WikiLeaks on The Ogaden Conflict

 

“United States Government’s perspective on counter-insurgency efforts in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region: The latest Wikileaks revelation”
February 14, 2011 by Peter Chrichton

The latest Wikileaks cable details the US Government’s 2007 position on the ongoing conflict in the Ogaden region, following the ONLF’s attack on an oil installation. The cable considers the Ethiopian Government’s rationale for such a “brutal and excessive counter insurgency operation” and provides a fascinating insight into US perceptions about the EPRDF, about US-Ethiopian relations, and the extent that the US is involved in Ethiopian affairs. Anyone who has any doubt about the role that the USG plays in Ethiopian affairs should read this document. It is originally from November 28, 2007, and was released by Wikileaks on February 3, 2011. It is available in full at:

http://213.251.145.96/cable/2007/11/07ADDISABABA3404.html

The cable suggests that the underlying reasons for “such an extreme, visceral GoE and Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) response” was because it threatened the EPRDF’s vision for economic development (close links with China and oil exploitation), posed a “fundamental threat to the GoE’s authority”, and “embarrassed the Defense Forces, making it appear to the outside world as unable to control and secure its own territory.” The cable also suggests that the USG is of the opinion that the EPRDF views the ONLF as a “long term threat to the survival of the EPRDF government”. The cable discusses the parallels with the TPLF, who similarly to the ONLF, with just 6% of the population were able to overthrow the Derg. The United States Government (USG) sees the ONLF issue as a “domestic issue” and they are not seen as a “terrorist organization” “though elements of the ONLF may very well support extremist operations.” The cable further explains that the problem is “not the ONLF as an organization, but individuals within the group.” The USG also suggests that there is no “explicit evidence” of Eritrean support for the ONLF outside of evidence provided by the EPRDF.

The cable also suggests that the EPRDF’s vision includes a “heavy government role in promoting & accelerated capitalist development”. It also underscores the strong links between China and Ethiopia suggesting that in China, Ethiopia has found “a cheap, eager, and reliable partner to implement infrastructural expansion without nagging about human rights, social equity, or environmental concerns.”

The cable concludes with three USG recommendations regarding the Ogaden situation:

These include:

1. That the USG have a “frank discussion with the GOE” about the fact that
“military action alone will not bring a lasting resolution [in the Ogaden]“

2. Sustain a more comprehensive approach with includes an “emphasis on unrestricted humanitarian aid deliveries and on commercial food and
livestock trade”

3. Political dialogue with the ONLF could be the key to resolving problems and opening political space with the people of the Ogaden.
It is interesting to note that all meetings with EPRDF officials about counter-insurgency efforts in this cable (and others) include the participation of USAID representatives.

USAID has often been accused of being a front for US intelligence gathering operations in Africa, and their ongoing participation in meetings that have nothing to do with aid and development further raise the suspicion of the close links between US humanitarian assitance and intelligence gathering operations in Ethiopia.

As mainstream reporting on Wikileaks revelations seem to have dried up in the recent months, we fully encourage you to continue to view cables emanating from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. There are currently 6 cables and new cables are released on an ongoing basis providing an increased and uncensored understanding of the role that the United States Government plays in Ethiopian affairs. Thus far cables have focused on land grabbing in Ethiopia, humanitarian assistance in the Ogaden, US perspectives on

Ethiopian government “hardliners”, and briefings on meetings between USG and Meles Zenawi. All cables emanating from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa are available on an ongoing basis at http://213.251.145.96/origin/140_0.html

Peter Chrichton can be contacted at Peter.Chrichton@gmail.com

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