Former African Affairs Assistant Secretaries urge the U.S. to embrace neutrality


ADDIS ABABA – Former Assistant Secretaries of State for African Affairs expressed concerns over the escalating tensions between Addis Ababa and Cairo owing to matters relating to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in a letter addressed to the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs dated June 22, 2020.

“The perception—rightly or wrongly—that the United States has sided with Egypt in the negotiations will limit our ability to support efforts aimed at reaching a settlement,” they indicated. The letter that The Ethiopian Herald obtained also noted as pressure on Ethiopia or suspension of multilateral or bilateral assistance would harden positions and make compromise more difficult, says a document The Ethiopian Herald obtained.

The Assistant Secretaries mentioned in what they described as “perception” may end up being counterproductive on the long term relations of the U.S. with Ethiopia. “The U.S. position at this sensitive juncture [….] will either strengthen or seriously weaken our future relations with Ethiopia.”

Further, it says the “perception” would even undermine Khartoum’s transition. “The perception of U.S. partiality on the Nile issue could further destabilize the delicate balance between civilian and military stakeholders in Khartoum and undermine that country’s transition”

Calling on the U.S., to step back from the mediation, they put alternative of Involving the Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia and providing official support for the trilateral format.

“The GERD talks are entering a critical phase, and we urge the United States to embrace neutrality and support genuine mediation, which is the best way to advance our interests and to ensure security and stability in the region.” The letter included names of former Assistant Secretaries of State for African Affairs; Amb. Johnnie Carson, Amb. Herman Cohen, Dr. Chester Crocker, Amb. Jendayi Frazer, Amb. George Moose, Amb. Susan Rice and Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The Ethiopian herald June 27,2020