The United States Congress member and Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on Africa, Karen Bass said that she met the Ethiopian Diaspora on Saturday [July 17, 2021], who asked her why the US has not yet sent its military to resolve the crisis in Ethiopia’s northern province. But she did not say anything about the composition of the Diaspora that she is referencing to.
Discussing Africa’s peace and security as well as other development and cooperation matters at the US Institute of Peace webinar, along with the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the African Union Chair, Felix Tshisekedi, Congresswoman Bass said that peace and security in Africa is utmost “in our minds as well.”
In a statement she made following a statement from the AU Chair, Bass said: “I was meeting with Ethiopian Diaspora on Saturday. And they wanted to know why the U.S. didn’t send in its military to resolve the situation in Ethiopia. I was telling them, self-determination. That was the call of the time period, you know, that it just seems inappropriate to me that the US would send its military, you know; I don’t want to see that happen.”
Highlighting that the US is now focused on the humanitarian conditions in Ethiopia and is working to support the needy in Tigray, for which they want “To make sure that the routes to deliver that and … be delivered without humanitarian workers being killed and, you know that has already happened, we certainly think that Eritrea needs to withdraw its troops,” she stated.
In addition, she called for negotiations to begin immediately with the US stopping assistance to Ethiopia, especially military assistance. However, sanctions are also an option, which she hoped not to happen.
“I am certainly hoping that we don’t move in the direction of sanctions, but that is very possible. In addition to the humanitarian relief, we are worried about parts of Ethiopia facing famine and so it is a major topic in the United States and next week, we’ll be voting on a resolution around Ethiopia; the crisis and what is going on there,” she indicated.
Tshisekedi, for his part, complained that the AU is “trapped as an institution” and there is a lack of information to enable intervention in Ethiopia.
Responding to a question from the congress woman who asked, “What can the US do to help the AU increase its capacity and ability to intervene,” because she did not think “it is a positive thing that European countries or the United States intervene in the conflicts in Africa,” Tshisekedi demanded the US share information with the AU, apart from what he is getting from the US Ambassador to Kinshasa.
“What is happening in Ethiopia right now is truly awful. And I feel particularly close to that country because of my role in the African Union. And I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the situation in that country and I do think it is urgent. So, Madam Karen Bass, when you ask this question about what the United States can do the first thing I would say, would be to share information with the African Union,” he said.
Such information, he said, “Would help us be able to apply pressure,” like if they had confirmations of human rights violations, the AU would show a pan-African solidarity that would help Ethiopians in the crisis.
On the other hand, the non-interventionist African Union Charter is also hindering the AU from intervening in the matter of member states, which is considered as an internal matter, he added.
“So, you know, the African Union charter, blocks us in a certain way, it blocks certain efforts that the African Union can make in terms of intervening in Ethiopia because quite simply that Charter, I think it’s article four of the Charter, proclaims the sovereignty of member states of the African Union and it also imposes non-interference amongst member states and the current conflict in Ethiopia is considered to be an internal Affair,” Tshisekedi said.
Stating that she understands the charter and especially back when the AU was the OAU during the anti-colonial movements, Bass “wondered if there’s any opportunity to re-evaluate that.” But the President did not have time to reflect on this as the meeting wrapped up.
The Ethiopian government as well as pro government supporters had been protesting against the interventionist approaches by western governments and multiple times, there were campaigns of “Hands off Ethiopia” both in the country and abroad. Some have also been likening the US intervention in Ethiopia with that of Libya, Syria and Iraq, saying that it is intended to twist arms to achieve the dominance of the global order.
In a statement the US Black Alliance for Peace issued following the congresswoman’s statement of sending in US troops to Ethiopia, it said the intention of doing so, if it happens, would be to achieve the US geopolitical interests in the region than helping Ethiopia.
“The US and its EU-NATO allies are looking out for their own geopolitical interests masked as concern over the Tigray region. They want to challenge China and impose AFRICOM on Eritrea,” reads the statement.