WHY IS THE U.S. WORRIED ABOUT ETHIOPIA?

BY CONOR GAFFEY 
News Week

Ethiopia is a major U.S. ally in Africa. The government in Addis Ababa has long cooperated with Washington on security and counterterrorism while benefiting generously from U.S. aid. In 2016, the U.S. pledged $809 million to Ethiopia, behind only war-torn South Sudan and Kenya, another Western ally, in sub-Saharan Africa.

But the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa struck an urgent and concerned tone on Tuesday when it issued a statement saying it was “disturbed by the troubling reports” on “ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people” along the border between the country’s two largest regions, Oromia and Somali.

“We urge the Ethiopian government to conduct a transparent investigation into all allegations of violence and to hold those responsible accountable,” said the embassy’s statement.

“At the same time, on the local level, communities must be encouraged and given space to seek peaceful resolutions to the underlying conflicts.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addresses a U.N. summit.Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addresses a summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on September 25, 2015.ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

Related: Archaeologists have discovered an ancient city in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has a federal government with oversight over regional authorities, and regions are largely demarcated along ethnic and linguistic lines. Oromos, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, tend to be farmers, while Somalis are often pastoralists, and the border has been a flashpoint for conflicts over grazing land and natural resources in the past, according to the BBC.

The latest outbreak of violence has killed at least 50 people and displaced more than 50,000, according to Reuters. But the cause is not yet clear, since both sides are blaming each other. Officials in Oromia have blamed raids by a paramilitary force from the Somali region, known as the Liyu police, as a major cause of the violence. But the Somali regional government has rejected that claim and accused the government in Oromia of sympathizing with the Oromo Liberation Front, a group seeking self-determination for Oromos, which is a banned terrorist organization in Ethiopia.

The clashes pose a delicate challenge for Ethiopia’s federal government and come only months after serious unrest in Oromia and other regions, which began with protests in November 2015 upon plans to expand the territory of Addis Ababa.

Security forces killed 669 people during the unrest, mostly in Oromia, according toan investigation mandated by the Ethiopian parliament. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn imposed a repressive state of emergency in October 2016that lasted for 10 months and was only lifted in August as the clashes subsided.

09_19_Ethiopia_conflictA demonstrator (left) dressed in military fatigues joins members of the Oromo, Ogaden and Amhara communities in Johannesburg as they protest against the crackdown in the restive Oromo and Amhara regions of Ethiopia, on August 18, 2016. Clashes on the border between Ethiopia’s two biggest regions have killed at least 50 and displaced more than 50,000 in the past week.GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/GETTY

The prime minister announced at the weekend that federal police would be sent in to guard roads crossing the neighboring regions, while regional security forces were ordered to withdraw from the borderlands. Desalegn also met with religious leaders and elders in a bid to create a lasting solution to the border dispute, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. A 2004 referendum was supposed to resolve the issue, but both sides have accused each other of noncompliance with the result.

It seems that American eyes will be watching Desalegn and the Ethiopian government closely as they seek a solution to the violence.

“We believe Ethiopia’s future as a strong, prosperous and democratic nation depends on open and inclusive political dialogue for all Ethiopians, greater government transparency, and strengthening the institutions of democracy and justice,” said the U.S. embassy statement.

“These recent events underscore the need to make more rapid and concrete progress on reform in these areas.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yes they are worreid about Ethiopia then who can will be uncle Sams mistress?Do u for got your brothers they died in the Somalia and South Sudan for Woyane qoshasha to get hard currency.If u think they are peace keepers u are naive.

  2. I think this Alliance of anti-terrorism business is used as pretext woyanes to kill our people. The US suppose to monitor when funding such kind of brutal government and uses the alliance a cover to create atrocity in Ethiopia. The scale of the conflict between Oromo and somali appear large but such conflict occur every where and the catalyst are the woyanes. You may play duff if you want to pretend the news is not laud and clear but the woyane games are out there. The conflict between sidama and wolyita, the anuk and nure tribes conflict, the borena and burji, and one that currently work in progress woyanes to create conflict is between kimant and Amara, muslim and christian (fortunately the wise religious leaders come to their root and demystify the woyane trick), and the list goes on and on.
    State department has all the information and one or two of the senators have no desire democracy and rule of law to establish in Ethiopia.
    Now the other thing is that always these Brits media falsify information. It’s not the conflict between the two tribes but all the Ogaden special forces that the Brits funded and trained are causing the problem. All the killing, the displacement has been conducted by this special forces. I don’t understand why Routers and BBC lies.

  3. I think this Alliance of anti-terrorism is used as pretext to cover up the woyane gimmicks. Why is it then state department year after year announcing bad scorecard on human right violation, on press freedom, government killing, and so on?
    Why is it that congress didn’t spent much time to pass on both chamber the gorski law on Russia that resemble similar condition to Ethiopia?
    I think it’s on Ethiopians to focus all resources on the fight to the woyane dictators and it’s shame that the US cannot do anything about that from start they force Ethiopians to be under the minority rule of the woyane.
    The conflict of interest is that on the one hand well established spying group composed of 103 IT security personnel working under NSA in Ethiopia spying the citizens and god knows how many killed as a result of intruding Ethiopians computer and on the other such trouble to go through the passage of a law, I find it very contradictory.
    In any case, Ethiopia has god and at this point that all I can say.

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