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USA categorises Ginbot-7 alongside ISIS

By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, April 29, 2015

Ms Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ethiopian Minster of Foriegn Affairs
Ms Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ethiopian Minster of Foriegn Affairs.

The US government has finally categorised Ginbot-7 as a terrorist outfit nearly six years after the Ant-Terrorism Law was enacted by the Ethiopian parliament. This organisation along with the other proscribed groups, OLF and ONLF, has been openly working to overthrow the EPRDF administration supported by the sworn enemies of the country. The implication of classifying Ginbot-7 as a terror group would now mean that it would have to be treated in a similar way as the murderous Muslim fundamentalists ISIS, Al-Shebab and Al-Qeda.

Ms Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, further echoed her government’s stance during her recent visit to Ethiopia by applauding the country’s growing democracy that has been prevalent since the removal of the military junta. Ms Sherman also made it plain that the United States administration would not tolerate any attempt to remove or think of removing the democratically elected government of the EPRDF by Ginbot-7 or any other outlawed groups.

Ginbot-7 utilises ESAT TV to disseminate erroneous information and to incite violence hoping to bring down the government that secured successive mandates from the electorates. This futile activity which has been going on for a considerable period directly contravenes what Ms Sherman explicitly stated during her visit to Ethiopia. The next step for the pertinent US authorities ought to be to take all necessary measures to shut down the television station and instruct its leader to immediately cease his illegal pursuits which clearly violates current US policy towards its strong ally in the Horn of Africa. It would also go a long way if Ms Sherman was to do everything in her power to stop neighbouring countries supplying military and financial support to Ginbot-7 and other terrorist groups operating in close proximity.

Pulling the plug on ESAT TV would further prevent Ginbot-7 from enticing young people to leave their country illegally and head to other parts of Africa and further afield. And as a direct result of this callous and irresponsible action, a number of people have been languishing in foreign prisons and some have died owing to hunger, thirst and brutality before they reached their intended destinations. Recently, three Ethiopians were murdered in Durban, South Africa and another 30 were brutally beheaded in Libya. Many compatriots have been stranded in Yemen unable to leave due to the civil war raging between Shiite and Sunnis. The Ethiopian government is endeavouring to fly them home as it did to over 150,000 Saudi Arabia deportees in 2014. 

The unambiguous statement made by Ms Sherman, standing next to the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom during their joint press conference in Addis, must have been a bolt out of the blue for GINBOT-7 and its gullible and dwindling followers. Politically motivated organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Oakland Institute, International Rivers and Freedom House which have been involved in destabilising Ethiopia directly or by goading GINBOT-7 and its affiliates such us the Zone- 9 bloggers would no longer have a free hand to act against the EPRDF government. The unequivocal declaration just a few weeks before voting begins in Ethiopia was intended to send a clear message to GINBOT-7 and the pseudo human rights proponents not to attempt to disrupt and interfere in the election process.   

Ms Sherman’s short but devastating statement will also be a huge blow to the political activists Temesgen Desalgen and Eskinder Nega currently in prison for belonging to the outlawed GINBOT-7 as they were hoping that the US government would come to their rescue. This is no longer a possibility and it appears that they would have to serve their lengthy sentences and by the time they are set free, the country they wanted to destabilised and create chaos would certainly become the second/third biggest economy in Sub-Sahara Africa.

EU members are also bound to follow similar policy as the US and from now on, it would be extremely difficult for Ana Gomez, Euro MP, to raise the incarceration of Andargachew Tsege, Secretary of GINBOT-7, in European Parliament. It is to be recalled that the Portuguese lady was in Ethiopia during the 2005 general election as the leader EU election observers but her position was compromised when Berhanu Nega was found in her hotel room.

There was no plausible rationale for taking so long to pigeonhole GINBOT-7 as a terrorist group and to publically endorse the young democracy that was set in motion after the arrival of the party in power. In a troubled sub-region, Ethiopia has managed to secure impressive economic and democratic credentials and these may have finally compelled the Obama administration to view the country in a different light.

Moreover, Ethiopia’s long standing involvement in stabilising crisis-ridden countries such as South Sudan, Darfur, Somalia, Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda must also have played a significant part in leading the US to re-assess its position on its stable and reliable ally in the Horn of Africa. No doubt the US and its partners in Middle East will sooner or later approach Ethiopia to play its due in controlling the full blown war currently underway in Yemen and to participate in the prevention of the spread of ISIS extremism to neighbouring nations through Al-Shebab which seems to be resurging in Kenya.


Ethiopia’s stability and attractive economic climate has been pulling large numbers of US and EU investors and this may also have been an additional raison d’être for Ms Sherman’s comments. In August last year, Ethio-US economic summit was held in Houston and Texas, and the managing partner of Detente Group, Mr Brien Morgan, announced  three billion dollars investment project on wind energy in Ethiopia. Furthermore, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) made clear its intentions to double its investment on Ariflora which currently stands at $200 million. Many others have also expressed an interest during the summit including the Salim Group which plans to set up factory to assemble household appliances. Similarly, EU investment mission visited Ethiopia last year and over 40 companies in a wide range of sectors that the government expects to commence businesses in the country were in attendance. The Horn nation also managed to raise $1 billion by issuing international bonds in December last year. It is patently clear that the US and EU countries want to eliminate threats to Ethiopia’s young democracy and stability as they wish to safe guard their economic interests. Hence, US’s endorsement of Ethiopia’s democracy and classification of GINBOT-7 as a terrorist group for wanting to remove the democratically elected government by violent means.

But the EPRDF government would be making grave errors if it were to use America’s backing to stifle loyal opposition with alternative political programmes. In the absence of strong challengers, the ruling party would become complacent and remote and these are likely to place good governance, democracy and economic prosperity in great jeopardy. Also corruption can carrier out of control and in the end this can possibly lead to widespread riots and complete breakdown of law and order.

So far, an opportunity has been created for the establishment of Semayawi Party that serves the interests of the enemies of the Ethiopian people. This surrogate organisation is so desperate to impress its handlers, it has even went as far as disrupting the gathering of hundreds and thousands of people that congregated in the capital to mourn the death of  for their fellow citizens and to protest in the strongest possible way at their killings in Libya and South Africa.

It was wholly despicable to take advantage of a very sombre occasion to call for the return of the murderer Mengistu Hailemariam who killed young people and demanded payments for the bullets that terminated their lives. Next time, we may end up with another group much worse than Semayawi if the treatment of genuine political opponents does not change. Who would have expected the emergence of ISIS which is an extreme version of Al-Qaeda in such a short space of time?

Ms Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ethiopian Minster of Foriegn Affairs.

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