The US Congress and the Armed Conflict in Ethiopia

Bill HR 6600 submitted to the US Congress regarding armed conflict in Ethiopia is unbalanced by targeting only the Ethiopian (and Eritrean) governments and not the initiator and perpetrator of the violence: the TPLF (Tigray Peoples Liberation Front) . The bill failed to take into account the facts on the ground and, in its unprecedented sanctions proposal, will cause lasting damage to Ethiopian-US relations, reinforce Ethiopia’s drift towards China and have an effect crippling on Ethiopian workers and the economy.

The ongoing Russian assault on Ukraine is pushing other global conflicts into the shadows, but these continue to escalate nonetheless. Some of them will also have important geostrategic consequences. One of them is the still In progress armed conflict in Ethiopia, initiated by the TPLF (Tigray Peoples Liberation Movement) with a massive and unprovoked attack offensive (on the night of November 3 to 4, 2020) and maintained by her. The United States has not played an illuminating role in the conflict, primarily blaming the federal government for the violence. Politically, American efforts over the past year and a half have even been marked by interference and judgmental attitude. American political circles have not shown honest understanding of war, its context and ways to end it. The State Department as well as USAID (which itself is a branch of the US foreign police) have rarely sided with the efforts of the Ethiopian government to end this conflict and seem to have tolerated the TPLF – incorrectly assimilating it to the Tigrayan people.

But the US Congress has not been left far behind. The latest blunder about to be produced by the United States is the discussion and vote on the Invoice HR6600, proposed to Congress on February 4, 2022 by a representative of the Democratic Party (T. Malinowski, of New Jersey) and a representative of the Republican Party (Ms. Young Kim, of California). It is to be considered in Congress tomorrow. The initiative is surrealistically called the Stabilization, Peace and Democracy Bill. In practice, it will produce more of the opposite: destabilization, impeding peace and undermining democracy in Ethiopia. Here’s why.

The law project said this

1. The Department of State is required to develop a plan to support democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, including plans “to address hate speech online, support accountability measures for atrocities and efforts to strengthen a national dialogue”;

2. the president must impose sanctions on individuals “who undermine negotiations to end the conflict, commit human rights abuses, exacerbate corruption, or supply arms to any hostile party”;

3. Security assistance to the Ethiopian government must be suspended “until it ceases offensive operations, takes steps towards national dialogue, improves human rights protection, allow unimpeded humanitarian access to conflict areas and investigate allegations of war crimes”;

4. The administration must “oppose loans or other financial assistance from international agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF to the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, except for humanitarian purposes, until they take action to end the war and restore respect for human rights”; and

5. A State Department decision is required “regarding allegations of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in Ethiopia.”

This is an unprecedented program of interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, based on ignorance and partiality. Many of the conflict issues and food aid efforts are the responsibility of the Ethiopian government and are already being addressed. And nowhere does the bill mention the TPLF and its war actions. It is surprising if not laughable. It appears that the TPLF folks were co-drafters of the bill. The target of the bill’s sanctions and restrictions are members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments. Again, no one denies that the humanitarian problems in the Tigray region are serious and painful: there is a huge lack of food, fuel, medical facilities, etc. There were unlawful killings and expulsions by federal army soldiers, Eritrean soldiers and militias. at the start of the war — in a spiral of TPLF-induced violence. The excesses of Ethiopian federal force have been and are being dealt with by the courts. Violence and abuse by the TPLF no – impunity reigns, because the TPLF does not hold any of its forces to account – on the contrary. Their violence has been greatly amplified in the year 2021 by the movement in the Amhara and Afar regions – in a spirit of revenge and destruction. The burden of initiating, perpetrating and sustaining profanity violence is with the TPLF. And there has been no more ground fighting in the Tigray region since June 2021: everything is happening in the Afar and Amhara regions, which are still partly occupied. Any serious analysis would reveal that damagethe number of victims and the odious nature of the violence (as war policy) was on the side of the TPLF. The problems have been compounded by hundreds of thousands of civilians in Amhara and in the distance Regions, displaced by the TPLF – they are still waiting in camps, with nothing but their bare clothes as possession. In addition, areas mainly in western Ethiopia are still terrorized speak ‘Oromo Liberation Army’allied with the TPLF insurgents and engaged in ‘ethnic cleansing operations – not mentioned in the bill either. The same goes for the Gumuz rebels in the west, who seem to be getting support in Sudan, probably with Egyptian support. Unfortunately, the TPLF shows no interest in stability or an end to conflict – neither in Ethiopia as a whole nor in “its” Tigray region: it needs tension and conflict to stay in power. This is unlike the Ethiopian government which has proposed a ceasefire three times: none have been answered. Bill HR6600 also ignores this, again showing the very poor quality of the bill.

Ethiopian Government Spokesperson Mr. Dina Mufti said: “The [HR6600] bill is not up to the historical relations between Ethiopia and the United States”. That’s putting it in an admirably sweet way. The bill would deal an unprecedented and unfairly nasty blow to an elected government and jeopardize a long and vibrant relationship between two countries. This would alienate not only the Ethiopian government, but also the Ethiopian people from the United States – and unfortunately, because most Ethiopians value a good relationship with the United States. Millions of Ethiopians have family and friends there; thousands have studied there and the economic relations are important. Jeopardizing this growing and often mutually beneficial relationship is irresponsible. Bill HR6600 and his aggressive and arrogant tone would add extra damage to the situation, after Ethiopia’s already absurd withdrawal from the AGOAit only harms the ordinary workers not the government – ​​and for completely unacceptable reasons. As a law, HR6600 would even be imperialistic: the Biden administration could exercise control over Ethiopia in social media, travel, domestic politics, economic affairs, international loans, etc. under a 10-year sanctions regime. While humanitarian aid would continue to be provided, Ethiopia’s right to economic development would in effect be denied; as stated in Article 6(c) of the Bill, Ethiopians would only receive support for projects on “basic services”… The economic impact would also lead Ethiopia to intensify its relations with China.

If the US Congress wants to see stabilization, peace, and democracy efforts in Ethiopia, it would do well to start developing a more balanced approach to the Ethiopian conundrum. This would include no longer accepting donations from TPLF supporters (sponsors of the bill, e.g. Senators Malinowski, Mendez Where Sherman received what looks like political bribes) A ​​better approach should be based on an analysis of what really happened: an armed insurrection by a rogue party that aimed to overthrow the federal government and then destabilized the country by war, massacres, destruction and economic sabotage. The Biden administration is now massively losing support from the Ethio-Americans and is also increasingly decried throughout Africa. HR6600 would speed that up. While the Ethiopian government may be urged to do more, it is time for the United States to exert strong pressure on the TPLF and call on them to abandon insurrection and answer to the law. The approach to harsh sanctions in HR6600 is reminiscent of the sanctions against Russia in the Ukrainian war. But Ethiopia is not Russia. If members of the US Congress feel the need to draw the parallel, then the facts on the ground over the past 1.5 years will tell them that the TPLF regime in Meqele equates to Russia and Ethiopia to Ukraine. HR6600 – like its predecessor the Law S.3199 of November 4, 2021- is completely useless and should go where it belongs: in the trash.