Turning the recent US sanctions into opportunities for Ethiopia

I have been witnessing quite a sizable outcries and ululations from our Face Book warriors and addicts regarding the comprehensive sanction that the US has imposed on the leadership of this country and the nation’s economic development programs.

Getting into unnecessary polemics and working on ethic based political balkanization will only do a greater disservice to the sovereignty of the country benefiting nobody but the adversaries of the unity this country. One of the subsidiary objectives of the current US sanctions is to facilitate to weakening Ethiopia and its peoples and to incite national chaos on the prelude of the next national election in the country.

The sanctions provide a lesson in history for the peoples and government of Ethiopia to be self-reliant in every aspect of socio-economic and political life and refrain from being subjected to traps that are out to disrupt the sovereignty of the country.

According to a response statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the US sanction belittles the comprehensive government to government and people to people relations that have prevailed between the two countries for more than a century.

This is not the first time that the US has imposed sanctions on Ethiopia. In 1977, when Somalia invaded Ethiopia, the US put sanctions on the country due to the nationalization of Kagnew Station and MAAG headquarters and several other US facilities in the country. It followed that the US refused to deliver a 20 million USD arms sales for Ethiopia in a situation whereby Somali forces armed to the teeth invaded Ethiopia.

Today, Ethiopia is facing a similar situation of being deprived of the already agreed development programs started in partnership with the US. The US government has every right to do what it thinks would promote its national interest but NEVER at the expense of Ethiopia. The sanctions on Ethiopia and Eretria is a window dressing to the possibility of regime change in both countries and replace them with puppet regimes that are subservient to the needs of the western powers on the Horn of Africa. The sanction again is part of the global conspiracy to use aid induced syndrome in which Ethiopia and Eritrea will remain in the periphery of western economic system.

The attempt to dwarf Ethiopia’s reform also emanates from the fact that the country is already determined to follow a home grown economic plan that would help to accelerate the rapid economic growth of the country even at the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. This sanction actually targets the disruption of upcoming election and replaces it with a transition government in which TPLF will also be included and reinstated to rule Ethiopia in a second chance. That is why the west was repeatedly calling for a dialogue with TPLF which is already branded as a terrorist organization.

The sanctions can backfire on the government efforts to restore peace and efforts to rehabilitate the peoples of Tigray to their normal way of life. It is to be understood that this government will fulfill all its constitutional obligations but the actions pause temporary obstacles and nothing more.

The US and its allies including Sudan and Egypt are interested in chocking Ethiopia and Eritrea because they stand before their efforts to establish a greater sphere of political influence on the Horn. None of these countries actually care about human rights, democracy or good governance as long as their strategic interests are put in place.

The fundamental issue is what the Ethiopian peoples and government should do in order to reverse the upcoming tide. I would like to suggest a number of alternatives. First of all, all Ethiopians and citizens of Ethiopian origin should establish a national people’s front that would be tasked to work on effectively uniting all citizens and citizens of Ethiopian origin irrespective of ethnicity, religions, gender or world outlook and political philosophy as a salvation front to rescue the motherland and ensure its prosperity.

Second, the government should review the performance of the national plan for this year and solicit alternative funds for the future. This needs to be supplemented with rapidly increasing production and productivity in all sectors of the economy with specific focus on export oriented agriculture and manufacturing industries.

The government should pay a special attention on timely completion of GERD and other mega projects in the shortest possible time. This should include the sector to extract the mineral resources of the country.

The project of sale of bonds to the public could be replicated to other development programs including the establishment of additional irrigation schemes and hydro-electric dams. A strong and well planned programs need to be in place to double the volume of the country’s exports.

Import substitution of all originally imported food items need to be specially stressed. This could include imposing heavy tasks on imported footwear, cosmetics and textile and apparel.

In terms of logistics, Ethiopia should be prepared to use the Lamu Port corridor as an alternative to handle more export cargo. The Awash-Hara Gebeya-Woldeya and Mekele railway line should be completed to ease accumulation of containers with good at the Port of Djibouti.

Ethiopia can find ways and means to export more commodities like electronics and simple agricultural power tools to many African countries. This, among other things could also include pharmaceutical products and hospital equipment.

All told, Ethiopia should plan to be significantly being self-reliant in budget generation and utilization.

Furthermore, defense capabilities of the country need to be strengthened through massive training programs for establishing well trained reserve and regular army. Besides, the national security apparatus need to be beefed up both by manpower and modern technical capabilities including drone technologies.

At the international level, Ethiopia may consider to further strengthen her strategic relationship with the PRC, Russia, Japan India as well as other Far East countries.

One other objective of the US sanctions is to isolate Ethiopia by weakening its diplomatic efforts through visa restrictions on government officials. In the advent of COVID-19 most of international travels and conferences are already being conducted online reducing the need for visas and Ethiopian officials and diplomatic personnel can exploit the products of modern telecommunication technologies to accomplish their tasks whenever it is possible.

Ethiopia has signed a number of treaties and agreements within the areas of security and defense cooperation which is also included in the sanctions. This would only help to give way for further strengthening the disruptive actions of terrorist forces, human and arms trafficking groups in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia will certainly face the harder burden of fighting off international terrorism in Somalia and the Horn as the US is phasing out from the area endangering its own national interest.

In this context, the sanctions are not only self-defeating but also dangerous for the security and peace of countries of the Horn of Africa as well as US interests on the Horn.

Governments come and go every four years in the US but the peoples to people relations between the two countries will certainly continue to flourish as sanctions come only to pass.

I also sense that there are substantial elements of the Ethiopian society who are already clapping hands for the US sanctions but the point to consider is tomorrow is yet another day and it should begin today.



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