According to a senior official, the intent of this executive order is to “take meaningful steps to enter into talks for a negotiated ceasefire and allow for unhindered humanitarian access.” While the administration’s efforts should be applauded, I believe that Biden’s executive order will result in unintended consequences.
For those of us who understand the Ethiopian psyche, we know that the intended sanctions will certainly have an adverse effect. Ethiopian’s might be poor, but they are a proud people, who have jealously guarded their independence since the dawn of time. Whether it was Menelik vs Italy, or Mengistu vs Somalia, and Meles vs Eritrea, Ethiopians have supported their leaders, regardless of the political differences they might have had with them.
There is no doubt that sanctions proposed by a foreign power will have the same effect as 1896, when Ethiopians from all walks of life banned together to successfully defend their independence from a would be colonizer. The proposed sanctions will only galvanize support for the federal government.
The Executive order will also alienate the Federal government, forcing it to seek continued support from China, Russia, and Turkey. When push comes to shove, there will be a point of no return, just like in the 70s when the Carter administration pushed Ethiopia away into the waiting arms of the Soviet Union.
I am certain that these were not the intended consequences of the Executive order. If it is an amicable solution that administration is looking for, the best strategy is to work with the regional organization, the African Union, which was created to find African solutions for African problems. Foreign unilateral sanctions will not sit well with Ethiopians. It will only result in unintended consequences.