The Seventeen Disappointments of Donald Yamamoto on the Meles Regime: Wikileaks

Uncle Sam’s 17 imperial protests on its slave Zenawi

By Daniel Berhane (Blog),

A June 2008 leaked Cable from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa shows on the level of frustration from the then US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, due to ‘the high rate of cancellations and non-acceptance of training opportunities’ by Ethiopia’s Chief of Staff General Samora.

So irritated by the unusual behavior that exist within a common master-and-slave relationship, he threatened by making it clear to the government of Ethiopia (GoE) that:

… the long-term risks to US government  interests posed by robust support for the EPRDF government, as well as the level and breadth of our foreign assistance programs, may have to be reassessed.

Before he concludes his long list of displeasure from GoE, he suggested to his bosses at the State Department that:

A paradigm shift must occur in the United States’ discourse with Ethiopia on foreign assistance. Over the past year, the USG has delivered on all GoE claims of “broken promises” in order to enhance the security of the Ethiopian state and to help Ethiopia combat terrorism. However, even as the USG met its promises, Ethiopia consistently rebuffed USG efforts to pursue other priorities, notably political and economic reform, and also turned down a significant number of programs designed specifically to enhance trust, communication and security cooperation between our militaries. The GoE rejected many of the programs it specifically requested.

But what are those displeasures from the Ambassador that brought much frustration for him and the U.S. to a point of considering a complete re-assessment of all the financial and military support given to dictator Meles Zenawi?

They are 17 of them and are as follows:

  • In March, 2005, Ethiopia became the first country in 20 years to expel the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), effectively eliminating USG programming in political participation. IRI, NDI and IFES have not been allowed to return.


  •  the National Electoral Board.…effectively sidelined the Carter Center from training the limited domestic observer organizations in the run-up to the April 2008 local elections despite the ready allocation of USD 1.358 million in USG funding and additional support from others.


  •  The [ruling party] EPRDF refused to participate in our Voluntary Visitor program planned in Fall 2007 on multiparty democracy for a cross-section of political party representatives.


  •  A draft civil society law currently under consideration would ban any foreign funded international or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from working to further democratic reform.


  •  Ethiopia was until earlier this year the only African country to jam persistently Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts (and has done so off and on since the mid-nineties).


  •  Ethiopia has rejected 29 of 41 security assistance training offers designed to strengthen mutual understanding and enhance future cooperation, including three War College slots.


  •  Ethiopia also turned down Special Operations Forces training, perhaps the only country to do so in the recent past, spurned a number of high-level seminars and turned down, by not acting on U.S. offers, Exercise Related Construction (ERC), Defense Reutilization Marketing Service (DRMS), and combat engineer assistance — all programs specifically requested by the ENDF.


  •  The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) barred Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) civil affairs teams from the Ogaden in 2006 (they have not been allowed to return) and expelled United States Defense Department counterterrorism and border security trainers from Bilate and Hurso training camps in 2007, despite USD 3 million in USG-funded infrastructure upgrades at the camps.


  •  Earlier this year, the GoE rejected a USG-proposed bilateral agreement designed to address the threat of Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) in Ethiopia, and has repeatedly refused USG access to a North Korea-supported munitions factory in Ambo.


  •  The Ethiopians told the Embassy that they cannot support the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program due to their current military operations tempo, yet accepted some 60 training slots in Russia. Ethiopia also declined a USG offer of assistance for direct support for developing a non-commissioned officer corps.


  •  Ethiopian State Security refused Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attempts to question a detained person of interest despite five weeks of FBI attempts to gain access to the individual.


  •  The United States Treasury Department was forced to suspend its Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) intermittent advisory program after the GoE refused to take action to develop AML and CFT regulations and legislation despite ten months of negotiations with OTA (Ref F). Although the GoE signaled its interest in OTA assistance, Senior National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) officials declined every opportunity to support necessary reforms.


  •  For more than a year the GoE has delayed the registration and launch of an American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia and rejected Embassy advocacy for the diversification of the telecommunications sector.  By way of contrast, the GoE, consistent with its statist tendencies, over the same span awarded a Chinese company a USD 1.5 billion monopolistic contract for telecommunications, granted the Chinese government the right to develop a USD 700 million special economic zone for Chinese companies in Ethiopia, and announced that another Chinese company would be granted a no-bid contract to build a highway in Ethiopia.


  •  Earlier this year, the GoE requested “re-negotiation” of Ethiopia’s tax exemption for programs funded by U.S. foreign assistance. Without further dialogue or negotiation, the GoE has unilaterally begun taxing the approximately USD 700 million in U.S. Foreign Assistance-funded procurements and subjected implementing partners’ procurements to full import duties, value added tax and additional taxes.


  •  The GoE now requires a USD 200,000 deposit by U.S.-funded NGOs into a blocked Ethiopian bank account before considering work permit applications for expatriate staff.


  •  The GoE has restricted access of USG-funded NGOs to conflict-affected populations in the Ogaden area of the Somali region and placed at least one American citizen working for an international NGO (INGO) under house detention.


  •  Already this year, the GoE has informed USAID that it will no longer register USAID implementing partners. Women’s Concern International (WCI) and the American Bar Association (ABA) have both been refused registration in recent weeks despite being requested by the Ethiopian Parliament and Supreme Court respectively to provide assistance. The Foreign Ministry advised USAID that, notwithstanding the GoE’s earlier request for judicial assistance, the ABA is a “consultant” to USAID therefore and USAID should arrange for ABA’s phone lines, bank accounts and other basic services during the life of the three-year program.