9 Ethiopian factions signed the announcement of the overthrow of Abi Ahmed in Washington .. Why are Ethiopians and Americans angry at the Biden administration?
Washington- Four days separated two major demonstrations in Washington, DC, last week, where thousands of Ethiopian Americans gathered to express their support for one of the parties to the conflict in Ethiopia, and to express their position on President Joe Biden’s administration’s handling of what some see as a civil war that will not stop soon.
Although Ethiopia is located more than 7,000 miles from the American capital, Washington – which has the largest concentration of Ethiopians outside their country – has become one of the centers of influence on the management of armed conflict there.
On the 4th of November, Ethiopians sympathetic to the Tigray region chose to demonstrate in front of the Congress building and raised the region’s flags, and attacked Badin’s silence for what they considered the genocide carried out by Ethiopian army soldiers against Tigrayan civilians. November 4 was chosen to commemorate the first anniversary of the Ethiopian government’s decision to deploy its forces in the northern region of the country.
On the eighth of this month, thousands of supporters of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government chose to demonstrate in front of the White House, and raised slogans hostile to Biden’s handling of the military conflict in their country, and accused him of supporting the “Tigray Liberation Front.”
In a statement issued by Washington, 9 groups opposed to the Ethiopian government announced their union to overthrow Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and install a transitional government, to allow Washington a greater role in the Ethiopian conflict.
At a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, the new coalition expressed its quest to work together “before Ethiopia collapses and affects the whole region.”
Supporters of Abi Ahmed’s government downplayed the importance of the announcement of the anti-Ethiopian government coalition from Washington, and a demonstrator told Al Jazeera Net that “those gathered are unpopular among the community, and no one knows them and is only looking for fame.”
The unit that evaporated
About 450,000 people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States, more than half of them in Washington, DC, as one of the protesters mentioned to Al Jazeera Net.
Three years ago, thousands of Ethiopians gathered in Washington to welcome Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during his visit to the White House, which came after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. That visit included Washington and the states of Minnesota and California, where many Ethiopians reside.
The Ethiopians were proud of their prime minister, and supported their country’s position in its dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the construction and management of the Renaissance Dam, at a time when the administration of former President Donald Trump took a sympathetic stance with the Egyptian position.
The last year witnessed the evaporation of the Ethiopian-American unit, and in an interview with Al Jazeera Net, the former US ambassador to Ethiopia David Shen said that the Ethiopian community in the United States is closely following events there. The American media, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, pay close attention to this issue, as the two newspapers have written several editorials on the crisis, and major think tanks concerned with international affairs focus on the conflict. Ethiopian.
Ambassador Shin believes that the Ethiopian community in the United States is very divided over what is happening in their country of origin. “There is a Tigrayan community that supports their region’s cause, and there is a large Amharic community and numbers of other ethnicities who support the government of Ethiopia,” he said.
But some members of these communities, according to the ambassador, are either neutral or sympathetic to the Tigray cause, and “the Oromo Ethiopians seem to be divided in their position between the Tigrayans and the government.”
The political weight of the Ethiopians of America
The Biden administration is deeply concerned about what is going on in Ethiopia, as demonstrated by the high-level attention it pays to the crisis there. Some members of Congress are also showing a great deal of interest in Ethiopia.
For example, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has proposed a bipartisan bill to deal with Ethiopia, and there is similar interest from the House of Representatives.
Ambassador Shen says that the Congress’s interest in the Ethiopian issue, as it is in the White House and the State Department, is due in one of its reasons to the large gathering of the Ethiopian community in some congressional districts.
Ethiopian Americans have a limited electoral weight in general, but they represent a strong electoral bloc in 3 districts of the House of Representatives, one in northern Virginia and the other in the suburbs of Maryland, which are adjacent to the capital, Washington, and the third district is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Democrats control the three districts.
In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, protester Khadija Okri said that the votes of the Ethiopian electorate were always guaranteed to Democrats because of their lenient positions on immigrants and refugees, but she added, “Now that has changed, and we will vote for Republicans to punish Biden.”
Unanimous criticism of the Biden administration
For contradictory reasons, the competing Ethiopian parties in Washington directed their anger to the Biden administration’s handling of the crisis in Ethiopia.
“They want us to negotiate with Tigray terrorists and fighters, why doesn’t the US government negotiate with terrorists like al-Shabab in Somalia? They want to destroy our country as they did with Afghanistan. They will never succeed, we are Ethiopians,” said Ethiopian-American Dawit Girma.
Girma added to Al Jazeera Net, “President Biden’s administration responded to the recent crisis by threatening to limit the access of Ethiopian exports to American markets, under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a measure that affects more than one hundred million Ethiopians, and this confirms that Biden chooses to support the Tigray rebels from the terrorists.” “.
Abiy Ahmed’s supporters argued that Biden had failed to hold the Tigray Liberation Front accountable for the unprovoked attack on the Ethiopian Defense Forces in November 2020. This attack led to a tragic conflict.
Opponents of the front say it is classified as a “terrorist group”, and it is illogical for Washington to ask Abi Ahmed to enter into talks with it.
A call for tougher penalties
Al Jazeera Net spoke with a Tigrayan supporter, who expressed his desire for the Biden administration to describe the attacks on Tigray region as genocide, and called on it to take steps that undermine Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and intensify the sanctions imposed on it.
“A year ago, fighters from Tigray region confronted the Ethiopian army with primitive weapons, but they repelled its attacks, and advanced towards the capital, Addis Ababa, because they believed in the justice of their demands and the strength of their position,” said Abdullah Massad, a driver from Tigray region.
Massad called on Biden to remember that “the war began in November 2020, when Abi Ahmed’s forces launched an attack on the Tigray region, after he fabricated and created a rumor that the Tigrayan people had carried out a surprise attack on a military base of the Ethiopian army.”