Ethiopia: Foreign Policy Shift By the New U.S. Administration and Its Impact On Ethiopia

The Ethiopian parliament in session (file photo).

As I have indicated in my pervious contribution, despite the baseless remarks that the election in the US is rigged the four years legacy of Trump's thumped administration ended on January 20, 2021 accompanied with the most unprecedented siege on Capitol Hill What will the shift of political power from the Republicans to the Democrats indicate and what change would occur on Ethio-US relations? Indeed that future holds a lot but some basic projections could be made.

A couple of days back, Joseph Biden, followed by a call from Antony Bilinken's telephone discussion with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on bilateral issues. In his telephone conversation with the Prime Minister, the US Secretary of State reportedly noted that the US supports Ethiopia's reform programs reciprocated by a word of thanks from Prime Minister on his Twitter Page in which he thanked the Secretary of State for commitments for supporting Ethiopia's deep reforms that his government would pursue undeterred. Our aspiration to democratize and build a multi-dimensional, peaceful and prosperous country for all will be enhanced through strengthened Ethio-US relations.

Mr. Blinken also took up the issue of providing extensive relief support for those in need in Tigray affected but the TPLF triggered crisis which forced Ethiopia to engage in law enforcement.

President Biden's foreign policy speech on February 5 entitled, America is Back, Diplomacy is back focused among other thing on the need to keep US forces in Germany counter opposing the order passed by the former President Donald Trump, US returning to W.H.O. membership and the World Environment Forum. As opposed to Trumps sanctions based diplomacy with China, President Biden acknowledged that China is a major competitor with US but he noted that his administration would work towards amicable relations to ensure the fulfillment of American interest. He also added that contrary to the policy of his predecessor, America will no longer support Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates on their war in Yemen.

Concerning the issue of GERD, the current US administration stressed on the need for deeper negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt as opposed to the war mongering postion of the pervious US administration.

Ethiopia and the US had full-fledged diplomatic relations since 1903 and ever since then, the US has continued to support Ethiopia's development efforts in financing the development of modern agriculture through American Point Four Program which also included establishing the former Haromaya College, Jimma Agriculture College and inn a number of educational development programs through the USAID. The US also supported Ethiopia's education programs through Peace Corp Program while it also helped to support building a modern military force for Ethiopia through Military Advisory and Assistance Group.

Prior to 1974, Ethiopia's relations with the US was based on US interest to control the situation in the Middle East and Red Sea area through its land satellite station popularly known as Kagnew Station in Asmera. With the development of space satellite system US interest in Ethiopia faded away culminating in strained relations during the Derge administration.

Since 1994, with the spread of terrorism in the Horn of Africa with the formation of Islamic Courts in Somalia, Ethiopia was the only country which fought with the Islamic Courts and later on with Al-Shebab. Ethiopia and the US later on joined hands in the fight against regional proliferation of international terrorism.

Ethiopia and the US need to strengthen their bilateral relations in foreign trade, agricultural development, science and technology as well as keeping peace in Africa. Ethiopia is indeed a strategic ally for the US and this should be duly be recognized by the current US administration.

In its relations with the US, although Ethiopia might need some relief support, the country would be interested in deeper economic partnership that could benefit both countries.

Contrary to total misinformation by some US based media outlets, Ethiopia is mobilizing huge local and international relief support for the needy in Tigray while a massive rehabilitation program is going on to restore the manufacturing industries, hospitals and health centers looted and destroyed by the so called Tigray Special Forces. The government has restored power supply to the major towns and rural areas in Tigray while programs on the rehabilitation of roads and bridges destroyed by TPLF are in full swing.

Ethiopia and the US need to work together on the basis of mutual respect and support on Ethiopia's battle against COVID-19 and other national poverty reduction programs indicated in the country's 10 years economic development programs.

The Biden Administration is only two weak now and the executive measures taken by the administration is in the main in favor of the development of democracy in Ethiopia. The future seems to be bright for better relations between the two countries but more is yet to be desired.

The Ethiopian herald February 7/2021

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