U.S and U.K. issue warning to their citizens planning travel in Ethiopia
Time was tourists flocked to Ethiopia in search of the “Land of 13-Months of Sunshine” and adventure. Ziggy Marley, son of the late great reggae king Bob Marley, even wrote a song about it:
13 Months of Sunshine/Is what we got/Take us to, take us to, take us to that land/Who shall ascend the hill/Stand in that holy place/Lift up your heads/
O ancient gates/13 Months of Sunshine/Is what she got/Forward to , Forward to , Forward to that land/Where the water run (free)/We want to be
In 2017, the song heard from the U.S. of A and the U.K. is, “Get away, begone from that Land!”
For the past quarter of a century, Ethiopia has become “Land of 13-Months of Darkness” under the corrupt tyrannical rule of the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF). Some
Now the Governments of the U.S. and U.K. are advising their citizens, in no uncertain terms but with diplomatic delicacy, “Avoid Ethiopia like the plague! If you travel to Ethiopia and get in a jam, and the likelihood of getting jammed is high, you are on your own. Don’t call us because you can’t. Normal communications are shut down. We can’t help you.”
On June 13, the U.S. State Department issued a “
U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest and arbitrary detention since a state of emergency was imposed in October 2016. The Government of Ethiopia extended the state of emergency on March 15, 2017, and there continue to be reports of unrest, particularly in Gondar and Bahir Dar in Amhara State. This replaces the Travel Warning of December 6, 2016…
The Government of Ethiopia routinely restricts or shuts downs internet, cellular data, and phone services, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia and limiting the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions or arrests of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia… (Emphasis added.)
What exactly does this travel warning mean?
The U.S. issues two types of
A “Travel Alert” is issued “for short-term events we think you should know about when planning travel to a country”, often because the destination country is experiencing “strikes, demonstrations, disturbances, health issues or an elevated risk of terrorist attacks.”
On June 13, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office also issued a travel
On June 13, the T-TPLF
How cleverly convenient?! Vintage T-TPLF. They love one-upmanship, trying to stay one step ahead in the game and do an end run to score a touchdown.
Of course, the T-TPLF was notified in advance of the travel warning by the U.S and the U.K. officials. The T-TPLF guys just could not resist the opportunity to stick it in the face of Uncle Sam and John Bull by announcing that visitors can just cyber-walk (cakewalk) their way into Ethiopia, travel warning or no.
There have been previous U.S. travel warnings in Ethiopia.
In December 2016, the State Department
In May 2015, the State Department
In April 2010, the State Department
For the first time, the U.S. issued a “Travel Warning” in June 2017.
Tourism in Ethiopia went to the dogs after the T-TPLF declared a state of emergency in October 2016
According to data
From $5.6 billion to $29.8 billion in one year! Such a thing can only happen on Planet T-TPLF (nom de terre Thugistan).
Over the past year, tourism in Ethiopia has nosedived.
Estimates vary but tourists are staying away from that country in droves, possibly by the hundreds of thousands. Travel alerts and warnings issued by the State Department are making Americans planning to travel in Ethiopia skittish. There is substantial anecdotal evidence of trip cancellations, changes in travel plans, re-routings to other African destinations and travel postponements by American citizens. Informed American travelers believe it is too dangerous and highly risky to travel to Ethiopia and check out the usual historic tourist spots. To complicate things and make matters even worse, the T-TPLF has turned back upon arrival at Bole airport a number of Ethiopian Americans whom it suspects or believes are its opponents.
The impact of a dried up tourism industry on the local services economy has been devastating.
A story in Addis Standard in March
The T-TPLF has sought to drum up tourism by participating in tourism fairs and exhibitions and conducting “
The collapse of tourism appears to have been blamed on the former chief executive officer (CEO) of “Ethiopian Tourism Organization” (ETO) who has been in office since 2014. According to a
The decline in tourism has also impacted the availability of foreign currency. Tourism contributes significantly to the country’s foreign currency supply which is used to finance imports (I did not say imports of luxury cars, designer clothes and fancy construction supplies for T-TPLF bosses and cronies). The black market for greenbacks and Euros is said to be sizzling hot. Word on the street is that one U.S. dollars could fetch up to 31 T-TPLF birr, especially if the conversion amount is over USD$1 thousand.
Two weeks ago, “the Auditor General’s latest
A pariah among nations?
What exactly is the message the U.S. and the U.K. governments are communicating by issuing travel warnings in Ethiopia?
On the surface, a travel warning is just that, but does it signify something deeper about U.S./UK perceptions of the political situation in the country? Is there a hidden message buried in the warnings?
Reading between the lines, there is little question that the U.S. and U.K. governments have concluded there will be no end to the political turmoil in Ethiopia which remains barely contained by a state of emergency decree which authorizes illegal mass arrests and incarcerations and use of
The U.S. warning speaks about the “unpredictability” and state of “unrest” “particularly in Gondar and Bahir Dar in Amhara State”. The U.K. warning concurs. That fact is corroborated by substantial anecdotal evidence of individuals who have visited those areas in the recent past. The areas mentioned in “Amhara State” are now self-administering. There is little doubt that the T-TPLF has lost complete political and military control in a number of areas throughout the country. Just a few days ago, the T-TPLF
The U.S. perceives a direct relationship between the “state of emergency and the unpredictable security situation” in Ethiopia in urging its citizens to avoid travel to Ethiopia. The U.S. understands that the T-TPLF would not have resorted to a “state of emergency” unless it believed it was facing a clear and imminent existential threat. There is little question that there currently exists a vast groundswell of opposition to T-TPLF rule. The T-TPLF claims “protests and demonstrations” against its rule are limited to a few isolated areas remotely managed by overseas opposition groups. That is inconsistent with the fact that the T-TPLF issued a nationwide state of emergency. For the T-TPLF to impose a nationwide state of emergency decree, it must necessarily believe there is broad and deep resistance to its tyrannical rule throughout the nation.
The U.S. is manifestly disapproving of the means the T-TPLF is using to impose its will on the vast majority of the Ethiopian population and its excessive and indiscriminate use of violence on peaceful protesters. The U.S. is communicating its disapproval in its advisory language underscoring the fact that there is “widespread arbitrary arrests and detentions throughout the country” and the intentional failure of the T-TPLF to “notify the U.S. Embassy of detentions or arrests of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia.”
Of course, legal obligations mean nothing to the T-TPLF ignoramuses who have absolutely no regard for the rule of constitutional and international law. As I have often remarked, preaching the rule of (international) law to the T-TPLF is like sermonizing Scripture to Heathen or pouring water over a slab of granite. It is a complete and total exercise in futility!!!
The U.S. Congress is righteously indignant about the T-TPLF’s “use of force and live fire in response to demonstrations” and on “peaceful gatherings”. In February, Representative Christopher Smith introduced
The T-TPLF’s “disruptions” of communication throughout the country by “routinely restricting or shutting down internet, cellular data, and phone services” are a sore point for the U.S. and the U.K. In its annual human rights report for 2016, the State department expressed its
My informed conclusion is that it is highly unlikely that the T-TPLF will make a monkey out of the Trump Administration. I cannot imagine the T-TPLF wrapping the Trump Administration around its little fingers as they did the Obama Administration.
I do not doubt that the T-TPLF leaders believe they are so crafty and clever that they could outfox, outmaneuver and outsmart Trump and his administration any day of the week. Why else would they take hire a $2 million dollars from the mouths of starving Ethiopian babies and feed the voracious appetite of a Washington lobby firm in January unless they believed they can make a patsy of the Trump Administration?
I believe the Trump Administration has given some consideration to the points I raised in
President Trump is the object of savage criticism for his “America First” foreign policy”. During the presidential campaign, I was one of his harshest critics on a variety of issues. On the issue of human rights and cuts in U.S. aid to dictatorships, I
I am so glad that Nikki Haley is no Susan Rice, Obama’s Ambassador to the U.N. In 2012, Rice
Rice has never been able to tell the
The question is “not to be or not to be”. The question is who is on the
The Obama Administration prolonged the political life of the T-TPLF with infusion of massive amounts of American tax dollars. It is unlikely that Trump will dump hard-earned American tax dollars to prop up a bloodthirsty thugtatorship; and will certainly not buy the “
I believe the Trump Administration has concluded that things in Ethiopia have gone beyond a point of no return when the T-TPLF renewed its state of emergency in March. No doubt, the T-TPLF will continue to renew its emergency decree until it is removed from power.
When that time comes, que sera, sera (“what will be, will be”)!