There may not have been an American presidential election…

There may not have been an American presidential election over the past almost 40 years as impactful to Ethiopia as the current electoral battle between the Democratic, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican, Donald Trump, claims gossip.

Many Ethiopians still recall the regrettable consequences of the presidency, in 1976, of Jimmy Carter, who had wanted to undo the policies of his predecessors with regards to America’s foreign relations. Carter tried to reclaim what he said was America’s moral values. He argued that these had been lost due to the opportunistic bent of previous administrations, which had overlooked human rights abuses in their relations with other countries. And it was during his presidency that the requirement of the State Department to submit “full and complete” annual reports on human rights situations around the world was passed by Congress.

Still today, the Department releases its annual reports on the state of human rights in Ethiopia – often a source of much irritation to Ethiopia’s authorities, says gossip. Suffice a recent request by the State Department to send a team to investigate the human rights abuses in the Oromia Regional State, which was declined by the Ethiopian government, gossip disclosed.

The Americans seem to harbour disappointment in their relations with Ethiopia over this and the authorities’ reluctance to issue a permit for the American Chamber of Commerce to open an office in Addis Abeba, gossip observes. When they finally did issue one a few months ago, it was only a temporary permit – such as the one they made available to the Turkish, gossip disclosed. This led to an angry letter from the US Treasury Department to the Ethiopian authorities, warning them that misbehaviour has consequences in the form of delisting Ethiopia from the AGOA – a duty and quota free privilege to export to the US market – gossip disclosed.

Addis Abeba may simply see this as a bluff, claims gossip. The US government has far more important strategic relations with Ethiopia that trump these other side issues, says gossip. Fighting terrorism and cooperating on regional affairs are among the most important aspects of this relationship, according to gossip.

Yet, this is as good as the mood in the White House, claims gossip. With the change in administration there – whether Clinton or Trump gets elected – the staunch allies of the Revolutionary Democrats in the US administration are in their final year of foreign services, claims gossip. It will take perceptive leadership to foresee the change in Washington DC and not to make the same mistake Emperor Hailesellasie made in the mid-1970s, says gossip.

It is as if history is doomed to repeat itself, according to gossip. The same rhetoric by the Republican candidate on how it is important for America to stop cease its attempts to be the world’s policeman and limit its international commitments in order to project a low profile overseas – a copy torn from the pages of Nixon’s Doctrine of “detent”. The Emperor failed to read that and overlooked the call from American diplomats in Addis Abeba for domestic political and economic reforms, claims gossip.

There is little doubt that there will be a change in the mood in the White House towards Ethiopia come the next administration, says gossip. Even the friendly Clinton, whose husband used to be one of the very few people invited over to dinners at the late Meles Zenawi’s residence, will be forced to play it tough in her foreign affairs outlook – if for nothing else, simply to prove her rival wrong about her – gossip foresees.

Time appears to be running out fast for Ethiopia’s authorities to fix whatever it is they need to in order to maintain America’s support, claims gossip. Indeed, one such chronic situation may be the trouble from Eritrea’s regime; but equally desperate is the potential for the resurgence of civil war in South Sudan, gossip disclosed. Indeed, Ethiopia may have a delicate development of military takeover right in its backyard – something that will put Ethiopia’s leaders in a situation of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, claims gossip.


Published on Jul 12,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 845]



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