By Amanuel Biedemariam,
As a lead diplomat for the Clinton Administration for Africa, Ambassador Rice failed the people of Africa and particularly Rwanda in the most negligent of ways imaginable. Of course, no one will accuse Ambassador Rice for creating the genocide but she is responsible in many ways. As a point woman, one of her responsibilities was to identify threats to civilians and she failed in that regard. She could have used US power to minimize the slaughter; could have done more to attract international attention to minimize the damages and she failed.
In other words, she could have done more to minimize the scope, duration and magnitude of the genocide but failed miserably and allowed genocide of a biblical proportion to take place on her watch with indifference. That is undeniable historical fact!
Before she became the UN ambassador for the Obama Administration, Susan Rice gave many interviews to promote her bid for the position. During those interviews, she expressed regret after regret for watching the Rwandan Genocide unfold as a bystander. However, the regrets are not to repent mistakes she made; rather, it was to absolve herself from direct responsibilities by assigning the blame on US policies and directives.
In an interview with Michele Norris of NPR Ambassador Rice said,
“No policymakers in Washington or on Capitol Hill or any editorial boards, for that matter, were advocating U.S. military intervention in Rwanda. It wasn’t an option that was ever credibly contemplated, whether or not that would have been the right option.”
This statement is nothing but a skillful diversion of responsibilities laced with a devious sales pitch for a new aggressive policy. However, it is unfortunate that Michele Norris and other US media outlets served as a PR tool to-a-failed diplomat that affected humanity in the most negative way imaginable by passively accepting her comments without any challenges, denying Americans an opportunity to make educated choice. They failed to question statements Ambassador Rice made admitting to the colossal failure when she said that she, “Learned that policymakers have to put all of the options, conceivable and inconceivable, before ourselves and before senior leadership so that we’re not in a position of saying that we didn’t give it full enough or ample enough consideration.”
She did not “put all of the options” or “give-it-full enough consideration” because she failed to anticipate the possibilities. That is an admission of failure. The Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges stated how very “un-helpful” Susan Rice was when Des Forges was trying to mobilize action and raise the alarm in the early days of the Rwandan genocide.
But what I found troubling was her disingenuous crocodile tears and the fact that Rice used the genocide as a platform for her hawkish agendas. According to the New York Times, the Obama Administration appointed Susan Rice, “To send to the world organization a prominent and forceful advocate of stronger action, including military force if necessary, to stop mass killings like those in the Darfur region of Sudan in recent years.”
The Obama Administration did not have to select an individual with such a record. It is also unfortunate Ambassador Rice used the Rwanda genocide as a reason to forward the agenda of force as a primary option to impose change on countries of interest. Her primary tool of achieving US interests is force or credible threat of force. Ambassador Rice is not an advocate of peace, cooperation, the prevalence of the rule of law, diplomacy and welfare of the good of the people of the world and particularly Africa.
Ambassador Susan Rice was a miserable failure as a US point woman in Africa. In her watch, the Eritrea and Ethiopia peace process was botched leading to a war that took the lives of over 150,000 youth, with millions displaced and thousands-more maimed as a result. Somalia’s slide and mistrust for US policies goes back to her tenure. Yet, she is able to use these and other failures to lever her to a much higher cabinet level position. In fact, Rice advertised how she intended to accomplish her objectives by saying, “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”
As a result, the US has a brazen, aggressive UN Ambassador. She is unbalanced on her approaches, unprincipled, hypocritical, and unashamed to make outlandish claims. Most importantly, her views, approaches and actions are damaging to US interests long term. She is intent to pass a robust and open-ended UNSC decisions to help launch full-scale attacks as in Libya.
It renders the average person even more helpless when failed-diplomats rise to a level of UN ambassadorship after a colossal failure such as Rwanda. The hypocrisy is even glaringly more apparent when one compares the scolding and rebukes the Captain of the ship Exxon Valdez (rightfully) received for creating environmental disaster after wrecking the tanker compared to the holocaust that Ambassador Rice bared witness as a bystander without any accountability.
Ambassador Susan Rice is pursuing reckless policies particularly in the Horn of Africa. As an American, I am deeply disturbed and concerned by the way she is pushing policies that will lead to uncontrolled bloodshed and genocides in Africa. No one expected what took place in Rwanda could have actually happened, but it did. There could have been warning signs, ignored signs. This time however, the world will have no excuse to plead ignorance. The responsibility befalls on all involved since the threats and warnings are real and based on substantive evidence.
Dr. Gregory Stanton, President and founder of Genocide Watch warned; ultimately, the people of Tigray will end up paying the price for the crimes the genocides Meles regime is perpetrating. He stated, “My job is to identify trends that could cause genocides and what I am witnessing in Ethiopia is a great deal of concern for the people of Tigray because the regime is committing these crimes on their names.”
Dr. Stanton did not express an isolated observation of warning. The Human rights Watch (an organization that pushes US agendas) and major humanitarian organizations have detailed genocides Meles Zenawi committed in Somalia, the Ogaden, and other parts of Ethiopia and warned successive US Administrations about the prevailing humanitarian crisis. Moreover, in 1st of October 2007, Human Rights Watch briefed The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and (concerned about how US interests could be impacted adversely) warned,
“Human Rights Watch would like to focus on the conduct of the Ethiopian military, not only because the Ethiopian government’s military forces have systematically committed atrocities and violated the basic laws of war, but because Ethiopia is a key ally and partner of the United States in the Horn of Africa. The crimes committed by Ethiopian forces in the Ogaden and in Somalia are not unique, on the contrary they add to a mounting toll of abuses that have made Ethiopian security forces among the most abusive on the continent. Human Rights Watch has previously documented crimes against humanity by Ethiopian military forces in Gambella, and serious abuses in Oromia, Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia.”
Human Rights Watch and others have reported genocides the Meles regime committed evidenced by satellite photos of torched villages and systemic suffocation of large populations in various parts of Ethiopia. But what arouses the current concern is the fact that the actions and decisions Ambassador Rice is pursuing will unhinge the entire region and create a human calamity that can potentially dwarf the genocide of Rwanda.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report authored by Terence Lyons in June of 2011 called, “Ethiopia, Assessing Risks to Stability” highlighting the “brittle” nature of Ethiopia’s stability. The report detailed the faultiness and triggers to instability. According to the report, Ethiopia is a powder-cake with many challenges that in time will erupt when the risk factors coalesce. A powerful party that buys loyalty with economic incentives rules Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a country led by an ethnic Tigrayan minority that represents only 6% of 90 million populations.
Ethiopia is a country divided ethnically with the ethnic groups having some autonomy but in time will demand more. Ethiopia faces insurrections in Oromia with the OLF, Ogaden ONLF, in Tigray TPDM and Afar etc… The ruling party is, resented throughout the entire nation. The country has a one party system that Ethiopians rejected in the 2005 elections. The army may be representative of the different ethnic groups but the leadership core is almost entirely from Tigray. Ethiopia is under a firm grip of a tyrant and when challenged could spell disaster for the nation. These threats represent internal threats only. The report outlines Ethiopia is susceptible to outside threats Somalia and Eritrea.
In addition, instability and conflicts in the region can affect Ethiopia. For example, instability in South Sudan or other countries can easily spill over. The study hesitates to give a time-frame but stated when all these forces come together it will definitely lead to instability in Ethiopia.
The report is modest, conservative and minimizes the true dangers facing Ethiopia. The report however, is deadly accurate when it concluded that Ethiopia is given a pass on all its human rights violations because it is a vital ally of the US and Western interests. Ethiopia receives the highest development and security aid from the US, UK and other Western countries.
Acording to USAID, Ethiopia is the highest recipient of bilateral aid in Africa. From 2008 to 2011, Ethiopia received 969,916,533 and 583 million US Dollars. From the Department for International Development’s (DFID) in 2009/2010 Ethiopia received a total of £214.3 aid from the UK and has chosen Ethiopia to be its biggest recipient $2 billion in British development total during the next four years. This is just a sample representative of the humanitarian, development, economic and security aid Ethiopia receives. Ethiopia receives these aid with a condition to, in effect, work as a subcontractor of Western security interest in the region. Ethiopian troops are active in peacekeeping missions in sensitive areas when Western troop presence could look like an occupation. They are in Darfur and recently, in the contested Abiye region in Sudan. They are doing countless missions in Somalia and elsewhere in Africa.
What this demonstrates clearly is Ethiopia’s dependence on Western powers for sustenance. As the report indicated inadvertently, Ethiopia has a mercenary army lead by Tigrayan Generals operating as hired guns for the West. Ethiopia is the most important country in the region because it serves as a linchpin in a strategic area of the world. And Ethiopia is a perfect candidate for that because Ethiopia has leaders that are warmongers and willing to do the dirty job and importantly, the regimes survivability depends upon the funds it generates from these activities. Absent of the funds the regime will collapse instantly.
The reason Ethiopia is important is that it allows the West to direct their activities from Ethiopia the headquarters of the African Union. US and Western interests in the region include, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda amongst others. Ethiopia as an anchor State allows US, to quarterback activities. These advantages, Westerners believe cannot afford to lose; therefore, they allow Ethiopia to get away with all the human rights and international laws violations with impunity. The West is also determined to accommodate Ethiopia’s wishes by providing political cover and support as Ethiopia pursues its interests. The regime in Ethiopia is emboldened as a result.
However, the US is pursuing a dangerous policy that could backfire and bring about significant setback to US interests in the region. The US is also playing Russian roulettes with the lives of millions and risking its influence and reach in the region. Instability in Ethiopia will affect the region negatively politically and economically. It will contribute to instabilities in South Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda. In the aftermath of the 2007 election violence in Kenya, Uganda’s economy froze because Uganda imports all the goods it needs through the ports in Mombasa Kenya as a result the risks to instability in Uganda was high. This illustrates the region is interlinked at many levels and in many ways.
Ambassador Susan Rice is currently pursuing to impose additional sanctions on Eritrea for the second time under the pretext of “African Initiative.” This is a strategy the US is uses to avoid appearance of direct involvement. By using a regional grouping such as IGAD, Arab League etc…, the US has replaced the burden of proof or, legal process with un-provable slanderous allegations that can make a PR case against any nation in order to pass punitive measures. This strategy has proven its effectiveness. If the likes of the Arab league or African Union accuse a nation of malice there is no burden of proof required for the US to punish in order to pursue interest in this case Eritrea. Ambassador Rice will go to any length to ensure the development of the language she needs to achieve her objectives.
Recent leaks show how Ambassador Rice collaborated with Ethiopia to design the sanction against Eritrea. The cables show how Charge d’ affairs of Ethiopia Fesseha Tessema and Rice collaborated to forward the sanction measure to UNSC based on deception. Ambassador Rice is one more time pushing this agenda by using Gabon as she did with Uganda.
The problem with the resolution being-pursued is multi pronged.
Firstly, as evidenced, the Ethiopian regime is driving the agenda. Ethiopia and Eritrea have been engaged in prolonged hostility where the US has sided with Ethiopia because Ethiopia is its strategic partner.
Secondly, it is because the charges are baseless and unjustifiable. The accusing parties namely Ethiopia and the US are the destabilizing actors in Somalia parties that are culpable. The US and Ethiopia are the parties that invaded Somalia in December of 2006 and uprooted the only hope to stability the Somali’s created in nearly 20 years with Islamic Court Union (ICU) which was headed by the current TFG leader, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, whom the US detained after the invasion of Somalia. If it was not for the US and Ethiopia, there was a good chance Somalia could have reconstituted. But they concluded, it is a possible threat to US and Ethiopian interests and they forcibly disbanded them leading to the current holocaust the world is witnessing in horror.
Thirdly, the resolution being-thought; was hatched in Ethiopia by the genocidal regime in Ethiopia.
Fourthly and most importantly, Eritrea does not have access to effectively prove or disprove the charges and, to challenge a system that the US controls armed with a veto power. The Somali Monitoring Group tasked to look at these matters was set-up by Dr. Jendayi Frazer to pursue punitive measures against Eritrea. It is not a legal body with a process to stand. It is not a court of law where the plaintiff, the defendant and witnesses stand in front a of the judge to litigate; it is not an investigative body that has the ability to conduct its own investigation and present evidences; it is not an elected body beholden to any constituency; it is PR tool whose directives come from the State Department designed to legitimize illegal UN actions on nations that have no representation or voice. The world must stop this dangerous international precedent.
The above agenda’s design is to decapitate Eritrea; and place it under the control of the genocidal regime in Ethiopia. The first sanction Ambassador Rice passed was an arms embargo to tie the hands of the people of Eritrea while Ethiopia is occupying Eritrean territories in violation of international laws. This time, she is seeking to tighten the sanction to render the nation non-viable by using yet another African nation, Gabon.
The question is what is Eritrea’s answer is going to be to the slow death-sentence Ambassador Rice decided upon it? Will Eritrea allow the hawkish Rice and the genocidal regime to collaborate and destroy Eritrean independence earned with the lives of thousands and over 50 years of colonial agony?
The answer to that is Eritrea will do what is in the best interest of Eritrea whatever that may be!
The cumulative result of years of US and Western support of a tyrant that is unaccountable to Ethiopians and the needs of the people in the region has reached a critical stage as highlighted by Genocide Watch and others. The institutional and governance vacuum that it created in the region is evidenced by the holocaust we are witnessing in Somalia. The situation in Ethiopia is not any better. In addition to all the instability indicators, the CSIS outlined; on August 17, 2011, The Telegraph reported, “Ethiopia famine dwarfs Somalia’s tragedy in scale.” The US has provided all the resources and political cover Ethiopia needed to pursue US interests. In the process, the potential for one of the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world is ever closer to becoming a reality. The population in the region, namely Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, South Sudan and Eritrea is about 250 million. Another conflict in the region will set off events that Ambassador Susan Rice could not foresee.
Any future war in the region will have no end game other than a complete annihilation. The region has no reason to fight other than to pursue devious agendas based on irresponsible interests. And that will be bloody beyond imagination. But one thing for certain, Ethiopia and the region will never be the same.
The blood will-be shed as a direct result of policies Ambassador Rice pursued. Ethiopia could be, fragmented by region and ethnicity. And worse, there will be a religious conflict because the leadership in Ethiopia waved the holy-cross to invade an Islamic nation in Somalia. There are also populations and regions like Tigray that will face genocide as retribution because that is the home of the ruling party. Afar and the Amhara regions surround Tigray and they may-not have a warm feeling because of the hardship they endured due to a group that leads Ethiopia in the name of Tigray. Hence, any action by Ambassador Rice will be to light a fire and set off uncontrollable calamitous events that will destroy the lives of millions in the region. It will put the region in a permanent state of chaos.
This is a warning that all peace loving people need to take seriously because once events are set in motion it will be irreversible.
The world must stop Ambassador Rice from passing decisions based on fabrications. The region suffers a great deal as a direct result of US involvement that does not consider the wellbeing of the people and long-term viability of the region. In other words, in order to achieve US interests the region is, denied the right to exist. That is unjustifiable and major crime against humanity. The people in the region have no recourse and ways they can address their grievances. Hence, it is incumbent upon all to stop it by campaigning against this evil design and stop Ambassador Susan Rice from triggering events that will lead to Rwanda like genocides in the Horn of Africa.
This is what the “Is” is in the Horn of Africa today and tell President Obama it must not be.