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HomeOpinionState of current Ethio-American relations including challenges and opportunities

State of current Ethio-American relations including challenges and opportunities

(Blurb for upcoming session scheduled for December 10 by Ethiopiawinet. It was first shared on P2P Forum )

Ethio-American relation

Ethio-US diplomatic relationship that formally started in 1905 is considered to have been the oldest encounter between a New World State and an independent African country. A remarkable series of informal people to people contacts preceded these overtures between African Americans, the African diaspora and Ethiopians and persistent attempts by several personalities to establish business, diplomatic, or trade missions. 

The absence of basic knowledge in each other’s country did not deter the voracious appetite for technology of the west by both Emperors Menelik and Haile Selassie to modernize Ethiopia. The West was equally responsive to provide such help for its geopolitically important partner.  

Ethiopia, as a geopolitically strategic country (the Red Sea, Nile) in the Horn of Africa may grant it a commanding advantage for diplomatic attention. However, it appears the intrinsic qualities the parties see in each other and the mutual respect and admiration was most notable for the continued success of the long running diplomatic relation.  The mutually beneficial diplomatic engagement led to modernization for most institutions of higher learning, including key modern establishments of civilian, military and financial institutions. 

The success of American soft power diplomacy sadly failed to transform the already flourishing bond to nurture aspects of strategic geopolitical cooperation in matters that affect the security in the Horn, the Nile basin, and the Red Sea zone with impact on the future peace and development of Ethiopia.

Prevailing Super power rivalry in the Horn and alliance of the DERG junta in Ethiopia with socialist bloc countries had further degraded relations to the extent that the state of the US diplomatic postures to its partners can be characterized as coercive that lacks long term strategies. 

It is thus noteworthy to examine and deliberate on ‘what went wrong’ in the American diplomacy towards Ethiopia since 1991 and, particularly since PM Abiy Ahmed came to power.  

Understanding a partner’s strategic interests and the role public diplomacy plays in geopolitical engagements are critical to understanding the partners’ immediate behavior. All considerations of what can be done to sustain the mutual respect and admiration for a partner in diplomacy necessitates examining all factors that would lead to reinstate maintenance of mutual interests and benefits.  Establishing a consultative body between partners to formulate the full gamut of diplomatic relationships with tasks to monitor, analyze, and concretizing data dealing with economic, political, geopolitical, security and international dimensions of the relationship that impact mutual interests and benefits from the engagement.  

The conference will therefore consider to examine (a) The ebbs and flows of Ethio-American relationships that lasted over one hundred years, (b) Honest assessment of the Geopolitics of the area, Ethiopia’s importance in the configuration, continuation of the relationships based on mutual respect, noninterference in sovereign issues, and adoption of long-term policies, etc., (c) Serious considerations on US economic investment in Ethiopia and Africa, taking South Korea, Taiwan, as examples to successfully out compete newly emerging geopolitical and economic rivals in the Horn; and taking advantage of a new generation of Ethiopian American entrepreneurs, intellectuals as a bridge to solidify relations, etc., and (d) Elevation of Ethio American relations to a higher level led by seasoned diplomats supported by experienced academics and intellectuals, etc.  


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