Former US Ambassadors to Ethiopia: Fanning the Flames of Conflict

“The Eritrean army have not entered the Tigrayan territory, that the only area where they are in the area that corresponded to the disputed territory between the two countries that in the peace agreement was decided to give back to Eritrea.” – UN Secretary-General

In a letter they sent to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, four former US Ambassadors claims that the “alleged” presence of Eritrean troops in the Tigray region, despite denied repeatedly by the gov’t, could be a threat to the “territorial integrity of Ethiopia”.

BY EMBASSY OF ERITREA | PRESS RELEASE

Four former US Ambassadors to Ethiopia wrote an open letter to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister last week expressing their “concern on the recent political developments in the country’’. The open letter was published in the [Ethiopian] Reporter on January 26 this week upon their express request.

While we prefer not to comment on their biased views in regard to the situation in Ethiopia, we cannot but express our profound dismay at their provocative and ill-intentioned swipe at Eritrea in their letter. The Ambassadors insinuate a non-existent threat from Eritrea to the “territorial integrity of Ethiopia’’.

Let us first skim through the track record of these Ambassadors whose collective service in Ethiopia spans the critical years – from 1999 until 2016 – of intermittent wars and conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.



1) On 5 February 1999, the TPLF regime falsely claimed that Eritrean fighter aircraft had bombed the town of Adigrat. This was a pernicious lie advanced by the TPLF to rationalize the second huge offensive that it launched the next day in flagrant breach of the Moratorium on Air Strikes brokered by President Clinton and signed by the two parties on July 7, 1998.

It must be recalled that one of the signatories of the open letter, Ambassador Shin – as indeed was the case with the US State Department – kept mum even as the TPLF regime launched a massive war that raged for more than a month inculcating the loss of tens of thousands of lives and huge destruction of property.

2) In September 2003, the TPLF regime formally rejected the EEBC Arbitral Award that was rendered in accordance with the provisions of the Algiers Peace Agreement that was brokered by the US/EU, and that upheld the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Eritrea and Ethiopia on the basis of the colonial treaties and international law.




Again in this instance, the US State Department, and the then US Ambassador to Ethiopia, actively endorsed the TPLF’s violations of international law and its continued occupation of Eritrean sovereign territories.

3) In June 2016, the TPLF regime launched an unprovoked and massive offensive against Eritrea on the Tsorona front. The response from the US or its resident Ambassador in Ethiopia followed the same pattern of active endorsement of these perilous and illicit acts.

Throughout these dark years, Eritrea was on the receiving end of incessant acts of military aggression and violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by the TPLF regime. Yet, its principled stance – amplified at Independence Day on 24 May 1998 in the keynote address of President Isaias Afwerki – was and remains the same: “Eritrea does not covet an inch of the territory of its neighbors; nor will it yield an inch of its territory”.

This is history today. The state of permanent war has come to end when both countries signed the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship in Asmara on July 9, 2018. The Agreement stipulates, among other things, “the end of the state of war…the implementation of the EEBC decision” and heralds a “new era of peace and friendship between the two countries”.

In the event, the allusion by these Ambassadors to potential territorial war between Eritrea and Ethiopia can only be disingenuous in content and vicious in intent.

Embassy of the State of Eritrea
Washington, DC
28 Jan 2021


The Full Content of the Open Letter Sent to PM Abiy Ahmed


(From Ethiopian Reporter – 26 January 2021)

Open Letter to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed from Retired U.S. Ambassadors to Ethiopia

January 21, 2021

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

We are former ambassadors who have served in Ethiopia during various political crossroads, and each of us is forever inspired by the resilience and principles of the Ethiopian people. At present, we are deeply concerned about the stability and future of Ethiopia, and so have taken the liberty to write to you about our concerns.

We have watched the conflict in Tigray with grave unease as, according to the United Nations, nearly 60,000 refugees have fled to Sudan, 2.2 million people have been displaced, and 4.5 million people need emergency assistance, many of whom are without adequate food. We are also worried about the reported presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray, which could jeopardize Ethiopia’s territorial integrity.



We are concerned about the worsening ethnic tensions throughout the country, reflected in the proliferation of hate speech and rising ethnic and religious violence. Based on our time in your country, this growing violence seems to us to be contrary to Ethiopia’s long-standing tradition of tolerance for diverse religions and ethnicities.

It is our hope, Mr. Prime Minister, that your government will ensure the protection of civilians, the independent investigation of human rights violations, and unrestricted access for the United Nations and other relief agencies.

We would like to repeat the advice we often heard during each of our tenures in your country: Ethiopia needs a national dialogue designed to bring together all sectors of society. We wish you and every Ethiopian the very best.

Sincerely,

Hon. David H. Shinn
Ambassador: July 1996-August 1999

Hon. Aurelia E. Brazeal
Ambassador: November 2002-September 2005

Hon. Vicki J. Huddleston
Chargé d’Affaires: September 2005-November 2006

Hon. Patricia M. Haslach
Ambassador: September 2013-August 2016