Three factors are contributing to Ethiopia’s growing isolation. The first is Abiy’s capricious approach to foreign policy, which is characterized by personal relationships rather than engagement with institutions. He has sidelined the foreign ministry and closed or downsized dozens of embassies. He has alienated foreign leaders with a string of unkept promises, such as those to allow aid to reach Tigray or to eject Eritrean troops. And he has infuriated America by buying drones from Iran and snubbing American envoys.
The second factor is the West’s perceived double standard. From 1991 to 2018, when the TPLF dominated the Ethiopian government, America routinely turned a blind eye to its ally’s human rights violations. Because the Ethiopian army was helping fight jihadists in Somalia, a brutal campaign against separatists in Ethiopia’s own Somali region drew scant condemnation. “The West emboldened the TPLF and whitewashed its past sins,” argues Zelalem Moges, an Ethiopian lawyer. More recently, the administration of Donald Trump sided with Egypt and Sudan in their dispute with Ethiopia over a huge dam it is building on the Blue Nile. “Abiy genuinely believes the United States is trying to overthrow him,” notes an American diplomat. “He believes that he is this pro-American, liberalizing market reformer that we have shunned.” […] CONTINUE READING