By Teshome Borago
A rogue African Union (AU) staffer managing AU’s official twitter account has been praised as a “hero” by Africans worldwide on Friday, after a scathing criticism the person posted against Western foreign policy on Ethiopia. However, downplaying the message as “contrary to AU staff rules,” the continental organ apologized and quickly deleted the message, which Ethiopians and other Africans nonetheless appeared to overwhelmingly support.
Many responded positively to the unnamed AU staffer, claiming the content of his/her message is accurate, despite the undiplomatic language.
The AU employee posted two deleted messages responding to two key officials of US President Joe Biden’s administration. “That is how you prolong and entrench a war,” wrote the African Union’s staffer first, in response to top US National Security official Jake Sullivan, who threatened sanctions and demanded the Ethiopian government negotiate with the Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group, which is designated as a “terrorist organization” for committing various atrocities, including recently slaughtering 107 ethnic Afar children in early August.
“You mean just like the time you (United States) sat and talked to ISIS and Taliban?Ethiopia can not negotiate with TPLF terrorists,” added the AU staffer, responding to Samantha Powers, another top US official of the Biden administration, whose reckless foreign policies in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Cuba and globally are already unraveling in less than a year.
Response to this incident came from many corners worldwide, particularly on social media. Popular Nigerian commentator Idris Sanusi said the AU staffer “expressed what is with in (all of) us.”
Kenyan pundit Abduba Guyo responded that African Union should diplomatically support Ethiopia as “TPLF is a threat to the horn of Africa.”
Meanwhile New Zealand based Ethiopian Senait Senay said the rogue AU staffer should be promoted and held as a courageous example on how African Union should deal with Western policymakers.
The AU staffer’s message “encompasses what most of us feel about the patronizing and condescending position the US takes on matters related to Africa all the time,” added Maryland based Doctoral student Mahlet Solomon.
“Someone inside the African Union is tired of the lies of the West,” said Dahla from Eritrea, while Tadesse Kebebew from Geneva, Switzerland added, “It is time for the African Union to emancipate itself from the shackles of neo-colonialism and stand tall.”
“The ‘Highest Black Excellence’ Medal to the handler of the @_AfricanUnion for fulfilling a Patriotic, Nationalist and Pan-African Duty to the African People,” said Uganda-based @Futurical; while Colorado based Ethiopian-American human rights activist Nebiyu Asfaw labeled the AU staffer a “hero” and EthioTube founder Alemayehu Gemeda said the person should receive “the national medal of honor.”
Despite praising the general message by the AU staffer, some critics said the undiplomatic language used by the unnamed individual might be an attempt of internal “sabotage to undermine AU’s objectivity and undermine the ‘African solutions for African problems” stance of Ethiopia,” according to UK-based international security and governance analyst Blen Diriba. Nonetheless, DC-based political analyst with the Atlantic Council, Bronwyn Bruton, said the widespread favorable reaction to this AU incident displays “how deeply African sensibilities have been offended by the US position on Ethiopia.”
This latest widespread criticism of Western policies on Ethiopia began as Joe Biden’s administration adopted a policy of downplaying atrocities by rebel groups in Ethiopia and imposing economic sanctions on the Addis Ababa government, which has emboldened a cycle of violence and humanitarian crisis in the African country. Instead of condemning atrocities by the TPLF rebels who triggered the conflict, Western media & policy makers are often accused of pushing alternative realities that portray the Tigrayan rebels as harmless victims, often using members of the Tigrayan rebels themselves as sources of evidence that allege unverified human right abuses.
The conflict in northern Ethiopia started on November 4 2020 after the TPLF waged a massive and unexpected terror attack in Tigray province, first killing hundreds of federal security officers and then butchering over 1,200 ethnic Amharas in Maikadra town. The vicious Tigrayan insurrection forced the Nobel Peace Prize winning Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to respond with force, breaking two years of his government’s restraint against TPLF, which brutally ruled Ethiopia for 27 years and attempted to obstruct historic reforms by Abiy since 2018.