We've detected an outdated browser.

You may want to consider updating your browser. International Policy Digest requires a modern browser in order to view the website properly.

Click here for information on how to update your browser.

Continue Anyways
Ethiopia

Tag Archives | Ethiopia

Religious Diversity in East Africa and the Horn

|
Horn of Africa

The Pew Research Center published on 4 April 2014 a study on Global Religious Diversity. It gives a score to all countries of the world on their degree of religious diversity. Higher scores indicate higher diversity. The 10-point scoring system designates countries with scores of 7.0 and higher (the top 5 percent) as having a very high degree of religious diversity. Countries with scores from 5.3 to 6.9 percent (the next highest 15 percent of scores) have a high level of diversity. Countries with scores from 3.1 to 5.2 (the following 20 percent of scores) have moderate diversity. The remaining countries have low diversity.

South Sudan (6.0), Tanzania (5.7), Ethiopia (5.6) and Eritrea (5.4) have high religious diversity. Kenya (3.1) has moderate diversity. Uganda (2.7), Sudan (2.0), Djibouti (0.7), and Somalia (0.1) have low diversity. The study also provides the percentage of different religions for each country.

Ethiopia Peace Corps Diary: Visit to the Port of Massawa

|
Sheikh Said Island, Massawa, 1963. Photo: Richard Lyman

Preparing for teaching my classes at Haile Selassie Secondary School required a lot of reading.

Sheikh Said Island, Massawa, 1963. Photo: Richard Lyman

Most of my students did not have textbooks nor did I have a syllabus to follow. Marty Benjamin, my housemate, and I compared notes and discovered that between the two of us we were asked to teach every subject except home economics, physical education, Amharic and morals because our Indian colleagues refused to teach more than one subject area. We were responsible for all the other classes.

Early on in my stay in Gondar I discovered that the only things family and friends could send me that would not be “lost” in the Ethiopian postal system were books. My mother kept me well supplied with books for teaching and recreational reading. In a previous entry “Peace Corps Diary: 1962-1964 Part 17” I discussed how I enjoyed Alan Morehead’s Blue Nile. Reading another book she sent, Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief, made me feel like a young child who was reading some illicit work under the covers at night with the aid of a flashlight. That was because I was led to believe that it was banned in Ethiopia because of its scathing satirical portrayal of a mythical progressive African leader, Seth.

Continue Reading →

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 19

|
Hebe and Larry at Abu Samuel. Marty Benjamin is on the left

In 1962 the Haile Selassie Secondary School in Gondar, Ethiopia had a diverse teaching staff.

Hebe and Larry at Abu Samuel. Marty Benjamin is on the left

In addition to many Ethiopians there were Indians, Peace Corps teachers and a couple from Britain, Pamela (Hebe) and Larry Marsdon. Larry was a New Zealander and Hebe was English. We were told her nickname, “Hebe,” (cup bearer to the gods) was from her time as one of the senior stewardesses on British European Airways (BEA). Although now middle aged, she was a very beautiful woman. Larry was a consummate story teller and led us to believe that during the war he had been on a British navy submarine. Maybe so? They always invited us PC teachers to their raucous and memorable parties and they socialized with those in power in Gondar and thus were a source of many rumors and, at times, actual news.

It was not until I returned to the states that I could begin to understand their behavior. Hebe and Larry would enter into vociferous argument and if a hapless bystander would innocently take the side of one or the other, Hebe and Larry would jointly “attack” the third party. It all became clear in 1966 when Dallas (one of my fellow PC teachers) and his wife, June visited from Madison, Wisconsin. We decided to go see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It was only a short time into the movie before Dallas leaned over and said with amazement “We know these people!” Sure enough George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Liz Taylor) were Larry and Hebe Marsdon. As we watched George and Martha devour the hapless young couple Nick and Honey we could only think back to what we witnessed in Ethiopia.

Continue Reading →

China’s Investment in Ethiopia

|
Source: Elissa Jobson/gga.org

Source: Elissa Jobson/gga.org

Good Governance Africa published on 1 March 2014 an article titled “Treading a New Path” by Elissa Jobson, a freelance journalist, that deals with Chinese investment in Ethiopia. She notes China’s investment in shoe manufacturing and wonders if this will lead to additional Chinese investment in Ethiopia.

U.S. Policy toward Sudan and South Sudan

|
South Sudan

The House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations held a hearing on 26 February 2014 titled “U.S. Policy toward Sudan and South Sudan.” The hearing, chaired by Chairman Smith, examined the need for a more unified, wider- ranging and proactive policy that can advance long-term U.S. goals in Sudan and South Sudan.

The full text of the opening statements of each witness is available by clicking the name of the witness. The witnesses included Donald Booth, special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, U.S. Department of State; John Prendergast, co-founder, Enough Project; Walid Phares, co-secretary general, Transatlantic Group on Counter Terrorism; and Adotei Akwei, managing director for government relations, Amnesty International US.

Rising from Ashes: The Rwandan Genocide and Conflict Resolution through Sports

|
Team Rwanda. Source: Rising from Ashes Foundation

“Sport has the power to change the world…It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” – Nelson Mandela

Team Rwanda. Source: Rising from Ashes Foundation

It has been twenty years since the genocide that devastated Rwanda. Over 800,000 people lost their lives—for no other reason than belonging to the wrong tribe. The slaughter by the Hutus of the minority Tutsis took place in 1994. The Clinton administration stood by not wanting to admit that genocide was taking place. It was one of our darkest chapters in history. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, special assistant to President Bill Clinton on African affairs at the time, advised him not to become involved. It was a political decision not to call the slaughter of ethnic Rwandans genocide. “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November election,” Rice had stated.

Rising from Ashes is an internationally acclaimed documentary, about hope for the future, for a generation of young men who went through the Rwandan genocide–survived and overcame adversity—but lost fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins, and other family members. The conflict was about hatred, killing neighbors and friends, and destroying entire communities. The documentary tells the story about the first Rwandan National Cycling Team– composed of both Hutu and Tutsi riders–making history representing Rwanda internationally, and qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics.

Continue Reading →

Ethiopian Troops have Joined AMISOM: What This Means for AMISOM as a ‘Neutral Force’

|
Ethiopian troops in Baidoa, Somalia following their inclusion in AMISOM. Tobin Jones/UN

“It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.” – William Ralph Inge

Ethiopian troops in Baidoa, Somalia following their inclusion in AMISOM. Tobin Jones/UN

On January 22nd, Ethiopian troops officially joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), contributing about four thousand soldiers. If past experience is anything to go by, when troops from Somalia’s neighbouring countries have joined the peacekeeping effort in Somalia, this has damaged the credibility of AMISOM as a neutral force. Furthermore, the presence of Ethiopian troops as part of AMISOM will probably fuel factional fighting in Somalia, and strengthen Al-Shabaab in the process.

There are three main reasons why Ethiopian troops should not be part of AMISOM. First, their is a long and bloody history between Somalia and Ethiopia and unresolved land disputes that should be settled first. For example, it would be inconceivable to contemplate sending Indian troops to Pakistan for peacekeeping purposes, or Iranian troops to Iraq for the same reason. Immediately after Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia in 2007 to combat the Islamic Courts Union, after being encouraged by the United States to do so, the United Nations reported, “Public sentiment of the continued presence of Ethiopian troops in Somalia has created a volatile situation, which has seriously constrained humanitarian delivery and emerging operations in the centre and south of the country.”

Continue Reading →

In Sudan, Remnants of Colonialism’s Dead Hand

|
UN peacekeepers at a camp for internally displaced persons in Juba. Isaac Billy/UN

“The negotiations have to be serious. They cannot be a delay gimmick in order to continue the fighting and try to find advantage on the ground at the expense of the people of South Sudan.” – John Kerry

UN peacekeepers at a camp for internally displaced persons in Juba. Isaac Billy/UN

Hopefully the recent ceasefire agreement between the warring parties in South Sudan will halt that country’s downward spiral into civil war. But if it does it will have to buck the convergence of two powerful historical streams: a legacy of colonial manipulation dating back more than a hundred years, and the current policies of the U.S. vis-à-vis the African continent. South Sudan became a country in 2011 when its residents voted overwhelmingly to separate from the Sudan, at the time the largest country in Africa.

But a falling out late last year between South Sudan President Salva Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, and Vice President Riek Machar, a member of the Nuer tribe, has plunged the country into war. Cities have been sacked, thousands killed, and almost 200,000 people turned into refugees. The birth of continent’s newest nation was largely an American endeavor, brought about by a polyglot coalition of Christian evangelicals, U.S. corporations, the Bush and Obama administrations, the Congressional Black Caucus, and human rights supporters.

Continue Reading →

A Look at Muslim-Christian Relations in Ethiopia

|
Gathering of African heterodox Muslims in eastern Ethiopia. Photo: Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak

The Muslim-Christian relationship in Ethiopia has a mixed historical background. Ethiopia is located on a religious fault line, although the relationship between the two religions has been reasonably cordial in recent decades.

Gathering of African heterodox Muslims in eastern Ethiopia. Photo: Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak

Christian rule has prevailed in the Ethiopian highlands since the early 4th century. Early in the 7th century a group of Arab followers of Islam in danger of persecution by local authorities in Arabia took refuge in the Axumite Kingdom of the Ethiopian highlands. As a result of this generosity, the Prophet Mohammed concluded that Ethiopia should not be targeted for jihad. Not all Muslims took this message seriously and subsequent contact was less cordial. In the late 15th century, Islamic raids from the Somali port of Zeila plagued the Ethiopian highlands. In the first half of the 16th century, the Islamic threat became more serious when Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al Ghazi rallied a diverse group of Muslims in a jihad to end Christian power in the highlands. The Ethiopians finally defeated this threat by the middle of the 16th century.

Although Wahhabi missionaries from the Arabian Peninsula made efforts to penetrate Ethiopia beginning in the 19th century, they had little success until recent decades. During the first half of the 1800s, Egyptian/Ottoman power in neighboring Sudan made periodic incursions inside Ethiopia. In 1875, the khedive of Egypt tried unsuccessfully to conquer Ethiopia entering from the Red Sea. The last major organized threat from Islam occurred in 1888 when the forces of the Mahdi in the Sudan sacked the former Ethiopian capital of Gondar and burned many of its churches. Subsequently, both the Ethiopians and the Mahdists harbored rebels opposed to the other side, creating a tit-for-tat situation that has periodically continued to the present day.

Continue Reading →

Introducing our ‘Best of 2013′ List

|
Introducing our 'Best of 2013' list

From Kim Jong-Un’s newfound love of basketball to India’s dowry culture, International Policy Digest has covered some pretty meaty subjects over the past year.

Introducing our ‘Best of 2013′ list

In this list we’ve included an analysis of Kim Jong-Un’s love of basketball and the motives behind his decisions and what to expect in the year ahead by Daniel Wagner and J.K. Joung, the recent ruling against the NSA’s metadata program by Binoy Kampmark, John Lyman and Eric Jones’s analysis of President Obama’s appearance at the Saban Center where he offered his most forceful defense yet of the Iran nuclear agreement reached in Geneva, Conn M. Hallinan’s analysis of the ongoing negotiations with Iran and the recently concluded Third Plenum in China that offered few actual reforms by Andrew Ludwig.

We’ve also included for your consideration, a lengthy analysis of neoliberalism in India by Abhirup Bhunia, a backgrounder on Ralph Miliband by Binoy Kampmark, Kerry Sun’s analysis of the escalating Syrian refugee crisis and a list of thirty-five young foreigners making an impact throughout Africa by Scott Firsing. By all means read through the list and see if you agree. Be sure to share any of the article’s with your friends on Facebook and Twitter and leave a comment, we’ve made it quite easy to do so.

Continue Reading →

South Sudan: Growing Pains or a Failed State?

|
Foreign nationals being evacuated from South Sudan.  Photo: Dave Stanley

In July 2011, after a long civil war, South Sudan split from Sudan and became an independent country.

Foreign nationals being evacuated from South Sudan. Photo: Dave Stanley

However, even though statehood was achieved and a new country was born, the efforts to transform South Sudan into a functioning nation-state seems to be stalled. Is South Sudan a failed state? Even worse, is the country almost on the brink of collapse? Until the creation of South Sudan, Sudan was Africa’s largest country. It experienced its share of disasters like the famines in the Darfur region, but overall, its primarily agrarian economy was doing well. Around 1999, Sudan also started exporting oil, thereby adding to its GDP.

The civil war lasted for nearly 23 years, ending in 2005 when a peace agreement was signed between the Sudanese state and the southern rebels. However, the separation occurred in 2011, when South Sudan decided to break away from Sudan and form a separate country. This had a negative impact on the economy of both nations. Most of the oil-rich regions are now in South Sudan and almost all the refineries are in Sudan.

Continue Reading →

Q & A on China-Africa and Ethiopia

|
Angolan engineers

A crowdsourced consulting company, Wikistrat, asked me to respond to several questions concerning China-Africa relations and the stability of Ethiopia. The three China-Africa questions deal with special economic zones in Africa, a possible African backlash to China’s growing presence in Africa, and possible Chinese military intervention in Africa related to post-Arab Spring security threats.

Comic Relief: Capitalizing on the Useful Poor

|
Promo for 'The Great Comic Relief Bake Off'. Source: BBC

Comic relief has become an industry, its own self-justifying premise. In January of this year, BBC2 hosted its Great Comic Relief Bake Off. It had four million viewers, meaning that 16.3 percent of the audience was nabbed between 8pm and 9pm on one specific viewing day. The object of this bakeoff – raising funds for the indigent and needy – were the spectres of the moment.

Promo for ‘The Great Comic Relief Bake Off’. Source: BBC

Comic Relief’s origins were not necessarily intended that way. As its website tells readers, “Comic Relief was launched from a refugee camp in Sudan on Christmas Day in 1985, live on BBC One. At that time, a devastating famine was crippling Ethiopia and something had to be done. That something was Comic Relief.” The paternalist sting, that message of coming to the rescue is notable – the white British hope seeking to fill the impoverished, desperate black void. Assumptions are made: the need to save, the need to help, and the need to identify the suitable victim.

How that void would be filled would be through the deployment of humour, that great salve to encourage people to help the deprived and needy. In making people laugh, British comedians would raise funds to help the disadvantaged. They would coax money out of the moneyed to pass it on to the un-moneyed. “As well as doing something about the very real and direct emergency in Ethiopia, Comic Relief was determined to help tackle the broader needs of poor and disadvantaged people in Africa and at home in the UK.”

Continue Reading →

China Confronts Terrorism in Africa

|
A Somali soldier in Afgooye, Somalia. Tobin Jones/UN

China’s counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks on the United States has increasingly been pursued in the context of the global war on terror.

A Somali soldier in Afgooye, Somalia. Tobin Jones/UN

Exhibit number one is its preoccupation with terrorism in the troubled Xinjiang region of northwest China inhabited primarily by the Muslim Uighur people. China underscored this concern following the 28 October 2013 vehicle crash in Tiananmen Square. Chinese officials said the incident was a terrorist attack perpetrated by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group linked to Xinjiang. The United States listed ETIM in 2002 as a terrorist organization. In October 2013, Pakistan, at China’s request, banned ETIM and two other organizations that are active in Xinjiang.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, speaking at the United Nations in January 2013, identified four themes in China’s international counterterrorism cooperation. First, China fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries that are combatting terrorism. Second, China seeks to leverage the UN and the Security Council as the main channel of cooperation and welcomes the establishment of the UN Counterterrorism Center. Third, China believes in a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes as well as the symptoms of terrorism. Fourth, it argues there should be no double standard; all terrorist organizations including the ETIM must be condemned and defeated.

Continue Reading →

Paper on Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam

|
Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam

Global Dialogue published in its Summer/Autumn 2013 edition a paper titled “The Human Security Dimensions of Dam Development: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam” by Jennifer C. Veilleux, Oregon State University geography PhD student. The paper is based on research done at the location of the Renaissance Dam and emphasizes issues of human security.