First Eritrea, then Norway, now Congressman Payne: Ethiopia Tars Those Who Oppose Its Aggression In The Horn

Press Release

January 14, 2008

First Eritrea, then Norway, now Congressman Payne: Ethiopia Tars Those Who Oppose Its Aggression In The Horn

If more proof is needed to show that when you lie down with dogs, you are bound to get up with fleas in U.S.-Ethiopian relations, this is a good one. A U.S. Congressional leader goes on a fact-finding trip to the troubled region of the Horn of Africa and talks about bringing peace to the region. Congressman Donald Payne, who chairs the House International Relations subcommittee on Africa, while visiting Eritrea, reiterating what the whole world is saying, calls for the withdrawal of the invading Ethiopian troops from Somalia to end the humanitarian and political crisis in that country.

Then the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs puts out a statement calling the U.S. Congressman “a terrorist.” The statement said, “Such a position brings one into the category of terrorists.”

For many unsavory regimes around the world, 9/11 has been ‘a pot of gold’ they could dip into to ensure U.S. political, diplomatic, and economic support. The dictatorial minority regime that rules Ethiopia today is probably the most adept at using terrorism to its advantage, including stealing an election in 2005 and justifying its many adventures in the Horn of Africa.

Meles Zenawi has been trying to label “terrorist” anyone or any country that didn’t support his many aggressive adventures in the Horn of Africa. That has been his favorite label for all of Ethiopia’s armed groups that have been struggling to topple his illegitimate regime, which is in power thanks to Washington’s political, economical, and diplomatic support.

There is virtually nothing the TPLF regime has not done to get the label to stick on Eritrea. Nothing has worked. In fact, every time it tries to do that, the world gets a chance to see the criminal nature of the regime.

Then the regime accused Norway last year of supporting terrorism in the Horn of Africa. It accused the European nation of supporting "terrorist groups" in Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan and it went on to expel six of the nine Norwegian diplomats from Ethiopia.

It is hard to believe, but this pales when compared with the regime’s statement this week against U.S. Congressman Payne. In a statement by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the regime noted that “the Congressman has expressed his position that the only solution for the Somali conflict is withdrawal of Ethiopian soldiers from Somalia.” Though the Congressman was reiterating what the entire world is saying to bring about peace to Somalia, the minority regime said such a position “is deliberately forwarded to bring terrorists to power.”

Adding, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said, “Such a position brings one into the category of terrorists…..and that recommending the withdrawal of Ethiopian Soldiers from Somalia at this time should be equated with supporting remnants of Al Qaeda and the UIC to revive and disrupt the country's stability.”

The Organization of Eritrean Americans (OEA) calls on the U.S. Department of State to force Meles Zenawi to apologize to Congressman Payne.

Furthermore, there is an important lesson that should be drawn from this unholy alliance with a dictatorial regime that uses the global war against terrorism to prolong its stay in power. This case brings the bitter lesson that working with such regimes will in the long run undermine the real war against terrorism.