By Sophia Tesfamariam
The Benghazi incident that took the lives of four Americans has resulted in the resignation of four Department of State (DoS) officials and has cost Susan E. Rice, the current US Ambassador to the United Nations, her chance to head the DoS. Her potential nomination set off a barrage of commentary as those opposed to her nomination were countered by those who supported her. Several reports were written about the “radio-active” candidate and there were some who actually questioned her credentials and there were others who claimed that her “entire career has been based less on solid accomplishment than on her networking skills.”
There were those who wanted to make it a “gender” and “racial” issue, but couldn’t. She wasn’t the first woman to the post, nor was she the first Black woman. Many more questioned her diplomatic acumen and tact. For instance, Louis Charbonneau and Susan Cornwell in their 13 November 2012 article for Reuters said:
“…Diplomats on the 15-nation U.N. Security Council privately complain of Rice's aggressive negotiating tactics, describing her with terms like "undiplomatic" and "sometimes rather rude." They attributed some blunt language to Rice - "this is crap," "let's kill this" or "this is bullshit."…"She's got a sort of a cowboy-ish attitude," one Western diplomat said. "She has a tendency to treat other countries as mere (U.S.) subsidiaries…"
The overwhelming majority questioned her close personal relationships with some of Africa’s most ruthless dictators, of which Meles Zenawi is the most mentioned:
· “…should not be altogether surprising that her record in Africa seems to have been one of catering to some of the most loathsome dictators in the region. She fell over herself to praise the late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi in September…”-( Jacob Heilbrunn, 14 December 2012)
· “…Rice completely ignored the fact that 200 unarmed protesters were massacred in the streets and nearly 800 seriously wounded by police and security forces under the personal command and control of Meles following the 2005 elections. She turned a blind eye to crimes against humanity committed in Gambella in 2004 and war crimes committed in the Ogaden in 2008 . She had forgotten the stolen election of 2010 and fact that Meles’ party won 99.6 percent of the seats in parliament. She was completely oblivious of the thousands of political prisoners, including opposition leaders, dissidents and journalists, rotting in Ethiopian prisons as she was waxing eloquent in her emotional eulogy. She could see Meles’ “brilliance” but not his arrogance. She could see his “world-class mind” but not his black heart. She said he was “uncommonly wise”, but could not see his common folly. She “profoundly disagreed with him on democracy and human rights”, but she would ignore all his crimes against humanity because he was “a true friend” of hers…”-(Alemayehu G. Mariam, 13 December 2012)
· Etc. etc.
Ethiopians for their part showed their displeasure with Rice by writing several articles about the relationship she enjoyed with Meles Zenawi and they felt that her friendship clouded her judgment. The headlines were everywhere: “Susan Rice, a US diplomat who loves dictators”- By Ephrem Madebo, “Susan Rice and Africa’s Unholy Trinity”-By Alemayehu G. Mariam and “Watching Susan twist in the wind or don’t mess with Ethiopia-By Yilma Bekele , are some of the most recent publications. One of the attributes mentioned in almost all of the reports about her relationship Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia were provoked by the personal eulogy Rice delivered at his funeral. Up until then, they probably didn’t realize the extent of that relationship.
Just before Rice withdrew her name and spared the Obama Administration the embarrassment of what would have been a very ugly nomination hearing and one that would have exposed some well hidden truths of her personal and political antics, Tekeda Alemu, one of Meles Zenawi’s staunch cadres, who had remained silent as Ethiopians and others authored articles about Susan Rice, decided to come out swinging in Rice’s defense. The trigger was an article authored by an Eritrean, which was posted in the NY Times. Like all the other articles, it mentioned Rice’s relationship with Meles Zenawi. Despite the fact that all the other articles written by Americans and Ethiopians were pretty much the same, it is the one written by an Eritrean that rattled his cage… so much so that he decided to sit down and pen a personal response.
In his OP-ED Tekeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the UN accused the writer of attempting:
“…to inject the ugly side of the politics in the Horn of Africa into the American political debate…”
The American political debate, and in this case, Susan E. Rice’s potential nomination to the US State Department is part and parcel of the debate as Africa would be part of her jurisdiction. It is exactly what the debate needed to be, and as she had no other experience except Africa, as limited as it was, that would need to be carefully scrutinized. Besides, as someone who has contributed to the “ugly side of politics in the Horn of Africa”, and as someone who is responsible for Susan Rice’s fledgling reputation in the region, his decision to pounce on the journalist belies his real intentions, which are transparent to all that know the minority regime’s modus operandi. This is a desperate and futile attempt to prevent any scrutiny into the illegal, unfair and unjust US-Ethiopia engineered sanctions, that were mentioned in the NY Times article. Tekeda Alemu played a central role in ensnaring the gullible Susan Rice in the regime’s web of deception. Seduced by what Robert Hicks calls “the kowtowing and groveling” from Meles Zenawi and his sycophants, who are known to shower US diplomats her with flattery and gifts, the gullible Susan Rice, who they knew was “angry” with Eritrea, was used to effectuate their warped agendas vis a vis Eritrea. Tekeda Alemu understood that further scrutiny of her antics in the Horn of Africa would also expose his role in the deceptions against the European Union, African Union and the Security Council and the schemes orchestrated in order to frame Eritrea.
Let us take a look at what else Tekeda Alemu said in his NY Times:
“…the sanctions were imposed at the request of the African Union, which has troops in Somalia fighting Al Shabaab; and that a group set up by the Security Council found that Eritrea was aiding and abetting terrorism in Somalia…”
The UN never accused Eritrea of terrorism in Somalia… that is a flat out lie and this lie has been propagated by Ethiopia and its surrogates. The minority regime believes that if it repeats lies often enough, that they would somehow become truths. I challenge the good Ambassador to present one UN documents that can corroborate his erroneous statement.
If it was the African Union that was seeking sanctions against Eritrea, why were there no other Africans involved in the liaisons and meetings with US officials? Why were Ethiopian cadres doing all the leg work? Judging from the US Embassy cables, it is as if Tekeda Alemu was on a personal mission to get sanctions against Eritrea. Suffice it to mention a few excerpts:
May 2009-Ethiopia to the P-5: Time For Eritrea Sanctions
“…Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin on May 22 called in the UNSC P-5 Ambassadors to urge them to follow-up on the InterGovernmental Authority on Development's (IGAD) May 20 call for Security Council sanctions against Eritrea…In a separate meeting with the P-5 ambassadors on May 25, Ethiopian State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Tekeda Alemu said he planned to travel to New York on May 29 to press the UNSC on Eritrea in person…Canada, he said, through its mining concessions, would soon be providing Eritrea with hundreds of millions of dollars, and he commented that "if you think Eritrea is a problem now with no economy, wait until it is flush with cash…”
22 Jun 2009-Ethiopia Pressing For UNSC Sanctions on Eritrea
“…Dr. Tekeda called in the P-5 Ambassadors on June 18 and summarized the recent IGAD trip to the UN as having made progress in gaining UNSC support for the IGAD and AU call for sanctions on Eritrea, but concluded that more work was necessary. Tekeda met with special Africa Advisor Bruno Joubert in Paris and Somalia experts in London. In New York, TFG Foreign Minister Omar, along with Ambassadors assigned to the U.N. from Djibouti, Uganda, and Kenya, joined Tekeda in meeting the UNSC representatives. Tekeda said the Libyans were very receptive to Eritrea,s accountability in destabilizing Somalia. Tekeda added that he was mindful of comments made by the UNSC member states for further work by IGAD to secure full support from the African Union member states, and not just Ethiopia and Djibouti, which have direct problems with Eritrea. Dr. Tekeda said the African Union had already endorsed the IGAD agreement to seek sanctions on Eritrea … The U.S. Ambassador urged Tekeda that if Ethiopia and the IGAD countries wanted UN support, then Ethiopia and IGAD must secure a clear statement by the African Union of support for IGAD's position…Tekeda added that he was mindful of comments made by the UNSC member states for further work by IGAD to secure full support from the African Union member states, and not just Ethiopia and Djibouti, which have direct problems with Eritrea…”
7 July 2009- Seyoum Mesfin and Tekeda Alemu urge P-5 to support sanctions
“…Ethiopian FM Seyoum and his deputy, Dr. Tekeda, on July 7 called in the Ambassadors from the P-5 to urge them to convey to their capitals the urgency of supporting sanctions against Eritrea. Seyoum noted that Tekeda, who led an Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) delegation to New York in June, was told by the UNSC that the IGAD resolution calling for sanctions on Eritrea would hold more weight if the African Union was also supportive because IGAD only represented East Africa, and some of its members had differences with Eritrea. Seyoum said the African Union at its early July summit in Sirte, Libya passed a resolution, with Eritrea as the only dissenting voice, in support of the IGAD resolution…Tekeda stressed that the UNSC should first approve the general concept of sanctions against Eritrea, then determine what sanctions to impose. He thought that the sanctions should include a selected travel ban against senior Eritrean officials, and efforts to cutoff remittances from the U.S. and other countries…”
5 August 2009-Record of your conversation with Charge D’Affaries Michael Gonzales
“…Dr. Tekeda stressed that the threat of sanctions against senior Eritrean officials had a clear chilling effect in Asmara. Dr. Tekeda specifically noted the Sanctions Committee,s consideration of Yemane Gebreab as being a critically important move. (Note: Dr. Tekeda had a list of individuals targeted by the Somalia Sanctions Committee which included Yemane. End Note.) Dr. Tekeda stressed that, although Yemane may not make ultimate decisions in Eritrea -- a province reserved for President Isaias -- he certainly advises Isaias, and his inclusion among those sanctioned would be a critical signal to Asmara that the international community is sincere in its interest in ending Eritrea,s destabilizing activities in Ethiopia…”
The 13 June 2009 cable shows the collaboration between Tekeda Alemu and Susan Rice and their intentions to hoodwink Africans and the Security Council by presenting their initiative as an “African Initiative”:
“…A delegation from the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) met with Amb. Rice on June 10 to press for UNSC implementation of sanctions against Eritrea as called for by recent communiques of IGAD and the African Union (AU). The delegation, led by Ethiopian State Minister Tekeda Alemu and Somali Foreign Minister Mohammed Omaar, agreed that action needed to be taken against Eritrea… Tekeda made a case for more forceful sanctions, claiming that the TFG faced imminent collapse, and implying that only Ethiopian assistance had helped it survive thus far. (NOTE: While Omaar was titular head of the IGAD delegation, Tekeda paid him little deference. End note.) In Ethiopia's view, Tekeda said, "we don't have much time" to enact sanctions against Eritrea, adding "we want to see results within a week." (C) Amb. Rice advised the group to reach agreement on a specific package of measures and counseled that the initiative would be more viable in the Council, if packaged as an African consensus proposal rather than one driven by Eritrea's estranged neighbors Ethiopia and Djibouti…”
But she had more advice for her partners in crime:
“…Rice also urged the group to draw a link to the situation in Djibouti when drawing up its proposal to sanction Eritrea. To punish Eritrea for its activities in Somalia while ignoring Djibouti would send an inadvertent signal that Eritrea could continue to invade its neighbors with impunity, she said…”
Once again, we see how much Meles Zenawi had influenced her thinking… Rice was repeating the TPLF’s rehearsed spill on Eritrea. It is no wonder then that she has decided to allow her friends to violate international law and the Algiers Agreements which were authored, guaranteed and witnessed by the US, EU and AU. With that kind of ingrained bias, she will continue to be used and abused by dictators like Tekeda Alemu and his criminal regime.
Whilst there were many accusations against Eritrea coming from Ethiopia and its surrogates, there has never been any independently verifiable evidence provided to substantiate any of their allegations. There were many fair individuals who disagreed with the narrative on Eritrea and Ethiopia managed to have them removed or else had their voices muffled. For instance, South African Ambassador to the United Nations Dumisani Kumalo, chairman of the U.N. Security Council's Somalia Sanctions Committee told Reuters on 23 May 2008:
“… corruption in the lawless Horn of Africa country was rampant…"elements" of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) were involved in arms trafficking activities, which have the potential to undermine the peace process…Eighty percent of ammunition available at the Somali arms markets was supplied by TFG and Ethiopian troops…continued presence of Ethiopian troops on Somali territory as a violation of the arms embargo" on Somalia, where warlords, Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government forces clash almost daily…The monitoring committee received details of some 25 military flights by Ethiopia into Somalia and knew that Ethiopian troops had brought military equipment into the country to arm "friendly clans…Arms and military hardware are mainly transported to Somalia by boat and airplane, but traffickers also use horses and donkeys, making shipments difficult to track…”
Addressing a 29 May 2009 Press Conference, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, UN Special Representative for Somalia admitted that there was no evidence to support the outrageous allegations leveled against Eritrea:
“…As for the support of Eritrea for the Islamist group al-Shabab, he said that there was much talk of such involvement, but there was no way for him to monitor that situation or to know the truth of such a claim. Asked about other foreign rebel fighters, he said the rebel leaders had extended a welcome to such fighters and there was wide information available on them…"
As this author has stated several times in the past, the minority regime in Ethiopia and its cadres, are persons who are themselves involved in the criminal milieu that defines Somalia today, and can hardly be considered to be credible sources and yet, the SEMG relied almost entirely on the Ethiopian regime to build its case against Eritrea. According a 9 December 2008 cable, Meles Zenawi tells Senator Inholfe and other US officials visiting Ethiopia of US’ complicity. The cable said:
“…He [Meles Zenawi] said the U.S. had provided evidence of Eritrea's security officials involved in money and arms shipments to extremists in Somalia for terrorist operations against Ethiopia…”
Allow me to remind the good Ambassador of the following facts:
• The IGAD and the Africa Peace and Security Resolutions were passed under the chairmanship of Ethiopia. Ethiopia and Djibouti played accusers, judge and jury
• The IGAD and the Africa Peace and Security Resolutions were passed under the chairmanship of Ethiopia.
• The Chair of the African Union (Libya) opposed the sanctions at the UN Security Council,
• On 24 December 2010-The 28- member regional organization, CENSAD, condemned the unjust sanctions.
The good Ambassador knows that the UN Monitoring Group has yet to produce any evidence to support the allegations that were leveled at Eritrea. As a matter of fact, the entire Group was replaced because its credibility and integrity was compromised when it chose to place in its reports fabricated evidence-almost all manufactured in Ethiopia.
Can Tekeda Alemu provide us with the date, place and time that the African Union with all its members present discussed sanctions on Eritrea? How did each country vote and how many voted to sanction Eritrea?
As for terrorism, the minority regime’s understanding of what it really entails was duly noted by US Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal in a 25 November 2002 American Embassy cable which said:
“…Meles may be going too far: the PM may have some difficulty distinguishing the GWOT [Global War of Terror] from sectarian rivalry. As reported in ref. d, Meles told codel in august that Ethiopia is in the GWOT for its own national security. his private comments indicate that he may have some difficulty distinguishing between Islam, Islamism, and terrorism. He equates Islamic fundamentalism with terrorism, saying wahhabism is "infiltrating and dominating the region." he describes Ethiopia as being "at the epicenter" of terrorism since the seventh century (ref. e). Fortunately, Meles has not made any public statements betraying such a "lump-them-all-together" outlook…”
Ambassador Brazeal also noted the following:
“…Meles finds the GWOT politically advantageous for both Ethiopia and his ruling coalition, and even called it a "godsend" because of Ethiopia’s unfortunate experience with internal violence and international terrorism (as they define it). shortly after 9/11, Ethiopian military leaders sought U.S. engagement in a proposal for a series of large-scale strikes on neighboring Somalia, a breeding ground and safehaven for terrorists, and a perennial thorn in the side of every Ethiopian government. For this government, the GWOT is a two-fer: they use it to draw closer to the u.s. and/and gain resources for their own ct efforts...”
But she was not the only American official who was reporting of the regime’s ignominy. In the American Embassy cable, “RECENT BOMBINGS BLAMED ON OROMOS POSSIBLY THE WORK OF GOE”-Vicki Huddleston, the US Charge D’Affaires in Ethiopia wrote:
“…A series of explosions were reported in Addis Ababa on September 16, killing three individuals. The GoE announced that the bombs went off while being assembled, and that the three dead were terrorists from the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) with links to the Oromo National Congress (ONC). An embassy source, as well as clandestine reporting, suggests that the bombing may have in fact been the work of GoE security forces…”
When questioned about the sources of all the erroneous allegations against Eritrea, Susan E. Rice said that the “evidence is classified to protect the identity of US allies who provided it”. It is not hard to figure who these allies are…
In the end, it didn’t matter what Tekeda Alemu said or didn’t day, Susan E. Rice withdrew her name and spared the Obama Administration the embarrassment of what would have been a very ugly nomination hearing and one that would have exposed some well hidden truths of her personal and political life. One thing is for sure, until the UN Security Council annuls and repeals the illegal, ill-gotten sanctions against the State of Eritrea, her relationship with the minority regime in Ethiopia will be the subject of many more reports and articles, further undermining the credibility and integrity and reputation of the United States as an honest peace broker.
More on the opportunist Tekeda Alemu, his history of contempt for the people of Ethiopia and how used Susan Rice and other officials in other diabolic schemes against the State of Eritrea and its people next time…