Since the start of the war between the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November 2020, the relationship between the USA and Ethiopia has strained. Ever since, Washington has been throwing every punch at its disposal at Abiy Ahmed’s administration.
Following the tensions, public figures and government officials have repeatedly downplayed the importance of maintaining good ties with Washington. Public protests demeaning the US and its actions quickly became common, organized by city and state administrations. It was an exercise in futility considering the irreplaceable role the US plays as Ethiopia’s single largest humanitarian donor and development partner.
The relationship between Ethiopia and the United States has been a long-standing one, forged more than a century ago. The US has been a strong ally to Ethiopia since the Imperial era, providing economic, military and political support to the country in what has grown to become a partnership of mutual respect and cooperation, benefiting both sides. Economically, the United States has invested heavily in Ethiopia, providing billions of dollars in aid and investment over the past several decades. This has enabled Ethiopia to build infrastructure and provide basic services, such as healthcare and education, to its citizens. The US has also been a major contributor to Ethiopia’s agricultural sector, helping to increase food production and improve the country’s overall standard of living.
Politically, the US and Ethiopia have a strong relationship. The two countries have cooperated on a number of international issues, such as the fight against terrorism and human trafficking. The US has also provided diplomatic support to Ethiopia in its conflicts with neighboring countries. Ethiopia and the US have worked together to promote peace and stability in the region, and to ensure that all countries respect human rights and the rule of law.
In addition to the economic and political ties between the two countries, Ethiopia and the US also share strong cultural and educational ties. Ethiopia is home to a large population of Ethiopian-Americans, many of whom have been able to pursue education and employment opportunities in the US. The US has also provided educational opportunities to Ethiopian students, allowing them to gain valuable skills and knowledge that they can use in their home country.
The recent visit of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) to take part in the US-African Leaders Summit was an opportunity to restore a semblance of trust between Addis Ababa and Washington. Many in Ethiopia, from the business community to charity organizations, have reason to hope that Abiy’s delegation has seized that opportunity.
Although there is little doubt that another superpower – China – has slowly come to fill a similar role as a development partner in recent decades, there is no reason to suppose that a healthy relationship with a long-time ally like the US cannot be sustained or even improved. Government authorities need to have a clear and strong policy towards maneuvering between the two economic giants by keeping their cards close and maintaining a strategy that looks beyond minor incidents and the unproductive badmouthing that follows them. EBR
EBR 11th Year • Dec 2022 • No. 113