(A good piece on the misuses of food aid in Ethiopia currently. Like other aspects of “humanitarian aid” it has been so largely weaponized as another tool in the arsenal of U.S. foreign policy as to be essentially the opposite of what it appears to be. It is long and detailed. Worth the read… take the time. RJP)
- **Please forward this article and findings on these links for USAID and White House, and request comment . Contact your US House Representative and Senator and share this article — a false pretense for supporting TPLF similar to Iraq’s fake WMD is being peddled while we don’t know “Where are the US taxpayers’ billions stolen from Ethiopia?”
- ∙ The US Embassy in Addis can be reached at [email protected] OR [email protected] The US Mission to the African Union can be reached at [email protected]
I am old enough to intimately remember Emperor Haile Selassie as the first among world leaders at the side of JFK’s casket in on 25 November 1963. Front. And. Center.
Yesterday, 17 September 2021, will go down in history as the death of this historic relationship dating from 1903. This compelled me to put pen to paper on a foreign policy topic for the first time in years. To my Ethiopian friends, I am with you.
How does one even begin to apologies for the Biden Administration’s humiliating foreign policy record so far? (Within the last 48 hours America has lost historic allies in Ethiopia and France. How poetic that de Gaulle and Haile Selassie are standing side by side above.)
Look at this picture and take a moment for it to sink in. Ethiopians like to say gold in your hand feels like a piece of bronze.
Yesterday, President Biden issued an executive order imposing sanctions on warring parties in Ethiopia — which in reality is targeting the Government of Ethiopia- the most democratically elected in the history of the ancient nation.
It is not the first time that Ethiopia, a nation that has sent diplomatic mission abroad since before the United States existed, has been thrown under the bus by the West. Recall when Ethiopia — one of only a handful of African nations in the League of Nations — was allowed to be overran by the same League that it was member of AND by another League member. Double standards and colonialism have never been part of your vocabulary.
Yesterday’s Executive Order has parallels to the British and French foreign ministers at the time of the League’s decision: Sir Samuel Hoare and Pierre Laval, secretly planned to divide the country and give a piece to Mussolini (Hoare and Laval lost their jobs as a result).
The Administration gave moral equivalence to the Ethiopian version of Blackshirts collectively known as Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF, a declared terrorist organization. A collection of dead-end, narrow-minded ethnophob kleptocrats.
The executive order has no doubt emboldened the TPLF and prolonged the war. The executive order has no doubt emboldened the TPLF and prolonged the war.Anyone who follows the Horn of Africa politics and human rights issues (and has half a brain) will know the TPLF be as racist and base-ist as the National Party of Apartheid (literally ‘separate development’) South Africa and the Nazi Party of Germany — just a cunning modern equivalent.
Surly coincidental, also yesterday, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) declared that of the 445 large food aids trucks sent to to Tigray province only 38 have returned. Suppress one news story with another is as old as…Ethiopia. The message from WFP characterized the missing trucks (not one or two, but several hundred in a war zone) as “concerning” — if that’s not the understatement of the century, I don’t know what is.
On 24 August the American Embassy in Ethiopia tweeted, “USAID rejects any accusation that food assistance is knowingly or willingly given to soldiers,” — the response was met with widespread derision including photos of TPLF fighters with USAID biscuits.
Just six days later, on 1st September, Sean Jones, the USAID mission Director to Ethiopia reversed course after withering criticism(during the same week Americans started the infamous exit from Kabul airport) and admitted the TPLF was indeed attacking and stealing food from aid storage depots.
Resurrecting the TPLF, which appears to be the (misguided) US policy is akin to throwing a lifeline to the Nazi Party after, for argument’s sake, they had retreated to, say Bavaria, at the end of the WWII — as the TPFL had fled to Tigray region during the last three years.
Ethiopia 1935/2020, Poland 1939: Why the Double Standard, Still?
The sanctions imposed by the Administration, which elicited on open letter to President Biden from the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, will, based on history, only strengthen the resolve of Ethiopia to:
a) Crush the TPLF on the battlefield as in Stalingrad
b) Prosecute those captured or turned in as in Nuremburg
c) Hunt those leaders who escape prosecution as in Eichmann in Argentina
Food Aid: The Emperical Evidence on the TPLF Theft
Food Aid: the Foreign Policy Tool that Keeps on Destroying
Food aid is fuel to keep fighting. It is also fungible with cash and arms. Is the United States using food aid in the same way it funded Contras with arms sales to Khomeini’s Iran?
If there is poster child for a failed state, effectively without a government for approximately 30 years, neighboring Somalia would be the most convincing.
What few recognize is that the land of modern-day pirates largely became dismembered and ungovernable due to food aid, or more precisely the use of food aid by the US and the West for short term geo-political interests.
A little known book from 1999, The Road to Hell, written by a recovering aid worker in Somalia chronicles the devastating and extreme effects of ‘poor people in rich countries giving food aid to rich people in poor countries.’
The Road to Hell, should provide a roadmap of how NOT to create the next Somalia. Or Syria, or Libya, or, or.
In early July of this year, the open debate on the Tigray conflict at the UN was spearheaded by the US. At this unprecedented event for Ethiopia — one of the few countries in the world that is was a member of both the League of Nations and the UN — the US Ambassador was unequivocal in advocating for food aid to reach TPLF held region of Tigray.
Who wouldn’t support feeding starving women and children?
USA, Discouraging Democracy?
Let us look back at the events of the summer, for context: In the week before the UN meeting, Ethiopian Federal forces had just completed a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew from Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, undoubtedly under heavy fighting and pressure from troops loyal to the TPLF.
Also coinciding in the week before the UN meeting, Ethiopia had just completed the most free and fair election in its long history so it’s alarming to see that the State Department was “gravely concerned” at this historic achievement in the middle of a pandemic no less.
Note, Obama called Ethiopia a ‘democracy’ at a state visit during TPLF’s rule and who could forget the despicable Susan Rice laughing while endorsing the TPLF Election (imagine if it was Canada, or any European nation, she was commenting on) despite the mass killing of pro-democracy protesters at the time. Rice, a close confidant of the former TPLF dictator, Meles Zenawi, is supposedly calling the US policy shots for Biden on Ethiopia.
I invite Rice to one of the many homes that lost children to TPLF’s live bullets while marching to honor their vote.
An analysis of the wider conflict and US policy is documented well by Nemo Simret in Pay any price, bear any burden, and a related reversal by the New York Times journalist Declan Walsh, A brief experiment with Truth with the “editors of the NY Times are apparently sweeping this reversal under the rug.”
The US has longstanding knowledge of the misuse of food aid, so the missing trucks this week, and looted warehouse should not come as a surprise. The TPLF routinely misdirected aid even when ruling Ethiopia let alone while on the run.
Empirical Findings Reveal Large-Scale, Ethnic Based, Theft of Food Aid
A multi-million dollar food aid distribution research project was conducted in the late 1990’s. The project was led by the Agricultural Economics department at Michigan State University in coordination with the Ethiopian Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (MEDAC) and the US Agency for International Aid (USAID) — who funded the project. Below are the findings:
For years, while TPLF were leading Ethiopia, food aid was going to one particular region, Tigray, at approximately 20 times more per person than average of other regions of Ethiopia, and about 7 times more per person than the average of other regions when adjusting for the possible influence of contributory factors, or covariables, using statistical and econometric analyses.
Basically, worse case 20x more, best case 7x more to Tigray region directed by the TPLF.
This little-known study was brought out in technical aid workshops and various proceedings, of course it didn’t make the TPLF led government in Addis Ababa happy. The US funded project to understand where the billions in American taxpayers’ funds were going to was immediately cancelled by the TPLF government and scientists kicked out of the country.
Ultimately the data, based on a survey of 4,166 households, was published in the peer reviewed journal Food Policy, 24 (1999) pg (see above or Table 3, pg. 404 for the theft and regional discrepancies cited).
In typical academic fashion, the most salient but politically contentious findings, are buried at the bottom of the paper with the unsurprising statement that regional differences “are due to the factors not measured by this study.” No uproar, not even a whimper, from the US State Department and US Mission in Ethiopia?
That Easy Word: Genocide
The word ‘genocide’ along with buckets of tears effuse from the useful fools’ (essentially brainwashed Tigreans as no one else in the country or diaspora supports the terrorists) social media accounts with hashtags purporting genocide in Tigray – see my remark later in the piece about retribution in Tigray.
If stealing billions from starving people of one ethnicity and giving to another (up to 20 times more) over decades is not genocide, then English needs a new word for ethnic-based death from depravation. A classic case of the perpetrator crying wolf.
Forbes Magazine was not as coy as the academics — an article published many years after the Food Policy publication, Ethiopia’s Cruel Con Game (ironically these stollen funds are now used to buy influence on the same Americans it was stolen from) had this to say:
“Two numbers tell the story in a nutshell: 1) The amount of American financial aid received by Ethiopia’s government since it took power: $30 billion. 2) The amount stolen by Ethiopia’s (TPLF) leaders since it took power: $30 billion.”
This video from 2015 documents some of this theft among other crimes.
America is notorious among G7 countries for being rather skimpy for its own citizens’ food stamps and safety-net policies. Yet it has been providing billions of dollars of food aid for decades. Moreover, when it is stolen, misallocated, and sold — there is deafening silence..
Food Aid in Ethiopia: A Brief History of TPLF Theft, and the New Iran Contra.
Moreover, it stands to reason that this theft and continual Aid is not a bug but rather a feature — a new Iran Contra? You’re a billionaire, and if your house has been burglarized for 30 years, losing billions, when you don’t change your locks, what should one assume?
The Kleptos, Pickpockets, Ill Gotten Gains, the Ethiopian Low-Lives…
/Leba/ Amharic for ‘thief’: a person who steals another person’s property, especially by stealth and without using force or violence.
The word ‘leba’ has a particular weight in Ethiopia, so much so that it’s even a term of perverse endearment: Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that does not have iron bars covering windows of gold shops — you get the picture. Armored truck companies have yet to do business there.
Since the TPLF’s effective hold on national power from 1991 to 2018, blatant corruption, often taking the form of ethnic based misallocation of resources (aka lebenet, in adjective form) extended far beyond food aid. Infrastructure and capital projects along with contractors’ lucrative contracts followed a pattern largely indistinguishable from South African Apartheid in its effects.
The TPLF, their supporters, and Tigray to some extent benefited — although the mass of Tigray’s population gained little and millions are still trapped in structural food deficiency requiring annual food handouts — in four ways:
1) Regional bias favoring Tigray with the allocation of the aid and investments.
2) By driving infrastructure policy from the ubiquitous government constructed apartment complexes (dolled out to TPLF supporters) to the suspicion number of football stadiums — which caught the attention of the Economist.
Apart from graft concerns, this had the effect of squeezing out the (more efficient) private sector, job creation, innovation, etc in an already poor country. The ‘developmental state’ policies during the period of TPLF rule ensured that Ethiopia was one of the top countries in the world, if not the top, in terms of percentage of GDP in state hands.
3) First priority for these contracts were awarded to the network of TPLF run front companies under the guise of independent private companies, often associated with the so-called REST (Relief Society of Tigray) and so-called EFFORT (Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray).
4) Developing a system of patronage whereby businesses and individuals connected with the TPLF would benefit resulting in a systematic culture of corruption in an African country largely known for an absence of corruption.
The World Bank own spatial data (blatantly published online, no less, at least it gave Priyanka Kanth and Michael Geiger a chance to show off their spatial analysis skills — save the website to PDF form in case the WB decides to remove the link), show the concentration of road construction in Tigray tell a powerful story.
The fact that no one at the World Bank or the State Department has objected tells an an even more powerful story of the low opinion the Bretton Woods institutions have about Africa (imagine if Biden’s home state of Delaware received 5x, 10x, 20x, 50x more infrastructure spending than the remaining 49 states).
Interesting, just to the south, Amhara region had almost no growth in roads (there were no inherent previous disparities in non-Tigray parts of Ethiopia that would justify such an unbalanced investment).
I’ve seen similar maps from South Africa in the 1980’s: Townships and bantustan areas vs where whites live.
TPLF rebel movement late 1970s to 1991
At the time of the MEDAC/MSU/USAID food aid findings, the TPLF were not new to diversion and commercializing food aid. Indeed, that is how the rebel group financed their movement that ousted the government of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991 (a dictator, no doubt, but one who suppressed all equally regardless of ethno-linguistic background).
Campaigns such as ‘Live Aid’ and ‘We Are the World’ were primarily used to fund the TPLF according to the BBC