Ethiopia and the U.S. have been strong and strategic partners for decades. The strategic location of Ethiopia in the volatile region, the Horn, helps the U.S. to peacefully protect its national interest in the region, including combating international terrorism.
The Horn region maintains its geopolitically strategic status as it is mostly sanctioned naturally. As a consequence, China, the other economic and political superpower of the world has shown its tendency to contribute its share in ensuring peace and stability of this globally important region as it decides to assign a special envoy of peace for the region.
Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China visited Asmara, Eritrea. Following the FM’s visit to Asmara, China announced appointing Special Peace Envoy to the Horn of Africa. This would help China to follow every political development of the region and to strengthen its partnership with the countries of the Horn.
As it stands, Ethio-China diplomatic relation does not need a special envoy, it is progressing smoothly. But, the active envoy may mount the comprehensive strategic relationship of the two countries and would also help China to assess other opportunities in the region. China’s presence in Eritrea is a new development in the region and may shift regional politics as a whole.
Asmara is excluded by the West. Chinese presence in the strategic red seas country, to Eritrea, is a new blessing to Eritrea. Regardless of the impact on US interest or involvement in the region, the Eritrea- China relationship may bring new order in the Red Sea and is likely to be welcomed by countries of the region especially Ethiopia. What is worse is that the U.S. is losing its long time strategic ally, Ethiopia, with its unwise policy.
Though, the U.S. appointed a special envoy to the Horn of Africa, with the top duty to follow up the situation in Ethiopia, the special envoy did not bring positive change other than widening the gap between the two strategic allies.
With the call of Western countries, the UNSC meets over 12 times to discuss Ethiopian internal issues. Even the Western countries were mobilizing UNSC members to sanction Ethiopia. On top of that, the U.S. suspends Ethiopia from the 2022 AGOA eligibility.
Ethio-U.S. partnership in maintaining peace and security, development and fighting terrorism was an exemplary partnership. The trade between Ethiopia and the U.S. was also stable and the U.S.s development supports for Ethiopia are vital to support Ethiopia’s development journey. But, the U.S. is pushing Ethiopia’s friendship.
During Ethiopia’s critical time, the U.S. unnecessary and untimely pressure affects Ethiopia’s national interest and angered Ethiopians, though the government of Ethiopia takes the issue wisely. Though Ethiopia is passing difficult time due to the influence of the U.S. and other Western powers, still Ethio-U.S. relation is there, if the United States gives it due attention.
China is attracting African countries attention through its economic investments and trade with the continent. Now, China is developing its relationship with Africa in political and strategic issues in addition to the economic partnership. What makes China more preferable in its foreign relation is that it gives value to the national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal political affairs of countries.
In addition, China’s foreign policy matters only on a win-win partnership than ideology fenced relation. Generally, at this time, U.S. unwise foreign policy towards Ethiopia, the hub of the Horn region, is affecting U.S. policy in the region. The relation between Eritrea and the U.S. is not smooth or almost unfriendly. And now, Ethiopia and Eritrea are becoming strong and strategic allies. These two countries, Ethiopia the stabilizing and dominant political actor of the Horn region and Eritrea’s strategic location in the Red Sea makes the alliance of the two countries attract more international allies.
China is wisely using this huge opportunity and trying its best to strengthen its friendship with these countries. On the contrary, rather than seeking new allies in the region, the rigid foreign policy of the U.S. is even losing its long time strong partners. Through time, this may have an influence over the U.S. foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa, a strategic region of the world.
I think the U.S. would evaluate these new developments before it is too late. Unlike the past decades, when the world was under one polar power, currently there are superpowers competing to have strategic allies and friends in the Horn of Africa region.
Losing Ethiopia, in the long run, would mean losing the region. In different regions of the world, there are regional power actors. Ethiopia is the main actor in the Horn of Africa with its stable political relation with all its neighbours and with the most populous country in the region. In addition, its economic development and trade are developing from year to year.
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The
BY DARGIE KAHSAY
THE ETHIOPIAN SUNDAY EDITION 13 JANUARY 2022