A Dictator Befriended – US Looks to Expand Development Aid to Strategic Partner Ethiopia – By Peter Heinlein(VOA)

July 1st, 2009 Print Print Email Email

A man of many words to prolong our suffering by befriending a dictator – Editor’s Note.

The Obama administration is signaling its intention to keep Ethiopia as a key strategic partner, despite concerns about the country’s slide toward authoritarianism. The United States is seeking to expand development assistance to the Ethiopian government.

Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew is making his first trip to East Africa at a time of increasing regional instability.

The United States last week announced it had sent a $10-million shipment of weapons to help shore up the besieged government of Somalia, while accusing neighboring Eritrea of being behind violence aimed at undermining the Somali peace process.

Regional power Ethiopia sent troops in 2006 to prop up the fragile government in Mogadishu, but pulled them out earlier this year, and has expressed a reluctance to return without strong backing from the international community.

Secretary Lew’s stop in Addis Ababa included an hour-long talk with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Afterward, he told reporters the United States sees Ethiopia as an important strategic ally.

“The deep relationship between the United States and Ethiopia is based on a number of shared values, shared concerns,” said Lew. “The strategic relationship remains a very important one, and we value it. I think it is mutually valued by the government of Ethiopia and the government of the United States.”

“So I think we look to a future where we will be able to continue to work together not on just fighting common forces in the world that we think are a threat to each of us, but on a broader agenda where we can make a lasting difference in the quality of life in the life of the Ethiopian people, and by analogy people in many other countries to which we provide foreign assistance,” he added.

The United States last year gave more than $1 billion in aid to Ethiopia, most of it in emergency food assistance, and practically all the rest in programs to fight HIV/AIDS and Malaria. Lew says the Obama administration is looking to broaden the program to include development aid.

“The form assistance that has become the predominant form of assistance is provision of emergency food supplies,” he said. “We think there need to be increased resources available and an increased share of resources going into sustainable development.”

While maintaining the deep bilateral relationship, Secretary Lew says the Obama administration is worried about what is seen as a “closing of political space” in Ethiopia since the controversial 2005 elections. During his talk with Prime Minister Meles, Lew says he made a point of raising the issue of imprisoned Ethiopian opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa.

“I reinforced our concern that the matter be resolved quickly and finally,” he said.

Lew says he also expressed concern about two laws recently passed by Ethiopia’s parliament, one restricting activities of foreign-funded non-governmental organizations, the other limiting press freedom.

“The concerns we raised were the issues of openness that relate to NGOs and freedom of expression remain concerns to us,” he said. “We made that point clear again.”

Lew said his discussions with Prime Minister Meles also touched on a proposed new anti-terrorism law. The group Human Rights Watch issued a statement Tuesday saying the draft law could define criticism of the government as a “terrorist act” and be used to crack down on the opposition.

  1. AmenDadofo
    | #1

    Dear Ethiopians
    Do not despair when America or Obama are not consistent
    with the core values of America. America has an immediate interst in Ethiopia.The 80 million and plus population and a very willing servant and tyrant to recruit cannon- fodder to be drugged in the streets of Mogaisho is very attractive to do business with.It is a win win situatin for America and The tyrant.The question we should ponder on is what do we do? Here are some:
    .Help gnbot7 To keep The momentum that has already started.
    .Educate the Ethiopian people and the army to expose the the crimes commited so far by the thugs that Melese values Ethiopian soldiers less than a fly as he has refused to give the dead in Somalia an iota of honour.The Ethiopian people do not know the number of deathes,injured soldiers and those drugged in the streeets.We do not know even about the actual position of the survives.These irresponsible actions should be more and consistantly exposed to the Ethiopian people and the army.
    .Encourage Genbot7 to negotiate and work with Eritrea
    Use seasoned dipolomacy with American and Western Powers and not necessarily with the administrations.Do not waste time to convince the unconvinceable.
    We should be self-reliant as our forefathers.Money is power.Let us use our resources to the limit to destroy Weyane.
    .Organise and organise! The Ethiopian people will definetly win.
    Will America and the West help? of course theywill.When, only, we are strong and winning.
    gulto, Martha, Lettamo, Michael, aklilu, Bube, Haku, rahel you are tigrain under cover. you are here to confuse ethiopian.
    we are comming after you soon.
    weyane TPLF will be put to death soon for next 200000 years

  2. Alem
    | #2

    It is unfortunate that the Obama Administration is signalling to work with the brutal Meles’ regime. But let’s be careful and suspend our harsh judgement. We do not know the details of the discussion.

    What we know is that the US government, although it wants to extend development aid, has expressed concerns over issues that worry us all – Meles’ terrorist law which is coated as anti terrorism step, the harsh law that has made NGOs completely useless, the law to suppress press freedom, and the illegal detention of Weizerit Birtukan Midekesa. We should build on this instead of making emotional statements that may put us on collision course with the US government.

    We will be more effective if we go back t the US taxpayers and the US government and argue that if you have all these concerns giving support to the Meles regime goes contrary to what they new US president promised during his campaign, in his inaugural speech and at all his public pronouncements of US policies. We have to insist that US taxpayer’s money should not be used to entrench dictatorship in Ethiopia.

    One thing we should not forget is that it is us who are directly responsible for the prolonged misery of our people. We do not do enough to influence US and other countries’ policy on Ethiopia. We do not support the opposition enough. We do not work together to make our struggle viable.

    Let’s be loud and consistent in our opposition to the continued support Meles and his criminal regime is getting from western governments. Our participation in the demonstration Obang called will be one such action.
    Let’s support all opposition groups and let us support our people.


  3. ይሁን
    | #3

    Well we don’t expect our freedom to be given to us but we got to earn it ourselves.

  4. AA
    | #4


  5. andelenatu
    | #5

    i listened the VOA report as the editor of this article did i think it is a misleading to say usa is helping the brutal regime of melesse zenawi.what the official said was humanterian aide not as the editor put it.AND also the report said the us official asked about the release of burtukan mideksa and also asked the woyane tplf about the woyane new law.it is obvious we need the usa help now and the future.melesse zenawi and his mafia group who teroraize the ethiopian people can noe be an allie to the free world.please instead of runninig for critisisem one must take time and read carefully what was reported.god bless ethiopia and its people. the struggle for democracy in ethiopia will prevail

  6. Demisse
    | #6

    We must relay in ourselves. Everyone get ready in anyway you can to librate the country.

  7. Alemiss
    | #7

    I agree with just about everything that my partners in struggle said so far. We are owners of our own destiny. The only way to rid of dictatorship is by coming together and building an opposition strong enough to be an alternative to that dictatorship and appeal to the rest of the world. Ginbot7 is one such an organization built on solid ground and sound goals. Give your time and money to such organizations. Power to the People

  8. alex
    | #8

    come on guys! ኦባማ ጥቁር ስለሆነ ለኢትዮጵያ ጥቅም ይቆማል የሚል ህልም የምናልም ካለን ‘ ዶሮን ሲያታልሉዋት,..’ ነው;; ሁልግዚ ለራሳችን ከራሳችን በላይ ማንም አይመጣም:: በአገር ወሰጥ በሰላማዊው መንገድ ሆን በወጭ በተገኘው የትግል ዘዲ የሚታገሉትን እንርዳ:: ‘የትም ፍጪው ዱቂቱን አምጭው’ አለ ያገሪ ሰው!

  9. simon
    | #9

    I appriciate my friends ideas and conserns about our home land. what I would like to suppose to my firiends never ever been happen in our history a country to help ethiopian freedom hearfully. Ethiopia is living with support of God and her own hero. So we don’t lend our power to others rather we have to strength and organize to fight our enimies.
    Secondly any ethiopian people influnce the opposition party to come to organized stragle strategies from unncessarry computative separate stragle.

    God help Us
    Freedom for our heros

  10. Mamo
    | #10

    If you expect America will solve our country problem you must be jocking.America motive is only to serve their own interest other than this they don’t care about Ethiopia or the rest of the world for that matter.what we Ethiopians should know is that we don’t ask permission from America or UN to get back our country.our history or geography can’t be questioned by anyone let alone by a five hundred years old country called America or by UN which is responsible for all tragedy in Ethiopia .

  11. Robele Ababya
    | #11

    I believe that the Obama Administration will abide by its commitment to provide moral leadership and enforce respect for basic human rights. Given the development in Somalia, the President would be understandbly hesitant to abruptly end relations with the repressive TPLF regime. Meanwhile we must intensify our struggle for democracy and the rule of law to prevail in our country, Ethiopia. Ultimately, it is our sacrifice that will get us our freedom from tyranny.

  12. Anonymous
    | #12

    Despite the rhetoric of promoting democracy and freedom in the world,it is is not unusual but it is rather the norm for almost all American administrations to prop up and help dictatorships every kind if these dictatorships prove to be subservient to their interests.

    Henry kissinger,the famous guru of U.S foreign policy has told us long ago that,for the U.S,’there are no permanent friends but only permanent interest’.

    Many aspiring popular and democratic movements in Latin America,the Middle East and Africa have been subverted by and supplanted with brutal dictatosrhips and despotisms with the assistance of the various U.S Administrations all in the name of fighting against communism and now terrorism.

    The latest administration of Obama is no exception to this rule.

    It is there to execute the same old policy inimical to the interests of those who yearn for genuine democratic change in favour of those servile and oppressive political elites who remain in power thanks to the thinly disguised blessings our U.S masters.

    But the veredict history is on the side of the people.Empires with their unprincipled and arrogant use of power come and go.It is envitable that dictatorships tumble.The now feeble democratic quest of the people is destined to become stronger and prevail over their oppressors.

    Shame on those who are disdainful of these eternal precepts of history!

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