The statement issued by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, unusual to American diplomacy, has a mix of condolences and condemnations. The statement is meticulously worded both not to offend EPRDF and at the same time not to lose public trust. It has neither the American virtues of siding with the people nor defending democratic values which long have been considered as part of their core national interest and esteem.
The statement is prompted by the present situation in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia, a country considered as a gatekeeper to detain terrorism in East Africa, is usually quick to capitalize on regional instabilities; It is part of its foreign policy. The “anchor state”, as most policy analyst and western medias often refers, is in fact an anchor in which western interests are maintained at the expense of its own national interest. Of course, as the recent statement reveals, what EPRDF have been doing in the region helped them to secure the most covetous and envied support of the west. The statement definitely supports the regime than the public. Therefore, Ethiopian foreign policy and the regime’s subservient attitude has achieved its goals of securing tacit support for its existential dilemma.
The time in which the statement comes out has reveled the nature of political support the regime has from the west and, the frustrating but apparent truth of the weakness of oppositions, is also another factor that led them to issue such discouraging statement. Americans are highly realist and pragmatic; in the name of vague and rhetoric discourse of Democracy they don’t want to jeopardize either their immediate or long term interest in the Horn of Africa. The crisis in Yemen, the hostilities in the Sudan and the most pressing demands to contain Alshabab and stabilizing South Sudan all rests in the shoulders of the Ethiopian regime. Antagonizing Ethiopia, certainly affects their interest in the region. Moreover, EPRDF is a master of bulling, it repeatedly frustrates western countries. The stubbornness of EPRDF goes to the extent of downgrading Embassies to consular status, declaring persona no grants to Ambassadors as it happened to Sweden and Qatar. When they feel the need to bully countries that are critical to their appalling human and democratic rights record they never hesitate to did that.
The facts on the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission data clearly shows how the regime is so important to western donors. EPRDF is so indispensable to donors and International Organizations. The numbers shows Ethiopia had a total of 8332 peacekeepers under the United Nations and 4395 under the African Union in Somalia. Most missions Ethiopia have peacekeepers are highly volatile and dangerous war zones that no countries had dared to sent soldiers. UNISFA, an unilateral mission in the contested Abye region is an economic and political enclave to Ethiopia. The other dangerous mission is in Somalia, and yet paradoxically enough, Ethiopia sent thousands to fight not keep a non-existent peace but also to establish it through enforcement. Still a week before that have successfully lobbied to deploy another military contingent to juba, South Sudan through IGAD which it chairs since 2010.
It is clear that the United States at this particular time don’t want to offend a regime which takes any friendly advice as an insult. So people should understand the statements made by the America Embassy are unduly American and unusually not-diplomatic to say the least.
It exposed their unconscious fear if the regime overthrown suddenly or to withdrew its contingents. Perhaps if Americans put pressure, EPRDF will blackmail by withdrawing troops like Uganda is trying to gain attention. Who is going to replace all those vacuums in the regions forced them to tolerate to appease it. That is the reason behind the softly worded and heavily edited statement. The equation is so simple: as long as Alshaba is there and instability continues in the region, and there is no viable oppositions in Ethiopia EPRDF will guarantee its security by capitalizing on the weakness of the west.
All political parties in opposition, civil society and other associations must coordinate to bridge their gaps in a bid to make them a viable alternative if the need arises. EPRDF’s undoing only achieved through the consolidation of political parties. It is a must for parties to reorganize and resize their stature to challenge as well as to gain confidence in the eyes of donors who out of lack of choice perpetuate the regime despite its brutality.