People paying any attention to world affairs have known for years that Francis Fukuyama jumped the gun when he declared “the end of history” and announced that the world has witnessed “the end-point of humanity’s ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” after the fall of the Soviet Union.
After the end of the Cold War, there was indeed a very brief period when many believed that Western liberal democracy would forever dominate and that the world would always function under an American-led “rules-based order” that values, respects and protects democracy, sovereignty and human rights.
It, of course, did not turn out to be the case. The interests of those dominating this new world order transcended morality. America’s loudly and repeatedly declared commitment to protecting human rights turned out to be all smoke and no substance. Sure, the US and its allies always held on to their façade of doing everything they do to “spread democracy” and “protect human rights”, but when push came to shove they consistently pursued their interests which, many times, ran counter to their professed ideals. Here we have the perfect example, where American-led “rules-based order” value failed fantastically.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populated country, has risen as a key force in the Horn of Africa in recent years, enjoying rapid economic expansion and rising strategic significance in the area. It has experienced military as well as civil conflict, and terrible famine in the last few years. But, it is also an important state that is in a tussle between US and Russia. The recent episode appeared on April 7, when the US and its allies proposed the explosion of Russia before the UN General Assembly, which forced member states to choose whether to kick Russia out or not from the UN Human Rights Council.
As usual, the developing countries of the world including Ethiopia were forced to take sides. But Ethiopia voted against expulsion for sound reasons, as Al Mariam’s explained in it his Commentaries:
“Ethiopia has chosen neutrality in the U.S.-Russia-via-Ukraine conflict for several principled reasons. Thiis African nation does not have a dog in the elephantine battle between the US and Russia, it stands on the right side of history, which is peace among all nations and peoples.
“Ethiopia has urged and championed the cause of peace, restraint in the use of force, and diplomacy to resolve disputes between the parties in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Ethiopia has walked the talk of peace, and it has demonstrated its commitment to peace and restraint time and again, not just in history but today.”
Once again, the US wants Ethiopia to align with the west and isolate Russia, but Ethiopia simply abstained from voting against Russia in the UNSC resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ethiopia has definitely set an example for other African countries as well as the rest of the World dealing with similar challenges. The crisis has already erupted as a result of the US-led Western world’s blunder in handling the pandemic, followed by unprecedented anti-Russia sanctions. Western powers’ incomprehensible moves have put the economies of emerging countries in jeopardy.
Moreover, even if these developing nations seek help from these developed powers, there is no question that they will be exploited by this bloc. They would inevitably lose their sovereignty and become neo-imperial colonies as a result of adding political conditions to the aid they are given. However, by maintaining their principled neutrality, these countries in the Global South can minimize the amount of aid they request from the US-led West, allowing them to keep as much strategic autonomy and state sovereignty as feasible.
Meanwhile, Russia is adamant about its influence over the African continent. Vladimir Putin has clearly stated that Russia is “always on Africa’s side” and is keen to ramp up cooperation. In recent years, Russia has aligned with countries on the continent. Many of these relations were first established by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. These ties help Africa to secure Russian military expertise and equipment, including training and arms sales. In return, economic ties provide Russia access to minerals and rare metals, including aluminum in Guinea and lithium in Zimbabwe.
Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act
Recently, the US proposed H. R. 7311 entitled “To direct the Secretary of State to develop and submit to Congress a strategy and implementation plan outlining United States efforts to counter the malign influence and activities of the Russian Federation and its proxies in Africa, and for other purposes.” that was tabled by Congress. This would allow State Department to regularly assess the scale and scope of the Russian Federation’s influence and activities in Africa that undermine the United States’ objectives and interests. Gregory W. Meeks, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement following the passage of the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act in the House of Representatives:
“This bill enlists the resources of the State Department and other federal agencies to examine the Russian Federation’s malign activities in Africa and hold those complicit in these activities to account. The United States will not sit by and watch Putin’s war machine attempt to gain strength to the detriment of fragile states in Africa and elsewhere.”
So, the US would be responding to its rival through these “democracy”-driven programs. But, Ethiopia has thwarted the intention of the United States. No self-respecting country, let alone the historical cradle of anti-imperialism and Pan-Africanism that Ethiopia is, would ever allow a foreign country to legislate its interests with any other. What America is trying to do across Africa through this act is reassert its declining unipolar hegemony through neo-imperial means. Its representatives arrogantly regard themselves as viceroys over the dozens of countries in that continent, which is actually racist whether they’re conscious of it or not. The US has absolutely no right to meddle in their foreign policies, especially towards Russia.
“Ethiopia won’t allow the US to legislate our relations“
During an interview with Sputnik, Ethiopian Ambassador to Russia Alemayehu Tegenu Aargau was asked about the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act”, he said that his country won’t allow the US to legislate its relationship with Russia. The Ethiopian top diplomat to Russia has ripped US’ proposal and stated that his country won’t allow the US to legislate its relationship with Russia. So, Ethiopia will be boldly stretching its strategic partnership. Ambassador to Russia Alemayehu said:
“Yes, I have heard about it [bill]. Look, Ethiopia is a sovereign country; we keep all the relations and contact with any states based on our national interest, national dignity, and sovereignty. Our foreign relations will only be managed by ourselves, not by any other state. This is the standard of Ethiopia with regard to any bill. Ethiopia wants to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Russia. We are an independent country that can decide on our own issues.”
This position is in line with international law and aimed at pursuing his country’s objective national interests. Ethiopia considers that Ethiopian-Russian relations are mutually advantageous and aimed at speeding up the emerging Multipolar World Order, which will benefit the great mass of humanity living in the Global South. Furthermore, it wants to set an example for African nations.
This is all the more astonishing given that the US launched the TPLF-led Hybrid War of terror against Ethiopia as retaliation for its balanced foreign policy, despite the fact that the conflict failed to erase Ethiopia’s independence. Regardless of the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act”, the Biden administration is hellbent on punishing Ethiopia with crippling sanctions. The Biden administration believes by creating extra-economic hardship in Ethiopia, hi administration believes people will rise up and overthrow the legitimately elected government. One old Joe Biden friend Chris Coons the senator from Delaware recently tweeted that his sanctions bill in the Senate was intended to “punish the parties who continue to fuel the conflict”.
By refusing to let this happen, Ethiopia is proudly flexing its strategic autonomy and leading the rest of Africa by example, which aligns with its historical role in the continent. This is all the more impressive a position considering that the TPLF-driven Hybrid War of Terror was unleashed by the US against this country as punishment for its balanced foreign policy, which shows that the conflict completely failed to eliminate Ethiopia’s independence. On the contrary, Ethiopia is redoubling its commitment to becoming the African leader of multipolarity as proven by the prioritization of its relations with Russia.
The depletion of relations
The US and African relations have depleted over time. This new bill that was introduced in congress indeed expresses US’ desire to throw Russia away. The bill does address the relationship between Moscow and military governments in Sudan and Mali, specifically. U.S.-Africa trade continues to slump from $142 billion in 2008 to just $64 billion in 2021. In contrast, between 2015 and 2022, Russia’s trade with these African countries doubled to about 20 billion dollars a year.
Senegal President trashes Western Sanctions
The Senegalese President, Macky Sall has criticized the West over Russian Sanctions that have led to an intense food crisis in Africa. Macky Sall, who also chairs the African Union, has warned the European Union that Africa is facing a food crisis with soaring wheat and fertilizer prices combined with increasing food shortages due to the war in Ukraine. Targeting the sanctions, Macky stated,
“They (Sanctions) are making it harder for African nations to buy food. The African Development Bank says the price of wheat has already jumped 45% on the continent.”
This statement comes as a surprise because just a few days ago, African Union was at the EU summit. At the EU summit, The African Union was advised to blame Putin for the food crisis and co-ordinate with the European Union to increase production.
But, Senegal has made it clear that won’t backstab Russia. In addition, Vladimir Putin and Macky Sall had talked about the rising crisis and he was ‘assured’ that food grains will be restored. After the meeting, Macky was quite satisfied by Putin’s assertiveness. He said, “I found Vladimir Putin committed and aware that the crisis and sanctions create serious problems for weak economies, such as African economies,”
African nations believe that they have been used by the West and are becoming blockades for their development. The continent lashes economic reforms by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as the main reasons behind underdevelopment in African countries. When it comes to Ethiopia, President Abiy has repeatedly slammed the United States and cited the history of US-Ethiopia relations to obstruct the US, pointing to Washington’s inclination to tolerate internal repression and abuse during the TPLF’s reign of terror to cast doubt on US motives.
The West did everything it could to push Africa against Russia. However, a simple meeting between counterparts was enough for Russia to reclaim Africa. Africa’s food crisis is acute, due to a lack of agricultural possibilities. The United Nations has previously warned that the Ukraine conflict will not only hike food prices but will also put fertilizer out of reach for millions of farmers, potentially harming Africa’s harvest next year. African citizens and governments find Russia a much better alternative to the United States and the West. While, the US talks of bringing peace to Africa, Africa believes the US itself incites the havoc in Africa.