2021/06/24

Pay any price, bear any burden


There is so much to say about the tragedy currently unfolding in Tigray, so much propaganda, so many paranoid conspiracy theories on all sides in the conflict, and this being Africa, such low quality media coverage...  If you don't know much about it, don't get Gell-Man amnesia and start with a random news article. Instead, the best place to start is probably the Wikipedia pages on the war, the timeline, and the start (check the citations if anything seems biased!) But my assumption is that you have already done all of that.  

My focus here is just the US foreign policy aspect.  What is going on in Washington, how do we explain US government  actions vis-à-vis Ethiopia?  Is it  "responsibility to protect" or is it  "neocolonialism"? Is it all part of a broader strategy related to China or is it related to Egypt? I have not seen anyone answer this adequately, so this is my humble attempt to make sense of it.

Throughout this post I try to remember three principles.  Occam's razor: The simplest explanation is usually the best one. Hanlon's razor: never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. Third, every complex problem has a simple neat explanation which is wrong, so we won't oversimplify. 

Let me explain where the question arises. First let's take a snapshot -- the very eventful week of May 23, 2021:
  • May 23:  the US State Dept imposed imposed visa restrictions  on Ethiopian government officials, which had been rumoured a couple of days earlier.
  • May 24 Blinken spoke to the UAE foreign minister. The same day, the UAE pulled out of Ethiopia-Sudan dispute mediation.
  • May 26 Blinken met with Al-Sisi 
  • May 26 USAID said in a press release and in a US Senate hearing on May 27, that a "USAID partner" had been killed by "Ethiopian and Eritrean" and that the killing was " clearly intentional".  A few things stood out: 
    • I've tried but can't find the name of the partner organization.  It's not mentioned in the press release, or in the statements to congress the next day, or in any press interview. Why would it be secret? 
    • In congress, USAID's Sarah Charles said it happened in April. But for some reason, USAID did not speak bout the murder for a month.   Here's a CNN story where "a top USAID official working on the ground in Tigray" talks about the situation with partners on April 30, and does not mention the murder.
    • the press release says the killing was by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops. As described by Ms Charles, it was not in the heat of the battle. And she also says "and".  It would be understandable if they said "or". The "and" means they know it's both. It seems strange that both armies would simultaneously shoot one unarmed person, especially given that most reports have them in different territories, and there was no battle going on. 
  • May 27 In Senate testimony, Sarah Charles said that it was critical the US be allowed to bring in  "right kind of people" and "right kind of equipment" to Ethiopia, but that some people were denied visas.  Which raises the question, why would the Ethiopian government deny some visas but not all? WFP, World Vision and CARE don't seem to have visa problems. The government says it not only grants access but also provides security to aid workers when they go in areas where fighting is still going on. And adds that it has intercepted weapons and ammunition in food aid trucks,  so checking the trucks is necessary.  The subtext here is obvious.  It is not a  secret that USAID sometimes has secret programs  and after all, as it's current head Samantha Powers said in her confirmation hearing, USAID is a national security agency.  So a bit of disagreement on the "right kind of people" should be expected and the USAID reaction seems a little disingenuous.
Then there's the election. Despite all the flaws, the Ethiopian federal elections on June 21st are objectively an improvement over the previous ones. The flaws of course include the fact that two major parties OFC and OLF boycotted. And that the election has been delayed in some regions, including Tigray, which together represent almost 20% of the seats. On the positive side,  the independence of the judiciary, independence of the  election board, number of parties participating nationwide, number of voters are all better than ever  (admittedly a very low bar). Yet over the last few weeks, the US statements started sounding very negative about it. It started with "deeply concerned" on May 27,  to being "gravely concerned" on June 11.   They also keep talking about "post-election dialogue" before the election,  which sounds a lot like encouraging people in advance to not respect the outcome.  All we hear from the US state department  is glass half-empty rhetoric, and almost constant predictions of violence. Wouldn't it be strange if, while doctors are working hard to deliver a baby, a "friend" just kept repeating over and over that they are deeply concerned about the complications, and that the family should be prepared for a funeral? 

Now zoom out and consider the think tanks and media figures that form the bench of the foreign policy establishment. We have ex-CIA people like Cameron Hudson at the Atlantic Council and Judd Devermont at the Center for Strategic & International studies, consistently pushing the most pessimistic narratives about the election. We have Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute, ex-Pentagon neocon who worked on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, writing extremely negative articles about Ethiopia predicting trouble with Kenya and Somalia, and even predicting the break up of the country.  If we look at the NY Times, the chief Africa guy Declan Walsh  seems to be on a campaign to rewrite the history of how the war started: he wrote 4 long articles on it, without once mentioning the actual event that started the war,  namely the Nov 4 attacks, and each time stating the opposite of what happened -- that the first attack was by the government rather than TPLF.  (His most recent article seems to deliberately change the date of a conversation between Abiy and Coons to support that reversal).  This is really bizarre and reminds me of the scandal of the WMD stories  leading up to the Iraq war. 

If you know anything about US-Ethiopia relations, regardless of your views, it should be obvious that something is going on. It almost feels like a new product launch. The Biden administration and the broader foreign policy establishment in the US seem to be executing a policy which views the current Ethiopian government as an adversary. Most importantly, there is a clear push for "intervention".  What is the thinking behind it? Let's consider some hypotheses:

1. R2P: Our null hypothesis is to take it at face value.  The US actions simply reflect "the international community's responsibility to protect" and should be welcomed. No doubt that this motivation is true  for many of the individuals involved, so I will give this some weight, but overall, the pattern of actions listed above refutes this as the only explanation. Why would they go to such lengths to not acknowledge the cause of the war for instance?

2. Scorpion:  the opposite hypothesis is that the US and Ethiopia are like the scorpion and the frog in the fable, that "they" just want to harm Ethiopia period, because it is in their nature as an evil empire.  We can simply dismiss this hypothesis. And throw pure racism in this bucket too. Yes of course racism is a factor at various levels, especially the subtle racism of condescending "experts", but it is just silly to think that is the main force driving the policy.

3. Puppets: This hypothesis is that the TPLF is successfully manipulating "the west" using money and propaganda.   It's true that many journalists, crisis experts and activists on social media probably serve TPLF. Some may be paid agents, and  some may be "useful idiots".  But the idea that people at the highest levels of power in Washington are unwitting puppets of TPLF seems implausible. How about the idea that they are consciously doing it? Indeed much has been made of Susan Rice's history with TPLF, or Tedros Adhanom's connections etc.  Relationships matter a great deal of course, like Chalabi for Iraq, but  it seems like a stretch to say these personal relationships are the main reason for the overall policy.

4. China peril:  maybe it is just part of the geopolitical chess game with China. Ok that seems plausible on the surface, China has been very investing in Ethiopia, way more than the US. And containing a "surging China in Africa" definitely fits the bill as something big enough to drive policy in Washington.  But on deeper analysis... It doesn't explain our situation. Over the last 3 years with the current government, the trend in Ethiopia is slightly leaning more towards the West than before, including famously in the telecom sector.  So "growing fear of China" does not make sense as an explanation for US interventionism in Ethiopia at this time. Ditto for "fear of Russia".  

5. Neocolonialist resource grab:  this hypothesis is that "The West" has a strategy to exploit resources in the region in the long run, which requires a pliant government, which it had until three years ago with TPLF, but the current government is not, so they want to destabilize and ultimately replace it. Given the last 150  years of African history, this definitely deserves consideration. But in this case that doesn't really make sense as a root cause. Ethiopia is not a very good place for pure extractive exploitation... Not much oil and gas etc.  What there is is a lot of water, which is indeed very valuable. But even if you think of water converted to electricity, or water converted to food through irrigation, so what? It's not like the US or Europe need to take food or electricity from Ethiopia, so that doesn't explain it. 

6. Oak:  But of course water is the key and it brings us to our final hypothesis, which is the Egyptian angle. It is no coincidence that all of this strange stuff is overlapping with GERD.  Fundamentally, GERD itself is actually not harmful to Egypt,  and there is a reasonable way to share the Nile long term - the Cooperative Framework Agreement. But politically, GERD is a threat to the Al Sisi regime right now.  The military government in Egypt lives in constant fear of the  Muslim brotherhood, fear of a new iteration of the Arab Spring of 2011, etc. The exaggerated almost caricatural "strongman" image Al Sisi cultivates is because he needs to project strength. 
That's how he got there in 2013, it is in the nature of his power. The moment he shows weakness, he's toast.  Like the oak tree in the fable, if he bends he breaks. And nothing makes him look weaker than Ethiopia going ahead with GERD despite his intransigence. Egypt will be fine but the current Egyptian government is at risk, and the best way to minimize that risk is to destabilize Ethiopia enough that GERD is stopped or at least  delayed until it can be done in a "pliant" way that makes Al Sisi look "strong" domestically in Egypt. 

But why does the US care about this oak tree regime more than peace in the horn of Africa? Well the oak is a necessary part of the regional axis with Saudi Arabia, and UAE. If Egypt is run by the Muslim brotherhood or a secular civilian government, or anything other than a military dictator,  it may no longer be a reliable ally of Saudi Arabia and opponent of Iran.  And this is definitely the type of thing that could cause neo-cons, and the liberal hawks and all the other interventionists to coalesce.  So it seems plausible that there is a faction within the Biden administration and the broader "establishment" that believes in trying to weaken Ethiopia to help Al Sisi as part of the the overall strategy in the Middle East.  It explains the "launch" events of the week of May 23, it fits Feltman going to Saudi Arabia, the  UAE and Qatar to discuss GERD. It fits with the US policy in Yemen. And it is similar to the convoluted logic on Syria that you see from all the "serious people".  It is of course not wise to attach yourself to a doomed oak and it's not like they don't know it. Listen to this interview with Ben Rhodes  who was in the white house during the Egyptian coup of 2013. But a policy in an organization as complex as this is not like a logical thought in a single brain, it's the outcome of many competing interests.  If enough factions want something, it can happen even if their reasons are contradictory.  A great explanation of this is in an interview of Al Gore in 2006 which really struck me at the time.  Skip ahead to 27:20 where he says  "the decision to invade Iraq was the worst strategic mistake in American history" and goes on to very clearly explain the "perfect storm" of four policy forces that led to it.  It is really one of the most remarkably clear segments I've ever heard on recent US foreign policy.

And as in the case of Iraq in 2001-2003, here in 2021 with Ethiopia, it's not one thing, I would say US interventionism is driven by 
  • 60% stability of the Al-Sisi regime,
  • 20% fear of China,
  • 15% R2P
  • 5%  pro-TPLF feelings
For now this seems like a powerful mix, and the interventionists  have the upper hand in the Biden administration. They will "pay any price, bear any burden" to pursue these deeply flawed goals. As long as the price is paid and the burden is born by others of course.  That's the big picture. Not very glorious. Just the same type of mess that in the past has led to the US supporting military coups overthrowing democracy when the "wrong" party wins elections like in Egypt, talking about humanitarianism while favoring war like in Yemen, "accidentally" arming Al Nusra Front (aka Al.Qaeda) in Syria, lying about motives and bringing perpetual war like in Iraq etc.  I'm sure Samantha Powers and Susan Rice try to rationalize that they are the good guys, the ends justify the means, mistakes are made etc. But they have been staring into the abyss for too long, the abyss stared back at them and sucked them in. 

The best hope is for the interventionists to be slowed by the weight of their past disasters and blocked by other factions in the US. American interventionism has been failing a lot for a long time. The Iraq invasion gave birth to Al Qaeda in Iraq, then ISIS. They made Iran, which they want above all to contain, stronger than ever in Iraq. Assad won in Syria. Even Libya,  despite Egypt the supposed big force of the Arab world being right next door, is a dismal failure.  In Yemen $100B and five years of bombing, the Houthis are still there.   In Afghanistan, after 20 years and $2T US intervention, Al Qaeda moved and the Taliban won.  More important than the failure to achieve US goals, the incalculable damage to the people in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen is impossible to ignore and the strategic blow-back keeps getting worse.  So despite the strong interventionist cabal in the Biden administration, it's not clear they can beat the "isolationists", some evangelical Christians like Inhofe that are pro-Ethiopia, maybe even some "anti-imperialists" from the left,  and other factions in the administration and congress.

An additional weakness of the interventionists, which may seem paradoxical, is that they don't pay the price of their mistakes personally. No matter how wrong their predictions and disastrous their policies,  the same people keep shuffling in and out of think tanks and  the Pentagon and the state department, progressing their careers, with no evolutionary pressure, no natural selection.  So in effect, neo-cons and liberal hawks and Clintonites and Cheneyites in the foreign policy establishment have been in-breeding for so long their ideas are getting weaker, and their failures are getting more expensive.  Samantha Powers and Susan Rice are like inbred descendants of Henry Kissinger. Michael Rubin is like Paul Wolfowitz's mini-me.  So one possibility is that it all just fizzles out in incompetence and they end up doing nothing significant in Ethiopia.

There are also forces outside the US at play. GERD is kind of a pan-African rallying point. Practically six Nile Basin countries are already aligned with Ethiopia on this issue. Another key variable appears to be the UAE. They are usually aligned with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. But, they have had a good relationship with Eritrea and Ethiopia,  helped with the peace treaty between the two governments, offered to mediate with Sudan (until suddenly backing off mentioned above). Qatar is famously not aligned with Saudis so a possible balancing force. Turkey is a other big source of investment in Ethiopia and is a potential stabilizing force and of course China is as usual against US interventionism.  Finally, there's the fact that no matter how many times they pooh-pooh Abiy's Nobel peace prize,  whatever his flaws, they can't make him look like a Saddam, Gaddafi or Assad because he isn't.  And the election will make that even clearer.

117 comments:

  1. Thank you for this well written piece. Would give such a clear well argued perspectives if shared through SMs and MSMs.

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  2. Great article. All these pressure on Ethiopia seems for nothing and a lot of lobbying both by Egypt and TPLF. The Biden administration should reconsiders its moves. And as you suggested, There are strong balancing countries now than during the fall of the USSR. Ethiopia can choose a counter ally and resist all these.

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  3. Thank you Nemo for the article. I just hope that the Biden Administration will come to its sense at some point and stop seeing the GEO and by extension the Ethiopian people as adversary.

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  4. This is wonderful! By far the best explanation on this murky issue. It is very worrisome to see the US doing the same thing and expecting a different result! Would they ever learn from their past mistakes and stop interfering in sovereign nations? 🤔

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  5. This is wonderful! By far the best explanation on this murky issue. It is very worrisome to see the US doing the same thing and expecting a different result! Would they ever learn from their past mistakes and stop interfering in sovereign nations? 🤔

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  6. Thank you Nemo for the very detailed analytical article. Unlike the devilish puppet TPLF and its masters evil efforts, I hope the balancing powers continue to make sense and sta d with Ethiopia.

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    1. I wonder what a 'detailed analysis' would look like if this article is deemed as 'a bird's eye view'!

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  8. Excellent explanation - nice to read! If I may suggest a couple of points...

    I would give RTP less weight because it only matters to the true believers, who are essential for the machine but are only workers and don't make decisions.

    I would give Scorpion significant weight because there is in foreign policy something like a forever enemy. Countries which may sometimes become allies but whose "fundamentals", whatever those may be, predestine them to be enemies. This is how Russia is considered nowadays, I think. Some may have started viewing Ethiopia the same way.

    More importantly, I think that the "Ethiopia as prison of nationalities" narrative has completely overtaken the "Ethiopia as an example for the Black race" in the West over the past 50 years. There are no more Donald Levines. This provides ideological support for the Scorpion.

    Finally, there is the desire of the US, like any hegemon, to prevent nations from moving up one step in terms of strength and power. This I think is more important for the US than Al Sissi's short term survival. Because if Ethiopia makes it through the next few years, not only will it be able to exercise its will on the GERD but on any other issue whether the US wants it or not.

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    1. I second the scorpion. So much so Fear of Great Ethiopia is the only fitting explanation.

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  9. An excellent insight to this sorry mess. It's quite interesting the likes of Bush, Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al are never held accountable for the bloodbath they've created in many countries. Yet, we hear the US and its allies continuously demanding an accountability and ICC for President Assad, PM Ahmed and President Afewerki etc. I hope I'll live to see the day where the the rest of the world bands together and revolt against US/EU lead neo-con. I pray for something similar to the BLM movement.

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  10. Thank you for your excellent analysis.Any Ethiopian elites must disclose such conspiracy to the people.We will have time to stand with infront of God's with US.

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  11. I am proud we have such a person to expose the issue in the face of the world. TPLF maliciously shave the money from world bank and IMF Ethiopia being responsible for the debt. That money is all over western media and Susan's desk

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  12. This is an excellent causality analysis of immense significance about US's intentions in Ethiopia. US America failed in Iraq, Syria,Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan,Pakistan you name it. Surely they will fail in Ethiopia too. The reasons of their faliure are simple: b/c America is always on the wrong side of history and its foriegn policy is guided by double standard policies. Ethiopia will pay any price and bear any burden to overcome America's unjust international pressure. Aluta continua

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    1. You can't forget Libya. Hillary literally laughed about it on video

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  13. Kudos Nemo for an excellent piece. I think you have missed one point, namely the stability of the horn as a driving force.
    I agree any sentiment for TPLF by some Biden officials is minimal, at best 5% as you noted. Even that I doubt.
    Yes the Al-Sisi factor can be a factor, but I would not give it 60%. I would put the stability of the horn at 50%, including the 15%. If as you say the Egypt factor is 60% then the solution would be easy. Mobilize the African American community, stressing that Biden is supporting an Arabic nation at the expense of a black nation. Making this case linking it to Nile will have the Biden Administration run for cover. I enjoyed reading the analysis and keen eyes for details. It shows you expertise in Game theory.

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    1. I do not know why it used "Unknown". The comment was from Yonas Biru aka Koki Aesolome

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    2. That has been the blind spot for pro-ethiopia groups, Dr Yonas. Thank you

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    3. Al.... Swallow your pride that Abiy Ahmed should go!! He is good for nothing.

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    4. Thank you Yonas, I really appreciate your comment. I agree that if the "oak" hypotheses is right, then part of the solution is rallying pan-Africanism not only on the continent but also in the African diaspora in the US. Re: stability of the horn, my interpretation as you see above of the US government's actions are designed to increase instability in the horn, and also block democracy in Egypt, not because that is a goal in itself but because they incorrectly believe it will help their goals in the middle east.

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    5. Could you please explain your HOA take?
      Are you suggesting that the US is throwing its support behind the TPLF because it is concerned about the stability in the horn with the TPLF gone or marginalized?

      Couldn't we argue the exact opposite?

      The US could have thrown its full support behind its age-old ally, Ethiopia, and helped in defeating the TPLF and bringing Egypt to its senses. With its help in defeating the TPLF, the US could even negotiate a face saving win for Egypt.

      In short, I am thinking the HOA would suffer much by saving the TPLF, not getting rid of the brute force that may be turning into a full-fledged terrorist unit.

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  14. Thank you very very much. You just hit the nail on the head!

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  15. ....and in all this Yohannes Abreham is the invisible hand playing behind the curtain and everyone failed to notice that

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  16. Thank you for such a deep and excellent analysis. I would give less for RZP and Al_Sis support and give more for the need of US for distablizing any country tjat seems or tries to be stronger, so as it maight not be easly twisted to US wish. Actualy this is not only for US and Ethiopia it works for any nation and we have seen it again and again.

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  17. Sound analysis. It quinched my thirst of explanation on the motive of the grand USA on the struggling nation. We prayed for the downfall of Trump so that the "eangle" Biden take the office. Lately we learned that both are the Scorpion Kings. If we manage our internal differences, we will have a shoulder capable of bouncing back the demon's sword.

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    1. True. Also the managing of our internal differences really starts with the burning of all contradictions within our individual selves. Then we will be able to skillfully carry the responsibility of for instance understanding precisely what is going on, coming up with the right solutions and spreading truth and light to as much people as possible

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    2. Absolutely! you just hit the nail on the head this is really unbelievable.

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  18. I would give 80% to TPLF, 15% TO Egypt and 5% to China. TPLF well funded and well educated workforce is like an Israeli mafia in its PR game. They can hoodwink and convince any alchemist that a piece of rock is gold and the world will collable unless they do their bidding.

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    1. They just know the ins and outs of propaganda, plus they have a lot of practice. Make up big lies, make it so it pokes the people's emotions so that they support you. Repeat ten thousand times.

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    2. I request the divine intervention on the issue of my homeland.

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  19. What an excellent piece! Thank you for your time, and using your skill and knowledge for justice and truth.

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  20. Ermy,
    Well organized, plenty of data presented, and written in easy and simple English. Thriller...

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  21. You said it all. They all work together to destroy Ethiopia.

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  22. This is a well written and detailed analysis. Thank you. However, I would switch the percentage to give 60% to the China Factor, and 20% to Support of Al Sisi. One major fact that was not mentioned in the discussion about China is the election of Biden. For the so called "more experienced" foreign policy advisors and high level position holders of the Biden Administration, the China Factor has urgency and weight. Before that, Trump didn't give much importance to Africa, and by extension to China's influence there. His administration did start to pay more attention to China's influence during the second half of his term, but there was not as much push as we see now. But the US' negative policy towards Ethiopia came about after Biden came into office. That is to say, after people who want to seriously curb China's influence assumed positions of authority. I believe that these people see curbing China's influence in Ethiopia as one of the important steps to curb China's influence throughout Africa. This view is also supported by the US request to PM Abiy to curb his relationship with China.

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    1. Thanks. Even though China's interest is not new and relative to western influence, not increasing during the last three years, I see your point about the change from Trump to Biden, and you make a good case for raising the China factor a bit higher than I did.

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    2. This is absolutly briliant. The hypothesises are based on facts and current US situation which makes convinient for us to believe they may be true. Plus the whole world must know as long as we "over 110 million of us" are alive Ethiopia will survive. Good luck with loosing colonialism all over again in a less disgraceful way.

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  23. A fantastic analysis, but I would rather give theR2P less and the China factor more and perhaps the Alsisi factor about 40%, nevertheless, keep enlightening the dormant N. American public.

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  24. Sorry, the comment was from C. Sahlezghi

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  25. This is marvelous! We should be stay alert & also fight off their disinformation campaigns with all our might & skills both on ground and on social media.

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  26. I would replace completely replace the R2P factor with the US(or its hidden element)'s selfish responsibility to dominate economically despite whatever harm to other nations

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  27. I am glad 3 is mentioned in this article. Most of us here in Ethiopia already know all the time that the force behind the scenes, mainly played by the neuveaux rich 'Susan Rice'..courtesy of TPLF...is the real deal..
    Thank you..this article is awesome

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  28. Nice piece...only missing fear of strong and United Ethiopia in the region. I would have given this more weight. The US wants to do things as they wish in the region and they would only wish to have puppet governments in the region. Strong Ethiopia would somehow convince neighboring and other African countries to rely or follow the Ethiopia route which they wouldn't like.

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  29. Anything I say to praise your piece will only take away what it truly deserves. Cudos

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  30. GERD completion along peace and cooperation with Eriterea will make Ethiopia one of the leading power in the red sea and Africa.These coupled with the history of Ethiopia ,its fundamentals, and the vision of Abiy brings about America's fear that the last remaining bastion of resistance in Africa will be totally liberate itself and trigger other countries in Africa for same.

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  31. GERD completion along peace and cooperation with Eriterea will make Ethiopia one of the leading power in the red sea and Africa.These coupled with the history of Ethiopia ,its fundamentals, and the vision of Abiy brings about America's fear that the last remaining bastion of resistance in Africa will be totally liberate itself and trigger other countries in Africa for same.

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    1. I second this one being the main issue of concern of US policy

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  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  33. Wonderful and professional article that surfaces the reality. It cleared my question why US is attacking Ethiopia based on fabrications and reflecting the propaganda of TPLF where once categorized as terrorist organization in its own archives.
    The US government (the democrat) is continuing to harass the poor country Ethiopia by violating the sovereignty and dignity of the nation. They know the fact that why this all happened, US faced the same betrayal in its history that they forget.

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  34. Although we could have different views on the weights attached to each factors, it is well articulated article about the unfolding situation in Ethiopia. I hope this article reaches the people in power! Most of us feel what is going on but you have present it events chronologically and related different scenarios. True, it is the interaction of multiple interests not a single interest that leads us to the situation Ethiopia/Eritrea have found themselves now.And I wish most of us see this big picture before supporting or criticizing governments or groups instead of based on our short lived emotions or feelings! Thank you

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  35. This is really a nice look and well written based on context! Thank you so much!

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  36. Thank you for the great article! I hope we will not end up to be as they are plotting for us!
    Proud of you!
    Yanet Alemu

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  37. I put the Eritrea factor at 10%. Eritrea was blamed by Hillary Clinton as a bad example of good behaviour. Eritrea was intimidated, sanctioned, demonized, molested and raped by the US its vassal European Banana Republics international and regional organizations for just being self reliant, assertive, independent and sovereign state.

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  38. Haven't read such a refreshing analysis in a while. Thanks. My worry now is Tplf continuing to go on its destructive rampage to blame it on Dr. Abiy and his admin in order to achieve several goals; gain more sympathy with aid groups, promise UK/US businesses a future (ad)ventures, present Tplf as the victim being bullied by Ethiopia and Eritrea. The recent collapse of the bridge over Tekezze was timed to suggest Ethiopian forces did it. The act and the speed with which the incident got to the media has Tplf fingerprints all over it. Why would that be? Well, to show that land transportation is limited and with people dying of hunger air transportation must be increased URGENTLY. That way Ethiopian Airlines or such air transportation will unload its "cargo" of weaponry, grains, "aid workers" directly to Mekelle and further afield away from scrutiny. Get that? And Tplf-appointed Tewolde is still running Ethiopian Airlines! TPLF has never been shy of committing the most heinous of crimes--even against Tigrayans! There we go.

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  39. What a piece! You shattered the camp of liers. Please keep going.

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  40. The US might have motives be it Egypt or whatever, but it's the PM and savage right wing Amharas that humiliated the country by waging war against their own people, imprisoning prominent Oromo leaders, grave human right violation in Oromia, Gumuz, Tigeay, wolayta, etc, conduct fake election where it's postponed in Somali & Harari, no election in Tigray and Oromia is barely represented as OFC and OLF boycotted it, their failure in diplomacy both within the country and outside of it and trying to dismantle the current federalism so that they will exploit nations & nationalities is what's causing chaos in the country and perpetuating high level of inflation and poverty.
    So this is nothing but pointing fingers when most of the problem is self inflicted.

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  41. Thank you so much for articulating facts on the ground, complicated threads of conspiracy, hidden interests and agendas behind curtains and potential implications with simplicity and clarity. It would be sad if Ethiopian government is not using minds like yours at this critical time.

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  42. Excellent piece! Let us not underestimate, the white supremacy agendas and teaching a lesson to all Africans. Here is what we can do! Europe is having a nightmare expecting over 200 million refugee at their door. As a part of the strategy, a) we should include Africanism "today us tomorrow you" b) intensive education to European public that they should expect 200 million refugees and more...

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  43. Excellent and thoughtful analysis.
    I would however give a much larger weight to the global geopolitical issues around China, and here is why.
    Although the democratic party and Biden himself were very critical of Trump for his purported closeness to Russia (with all the massive negative commentary about Trump being Putin’s puppet, etc., much as he had imposed the harshest sanctions on Russia during his tenure), they have basically completely followed the Trump playbook on the most substantive geo-strategic issue of the day, which is confronting China. This plan includes the attempt to reduce tensions with Russia to allow the US to focus on what it considers its main strategic adversary China.
    Trump had also clearly sided with Egypt and Sudan vis a vis Ethiopia on the GERD issue.
    In the larger global confrontation, Ethiopia under Abiy can not be considered a reliable ally by the neocon/hawkish interventions of the Washington foreign policy establishment. Abiy has repeatedly stated that Ethiopia will never have a puppet government under his watch. So, it is very easy to see that, although they initially tried to make him their ally including through the IMF/WB financial largesse at the outset, it is very clear that he will not play ball with the US/EU/NATO in the geo-strategic game against China.
    You astutely point out the potentially multifaceted nature of the interests aligned against Ethiopia within the foreign policy establishment, but I think the global geo-strategic issue looms larger than you allow for. In this light, there have also been many hints and rumors about diminishing Addis Ababa’s role as the fulcrum for the East Africa region, and making Nairobi the anchor for their strategic goals.
    There is a silver lining in all this, and there are many reasons why this US policy will fail which includes: 1) Ethiopia has a strong leadership team with a strong, unified and competent military, 2) the Ethiopian people are completely behind their government, with unwavering support for their military, 3) the country just completed an amazingly well run and peaceful election with massive participation by the populace, 4) there is a strong unified vision for the region by the leaderships in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and South Sudan, with an incredible support and yearning for peace and democracy by the Sudanese people (unlike Sudan’s military leadership), with Somalia/Somaliland and Djibouti coming along, 5) strong support for Ethiopia by the African Union, Sub-Saharan Africa, China, Russia and many other countries around the world, and 6) finally and most importantly, the extreme incoherence, disjointed actions, lack of strategic vision, and incompetence of the current US foreign policy establishment, and the misalignments within the Euro-Atlanticists themselves.

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    1. There is only 1 Somalia. somaliland is a failed project.

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    2. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I see your (and another commenter's) case for giving a bit more weight to the China factor than I did. I still wonder about the timing, since China's role in Ethiopia didn't recently increase -- could be just opportunistic I guess.

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  44. Waw!! Kudos!! to the writer of this article. Excellent piece of work which really provokes our intellect to go beyond what we are told in terms of unpacking the baggage imposed on us by the super powers. Aluta Continua!!

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  45. Great and professional analysis. You wrote it. Keep on shining.

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  46. No words to express depth of your amazing analysis

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  47. P.S.
    As China’s rise is seen as an existential threat to US Global leadership and hegemonic role, all other foreign policy issues will be subsidiary to this confrontation. Developing countries will be forced to choose W3C against BRI, and non-alignment shall not be tolerated. Even Global Warming will be used as an instrument of this overriding imperative to confront China.
    This type of thinking and analysis is beginning to be rampant and all too apparent among opinion makers, as is evidenced in recent writings from the think-thanks of the foreign policy establishment.
    The problem for Ethiopia is that its current trajectory under Abiy’s leadership does not fit this mold. Nevertheless, as discussed above, it has many things going for it, and it has no choice but to stay the course and address all its challenges one by one until it is strong enough to brush-off these pressures.

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  48. How very deep and clear explanation what I read here. I wish every Ethiopian would read it!

    Thank with Ut most respect sir .....
    All your hypothesizes give a powerful meaning

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  49. https://taytu.medium.com/how-to-wreck-a-black-nation-in-the-age-of-black-lives-matter-cdcd3f6239bf

    I think we should keep -openly- speaking truth to "power" and question their Western "freedom loving" bsing media right on their fora (theguardian, ...)

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  50. Thorough analysis of the situation with deep understanding of the dynamics. The hypothesis drawn fit into the real situation. Thanks

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  52. Thank you Nemo for truthfully explained the situation in Ethiopia and the intention of America. You didn't mince your words in explaining USAID and Samantha Power as well Susan Rice anti Ethiopia policy.

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  53. I very much enjoyed your well thought-out analysis of US foreign policy vis-à-vis Ethiopia. It’s refreshing to see a logical and almost scientific approach to a subject that tends to be fraught with emotion and preconceived notions.

    The use of Occam's and Hanlon’s razors in approaching this topic is completely in line with my view of how to best interpret dynamics in international relations. They filter out both the overcomplex conspiracy theories and simplistic explanations.

    I have been following the conflict on US and Italian media and the way it’s being portrayed is that there is a lot of disagreement on some of the most basic facts of the conflict. How it started, who started it, the extent to which Eritrean troops are involved, and whether large scale atrocities have been committed. Your essay and the references helped to clarify in my mind the timeline and some of the dynamics involved. Thank you! :-)
    Mark Pisoni (Ayalnesh Retta's husband)

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  54. Exceptional well researched and well written analysis. Thank you so much.

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  55. Thank you very much for exposing US & EU plan to destabilize Ethiopia. Ethiopia may be poor but God is with Ethiopia.Ethiopiq will prevail!!

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  56. Thanks for the excellent analysis. One missing aspect about the factors is the long standing policy of the US forged by Henry Kissinger since the time of Emperor Haile Selassie. In one of his confidential reports, Kissinger recommended that U.S. policy should be to keep Ethiopia in perennial internal conflict, using such vulnerabilities as ethnics, religious, and other divisions to destabilize the country. I think this policy has been in process of flawless execution during the past half century.
    Reference: The Lion of Judah in the New World by Theodore M. Vestal, p188

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  57. It is perhaps the nearest personal analysis to the truth compared to the scattered speculations narrated by others. Well done!!

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  58. I like the analysis. I hope this reaches to the ears of the US Policy makers and to the president and his administration. Do they have the slightest sense of understanding we have also rights and feelings, to show a little precautions in taking dramatic and unbalanced actions based on hearsay without regard to the truth. Where their Humanity?

    They have done blind decisions based on assumptions and on information provided by lobbysts. Once fabricated information hears their ears they never ask where that information come from.

    Eritrea was sanctioned for 10 years for no wrong doing. But they wanted to punish it. They wanted to please their servant click woyane who gave them the false , concocted, information that never happened or existed. They took it at its face value and implemented it. Their ignorance was the sanction was passed on a christmas Eve. They went to their families to exchange Christmas gifts and sent the shocking bad news to the Eritrean people. This was terrorism of its kine. Eritrea prevailed and now Eritrea and Ethiopia will prevaile.

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  59. They will not pay personally that is the point but that should be every peace loving people should fight for they have to be held responsible for all the lives that they massacred

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  61. Thank you for a very thoughtful analysis, Dr. Y.
    The share of responsibility of the PP government for the sad & extremely worrying state of affairs of the country, Ethiopia, be it out ineptness or misplaced priorities or both, cannot be underestimated. The country is facing an existential threat under their watch. They cannot continue blaming others for every problem the country faces. They must man up & show courage to recognize their fallibility, to take their responsibilities very seriously & to have the wisdom to listen to knowledgeable compatriots like yourself.
    Ethiopians MUST recognize the serious challenges our country is facing. It is high time we avoided bickering & focused on saving the country.

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  62. This is an insightful and indepth analysis. I fully agree with the analysis about the detrimental abd negative turn of the US policy in the region. However, I would give 60% to the fear of strong independent union of Horn of Africa states rising. 30% to preempting the rise of China

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  63. Than you Nemo, excellent and truthful article

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  64. Thank you very much for exposing the Ethiopians pain. And the obstacles that the US puts for Ethiopians not to develop using our own natural resources. History will never forget this evil deeds of US in the name of humanity. Thank you China and Russia for always be there with Ethiopia!

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  65. You list me after “Hanlon's razor.” This is always the problem of being on the receiving end of indifference. Some ephemeral idiots are running the “African policy” show. Africans ascribe the murmurings of these idiots to a divine intervention. The best and only course of action is to take responsibility for our own action and stop blaming global conspiracy theories, even if momentarily accurate.

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  66. It may also be important to consider that the the GERD as a lightning-rod issue will start to diminish with each rainy season, as data starts to accumulate showing that each successful filling cycle has marginal effect on the water needs of the downstream riparian states, Sudan and Egypt. In addition, for those who have been using it for internal socio-political ends, its potency will start to dissipate as it is always very difficult to maintain mass hysteria over a long period of time, simply based on emotional fact-less assertions.

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    1. As the GERD fills and When we continue to see the the US and Western attitude towards Greater Ethiopia remains skewed, we will know that it's more than the Egypt/(Israel) but all that is an instrumentation to keep us occupied and ultimately keep us down.

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  67. Excellent analysis! The US must stop and learn from the past actions. If they don't they will totally lose the horn of Africa specially the red sea route and pirates will be all over the place, this can potentially affects the world economy. They should know that Ethiopia has over 100 million people. Destabilizing Ethiopia will not only affect the horn of Africa but it also affect the whole European States (#Eu could potentially engulfed with Refugees)

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  68. Blessings!
    My Sister is married to Jawar Muhhamed and my whole family including my Father catupulted the " OLF " movement in the USA. I am estranged from my family and have been since childhood. I have always been spiritually allergic to their banda ways. I stay tormented not only from my family who are sociopaths throwing innocent Ethiopians under the bus, but by the United States government aiding and supporting my family in instigating disunity in Ethiopia with hopes of distabalization. Before #HandsOffEthiopia, I tried to explain to the Ethiopian community that the US is working against Ethiopian interest using weak Ethiopians as pawns. I was dismissed and told to go get "evaluated". Diaspora Ethiopians are in denial about what is happening. They are conflicted wanting the comforts and opportunities of the US and not willing to sacrifice for the poor back home. Ethiopians are in love with the Idea of America but blinded by what America really is and what it does. I wish i could live the simplicity and innocence of people back home. The pureness of our traditions and cultures. Its unbearable to me to know that our innocent people are being targeted and all kinds of plots by powerful forces are at work against them. I think the firat step is realization. Our people must begin to understand what we are against. Thank you so much for writing this article. Continue to tell the Truth.

    Ethiopia Lezelalem Tenure

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    1. wow! thank you for your post....wish i could share.

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    2. Dear Tigist, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read. Your courageous comment gives hope to many!

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    3. May the Good Lord be Praised! Who is able to keep you safe and sane in this insanity you are living in. He has uplifted the Truth through you! May you continue to be blessed!

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    4. What a comment! "Ethiopians are in love with the Idea of America but blinded by what America really is and what it does." We came to the West for the money. But between the whirlwind of propaganda and our desire to be more high minded, we claim it was for freedom, democracy. Then we start to believe our lies!

      God bless you!

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  69. Interesting that "pay any price, bear any burden" is roundly approved by almost all commenters. Here is an idea; commenters in academia, IT, or policy institutions, etc, should consult with author on ways to extend the reach of the article. The author could of course edit the article in view of target audiences and feedback received.

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  70. I have had my own views and assumptions as to why the U.S and some allied western countries could not justly weigh the situation in Ethiopia, but reading your well researched, logical and refreshing views gave me a a clear guide and starting point to read and research more on the topic.

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  71. Tediwa, thanks for sharing. Great article and full of facts useable when necessary.

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  72. Beyond words, bullseye! This article is an evidence that Ethiopia has her sons and daughters fighting in behalf.

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  73. sad reading it, but an excellent analysis very close to the reality.

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  74. There was successful election; we obtained a port from Somaliland and filling the GERD. These are pace setting peaceful activities. Currently, the focus of Ethiopia seems not war. So I think the global community will understand it sooner or later.

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  76. We will know if the main factor is indeed pacifying Egypt because of GERD when the dam is filled and the dust settled. If U.S.'s policy remains against 110 million Ethiopians in favor of the terrorist TPLF, then the percentage changes. The real major factor will be something else.

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  77. Excellent! I would say the R2P is for HOA control. Since they pulled out of Somalia and Eretria is a non-ally that leaves them with Ethiopia. An R2P guarantees a stable presence in the HOA.

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  78. A very good informative blog.
    But wikipedia is not the best place to start take it from wiki it self.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_not_a_reliable_source

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  80. A very good informative blog.
    But wikipedia is not the best place to start.
    take it from wiki it self.

    wikipedia is not a reliable source

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    1. Thanks for reading!

      Re: wikipedia and sources of truth, that is an interesting subject onto itself. A related very old post
      http://nemozen.semret.org/2006/07/wikipedia.html

      Wikipedia definitely should not be trusted blindly. But the strength of wikipedia is that the risk is in the open. When used correctly it's a great resource for facts where there is consensus, and for multiple perspectives when there is no consensus (hence my caveat about checking citations). This impact, ie wikipedia working as a survey, has been noted even in scientific research https://www.csail.mit.edu/research/determining-wikipedias-influence-science

      Whereas if you simply trust a single source, even a reputed one, you will inevitably have blind spots. See "Manufacturing Consent" by Noam Chomsky, and also "Gell-Mann amnesia" effect mentioned in the post.

      Thanks for your comment.

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  81. Thanks for offering and sharing your thoughts; it was nicely done. I don’t think there is one overriding reason for explaining the Wests’ reaction and attitude toward Ethiopia. As you pointed out, it is shaped by a confluence of events with varying degrees of importance. The US wasn’t bothered with the Chinese making inroads in Ethiopia as long as the yes-man leader of the country was obliging their requests and doing their underhanded work. That is one thing the West misses now! There is a new leader now that challenges the conventional wisdom of running to the West for guidance. In addition to China’s presence and visible role in infrastructure and other development work in Ethiopia and other African countries, the new guiding principle that Ethiopia’s leader is touting, and resonating with African countries, is to solve Africa’s problem with Africans. This sentiment has thrust the African Union (AU) into the leadership role. I think this fact is disturbing to the West. Of course, the GERD in its own right has put us on the map. A hell-bent effort by the US to bring about an outcome that favors primarily Egypt was rejected. The West has lost its credibility and influence as it could not operate as an impartial arbitrator. Moving the negotiation about the GERD to be carried out under the auspices of the AU has clearly demonstrated to the West that Africa is capable of managing its own affairs.
    It is surprising that for all the support the US has thrown behind TPLF, not even once, it questioned where the TPLF cadres in the US and other Western Countries got the money to spend on lobbying and disinformation campaign. Of course, we all know the answer!

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  82. Thank you for this insightful explanation .

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  83. Intersting piece of analysis to understand the real scenario that is happeneing in ethiopia but I would put the order in this way.
    1. 60% stability of the Al-Sisi regime
    2. 20% Puppet
    3. 15% Fear of china
    4. 5% R2P

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  84. It’s ironic that Sudan is flooding when their government has been claiming that the GERD will cause water shortages. Once completed, the dam is expected to, perhaps not eliminate, but at least reduce such floods. It’s also ironic that the previous (al-Bashir) government of Sudan recognized this benefit among many other advantages, and was a strong proponent of construction of the GERD. All this clearly shows that both the new Sudanese government and the Egyptian government are using the GERD issue as a tool to distract from internal political problems. It’s very unfortunately when all these countries could have worked together towards mutual benefits. Unfortunately, politicians who work to better the lives of their citizens are rare and far between.

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