Scaling up Ethio-US Relations for Mutual Benefits - ENA English
Scaling up Ethio-US Relations for Mutual Benefits
BY SOLOMON DIBABA
Ethiopia and the United States have enjoyed warm government-to-government and people-to-people relations for well over a century. The ties have transcended the passage of time and the changes of governments and political systems in both countries.
Formal Ethio-US relations date back to December 1903 following nine days of meetings in Ethiopia between the government of Ethiopia and Robert P. Skinner, an emissary of President Theodore Roosevelt. Ethiopia appreciated America’s commercial interest in Ethiopia, and that the United States did not possess colonial designs similar to those that were designed by colonial forces.
Then, the talks which Ethiopia and the United States had held yielded a joint document known as the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. This agreement accorded Ethiopia Most Favored Nation status and eventually led to full diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Over the past several decades, Ethiopia has remained a partner with the US in a battle against terrorism. It is to be recalled the US government and US based international NGOs have rendered immense contribution to roll back the 1984-85 food shortage crisis and recurrent drought that plagued the country.
Given its geopolitical locations, Ethiopia has been a strong ally for the United States for many decades. Apart from government to government relations, people to people relations between the two countries have remained strong. Suffice to mention, the number of Ethiopian diaspora residing in the United States.
Further, the two countries have enjoyed multiple development and economic cooperation for many decades.For instance, the Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines have demonstrated strong partnerships.
Regarding development cooperation, since 1961, the USAID has continued to support various development programs including promotion of education, agricultural development programs including the US Peace Corp program for promoting cultural relations and expansion of modern education. The US provided support to Ethiopia in establishing Haramaya former Agricultural College and a number of agricultural colleges in Jimma, Bako and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture (then Debre Zeit Veterinary Science College) and a number of teachers training institutions across the country.
Between 1953-1976, in line with the Mutual Defense Agreement Assistance, the US provided Ethiopia with defense armaments and trained military officers for the Ethiopian army and air force.
Ethiopia shares a common interest with the US in ascertaining peace and stability in the Horn of Africa. The reform program that has been conducted in the country has been instrumental in further fostering the operational relations between the two countries in promoting democracy and good governance.
Regular visits paid to Ethiopia by US officials including today’s visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have enormous implications in forging relations between the two countries, in the areas of economic cooperation, security and upscaling a united action against terrorism in the Horn of Africa.
Climate change induced drought has repeatedly become a major bottleneck for the economic development of countries in the Horn of Africa including Ethiopia. A number of countries of the Horn are still grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the US can provide technological and economic development support in partnership with these countries.
Ethiopia and the US need to engage in the areas of peace building in the Horn and the rest of Africa. The mutual support and partnership based economic relations between Ethiopia and the US need to be promoted for mutual benefits of both countries.
Roughly speaking, more than 3 million Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin constitute the diaspora population across the world and most of whom reside and work in the US, becoming a major force to further strengthen the relationship between Ethiopia and the US. Both Ethiopia and the US need to develop and exploit the positive influence that the Ethiopian diaspora could play in fostering the relationship between the two countries.
Ethiopia is now hosting close to one million refugees from the neighboring countries and is providing protection in line with guiding principles and statutes of the UNHCR. On the other hand, the Ethiopian Government is actively working in rehabilitating hundreds of IDPs that were affected by the conflicts in various parts of the country. As a longstanding partner with Ethiopia, the US can support such efforts as it will help to promote sustained peace and stability in the country.
Ethiopia unswervingly stands for peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and the US can effectively partner with the Government of Ethiopia in building sustained peace and stability to promote mutually beneficial interest of the two countries.
The people to people relations between the two countries can be enhanced through public diplomacy between the peoples of both countries to further promote cross cultural exchanges that have developed between the two nations for over a century. The ongoing visit by the US Secretary of State to Ethiopia is therefore expected to enhance the relations between the two friendly countries based on mutual understanding, respect and cordial relations.