopia. Sanctions are a very poor and crude tool for conducting foreign policy, and I have opposed their implementation except in the most unique cases. However, it is unheard of to apply sanctions against a long-standing ally, and it is utterly counterproductive. The government of Prime Minister Abiy should be supported in defeating the insurrectionists, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This is contrary to calls from the U.S and United Kingdom for a cease fire and reconciliation between the Ethiopian National defense Forces (ENDF) and the TPLF.

TPLF, not the Tigrayan community, is intent on tearing apart Ethiopia, and weakening the government of Prime Minister Abiy.  Ethiopia’s future existence as a sovereign nation-state depends on quelling this insurrection.

Pause for a moment, think, then ask yourself; how did President Lincoln personally conduct the war against the southern rebels? He summarily shunned all calls for peace and reconciliation, until the anti-Union, insurrectionist movement was defeated.

The Biden administration and the U.S. Congress are contributing to the potential dismemberment of the most vital nation in East Africa by sanctioning, threatening, and punishing the government of Prime Minister Abiy.  If these officials, actually had any knowledge of the dynamic of ethno-nationalism in Ethiopia, they might come to realize that their actions could encourage more ethnic regions to attempt separation from the nation of Ethiopia.

Senate Recklessness Led by Bob Menendez

A new level of belligerence towards Ethiopia was on display at the May 26th,  Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the conflict in Tigray.  It is interesting to note that all but one of the speeches and accusations against Ethiopia were uttered by liberal Democrats. Ranking Member, Frank Risch, was the only Republican to join the anti-Ethiopian crusade.

Chairmen Bob Menendez referenced Secretary Blinken’s allegations of ethnic cleansing and other alleged crimes by the Ethiopian government. He demanded that Ambassador Godec, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who was testifying, provide the proof that Ethiopia has “committed war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Tigray. Appallingly, the other Democrats on the committee followed Menendez in lock-step, demanding “action now” against Ethiopia.

Senator Bob Menendez (D. NJ) Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Courtesy foreign.senate.gov)

Sarah Charles, testifying from USAID Humanitarian Assistance, further inflamed the hearings by projecting that Ethiopia will experience another “man-made famine,” reminiscent of 1985, if actions are not taken immediately. The potential for a new famine became the mantra of the senators at the hearing.

Allegations of hunger, and atrocities committed during the conflict must be fully investigated.  However, to compare the current situation in Tigray to the famine of 1983-1985 that caused over one million deaths in Ethiopia, is contemptible. That famine was exacerbated by the destructive policies of Mengistu Halle Mariam, leader of the fascist-Marxist Derg. Likely unbeknownst to the uninformed senators, Mengistu, from 1976-1978  launched the “Red Terror,” murdering over half a million Ethiopians, in a genocide against his own people. To equate the famine of 1983-1985 and Mengistu’s policies to Ethiopia today and Prime Minister Abiy, is beyond reprehensible.

Senator Menendez opened the hearing by claiming that the conflict in Tigray echoes what happened in Darfur, Sudan. I travelled to Sudan many times from 1996 to 2012, including two tours of Darfur. Between that and my own extensive research, I am very familiar with Sudan and its history.  I can assert unequivocally that there is no resemblance between Darfur, Sudan, and Tigray, Ethiopia.

Tragically, the behavior by the U.S. Congress, is shameful and reflects an acute superficiality in understanding the complex history of Ethiopia.

Overturn Geo-Political Thinking

While the U.S., led by Secretary Blinken, is reversing decades of friendship between Ethiopia and America, and endangering the Horn of Africa, the Biden administration is enhancing its rapport with Egypt.

On May 26th, while the Senate was ratcheting up the pressure on Ethiopia, Secretary Blinken was in Cairo conveying:

“President Biden’s appreciation to President Sisi for Egypt’s critical mediation efforts in support of a cease fire between Israel and Hamas…”

“The Secretary affirmed the strong strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and President Biden’s commitment to this relationship.  He reiterated the United States’ commitment to Egypt’s water security and to the urgent resumption of substantive and results oriented negotiations under the leadership of the African Union to resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).”

The sovereign right of Ethiopia to fill and operate the GERD for the general welfare of its citizens has become linked to the conditions in Tigray.

Democrat Senator Mendez, at the hearing ostensibly on Tigray, made the same veiled threat on the GERD as President Trump, who infamously suggested that Egypt might try to blow-up the GERD. Mendez blurted out, that Egypt has told him more than once, “if the GERD issue is not dealt with in a way that assures their water needs…they will do what is necessary…They have red lines…”

Ethiopia and its seven neighboring countries

On May 27, Egyptian President Sisi, traveled to Djibouti, whose port provides access to the Gulf of Eden and Indian Ocean for its neighbor and major trading partner, Ethiopia. This was the first visit ever of an Egyptian head of state to Djibouti. According to African Intelligence, the two leaders discussed new security relations between their nations. African Intelligence further reports that Egypt’s defense minister and army chief of staff, who also visited Djibouti, “would like to see the creation of an Egyptian base in Djibouti not far from the Ethiopian border.”

At his news conference in Djibouti, President Sisi said:

“I stressed Egypt’s rejection of any attempt to impose a fait accompli through unilateral measures that disregard the interests and rights of the two downstream countries.”  

Egypt has made repeated military threats against Ethiopia, has formed a military alliance with Sudan, and last month, carried out joint military exercises with Sudan labeled “Guardians of the Nile”.

Since Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid next to Israel,  it would not be difficult for the U.S. to convince Egypt to stand down.

According to a knowledgeable expert on the region, the Biden administration is preparing to relocate the hub of its anti-terrorism  deployment in the Horn of Africa, from Ethiopia to Kenya.  The U.S. is trying to persuade Gulf nations, who support Ethiopia, to leverage their relationship in an effort to pressure Ethiopia to abandon its commitment to the GERD.

President Biden may or may not be aware of the implications of his decision to undermine Prime Minister Abiy’s government and support Egypt in their brinkmanship with Ethiopia regarding the GERD. His administration, filled with personnel from the Obama and Clinton presidencies, is following the same warped geo-political doctrine of his predecessors. Rather than responding to the fixed contours of the contentiousness surrounding the GERD, a true statesman would desire to shift the discussion to a higher level of potential resolution. Instead, the U.S., dominated by geo-politics, is fixated on seeking partners, who serve their narrow immediate interests, such as Egypt’s role in mitigating the Israel-Palestine crisis.

In fact, there is no danger of Ethiopia depriving downstream nations (Egypt and Sudan) of water for their people.  This was admitted by Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry himself: Egypt Foreign Minister Says Water Safe Despite Ethiopian Dam Threat.

The GERD will actually help both Egypt and Sudan by regulating the Nile, preventing deadly floods, reducing evaporation, and providing a water bank to draw on in emergencies. However, the GERD is not even the fundamental cause of Egypt’s water problem, as Yaniv Cohen explains: Egypt has a water problem and it’s not only the GERD

 

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station today turned on its temporary mobile groundwater desalination plant, which will ease the pressure on the City of Cape Town’s water supply. Courtesy esi-africa.com)

The real issue concerning the Nile River is strategic; the Nile does not have enough water to provide for the hundreds of millions of Africans living in the nations of the Nile Basin.

For the economic growth and well being of the nations of the Nile Basin, more water is needed than the Nile can deliver. The equivalent of a second Nile has to be created by human beings. This is the discussion that should take place among the Nile Basin nations and the larger international communities. It requires creative and visionary  thinking, outside of the box, not confined to geo-politics. To alleviate nations from quarreling over a limited supply of Nile water, let us be bold in our imagination. Instead, conceive of the New Nile Project by constructing nuclear powered desalination plants along the Mediterranean and Red Sea to create large amounts of new potable water. These nuclear plants in additional to efficient desalination, and supplying abundant energy, would become nuplexes– manufacturing hubs for industrial and agricultural development.

Some addicted to the narrow thinking of geo-politics today, will object and say it cannot be done, it will take too long and cost too much. To those naysayers, I would respond by asking, is it better to have water wars among emerging nations that are struggling to feed their people laden by poverty? As populations expand, and economies grow, more water will be required. Why not use the urgency of resolving today’s combative dispute over the filling of the GERD, to prod our lazy minds to create a solution for the future of the Nile Basin?  Overcoming all the many engineering and scientific impediments to achieve our New Nile Project will be challenging, but this is the very reason we human beings were put here on earth.

President Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Address March 4, 1865. (courtesy hisotyplace.com)

A Just End To A New Beginning

The fighting in Tigray, the ancient birthplace of Ethiopia, must come to end as soon as possible to prevent the loss of more lives and further suffering. This laceration in the fabric of Ethiopian society should be healed, and not allowed  to propagate. Following the government’s safeguarding of the Tigray region, an all-out mobilization must be launched, with vigorous international support, to rebuild the province, upgrading economic conditions to guarantee that every person living in Tigray, a productive and dignified life.

When the conflict in Tigray is concluded, it would be appropriate for Prime Minister Abiy to emulate the spirit of President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. It was delivered  on March 4, 1865, almost four years after the war began, which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and six weeks before his enemies assassinated him. After President Lincoln affirms his commitment to defeat the southern rebels at all costs, he compassionately pleads for peace.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Let Prime Minister Abiy use this overture as a prelude to lead a healthy dialogue with the Ethiopian people; to unite the nation around the preeminence of an Ethiopian identity, one that supersedes ethnicity.  Reformulation of the Ethiopian Constitution of 1995 to emphasize Ethiopian citizenship, which transcends ethno-regionalism, should follow.

It is in the shared, common, and self-interest of all Ethiopians to participate in the development of their society and increase the wealth of their economy for the benefit of themselves and their posterity. With the near future generation of 6,200 megawatts of electricity from the GERD, Ethiopia will bring light and prosperity to all its citizens. This is cause for all Ethiopians to join together in joyous celebration.

Read my earlier posts:

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Prime Logue/Media Interviews Lawrence Freeman in Addis Ababa: “Without the Elimination of Poverty, There Will Be No Democracy in Africa”

U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election Is Foolish & Very Dangerous

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

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Photo by Getty Images

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman

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.”

courtesy of aa.com.tr

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

Prime Logue/Media Interviews Lawrence Freeman in Addis Ababa: “Without the Elimination of Poverty, There Will Be No Democracy in Africa”

May 10, 2021

On April 30th. I was interviewed in Addis Ababa by Prime Logue/Media for an hour. The interview is separated into four parts.

For those of you who do not have the time to view the entire interview, I would suggest you watch Part 4-16 minutes long. Here, I outline my development policy for Africa. In this, the 22nd century, the African continent will be the focus of strategic policy for the world. My policy starts from recognizing the uniquely human power of creative reason. The key question for policy makers should be how do we develop human beings. True democracy, cannot flourish unless and until poverty is eliminated. The nation state must be strengthened to provide for successive generations of its people. “The leadership of the U.S. does not understand, or want to understand, that the key to  supporting Africa is development.”   

Topics discussed in Part 1 include: Nigeria, refurbishing Lake Chad, Lalibela, Tigray, humanitarian assistance, Covid19 vaccinations in Africa.

Topics discussed in Part 2 include: poverty, developing Ethiopia, the nation-state, regime change in Libya, TPLF attack in Mekele, genocide, human rights.

Topics discussed in Part 3 include: US-Africa policy, flaws in Ethiopia Constitution, GERD, Egypt, Ethiopian identity, June 5 elections.

Topics discussed in Part 4 include. Slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, reason, agape, food, electricity, desperation, jobs, ICC,

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

U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election Is Foolish & Very Dangerous

Ethiopia is scheduled to have parliamentary elections on June 5, 2021. (courtesy of Addis Standard Facebook)

U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election is Foolish and Very Dangerous

May 7, 2021

Lawrence Freeman

On June 5, Ethiopia will conduct national parliamentary elections that will be decisive not only for Ethiopia, but the entire Horn of Africa.  On the eve of Special Envoy, Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman’s first trip to the Horn of Africa, five Democratic U.S. Senators sent him a letter, expressing their concerns about Ethiopia.  29 April 2021 letter to US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman,

Unfortunately, in their letter, Senators Ben Cardin, Tim Kaine, Jacky Rosen, Cory Booker and Ed Markey, displayed a shallow understanding, one might even say ignorance, about the conflict in Ethiopia. Furthermore, their suggestion that Ethiopia’s national elections should not go forward, is downright dangerous.

Putting Western arrogance aside, which believes it has supreme right to tell Ethiopia, a sovereign nation, when it should allow it citizens to vote, the letter displays no knowledge of the unique dynamics of Ethiopian society. One wonders if these senators have any knowledge of the last 125 year intricate history of Ethiopia. A period spans from the March 1, 1896 victory at Adwa by Emperor Menelik II against the Italian colonial army, to the present efforts by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to unify the Ethiopian nation through the newly created, non-ethnic based, Prosperity Party.  The senators appeared to have based their opinions about Ethiopia almost exclusively on news reports or from Amnesty International.

De-Legitimize the Election? 

The most egregious section of their letter is the following paragraph, which could be construed as election interference against a sovereign nation.

“The destabilizing potential of these trends should not be underestimated, especially in light of the national elections planned for June 5, 2021. These planned elections are not currently on track to meet international standards for freedom, fairness, and transparency. Already, several opposition political parties in Ethiopia have announced plans to abstain from the elections due to a lack of faith that they will be conducted credibly. This fear is based in part on the government’s detention of thousands of opposition leaders and supporters, some of whom have been deprived of due process, tortured, or even summarily executed, according to Amnesty International’s May 2020 Report. We worry that, if elections move forward without the reforms required to earn the trust of the Ethiopian public, growing ethnic and political tensions across the country will boil over into violence.”  (emphasis added)

It is outrageous for members of the U.S. Senate to suggest that a sovereign nation should  cancel their elections. To my knowledge, only one party, not several, has chosen to abstain. However, these U.S. Senators’ accusations are foolishly giving cover for more parties to withdraw.

Given the current climate of ethnic tension in Ethiopia, to suggest that violence would ensue if the nation proceeds with its election, could in fact, be encouraging more violence.

In response to this call to postpone its upcoming election, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Washington, Fitsum Arega, replied on May 4, in his own letter to Ambassador Feltman:

“The upcoming June parliamentary election will be an historic milestone in the political transformation of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian National Electoral Board, which is [the most] independent electoral body in the history of the nation, has been established and is responsible for organizing, conducting, and oversighting, the election and election related activities. The Ethiopian Government has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the election is free, fair, and transparent.”

Despite the best efforts by the Ethiopian government to conduct its most open and transparent election in the last 26 years, no doubt difficulties will occur in the voting process. However, opposition political parties will now be able to opportunistically claim the election is illegitimate, and contest the results, citing allegations from the U.S. Senator’s letter. This could fuel additional ethnic violence, thus making it more challenging for the government to unify the nation following the election.

Sovereign Obligation

The Ethiopian government, and the Ethiopian people are in full preparation for this critical election, which has already been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It would be irresponsible for the government of Ethiopia to deprive its citizens and all the parties participating, the right to vote. Ethiopia, a sovereign nation, believes it is paramount that its citizens determine the future of their nation by electing its leaders at the ballot box.

The government insists it is vital to conduct these elections, even during these problematic times, striving to emulate the best practices of the U.S. It should be noted that the United States has never postponed a national election, despite severe dislocations of its people. Not during World War II, not during the Great Depression, not during the Spanish Flu, and not during the surge of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the largest number of mail-in ballots in U.S. history. Even in 1864, while tens of thousands of Americans were imprisoned or fighting on the battlefield in the midst of the U.S. Civil War, the election was held, and Abraham Lincoln, the unfaltering defender of the Union, was re-elected.

(To the followers of my website. I did not post any articles in the last month because I was traveling Nigeria and Ethiopia.)

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

False Narratives of Ethiopian Conflict Are Toxic

(Courtesy of souncloud.com)

False Narratives of Ethiopian Conflict Are Toxic

Lawrence Freeman

April 5, 2021

In two months, Ethiopia will have national elections, which can potentially shape the future of the largest nation in East Africa. False narratives of the cause and description of the fighting in the northern section of Ethiopia, Tigray, remain misleading and detrimental. This can undermine the efforts of Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed to introduce a non-ethnic based discourse with his newly created Prosperity Party.

Unfortunately, much of the narrative that dominates the news and reporting is falsely framed as a contest between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the government of Ethiopia, headed by Prime Minister Abiy. Some news reports refer to Tigray as a “contested” region between two opposing armed forces. Other commentaries attempt to legitimize the actions of the TPLF as defenders of their territory from “outside” military. Let us be clear. There is no equivalency between the TPLF and the government of Prime Minister Abiy. Such analysis is not only faulty but is dangerous to the nation of Ethiopia. It invites other disingenuous ethnic leaders to launch destabilizations against the Ethiopian nation. Some accounts of the conflict even question, who was responsible for initiating the fighting, blatantly attempting to rewrite history.

It is well known that in the early hours of November 4, the TPLF without cause, attacked the Ethiopian Defense Forces at the Mekele outpost,  stealing munitions and murdering soldiers in their sleep. The government of Prime Minister Abiy was obligated to respond with a military counterattack to ensure that Ethiopia remained a sovereign nation.

As long as policy and deliberations in Ethiopia are twisted around the contours of which ethnic group is in power, the nation’s progress will be disrupted and curtailed.

Allegations of Ethnic Cleansing

The United Nations defines ethnic cleansing as:

“ a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas…. rendering an area ethnically homogeneous

Ethnic cleansing is intolerable and repugnant to civilized society. Given the highly contentious environment in Ethiopia between different ethnic groups, unsubstantiated charges of ethnic cleansing and genocide are inflammatory and pernicious. Hurling such accusations without incontrovertible proof is more than provocative. It can lead to increased violence, threatening the very fabric of Ethiopia as a sovereign nation only months away from its national election.  Yet these unfounded accusations are repeated again and again.

In a March 30th letter to United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, Congressmen Gregory Meeks, and Michael McCaul, condemned Ethiopia for “acts of ethnic cleansing,” without offering any evidence other than hearsay from the media. Unfortunately, Blinken himself had used the same provocative language earlier in March, accusing the Ethiopian government of ethnic cleansing, without proof. Protest from the Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa prompted President Biden to send Senator Coons to Ethiopia as his special envoy. Upon his return, Sen. Coons not only refused to repeat such charges, but expressed optimism in the subsequent actions of Prime Minister Abiy.

Atrocities or other illegal actions that have been reported, must be thoroughly investigated, as Prime Minister Abiy has promised to conduct in conjunction with the United Nations. However, the continued use of unsubstantiated accusations of ethnic cleansing by U.S. officials, repeated by the reckless media, are imprudent and perilous to the entire Horn of Africa.

The same congressional letter threatened sanctions against Ethiopia. Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S., Fitsum Arega, responded the next day, March 31st with his own letter to the two congressmen:

“Your call for what appears to be blanket sanctions is not only counterproductive to the goal of providing support for those in need, but also significantly undermines the two nations’ long cooperate relationship. The U.S. should be working to ensure that funds and supplies are  going to those in need, not in threatening behavior that will diminish cooperative efforts to bring much needed help to those in need.”

U.S. Senator Coons says Ethiopia trip was ‘constructive.’ (Courtesy tadias.com)

Human Identity Transcends Ethnicity

Ethiopia’s upcoming election on June 5 will be historic. For the first time, with Prime Minister Abiy’s national Prosperity Party on the ballot, there will be an alternative to the destructive politics of ethno-nationalist partisanship. It is important for all Ethiopians to take responsibility for ensuring that this election is not marred by violent ethnic confrontations.

Now, let us deal with the core issue confronting Ethiopia’s society, which politicians, reporters, Washington think tanks, and NGOs, do not understand; Ethiopian people are not defined by ethnicity.

We are all human beings first and foremost. What does it really mean to be human, and what is its relevancy to the current circumstances in Ethiopia?

Our heritage, no matter how much we respect our parents, cherish our birthplace, and traditions, does not determine our essence as human beings. Our worth, as human beings is not derived from where we were born. What distinguishes us, all of us, as human, as opposed to all other creatures is; that we are bequeathed by the Creator with the very special quality of creative reason.  No animal possesses creativity, and no machine can reproduce this unique quality, which I will identify as our soul-mind. The power of reason-creativity is not deduction, induction, or logic. It is the ability to discover, through hypothesis, new physical, and social principles embedded in the universe by the Creator, awaiting for us to uncover.  This characteristic of creative-mentation distinguishes the human species, as having a single human culture, which cannot be subdivided.

All societies, going back at least million years in Africa, have progressed as a result of human creativity.  Continuous, uninterrupted discovery of new universal principles that advance civilization from one level of science-culture to the next. This, our human culture, coherent with the physical universe, lawfully shatters the silly belief of a preordained  limit to the growth of humankind.

Thus, deep down in our soul-mind, we are all universally unified, and alike. We are not fundamentally different, except in secondary features that serve to enrich the breath of our universal human culture. African nations can no longer allow themselves to be ruled and divided by ethnicity and religion. No ethnic group, religion, or class ought to enjoy any superiority. Religious and ethnic differences should not undermine a nation’s national unity.

Each nation has developed uniquely, contributing to the diversity and richness of our civilization. Each nation has uniquely fashioned an identity from historical events and future aspirations.

Let that national identity moored to our exclusive human identity prevail. Any lesser identity is an assault on our unique humanness.

With this concept in mind, let Ethiopia demonstrate its commitment to protect and care for all its citizens by allowing justice to overcome propaganda and prejudice in judging the crimes committed in this conflict.

ReadTwo Key Members of Congress Condemn Atrocities in Tigray and Call for US Action

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.