By Amanuel Biedemariam
It is hard to imagine but true, the hawkish Susan Rice wields tremendous power and influence on African matters in the White House and on the dictators of Africa that kowtow to her whims. Absent of solid US Africa policy, absent of mature balanced approach and, absent of African experts with power in higher places; Susan Rice, as a security advisor, has the ears of trigger happy President in the White House.
On an interview with the Voice Of America Amharic, Ambassador Herman Cohen, who at one time was United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1989 to 1993, and mentored Ambassador, now Security advisor Susan Rice said, “the sanctions on Eritrea are baseless and they are pushed by vindictive individuals that have hatred towards President Isaias Afewerki. There is no proof that links Eritrea with extremist elements in Somalia. Furthermore, in order for peace and prosperity to reign on the Horn of Africa, there must be peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. That means Ethiopia must withdraw from Eritrean territories.”
The vindictive person Ambassador Cohen is referring to is none other than Susan Rice, who along with the late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi designed and manipulated the illegal and unjustifiable sanctions and handed the people of Eritrea as a gift on Christmas Eve in 2009. What this demonstrates is the vulnerabilities that individuals based on personal agendas could hold the US national interest hostage.
How can US national interest be served best in the HOA region?
Obviously US policies in this region have not brought about the changes that the people need to improve their living standards, the changes that they can believe in. To the contrary, more divisions and pressures that can destabilize the region are mounting. Will destabilized region better serve US strategic interests? Yet, that appears to be what the Obama administration is after. The current state of affairs in the region, is not sustainable, and can explode abruptly sending the region into catastrophic downward spiral that neither the US nor the people of the region can control.
On September 25, 2014, President Obama met with Ethiopian officials in New York City. Seated by his side were Susan Rice and the current United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The whole charade was a display of the Obama Administration’s failed moral standard in the eyes of the international community, particularly the people of the Horn of Africa and especially Ethiopians that hoped and believed to see positive changes pushed by the administration.
To the contrary, it was shameful to hear President Obama praise Ethiopia’s ruling clique for economic gains while Ethiopia stands as one of the poorest nations in the world. The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Index (OPHDI) reported, in 2014, Ethiopia to be the second poorest nation, with 72.3 %percentage of the population in “severe poverty” (living on less than USD$1 a day) in the world. Human atrocities, genocides and Human rights violation are reported widely by globally acclaimed experts on a daily basis. Yet the Obama administration found it convenient to promote and encourage global-acceptance of the regime.
The Obama Administration has no coherent Horn of Africa policy. Whatever policy that exists is dictated by Susan Rice. The fact that she was present alongside the US President affirms the assertion.
The embattled Susan Rice is known for her love of the genocidal regime in Ethiopia. Her disregard for human rights, for African customs and culture was demonstrated when she eulogized the genocidal murderer Meles Zenawi unceremoniously in front of millions around the world in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
When it comes to Eritrea, her hate for President Isaias Afewerki and the people of Eritrea has clouded her judgment to the point where she cannot differentiate between American national interests and her personal feelings for Eritrea.
Her actions, inaction and decisions have led to countless deaths and destruction in Africa. After the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted 1998, the then Secretary for Africa Affairs Rice went on the offensive against Eritrea by siding with Ethiopia. Ambassador Cohen is one of the African experts that told Rice that she should not lose her neutrality because that would negate US from playing effective future-diplomatic role. She ignored the advice and her actions led to over 200,000 dead with problems lingering to-date with her hands all over it.
The Rwanda Genocide is one that will forever be linked with her reign as Secretary for African Affairs. History will judge her harshly. The litany of her failures is many, and as a result Africa paid heavy price without any accountability. It is ironic that she keeps being rewarded with higher positions in the US government to the point of Presidential advisor.
US African policies have produced disastrous results in the Horn of Africa in the past and it continues unabated. And Susan Rice was instrumental on driving every decision during the Clinton and Obama Administration’s disastrous reigns. The current administration appears to have no interest in changing the approach and the substance of US policy towards the region. Furthermore, it is disappointing and hopeless to see first, Ambassador Johnnie Carson and now Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield relegated to a job as messengers to Susan Rice’s crazy adventurism.
Furthermore, unfortunately for Africa and particularly the Horn of Africa, the same actors that spearheaded these failed policies are maneuvering US agendas for the region to date. John Prendergast of Enough Project, Susan Rice and Ted Dagne are amongst the architects that broke-up South Sudan from Sudan. According to the Reuters’ Special Report July 11, 2012, by Rebecca Hamilton “The wonks who sold Washington on South Sudan (SS),” Ted Dagne, one of the architects admitted that,
“I pushed the envelope quite a lot.”
“In 1993, for instance, Dagne drafted a congressional resolution stating that southern Sudanese had the right to self-determination. He passed his draft to Johnston, who reviewed it and then presented it to his colleagues in Congress. The resolution was not binding, but it passed unanimously. It was the first time any part of the U.S. government had recognized the right of the southerners to determine their own relationship to the Sudanese government.”
The same actors that are responsible for the breakup are behind every decision, be it Secretary Kerry’s Visit to Ethiopia to manipulate the negotiations between the various factions of South Sudan (SS) or the sanctions on the leaders of SS. The current sad-state of affairs of SS is the result of their work and actions. Yet they are still tasked at furthering US agendas in the region.
The irony, the current global environment affords no time for Secretary Kerry who is stretched- thin by Ukraine, Palestine, Syria, ISIS, Hong Kong etc… to focus on African matters. This provides perfect opportunity for Susan Rice to reclaim some relevance on African matters and room to direct the State Department from inside the White House.
The recent State Department travel warning on Eritrea is certainly a product of Susan Rice’s work. The lies, fabrications and misrepresentations are designed to nurture the Eritrea-agenda that Rice pursued for a while. It is designed to isolate Eritrea and discourage investors from investing on Eritrea’s sizeable mining sector. It is not coincidence, that the warning was released days before the Eritrean Mining Conference was to take place and the Japanese delegation’s visit.
The changes that Africans could believe-in could only be achieved by Africans. History should guide Africans that there will come no solution for their problems from the west and its agents. What the likes of Rice push is further instability that cannot serve the regions’ interests. They care very little about the hungry crying children, the genocides and the killings What they care about is furthering their personal interests. Susan Rice has done enough favors to many African despots for years to win her enough clients on her future lobbying activities. Hence, to expect positive change influenced by the likes of Rice is fools dream.