Ethiopia and the United States: History, Diplomacy, and Analysis

By Getachew Metaferia | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11. ETHIOPIA AS A REGIONAL GATEKEEPER

THE US AND AFRICAN RENAISSANCE LEADERS: ALLIES IN THEWAR ON TERROR

The president of Eritrea, Issayas Afewerki, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi were both flattered by the Clinton Administration, which touted them as examples of the new leaders of the African Renaissance who adopted Western-style democracy and market economy. The Clinton Administration said it hoped that these young leaders would herald the dawning of a new age in their respective countries. Bill Clinton, himself a young leader, hoped that by partnering with young African leaders to mobilize African resources, helping to solve their myriad problems, and witnessing the rebirth of a continent, he could spearhead an alliance that could stand up against what the US called Islamic fundamentalism — Islamic movements whose interests were in conflict with US interests in the area.

In the fight against Islamic fundamentalism, Sudan, a country that borders both Ethiopia and Eritrea, had been labeled by the US as a harbor for terrorists. On June 26, 1995, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak escaped an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa on his way to attend an OAU summit meeting. Mubarak alleged that Sudan had had a hand in the assassination attempt. The US also linked the assassination attempt to Sudan.

The next day, Egyptian and Sudanese troops clashed (June 27–28, 1995) in a disputed area along their common border near the Red Sea city of Halaib. Mubarak called on the Sudanese to overthrow their government. Egypt, backed by Tunisia and Algeria, tried to convince the Gulf Arab states that Sudan, under the National Islamic Front (NIF), was an “enemy of Islam rather than a friend … and a threat to their own Islamic-based dynasties.”1 There have been efforts subsequently to isolate Sudan from both the West and the Arab world. Egypt claimed that Sudan works closely with the Shiah-dominated Iran and works to undermine the Sunni-dominated Islamic coun

1 Africa Confidential. October 22, 1993. Vol. 34, no. 21, p.2.

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