Ethiopia :U.S. Visa Restriction Could Harm the Relation Between the Two Countries

May 24, 2021

Undue pressure from the U.S. in the form of visa restriction, among other things, to influence the Ethiopian government will harm the age-old relations between the two countries, says Ethiopia


The U.S. has been relentless this past week in terms of exerting political and diplomatic pressure on Ethiopia. The pretext to it is the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

First, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution demanding an end to the conflict in Tigray. And then the U.S. State Department issued a statement announcing targeted visa restriction on selected Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities whom the U.S. sees as having a significant role in the alleged human rights violations in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

The U.S. authorities also announced economic and security assistance restrictions.  It all happened in a span of a few days.  Ethiopia was one of the major U.S. air recipient countries in sub-Saharan Africa owing to the security partnership between the two countries during the “U.S. war on terror”  in the region – something that lasted for nearly two decades. 

The U.S. State department statement, on Sunday, said that there was “significant diplomatic engagement,” but no measure was taken to end the conflict in the region. Introduction of visa and economic restriction is meant to be a “stick approach,” for the U.S. to advance its interest in Ethiopia which some people tend to relate to “weak and dependent government” in the country. Others think the U.S. is interested in resuscitating the TPLF.  In fact, the U.S. listed TPLF leaders, as parties to the conflict, in the visa restrictions. 

However, the U.S. government announced that it will continue humanitarian and social programs in the country.  

Ethiopia on Monday reacted to it, saying that the U.S. visa restriction moves against Ethiopian authorities could harm the relation between the two countries.  The visa restriction, for Ethiopia, represents “undue pressure.” 

” The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia finds it unfortunate to learn about the decision by the United States to continue exerting undue pressure on Ethiopia by imposing visa restrictions on Ethiopian officials,” said the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia which was issued on Monday.  

It is apparent that the Ethiopian government did not expect it. It was said that the decision from the U.S. “came at a time when the Ethiopian Government has been engaging positively and constructively with the U.S. administration on issues of common concern. “

While noting the significance Ethiopia attaches to its relation with the United States, said the statement, ” the government [Ethiopian] finds it extremely regrettable that the implications of the visa restrictions and other related measures taken earlier will seriously undermine this longstanding and important bilateral relationship.” 

US special envoy Jeffery Feltman visited Ethiopia about two weeks ago as part of his working visit to the Horn of Africa and North East Africa. During his visit, he met with Ethiopian officials, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, with whom he discussed the humanitarian situation  in the Tigray region and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – another issue the U.S. has been trying to exert pressure with an apparent move to benefit Egypt at the expense of Ethiopia. 

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