Mehari Taddele Maru:
If the U.S. is to be seen to be a credible arbiter in Ethiopia, it must first accept that its passive policy of the past year has failed and embrace the approach espoused by one of its own in an article in The Atlantic on Sept. 2, 2022, entitled “Totalitarianism is Still with Us.” In that piece, Steve Walker, the former Chief of Mission in the U..S. Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea, concludes that “The case of Eritrea shows that totalitarian systems are inherently toxic, and that no amount of “engagement” will change them.”
It must fight misinformation with information, every day. It must stand up for universal human rights by publishing its long-completed determination on the Tigrayan genocide and demanding accountability. It must use its considerable financial leverage in Ethiopia to ensure that the implementation of the agreement does not brew new conflict within and outside Tigray. It should also ensure protection of civilians, allow total access to humanitarian aid, withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray, lift the siege on and resume services in Tigray, and hold perpetrators to account and redress to victims.
The U.S. and European countries could put a hold on any financial assistance and resource disbursement (with an exception for humanitarian aid and protection of human rights). It should also push for establishment of lifeline humanitarian corridors that are de-militarized routes from all parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Sudan. And it must heavily sanction those who refuse with travel bans, asset freezes, and criminal charges – and press other States to do the same. With literal annihilation facing millions, time is of the essence for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to all of Ethiopia’s people, as this it is the only way to ensure its future.