By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
On Tuesday January 5, 2016, Reuters reported, quoting TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda, that closure of the Arba Minch US drone base was effected “upon request by the Ethiopian government”. The reason he gave was: “In the first place, this was a project with a limited timespan and both governments had long prepared themselves for this eventuality.”
I could not get my head around how closure of the Arba Minch US drone base came into effect “upon the request by the Ethiopian government”, as the TPLF spokesperson put it. At the same time, he claims it is a “a project with a limited timespan”.
The point that we all need to recognize is that it was opened in the first place because the US needed it, not because Ethiopia has in it a hand in its planning and operation. Should it not be the case then in that state of affairs and in a very unequal relations, the decision to close the base must come from its owner that full well knows its needs and foots its bill.
No doubt that the source of the confusion is the United States, which wants to protect a fragile ego. Therefore, it does not want to reveal why it closed the drone base in Ethiopia. Even the most prying of The Washington Post’s eyes are also puzzled why “U.S. officials were vague about why they decided to end the drone flights. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command, said the United States and Ethiopia “reached a mutual decision that our presence in Arba Minch is not required at this time.” Can’t this give a lot to doubting Thomases or weaken the resolve of those that want to prevail with deceits?
If this means that the US told TPLF officials that it was time to part and they shook hands, I would have no problems this is referred to as “mutual consent.” The only thing nauseating is the spineless TPLF, bombarding Ethiopian citizens with its lies and false propaganda, just to give the false impression that it gives no hoot even to the superpower, which in reality is responsible for its sustenance and continuity, including the savaging of our people!
I am, therefore, troubled that the spokesperson cannot think that Ethiopians see the self-aggrandizement by the TPLF in his explanation. No matter how he puts it nothing he says can support his initial assertion that the decision for closure of the base is TPLF’s.
I have noted a news report on RT, which states:
“What exactly prompted the Ethiopian government to cancel its drone ties with the US remains unanswered. Citing a government document, The Washington Post reports that the shutdown was unexpected, as just three months earlier, US signed a three year contract worth $6.7 million to provide space for about 130 drone operations personnel in the country.”
Good reporting as it is, RT then turns around and gives a back foot kick to the simplistic spin doctoring by Getachew Reda wondering and thinking aloud: “The move seems odd, considering that latest reports indicate that Pentagon is keen to increase its drone presence around the globe.”
In fact, common sense and logic tells me that the closure of the drone base is an entirely United States Government decision, for anyone of, or for all the following reasons:
(a) The US may have determined existence of more stable and convenient bases that serve its long-term needs and plans, among which are Djibouti, two secret bases within Somalia itself, Seychelles, Cameroon, etc;
(b) The US may have unusually acted insightfully and out of need for prudence that it must reduce its dependence on the TPLF regime, because of the huge political cost of association with a regime rejected by its own people, whose continuity and stability has increasingly fallen in question.
(c) Need for prioritizing targets of operations at a time, when ISIS and other extremist forces may have compelled changes in existing base locations; and
(d) Forthcoming newer technologies may have increased US options. RT reminds us basing WSJ as its source “in the coming years the use of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones will surge by an estimated 50 percent.”
I am more inclined to believe that the United States may have, to the extent possible, chosen to slowly distance itself from the TPLF regime. This US dilemma is best captured by the DFID’s (Department For International Development) Ethiopia Operational Plan for 2011-2015, which affixed grave reservations on their relationship with Ethiopia, whose politics and policies the United Kingdom seemed to abhor:
“The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) is capable and committed to growth and development and is a proven partner in making rapid progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But its approach to political governance presents both substantive challenges to sustainable development and reputational risks to partners.”