U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken departs for Niger from Bole International Airport, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Thursday, March 16, 2023InternationalIndiaAfricaAddis Ababa saw the arrival of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 14. During the visit, he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen.The US secretary of state has a serious problem of conviction and confidence with the Ethiopian authorities, as Washington backed the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in a fight against the federal government in Ethiopia’s recently ended internal conflict, Dr. Franklin Nyamsi, president of the African Freedom Institute and a political scientist, says in an interview with Sputnik.
"So having failed in that strategy to put the Ethiopian government down, they [the US] are now using a new set of what we can say soft power, politics, methods. But for sure, the confidence between the American government and the Ethiopian government has been seriously damaged," the expert says.
Among others, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki accused Washington of supporting the TPLF in the conflict. Afwerki said the peace agreement signed in November 2022 between the two parties to the conflict was worked out “mainly” by the US which aimed to prevent the rebels’ total defeat.During the visit to Ethiopia, which began on March 14, Blinken met with the country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen to discuss a number of issues from different areas, including the conflict in the northern Ethiopian Tigray region.According to Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee, one of the goals of the trip to Ethiopia by Blinken is to “help consolidate peace.” Explaining what steps the US could take in order to achieve the goal, Franklin Nyamsi notes that Washington has always used chaos as a parameter for order.He recalls the examples of Somalia and Libya that are suffering turmoil on their soil as a result of the US destabilization policies.For instance, Libya also experienced a civil war during the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, where opposition forces were backed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO), which resulted in turmoil in the country, another civil war, and spreading terrorism across the Sahel region.Somalia has been suffering a devastating civil war since 1988 as a result of which the country turned divided and exposed to the terrorist threat. The US got involved in the country in order to fight terrorists under its Global War on Terrorism efforts in 2007. Since then, there have been numerous reports on the US forces causing casualties among Somali civilians.
"First of all, they destabilize. And secondly, they negotiate with a weak partner," the expert explains, adding: "And so in Ethiopia, it is very sure that it is because the rebellion, the civil war, has failed to put the government down, that Mr. Blinken is now trying to use soft power political methods."
AfricaMali Considers Russia Reliable Partner, Transitional Prime Minister Says8 March, 12:26 GMTNyamsi contrasts the kind of partnership the US practices with African countries to Russian and Chinese ones, saying “there is a very serious difference.”He calls partnerships with Russian and China “true”, where each party tells openly what it expects from the other, emphasizing that “behind the American way of working with Africans, there is always the hidden project of domination, of hegemony which destroys the confidence needed in international relations today for peace and security.”For instance, a number African leaders earlier accused the US of infringing on the sovereignty of African countries, after in May last year, Washington issued a bill that allowed the US to punish African countries for cooperation with Russia in certain areas.The expert believes that despite talking about peace, security, partnership, doing business, fair meetings, the US is permanently involved in destabilization processes. He calls the methods used by the US to force African governments to negotiate on goods, commodities, natural resources, etc. “terrorist”.
"Clearly, I'm not sure that will succeed with Africans today because [the] African government, African people have become very aware of the global standards made by the West," Nyamsi notes.
Elaborating on the African’s percepton of the recent visits by top US officials which are often described by western media as part of Biden’s push to counter Russian and Chinese influence in Africa, the political scientist highlights the “historical perception” of partnership with Russia and China on the continent. “When African people were fighting against colonialism, when they were fighting to recover the sovereignty of their states, they were helped by the former Soviet Union, they were helped by the People’s Republic of China,” he explains.AfricaUS, Canada, EU Demand Africa Stop Contacts With Russia – Russian Foreign Ministry05:59 GMTIn contrast to Moscow and Beijing, the expert says, western countries were the colonizers of Africa; thus, he continues, they do not have that positive background in the African mind.He mentions that Russia and China do not meddle in African countries’ internal affairs, as does the West.
"They respect the African dignity as people, as human beings, as equals. And this is absolutely different with the American and western perceptions of Africa. The American and the western perception of Africa is to decide for Africans," Nyamsi explains.
For instance, in January this year, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Qin Gang, during a meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart Demeke Mekonnen, said China was ready to provide support for the people of Ethiopia who find themselves in a difficult situation following armed clashes.
"China has already provided Ethiopia with a large amount of material humanitarian aid in the form of food and vaccines. We have helped alleviate the life difficulties of the population, which was negatively affected by armed clashes," Qin Gang said. "China will continue to act in the same manner."
Russia, in turn, during the eigth meeting of the Russian-Ethiopian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation and Trade in December 2022, agreed with Ethiopia to step up cooperation by creating new conditions to promote investment and development, as reported by the Russian Federal Agency for Mineral Resources (Rosnedra).Comparing the principles of Russian and Chinese foreign policies to those of the US, Nyamsi draws attention to the destructive impact of Washington’s sanctioning methods. Last year, the Biden administration suspended preferential access of Ethiopian goods to the United States’ market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, dealing a major blow to the country’s textile industry. “African people cannot accept a relationship of punishment or sanctions where we need partnership, where we need development, where we need the respect of our sovereignty and equality,” the expert underlines.AfricaLavrov: US Bill Countering Russia in Africa Represents ‘Colonial Mentality’18 January, 14:50 GMTHe says Washington needs to “begin that small exercise, which is to try to understand why people are not accepting that unipolar world, that hegemonic world, that one-sided mind world.”
"The most important part of the world, economically, politically is against the hegemony of only one power, only one country, and all the others," Nyamsi notes, concluding: "We need sovereignty, acknowledgement, true peace and true justice, not hegemony."
Full court diplomatic press
Along with Franklin Nyamsi, Eugene Puryear, host of the Punch Out podcast on Breakthrough News and author of the book Shackled in Shame: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America, believes “the US is really putting on a full court diplomatic press on the African continent.”He says many African countries tend to deviate from the West-imposed order, which is clearly seen in the context of the UN resolutions on the Russian special military operation, where a number of African nations “have been hesitant to take diplomatic action.”For instance, he says, one can have a look at Eritrea, which “has certainly been one of those countries,” or South Africa which has held naval drills with Russia and China.In February this year, South Africa hosted its second trilateral naval drills with Russia and China, which were criticized by some Western officials such as David Feldmann, spokesman for the US Embassy in South Africa, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who expressed their concerns.Moreover, a former advisor to the White House called such exercises “not acceptable.”AfricaWashington ‘Does Not Want to Force’ Africa to Choose Sides in Military Cooperation: US Army General22 February, 16:32 GMT
"When you look at the most recent national security strategy of the Biden administration, they're stressing that the most important factor is for the US to maintain global leadership, to be able to shape the future global environment, so to keep going with a system where the US makes the rules and everyone else is forced to follow," Puryear states.
More to that, in his opinion, certain African nations “are willing to act very much against the grain of the sort of subservient,” the examples of which are Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, where huge mass protest movements have led to governments being overturned.
"We have seen […] a willingness to more boldly strike out and work with countries like Russia around security cooperation, Iran, around the economy, I mean, everyone's working with China, so that's also where they're looking for more multipolarity," the expert concludes.
Over the past few years, Burkina Faso and Mali, where their former colonial ruler, France, maintained its military presence since 2014, achieved the pullout of French troops.