US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Michael A. Raynor’s remarks about the war on Tigrai are too little and too late
By Makonnen Tesfayet
Tigrai Online Feb. 2, 2021
1. The Ambassador’s Remarks are Too Little and Too Late
On 25 January 2021 and on the eve of his departure as US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Michael A. Raynor had the audacity to say, after three months of complete silence, that he was concerned about the War on Tigray (what he called the “Situation in Tigray”):
“As Ethiopia’s largest partner in humanitarian assistance, we’re particularly alarmed by the ongoing situation in Tigray. After almost three months, we’re still not seeing enough humanitarian assistance reach the most vulnerable areas. Much more needs to be done – and urgently – to ensure that humanitarian organizations, both Ethiopian and international, have full and secure access to the region to provide life-saving support to the millions of people who are suffering. We continue to call on all parties to cease any hostilities; ensure the protection of all civilians in Tigray including refugees and humanitarian workers; and uphold international human rights and humanitarian law”.
First, after three months of deliberate silence on the most horrendous and heinous War on Tigray, its people and its leaders; and a war that saw the commission of war crimes including mass atrocities and killings; numerous massacres; wide spread sexual violence and rape; pillage on gigantic proportions; wanton destruction of civilian infrastructure; and the weaponisation of hunger and famine, the Ambassador’s remarks are belittling, hypocritical, and frankly too little and too late. The Ambassador is only “concerned” or “alarmed” not horrified or appalled by what he sees and hears is happening in Tigray (Note the significance of the choice of light words that don’t adequately describe the magnitude of the crimes being perpetrated). If there is any agency in the world that has the means and capacity to hear and see what is happening on the ground it is the US. So it cannot be for lack of knowledge or information. It is a deliberate cover up of war crimes and the making of genocide of Tigrayans. Is the Ambassador not aware of the ethnic profiling and targeting of Tigrayans in the Capital, right under his nose? Is he trying, at the 11th hour, to cover his back from liability, accountability and the record of history for being an accomplice of war crimes and the making of genocide against black people in the 21st Century? Is he not repeating Western complicity in the Rwandan genocide? The Ambassador does not even say the war in Tigray but refers to it as: “the situation in Tigray”. Words matter. This much he has to say now, because the overwhelming narrative of the world mass media and international agencies now recognise the war on Tigray for what it is and with all its aftermaths. It is also very opportunistic for the Ambassador to say what he is now saying, which is to appease the new Biden Administration policy that appears to recognise the war in Tigray and its horrendous aftermath.
Second, the Ambassador is covering up and being hypocritically criminal when he says that “We continue to be troubled by the activities of Eritrean actors in the Tigray region”. Note also the choice of the word “troubled”. The invasion of Tigray by 37 divisions of the armed forces of Eritrea is not “activities”. It is called war, Mr Ambassador! It is the elephant in the room. It is called an invasion of a Regional National State by an army and not Eritrean “actors” but the Government of Eritrea. These lip-serving remarks are deceitful, too little and too late.
Third, his remark that: “Ethiopia’s progress on democracy and human rights must be sustained...We encourage Ethiopia to continue its courageous efforts to introduce and strengthen its political, economic, and security reforms” is outrageous and insulting. One wonders which planet he is living on. During his tenure as US Ambassador to Ethiopia over the last three years, the country has descended to hell, where there is a one-party/one-person absolute dictatorship; wars waged on Regions for wanting or exercising elections or seeking autonomous self-rule; rule by military command posts; where millions are internally displaced; where all opposition politicians are in prison; where there is no free press or political organisation; and where journalists are in prison or the economy is in a free-fall. Shame this is the Ambassador’s measure of human rights, democratic progress or development in Ethiopia. The reality is that the Abiy Ahmed Cliques are a conduit for white supremacist and hegemonists cum extreme rightwing-evangelical-populist political agenda. The politics of supporting the dictators Abiy and Isaias is, as one former American politician once said: “they may be bastards and puppets but they are our bastards and puppets”.
2. The Ambassador’s Tigrayan and Ethiopian Legacy
The reality and historical record is the former US administration led by President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo, and the Ambassador as a diplomatic conduit have aided and abated the War on Tigray, and are complicit in the war crimes being committed and the making of genocide of the Tigrayan people. Ethnic profiling and targeting of Tigrayans have been happening in the Capital under the Ambassador’s nose but chose not to utter a single word. He knows war crimes are being committed in Tigray but chose to say nothing. He knows sexual violence and rape is being weaponised in Tigray but choice to say nothing. He knows hunger and famine is being weaponised in Tigray but choice to say nothing. He knows the Eritrean army has invaded Tigray but chose to say nothing. He knows Tigray was the most peaceful Region in Ethiopia without ethnic conflict or issues of law and order but chose to say nothing. He knows Tigray conducted its Reginal Elections as per the Constitution but chose to say nothing. He knows Tigray defended the Ethiopian Federal Constitution but he chose to say nothing. What he now says is too little, too late and very hypocritical and opportunist, perhaps an attempt to bend towards the new Biden Administration’s more realistic and truthful perspective on what is happening in Tigray and Ethiopia, and perhaps seeking a new diplomatic tenure?
The Ambassador’s legacy in Tigray and Ethiopia at large is - disgraceful, deceitful, immoral and criminal as an accomplice of war crime and as the collaborator of the making of genocide of an African people and nationality. This much will be remembered in the annals of Tigrayan and Ethiopian history. The message to the Ambassador is that The North may forgive but does not forget its nemesis; the national struggle continues; and the Tigrayan People and Nationality shall prevail.
3. Whither US Foreign Policy on Ethiopia?
Ethiopia under the EPRDF/TPLF was a model of economic development, unity based on diversity, social cohesion, democratic experimentation and regional stability for nearly three decades. These were notwithstanding the significant deficit in democracy, good governance and economic justice. In its foreign policy, the EPRDF/TPLF pursued a win-win policy of multilateralism and non-alignment, maintaining relative policy independence. It forged a strategic partnership and co-operation with the West in particular in securing regional stability and in the fight against terrorism. Yet, the Abiy Cliques were given the opportunity to take the country forward building on the achievements of the EPRDF/TPLF, but chose to go backwards. With the misguided support it received from the Trump Administration all or most of the thirty years’ achievements have been reversed, where the country has now been thrown back to conditions that prevailed during the Monarchy and Derg eras. The Horn of Africa has never been so much destabilised as during the rule of the Abiy Cliques and the Ambassador’s three years tenure in Ethiopia. The hope and question is whether the new Biden Administration will help stop the War on Tigray, move the country towards democracy and development, and stabilise the Horn of Africa, or whether the country will continue to be played upon as a pawn in global power politics, or regional geo-political machinations with their attendant dictatorships, underdevelopment, insecurity and instability. At an