Open letter to US President Donald J Trump administration on Ethiopia/Africa policy
Recent media reports that the new US administration of President Donald J Trump is preparing its foreign policy for Africa has been met with mixed reactions.
According to the New York Times, the new Trump administration appears to favor cutting foreign aid to African countries, especially to dictatorships. Such a change in American policy will be music to the ears of pro-democracy human rights activists worldwide. Particularly, the Ethiopian diaspora has been asking for accountability on US foreign aid to the authoritarian TPLF ruling party in Ethiopia for many years.
If President Trump manages to cut diplomatic and financial aid to African tyrannies like the one in Ethiopia, he could single-handedly bring change to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Not only will millions of Ethiopians under oppression benefit from this Trump policy; but American taxpayers could also save billions of their hard-earned dollars from being wasted.
However, rumors that the Trump administration will appoint a TPLF apologist as Assistant Secretary of State on African affairs is a major concern. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) have documented numerous abuses and crimes against humanity committed by the TPLF security forces. The researcher and political analyst Mr. J. Peter Pham (which Mr. Trump is reportedly planning to appoint) has often pursued an inconsistent and failing western policy on Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa for many years. In many forums, Mr. Pham has essentially presented himself as an unofficial lobbyist of the TPLF ruling party. For example, instead of criticizing the dictatorships in both Ethiopia and Eritrea, Mr. Pham is notorious for taking the side of the regime in Addis Ababa. And Mr. Pham called the rigged 2010 election in Ethiopia (where the TPLF ruling party “won” 99.9 percent) as a fair election and a “progress” toward democracy. He also belittled and ridiculed ethnic Oromo protesters who opposed the illegal “land grabs” in Oromia region of Ethiopia.
In addition, Mr. Pham’s recommendations for western policy on Somalia since 2006 have actually increased terrorism in the Horn of Africa and created the al shabaab international terror network.
Gosaye Ethiopia Movement (GEM) and the Ethiopian people are very concerned about what kind of a role Mr. J Peter Pham will play in the Trump administration.
Unlike the disappointing Obama administration which praised the TPLF dictatorship and canceled vital sanctions on the genocidal regime of Sudan, we hope President Donald Trump will be on the right side of history.
Ethiopians hope President Trump will follow-up on his promise of “America first” policy by ending costly US foreign aid to the Ethiopian regime and then diplomatically supporting pro-democracy Ethiopian opposition groups (a gesture that costs US taxpayers zero dollars). Even humanitarian-based US foreign aid indirectly helps tyranny, by allowing dictatorships to divert their money toward their security apparatus and other tools of oppression. This has happened in Ethiopia. In addition, all evidence shows that decades of foreign aid has never reduced the starvation and famine in Ethiopia, which recently suffered the biggest famine on record in 2015.
Not only famine, the autocratic TPLF party has dangerously polarized tribal divisions between 100 million Ethiopians, despite the majority of Ethiopians being of mixed ethnic ancestry.
No matter who is in power in Ethiopia, the country will always be the headquarters of the African continent and an important western ally. The Trump administration can appropriately aid Ethiopians by condemning the current apartheid tribal system, the corruption and killings in Ethiopia. And that starts by appointing independent human rights activists to set the Trump agenda for Africa; not by hiring partisan lobbyists. It is time to drain the swamp!
Gosaye Ethiopia Movement (GEM)