Washington Should Take Proactive Measures in Ethiopia

The events in Tunisia and Egypt have unveiled Washington’s foreign policy flaws in Africa. In both cases, Washington tolerated despotic regimes because they served a particular purpose. However, in the wake of the upheavals in both countries, Washington is now scrambling to devise strategies to control events and to formulate policies to reflect the new political reality. But the crisis seems to be spreading through the region like a wildfire, since the people of Sudan also have joined the bandwagon.

Those of us in the Ethiopian Americans Council (EAC), believe that it is a matter of time before the simmering public anger also erupt in Ethiopia. As the case is always with repressive regimes, there are gross and persistent human rights violations, government corruption and a very shaky economy. The youth that comprise almost two-thirds of the population are unemployed, trapped in poverty, and isolated from the political process. This dismal political, economic and social conditions, is definitely a recipe for riot and violent uprising. Clandestine armed struggles abound in the country, and life for rural Ethiopia is a nightmare.

Washington is presented with a unique opportunity to revaluate its dealings with the Zenawi regime in Ethiopia. In response to the unrest in Egypt, President Obama eloquently said, “What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people; a meaningful dialogue between the government and citizens; and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.” The President should send similar message to Ethiopia since the situation mirrors that of Egypt.

Ethiopians are yearning for political and economic freedom. Because Washington controls the purse, it has the unfettered power to pressure the regime to implement specific political reforms to open up the political system to the opposition groups. The Ethiopian Americans Council hope the Obama administration will take proactive measures to facilitate the much needed political reforms in order to prevent similar social unrest in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Americans Council (EAC)