Mr. US Ambassador, please stop poking your nose into Ethiopia's internal affairs
By Seifeselassie Gebre
Tigrai Online, Feb. 21, 2018
The American Ambassador demonstrated his total lack of knowledge about Ethiopian history and political developments of the recent past
It has been more than a hundred years since the governments of Ethiopia and the USA established diplomatic relations. They have been closely working together in various socio-economic fields of mutual interest, and in fighting against international terrorism following the tragic events of 9-11. However, it is not lost on our leadership that the US government has deliberately been pursuing a double track policy towards Ethiopia particularly since the coming to power of EPRDF in 1991. While on the one hand, it actively promotes economic, social, and military cooperation, on the other, it invariably puts out subtle and at times outright antagonistic official statements through its State Department and other so- called 'non-governmental' institutions whose primary purpose is promoting western geopolitical agenda through clandestine interference into the internal affairs of sovereign nations; a recent example of which is the blatant and condescending statemlookent made by H.E. Mr. Michael A. Raynor, the US Ambassador to Ethiopia in whichi he stated, “ We strongly disagree with the Ethiopian government's decision to impose a state of emergency…".The self-appointed "neo-colonial viceroy" of Ethiopia in making this outrageous statement, exposed his utter ignorance of the history of Ethiopia and its people, sitting atop his imperial high horse and forgetting that he is nothing more than a diplomatic representative from a country that has had warm diplomatic relations with Ethiopia since 1903 and claims to be a friend and strategic ally of the gracious host country and he was clearly interfering in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. The Ambassador has absolutely no legal or moral authority to question, second-guess, or undermine the decision of a sovereign nation. I am pretty sure the job description and mandate of a diplomatic mission does not include meddling in host country's internal affairs.
While this kind of blatant meddling by the United States government into the affairs of sovereign countries is well-known modus operandi, it never ceases to amaze astute political observers how an imperial power could be so incapable of learning from its past mistakes in its relations with other sovereign nawhichijtions. With his comments, the Ambassador demonstrated his total lack of knowledge about Ethiopian history and political developments of the recent past. Furthermore, it was not by sheer coincidence that the Ambassador gave such a sinister statement now. The timing was well planned to give tacit moral and media support to the outlaws and criminals and to embolden them to intensify their destructive activities. He is clearly trying to add fuel to the current political fire. The state of emergency was put in place to quell recent violent protests and is only used as a last resort. Had EFDRE followed the examples of France, Turkey, Egypt to name a few, it could have easily decreed open-ended state of emergency or designed it for automatic renewal but it chose to calm the vocal minority and prevent the chaos from devolving further by initiating dialog with the opposition camp and subsequently releasing, in my opinion any many others, far too many prisoners who had been caught red handed harming innocent civilians and destroying public and private property. Instead of commending our government for dealing with the violent protests in a civilized and restrained manner, it decided to chastise it for doing exactly what any self-respecting sovereign government is mandated to do based on its constitution and law of the land. On the contrary, the west has been conspicuously silent when it comes to similar measures taken by its allies such as France, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, the Philippines etc. Perhaps it's because these countries enjoy a certain carte blanche. We know that Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand are considered 1st-tier strategic allies while France is lumped together with other western European countries as 2nd-tier strategic partner. Both 1st and 2nd tier allies are given free ride in dealing with domestic political upheavals while the rest of the world (3rd-tier) is subjected to incessant meddling.
Mr. Ambassador, the way in which US police force dealt with the violent protests that broke out in the wake of the Rodney King incident, Ferguson Fire, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, mass rallies calling for an end to police brutality and profiling especially against minorities, is still fresh in our collected minds. In so doing, the US government demonstrated to the rest of the world that no matter how righteous the agenda of the protesters, you have ZERO tolerance for any violent protests, as you should, as every citizen has the obligation to uphold the law. I presume that you have been briefed about the violent protests that spread throughout certain cities within Oromia and Amhara regions in the past couple of years and how the government showed restraint despite public outcry to take action. Thus, you cannot honestly say that our government did not show unprecedented restraint and patience compared to how the US police force would have handled similar violent protests in your cities. I hope you realize that there is only one sovereign entity in Ethiopia and that is EFDRE, the 'Kilils' or ethnic regional administrations only enjoy constitutional autonomy. As such the responsibility to protect and guarantee the constitutional order rests solely with the Ethiopian federal government.
It should be known that the Ambassador cannot claim either the legal right to dictate our policies or the moral authority to meddle in our domestic political and security affairs. No legal right because it amounts to a clear violation of fundamental principles of international law, "non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states." New York Times reporter Loch K. Johnson on Feb 17 2018 in describing US meddling in other countries' internal affairs, was quoted as saying "we've been doing meddling ever since the CIA was created in 1947." This reporter's comment was corroborated by none other than James Woolsey, former CIA director in his interviews with Laura Ingraham of Fox News just last week. Furthermore, the Ambassador's current commander-in-chief, the US president, Donald Trump, campaigned on a platform pledging to end decades-old foreign meddling which he re-emphasized during his inaugural address. Examples of US interference and meddling are far too many to cite here but a few instances of such activities will suffice to show that the US cannot claim the moral high ground:
- Libya: From the highest Human Development Index (HDI), lowest infant mortality, highest life expectancy in all of Africa to a failed state ruled by competing fiefdoms. The US government and its western allies take full blame for this sad and tragic turn of events with their infamous policy of “humanitarian interventions and invasions” that caused the deaths and dislocations of millions of innocent civilians and caused incalculable economic destructions and ultimately state collapse to this once peaceful and wealthy nation. The same destabilization strategy was used with secular governments of Iraq and Syria where, before the invasion, women were allowed to drive and also constituted a large percentage of medical doctors, engineers, and civil servants. While Iraqi leadership met the same fate as Gadaffi, attempts to replicate similar regime change operation is on-going in Syria so the jury is still out.
- Guantanamo and Abu Graib: Perhaps, of all the improprieties attributed to the US government over the years, nothing creates a more indelible moral stain on the US government as the existence of these two torture facilities where 'terror' suspects are incarcerated without charge and due process and subjected to untold torture and suffering. These notorious prisons and torture chambers conducted inhumane and cruel interrogation techniques known as water-boarding (considered as torture by many UN and other international human rights organizations) on suspects outside international media radars and in contravention of “American values” and relevant international laws on torture,
- Terrorist Safe-Haven: It is the US that has been harboring and assisting many Ethiopian terrorist groups such as Ginbot-7, OLF, Juhar Mohamed who are openly preaching ethnic hatred, inciting deadly violence and trying to overthrow the legitimate and democratically-elected government by terror and force of arm from their comfortable sanctuaries in US cities no doubt with the tacit and covert support of the American establishments. These individuals are naturalized US citizens and as such have no right whatsoever to meddle in the internal affairs of Ethiopia as they have shifted their allegiances by virtue of their naturalization. By law, foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin are afforded certain privileges excluding employment within Foreign Ministry, Defense, etc and they are barred from lobbying, financing, or voting in any election since the law does not recognize dual citizenship. So when a US citizen of Ethiopian origin lobbies a US lawmaker to impose sanctions on Ethiopian government, we consider it blatant meddling since the lobbyist and the lawmaker are both US citizens.
- (d) Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction: It is the US lawmakers (few misinformed and misguided US lawmakers and interest groups who are self-appointed advocates of democracy for the Ethiopian people) that have continued with their crusade to arm-twist and force Ethiopian leaders into submission and abandon its “developmental state” economic policies or to severely punish it if otherwise by initiating and pushing for approval of countless House Resolutions or laws practically every six months, the most recent being HR-128.
- (e) Neo-Colonial Insolence: It was the American President who recently shamefully insulted and offended Africans and Carribean nations of African descent in general by using the deeply insolent language “shit-hole countries” against them without any sign of remorse. Instead he flatly denied having said so despite testimony by the most highly respected senator who happened to be at the White House closed-door meeting at the time. The African Union members even gave him the opportunity to redeem himself by coming to the capital to patch things up but to no avail.
It is obvious to many that Ethiopia earned the wrath of neo-liberal forces because of its “independent foreign policies” and its “developmental state economic model” resulting in double-digit growth and very impressive economic development for the last fifteen years, unheard of in the continent, and in its quest to become middle income country in the coming decade. This is viewed by the West as a mortal threat to their neo-liberal/neo-colonial agenda and so they decided it must be nipped in the bud before it spreads to other parts of Africa. We know the neo-liberal’s (such as the Ambassador) real agenda has never been about “democratic rights” and “political space” in Ethiopia. These are only covers while the actual agenda is to advance the bankrupt and discredited policies of neo-liberalism which are the modern day tools of subjugating developing nations in order to control their abundant natural resources and huge markets. For those developing countries such as Ethiopia who refuse to be 'Vassals' of the West against all odds, the classic American prescriptions have always been “color revolutions” and “regime changes” ala Libya, Ukraine, Syria, etc by various covert and overt means. To accomplish this objective, the US government has at its disposal a vast repertoire (aka tool-kit) of destabilization tools which it has successfully utilized against 32 sovereign countries since 1973, not counting 23 others before that. Among them are harboring, encouraging and supporting various dissident/terrorist groups (such as Ginbot-7, OLF and Juhar Mohamed, etc. in our case) who are in the business of creating divisions and hatred and inciting violence among ethnic groups mostly using social media networks from their comfortable and safe bases in Western capitals. This is what is happening in our country today.
Is the good Ambassador telling us that our government should sit idly by while our country is burning?, our innocent people continue to be victims of savage killings and our infrastructures and properties are destroyed? How would the American government act in such a scenario? It would definitely use all means under its disposal including the use of deadly force. Even in normal or peaceful times, the American police are known for using deadly force against innocent civilians which seems normal and acceptable to the Ambassador as long as it is done in America and by Americans. Again typical American double standard. The first priority for any sane government is the maintenance of peace and security of its people as they have to live without harassment and fear for their lives and properties and the second one is the fact that people have to feed themselves first in order to even think about the “American Values” of democratic rights and political space the Ambassador is advocating. Thirdly, it is only after the above two are met that the issue of democratic rights and political space comes. The Ambassador seems to be obsessed with talking about the third least priority, that is the issue of democratic rights and political space while he deliberately ignores the first two crucial and most important issues. The burning issue for Ethiopians right now is how best to secure the peace and security as there cannot be any talk of democratic rights or political space when there are vigilantes and foreign agents roaming the streets.
The Ambassador wouldn’t deny the fact that Ethiopia is a full-fledged sovereign country with the prerogative right to declare a state of emergency whenever faced with natural disasters or man-made crises such as the one our country is currently in. He was acting like a “neo-colonial viceroy” of Ethiopia when he stated “we don’t agree” to the just-decreed state of emergency. He should be reminded that our country doesn’t need his agreement or consent to exercise its inalienable sovereign rights to declare state of emergency whenever it deems necessary for its national security and safety of its peoples as is the case right now. When countries such as USA, France, Turkey and Egypt readily and repeatedly declare state of emergencies (some for prolonged periods), the US government never utters a ward let alone criticize these countries. Again American double standard. By so doing, he only exposed his arrogance and neo-colonial mentality.
It is to be recalled that the Ambassador was mute and did not utter a single word when thousands of innocent civilians were uprooted, displaced, harassed and killed and hundreds of millions of Birr worth of public and property was destroyed. However, concerned by the current breakdown of law and order in our country, the Ambassador has been busy for the last few weeks issuing travel warnings and making evacuation plans for his few diplomats and citizens while in public, he issued a different statement opposing the just-proclaimed state of emergency. If the Ambassador believed that the security situation of our country was not worrisome enough to warrant a state of emergency, why on Earth would he issue travel alerts and make evacuation arrangements for his diplomats and nationals? Don’t Ethiopian lives matter? Typical American double standard. Furthermore, if the Ambassador was genuine with himself, what miraculous remedy was he expecting from the Ethiopian government to quell the current deadly killings and destructions other than declaring a “state of emergency”? Thus, the Ambassador is clearly becoming part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
While democratic rights and political space are all important issues and therefore merit extensive discussion and revisiting at the appropriate time, our country’s present top priority and urgent task should be the maintenance of peace and security and the protection of innocent lives and properties from outlaws, criminals, and terrorists. It should also be to safeguard our country’s national security interest against foreign opportunistic vultures like Egypt and Eritrea and domestic scavengers like Ginbot-7, OLF and Juhar Mohammed and save it from fragmentation and collapse. Neo-liberal forces cynically levy heavy demands and expectations on countries like Ethiopia to achieve full democratic system miraculously overnight while it took them more than two hundred years to reach the present not-so-perfect system of governance. I suppose the impressive socio-economic achievements and sustained peace and security (save the last two years marred by security problems) for the good Ambassador and for sure he is not concerned about the security and safety of 100+ million Ethiopians. His only concern seems to be “democratic rights” and “political space” of a few domestic political parties who are the “useful idiots” of the global neo-liberals in advancing their ideology and interests worldwide.
It is a public knowledge that the US is not known for pacifying countries to stability but rather is infamous for fanning certain humanitarian/ democratic shortages in unfavored countries (in the name of democracy) and for causing violence, chaos, civil war and state collapse as in the case of Libya, Iraq and Syria and that is what the Ambassador is wishing and pushing for our Country. Furthermore, the US always readily labels attackers as terrorists whenever they attack even one of its nationals. However, when the same terrorists slaughter thousands of innocent peoples elsewhere, they shamelessly refer to them as rebels, dissidents, freedom fighters, separatists, activists, opposition forces and even praise them for their crimes and boost their morals like what they are doing with the terrorist groups namely Ginbot-7, OLF, Juhar Mohamed by hosting their stay and facilitate their terrorist activities including financing their relentless evil propaganda machines such as ESAT and OMN that incite violence and ethnic hatred, divisions freely and with impunity day and night from their comfortable and safe offices in American cities. Typical US double standard.
It is worth mentioning here that the Americans are daily accusing the Russians of meddling in their internal elections? By the same token, why is then the Ambassador meddling in the internal affairs of our Country? What right does he have, be it moral or legal to do So? We shouldn’t anyway be surprised by his provocative statement as lack of principles and double standards have become the hallmark and norms of American foreign policy under successive US Administrations. Furthermore, we recall the recent US policy of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by citing US sovereign right but in clear contravention of pertinent UN resolutions and international law. If the US can have sovereignty over alien/ Palestinian territories thousands of miles away, how come the Ambassador tried to deny Ethiopia its sovereign rights over its own territory?
The New Ethiopia is an amalgamation of numerous ethnic groups brought together by a common belief that Ethiopia can only bring itself out of poverty and join the middle income group of nations only if all the indigenous human capital is harnessed for the benefit of all. It requires a delicate balancing act and finesse to sustain this collaboration among the various ethnic groups. In fact, most people would argue that the government has been lax in dealing with forces that have tried and continue to try to undermine this fragile cohesion despite the repeated violent protests across certain parts of the country. Ethiopia is a nation of people endowed with a rich and proud history that goes back several millennia. Although Ethiopia has gone through almost every form of government throughout its long history (feudal system, absolute and constitutional monarchy, military dictatorship), this is the first time in our history that all citizens of this great nation (including those historically marginalized) are experiencing true democracy and genuine self-rule. Of course some, particularly the opposition camp will constantly point to its shortcomings as proof of its non-existence. However, implementation of democracy is always a 'work-in-progress' even in well-developed democracies such as the USA and other western countries let alone in a young developing country such as ours. Therefore, the recent political upheaval should be viewed as a birth pang of democracy being born. I would further argue that had similar violent protests occurred in any city of the US, they would have been dealt with much more severely by the highly militarized and combat-ready police force of the US who are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from combat soldiers sent to war zones across the globe.
It is hard to believe that the Ambassador was adequately and truthfully briefed about the general political climate and particularly the genesis of the recent political turmoil. To make his "diplomatic" mission a success, it behooves the Ambassador to spare some time and read up on Ethiopian history and its people. At a time when the US's former close allies are dropping like flies and its sphere of influence shrinking, the last thing the Ambassador should be doing is meddle in the internal affairs of not only a proud and truly independent nation like Ethiopia, but also a true and longtime ally of the US. Mr. Ambassador, the public is rightly outraged by your inappropriate and inciting statement. We can give you the benefit of the doubt that you are not protecting those elements responsible for the violence as they are the onse who have to fear the state of emergency and not ordinary peaceful and law-abiding citizens that have been crying out for such measure for some time.
Finally, we wish to remind the good Ambassador that though Ethiopia assigns great value to its excellent relationship with the USA, it gives much higher values to its independence and sovereignty. It may still be poor but it is a very proud African nation. It has no history and culture of giving in to external arm-twisting and bullying and letting others meddle in its internal affairs as its history can bear witness and as it is not one of those banana republics. It may currently have temporary security problems but it is nothing new as it has run across similar challenges and ups-and-downs in its past and will definitely overcome them in the near future with its God-fearing and disciplined peoples and a strong and dedicated government. We, thus, wish to request the good Ambassador to kindly refrain from making inflammatory and irresponsible statements and stay out of our country’s internal affair during his stay in our country. After all, he should not forget that he is just an honorary guest of the Ethiopian people and he should act accordingly.
May God bless Ethiopia.