Ethiopian News, Current Affairs and Opinion Forum
Post Reply
Posts: 5216
Joined: 02 Aug 2018, 22:59

Indian Diplomat: US playing spoiler to China in Horn of Africa

Post by Fiyameta » 10 Jan 2022, 22:44

US playing spoiler to China in Horn of Africa

If there is mayhem in Ethiopia, China’s Belt and Road in the Horn of Africa could be slowed or even derailed

by MK Bhadrakumar January 7, 2022
M K Bhadrakumar is a former Indian diplomat.

Chinese foreign ministers have traditionally marked the new year by visiting the African continent. Wang Yi’s 2022 African tour begins with Eritrea against the backdrop of the US strategy in the Horn of Africa to gain control of the strategically vital Red Sea that connects the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal.

Eritrea and China are close friends. China was a supporter of the Eritrean liberation movement since the 1970s. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, the veteran revolutionary who led the independence movement, received military training in China.

More recently, Eritrea was one of the 54 countries backing Beijing’s Hong Kong policy (against 39 voicing concern in a rival Western bloc) at the UN General Assembly in October 2020.

Last November, Eritrea signed a memorandum of understanding with China to join the Belt and Road Initiative. Neighboring Djibouti is already a major participant in the BRI. So is Sudan along the Red Sea coastline.

Central to regional cohesion in the Horn of Africa is the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has been a conflict-ridden, troubled relationship, but China, which also has close ties with Ethiopia, is well placed to mediate reconciliation.

One common view is that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pulled off a stunning victory in the conflict with the US-backed Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) with the help of armed drones supplied by the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Iran.

But civil wars are won on the ground. And the politico-military axis between Ethiopia and Eritrea to take on the TPLF proved to be the decisive factor. China encouraged the rapprochement between Addis Ababa and Asmara.

In effect, the two leaderships understood that they have a congruence of interests in thwarting the TPLF, which is an American proxy to destabilize their countries and trigger regime changes.

Washington is mighty displeased that China’s influence in Djibouti is on the rise and resents that the Marxist Eritrean regime of Isaias Afwerki keeps the US at arm’s length.

The Horn of Africa is of great strategic importance, and Ethiopia sits at its heart. Destabilize Ethiopia and impact the whole region; install a dictatorial expansionist ethnocentric regime (TPLF); sow division and poison the atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation that is being built within the region – this is the neocolonial agenda.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, speaking at Abiy Ahmed’s inauguration as prime minister of Ethiopia, said: “Ethiopia is the Mother of African independence … for all of us on the continent, Ethiopia is our Mother … As we know, if the Mother is not at peace, the family cannot be at peace.”

The US is going for the jugular of the Mother of post-colonial Africa. An analogy would be destabilizing India to gain control of the South Asian region.

The widespread revulsion among Africans all over the continent is palpable over the US using its TPLF proxy to destabilize Ethiopia. Their collective cry is “No more” – no more colonialism, no more sanctions, no more disinformation, no more lies by CNN, BBC, etc. The cry resonates widely among the Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese, Somalis, Kenyans and friends of Ethiopia.

The paradox is, Ethiopia now has a democratically elected government after decades of thuggery under the TPLF that ruled with an iron fist for more than 30 years with US backing. The Tigray people actually add up to only 5% of Ethiopia’s population, but such details were irrelevant to Washington so long as the government in Addis Ababa obeyed its diktat.

There is also a religious subtext. The Tigray people are Christians whereas the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia is the Oromo, native to the region of Ethiopia and Kenya. They are a Cushitic people who have inhabited East and Northeast Africa since at least the early 1st millennium.

The Oromo people have a glorious history of resistance to forced religious conversion, primarily by European explorers and Catholic missionaries.

Broadly, the resistance ideology is embedded in the Oromo collective memory. Abiy Ahmed is the first ethnic Oromo to become prime minister. Winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, Abiy is an extraordinary politician, farsighted and deeply committed to his country’s pluralist national identity.

In geopolitical terms, Washington would see many advantages in the destabilization of Ethiopia as it would trigger a multi-vector regional conflagration, as happens when multi-ethnic nations unravel – such as the former Yugoslavia or today’s India or Russia.

And neighboring countries would be inevitably sucked into ethnic wars such as Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya – and even Egypt and Persian Gulf states.

The fact that the UAE, Turkey and Iran – improbable allies – are supporting Abiy’s desperate effort to preserve Ethiopia’s sovereignty and national cohesion and helped boost his military campaign to ward off another attempt by the US-backed TPLF to capture power speaks volumes.

In this matrix, while the US aims to dominate the hugely strategic Horn of Africa, “Plan B” will be to be the spoiler by throwing the region into turmoil so that China is also a loser. The point is, the Western world has no answer to China’s BRI.

China and Ethiopia have a strong political affinity and deep economic bonds, and Ethiopia is one of China’s top five investment destinations on the African continent. Beyond investment, relations extend to trade, infrastructure finance and other areas. Economic engagement with China has provided Ethiopia with many opportunities.

Curiously, even prior to the advent of the BRI, China was already a major financier of Ethiopia’s infrastructure. Chinese investment in the manufacturing sector – incidentally, one of the Abiy government’s focus areas currently – has contributed to the country’s economic transformation and diversification and to job creation.

A recent report by well-known London-based global think-tank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) titled “The Belt and Road and Chinese Enterprises in Ethiopia” estimates that China’s BRI “has the potential to open up new development pathways through infrastructure development, stimulating investment and job creation and promoting economic transformation … BRI can be an engine for growth and development. However, this is not a given …”

The ODI report, dated August 2021, concludes: “Chinese investors are concerned regarding economic and political uncertainty in Ethiopia. Political uncertainty has to do with domestic conflict and political instability, which may affect not only investors’ profitability, but also their personal safety and the safety of their assets.

“The economic challenges relate to high production and transport costs and the difficulties of accessing foreign exchange, which is a problem for virtually all Chinese businesses in the country. The challenges identified by Chinese investors could pose a threat to the sustained development of China-Ethiopia economic cooperation.”

Simply put, if there is mayhem in Ethiopia, the locomotive of China’s BRI in the vast regions of the Horn of Africa and East Africa can potentially be slowed down, if not derailed. That is the least the US can do, faced with the grim prospect that it has no alternative offer to make to the African nations to counter the BRI.

If the BRI locomotive chugs along unimpeded, the entire Western neocolonial project in Africa in the 21st century is threatened with extinction.

The existential angst shows in the Joe Biden administration’s announcement on New Year’s Eve terminating Ethiopia’s access to the US duty-free trade program under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) “amid the widening conflict in northern Ethiopia.”

President Biden had threatened in November already that Ethiopia would be cut off from the AGOA because of alleged human rights violations in the Tigray region. Biden spoke up in sheer despair in anticipation of Wang Yi’s working visit to Ethiopia on December 1.

This article was produced in partnership by Indian Punchline and Globetrotter, which provided it to Asia Times.

M K Bhadrakumar is a former Indian diplomat. ... of-africa/

Posts: 5216
Joined: 02 Aug 2018, 22:59

Re: Indian Diplomat: US playing spoiler to China in Horn of Africa

Post by Fiyameta » 11 Jan 2022, 00:10

The TPLF is an American proxy to destabilize Ethiopia and Eritrea, and trigger regime changes.

The Horn of Africa is of great strategic importance, and Ethiopia sits at its heart. Destabilize Ethiopia and impact the whole region; install a dictatorial expansionist ethnocentric regime (TPLF); sow division and poison the atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation that is being built within the region – this is the neocolonial agenda. ------- (Indian Diplomat)

:idea: :idea: :idea:

Posts: 5216
Joined: 02 Aug 2018, 22:59

Re: Indian Diplomat: US playing spoiler to China in Horn of Africa

Post by Fiyameta » 11 Jan 2022, 00:32

China hopes to expand East African rail network and develop ports

The proposals could see Kenya’s Mombasa-Nairobi rail link extended to the Uganda border and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti line expanding to 5 other countries in total

Jevans Nyabiage
Mon, January 10, 2022, 1:30 AM·4 min read

China is proposing a grand infrastructure plan for the Horn of Africa that would involve expanding the two major railroads and developing ports on the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Under the proposals, announced during last week's visit by China's foreign minister Wang Yi, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya will be extended to Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and eventually to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Meanwhile the line linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with Djibouti would be extended to Eritrea - but both plans will only happen in "due course".

Wang also called for faster development of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to develop a framework of "two axes plus two coasts".

"This is part of our effort to help this part of the region to accelerate the building of industrial belts and economic belts to create more jobs," Wang said at a briefing with Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omamo in the coastal city of Mombasa on Thursday.

Besides Kenya, Wang visited Eritrea, which occupies a strategic location on the Red Sea and signed up for the Belt and Road Initiative in November, and Comoros, an archipelago on the Indian Ocean where China has been increasing its footprint under its Maritime Silk Road, the seabourne part of the BRI.

Wang's visit may help revive plans to extend the Mombasa-Nairobi line to Malaba on the border with Uganda, which stalled after China's Export-Import Bank asked Kenya in 2018 to redo a study to prove its commercial viability.

China is making inroads into the Horn of Africa and has already invested heavily in Djibouti, which is home to its first overseas military base. Further investment in ports in the region may prove crucial to the success of the Maritime Silk Road.

Seifudein Adem, a professor of global studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, said a proposed rail link between Addis Ababa and Assab, a port in Eritrea, may be the winning card in China's new diplomatic strategy in the Horn.

Adem said:"Since Ethiopia is already linked to Kenya through a transnational road system, it is conceivable that the entire Eastern and Central African region would be interconnected before very long, with the other regions to follow."

Adem said the expansion of rail networks in the Horn of Africa has been one of Beijing's main strategic objectives in Africa as a way of boosting connectivity.

Rail is key to China's connectivity plans for Africa.

"Having a standard gauge railway connecting the region's coastal and inland ports (including dry ports) will be essential for the region in the medium term," said Deborah Brautigam, a professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University and founding director of the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI).

She said if African countries want economic integration with each other and the world, they will need to reshape their economic geography.

But Wang's comments that it will happen in "due course" suggests "it depends on African governments creating the conditions (peace, stability, realistic feasibility studies) that will allow Chinese capital to be employed productively and sustainably," Brautigam added.

Despite the renwed interest in rail investment, Yu-Shan Wu, a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Pretoria in South Africa said:"China is unlikely to commit to large infrastructure projects as it did in the past. Such projects also depend on their feasibility.

'China's now a big player': why Beijing is doing more in Horn of Africa

W Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow with the Centre for Global Development and a former Liberian public works minister, said: "Morocco recently signed onto the BRI - so it seems more of an indication of China doubling down in these regions.

"On the infrastructure front, the Chinese have repeatedly baulked at financing the rest of the [Kenyan] standard gauge railway so I would adopt a wait-and-see approach here."

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. ... 00213.html

Post Reply