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Ethiopia-United States relations
Ethiopia   United States
Map indicating location of Ethiopia and USA
     Ethiopia      United States

Ethiopia-United States relations are bilateral relations between Ethiopia and the United States. Ethiopia is a strategic partner of the United States in the Global War on Terrorism. U.S. development assistance to Ethiopia is focused on reducing famine vulnerability, hunger, and poverty and emphasizes economic, governance, and social sector policy reforms. Some military training funds, including training in such issues as the laws of war and observance of human rights, also are provided.

The Ethiopian ambassador to the U.S. is Samuel Assefa; he is also accredited to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. Principal U.S. Officials include Ambassador Donald Y. Yamamoto and Deputy Chief of Mission Deborah Malac. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia is located in Addis Ababa.


Twentieth century relations

U.S.-Ethiopian relations were established in 1903, after nine days of meetings in Ethiopia between Emperor Menelik II and Robert P. Skinner, an emissary of President Theodore Roosevelt. This first step was augmented with treaties of arbitration and conciliation signed at Addis Ababa 26 January 1929.[1] These formal relations included a grant of Most Favored Nation status, and were good up to the Italian occupation in 1935.

After World War II, these ties strengthened on the basis of a September 1951 treaty of amity and economic relations.[2]In 1953, two agreements were signed: a mutual defense assistance agreement, under which the United States agreed to furnish military equipment and training, and an accord regularizing the operations of a U.S. communication facility at Asmara, Kagnew Station. In addition, during the 1960s the U.S. Army provided mapping for much of the country of Ethiopia in an operation known as the Ethiopia-United States Mapping Mission.[3] Through fiscal year 1978, the United States provided Ethiopia with $282 million in military assistance and $366 million in economic assistance in agriculture, education, public health, and transportation. A Peace Corps program emphasized education, and U.S. Information Service educational and cultural exchanges were numerous.


Mengistu Regime

After the Ethiopian Revolution, the bilateral relationship began to cool due to the Derg's linking with international communism and U.S. revulsion at the junta's human rights abuses. The United States rebuffed Ethiopia's request for increased military assistance to intensify its fight against the Eritrean secessionist movement and to repel the Somali invasion. The International Security and Development Act of 1985 prohibited all U.S. economic assistance to Ethiopia with the exception of humanitarian disaster and emergency relief. In July 1980, the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia was recalled at the request of the Ethiopian Government, and the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Embassy in the United States were headed by Charges d'Affaires.

Post-Mengistu regime

With the downfall of Mengistu Haile Mariam (who had taken control of the Derg), U.S.-Ethiopian relations improved as legislative restrictions on non-humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia were lifted. Diplomatic relations were upgraded to the ambassadorial level in 1992. Total U.S. government assistance, including food aid, between 1991 and 2003 was $2.3 billion. During the severe drought year of 2003, the U.S. provided a record $553.1 million in assistance, of which $471.7 million was food aid.

Twenty-first century relations

Because of Ethiopia's known human rights abuses such as the massacre of 193 protesters after the 2005 presidential elections, there is conflict between the strategic interest Ethiopia provides in the War on Terror and the human rights this war is allegedly addressing. The Bush Administration and Samuel Assefa, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the US are strongly opposed to the EDAA.[4]

At the end of 2006, the US gave implicit backing to Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, which Washington feared had become a haven for Islamist militants. As of December 2006, training for the Ethiopians is coming from the US military.[5] CIA has subsidized secular Somali militias.

In December 2007, the Peace Corps returned to Ethiopia after a 10-year absence. Volunteers serve in the realm of health and HIV/AIDS. [6]

U.S. Congress legislation

The U.S. Congress, however, has set conditions, over the objections of the Bush Administration. In October, the House of Representatives passed the EDAA,[4] banning military aid, for other than counter-terror and peacekeeping unless Ethiopia improves its human rights record. The bill seeks to restrict U.S. military aid for any purpose other than counter-terrorism and peacekeeping purposes. If the President certifies that all political prisoners have been released and an independent media can function without excessive interference, full, normal military aid can resume. The US will provide around $300 million of aid to Ethiopia this year but it is unclear how much would be affected by the bill, which also exempts humanitarian, health care and emergency food assistance. It would restrict security assistance and impose travel restrictions on Ethiopian officials accused of human rights violations unless Ethiopia met the conditions – although the legislation would give the president a waiver to prevent such measures from taking force. The bill still has to pass the Senate before being presented to the Administration.

The Act also exempts counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations and international military training from any funding restrictions, a reflection of Ethiopia’s military capabilities and its perceived role as a source of stability in the volatile Horn of Africa.[7]

Global War on Terrorism

Ethiopia is a country that the US finds useful in counter-terrorism, but has human rights policies of which the US does not approve. Jendayi Frazer, head of US African policy as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the Bureau of African Affairs, spoke of "unprecedented" agreements between the Ethiopian opposition and government, which she said were "a monumental advancement in the political environment". Examples she gave included reform of the National Election Board of Ethiopia and a new code of conduct for the press. But she added that the US had raised "strong concerns" about human rights violations.

Concurrent with U.S. having issues with Ethiopia regarding Ethiopia's internal human rights practices, CIA is using Ethiopia as a base for black sites to secretly interrogate undeclared prisoners in the Global War on Terrorism.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Treaty of arbitration: 46 Stat. 2357, TS 799, 7 Bevans 662, 101 LNTS 517. Treaty of Conciliation: 46 Stat. 2368, TS 799, 7 Bevans 665, 101 LNTS 529
  2. ^ Signed at Addis Ababa 7 September 1953, and entered into force 8 October 1953. 4 UST 2134, TIAS 2864, 206 UNTS 41.
  3. ^ Ethiopia-United States Mapping Mission
  4. ^ a b Kennedy, Brian (3 October 2007). "Ethiopia: U.S. Congress Acts on Human Rights". 
  5. ^ Morin, Monte (December 30, 2006), "U.S. trainers prepare Ethiopians to fight", Stars and Stripes, 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Jopson, Barney; Daniel Dombey in Washington (October 3, 2007), "Ethiopia bill faces Bush backlash", The Financial Times, 
  8. ^ "‘Outsourced Guantanamo’–FBI & CIA Interrogating Detainees in Secret Ethiopian Jails, U.S. Citizen Among Those Held", Democracy Now!, April 5, 2007

External links


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