The only stain on our conscience is that supposedly neutral UN humanitarian wings and Ethiopia’s alleged American ally joined forces to support an armed anti-government group in Africa’s second most populous country that’s pursuing regime change ends through what Addis Ababa regards as terrorist means.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths dramatically described the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region as “a stain on our conscience” just before Addis Ababa expelled seven UN humanitarian officials for meddling in the Horn of Africa country. The internationally recognized Ethiopian government which legally participates in the UN as the country’s only official representative had earlier accused the global body of supporting Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters that it considers to be terrorists.
This is allegedly being done through the provisioning of military aid that clandestinely enters the conflict zone under the cover of being humanitarian aid. Humanitarian concerns are also being exploited to further meddle in the country’s affairs and thus pressure the Ethiopian government into making unilateral political concessions in the face of the TPLF’s demands. The UN’s humanitarian wings therefore cannot be considered objective actors in the conflict, which is the real “stain on our conscience”.
The model of “humanitarian imperialism” was most actively experimented with in Syria throughout the course of its ongoing decade-long war. The incumbent Ethiopian authorities clearly learned a lot of lessons from observing those Hybrid War tactics and strategies in practice. They initially cooperated with the UN’s humanitarian wings out of good faith but quickly realized that the global body was being exploited by their opponents to pursue the same regime change purposes as in Syria.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed published an open letter to US President Joe Biden last month appealing to his country to stop its Hybrid War on Ethiopia. This can be interpreted in hindsight as a signal that Addis Ababa expected Washington to exert positive influence on the UN’s humanitarian wings in order to counteract their destabilizing meddling in Tigray and thus promote the government’s stabilization efforts there. This noble appeal fell on deaf ears, hence why his government took action to deal with this threat on its own.
The US Embassy in Addis Ababa’s sharp criticism of the government’s “Democratic Security” move (counter-Hybrid Warfare tactics and strategies) implicates it in the UN’s destabilization operation and removes whatever doubt some might have had about Washington’s involvement. Just like the UN’s humanitarian wings, the US government is also a partisan actor meddling in Ethiopia’s affairs in support of the TPLF, especially after tweeting that “We agree with UN leaders: this is a stain on our collective conscience and it must stop.”
Returning back to the theme of this analysis, the only “stain on our collective conscience” is that supposedly neutral UN humanitarian wings and Ethiopia’s alleged American “ally” joined forces to support an armed anti-government group in Africa’s second most populous country that’s pursuing regime change ends through what Addis Ababa regards as terrorist means. Not only does this forever stain the US’ reputation even more than it’s already been, but it also raises suspicion about all other UN humanitarian operations everywhere in the world.
There are times where these operations are conducted by truly neutral actors in coordination with the host government in order to genuinely improve the humanitarian situation in certain conflict zones. These are celebrated successes which speak to the objective importance of such operations. By weaponizing them in Ethiopia in order to smuggle arms to a government-designated terrorist group and conduct information warfare against the country’s legitimate authorities so as to further pressure them, the UN ruined its neutral reputation.
This could endanger the viability of all other humanitarian operations across the world, including those that might be conducted in a truly neutral way in accordance with international law like they all should. It would be understandable if host governments begin to scrutinize these operations more closely to see whether the UN is also exploiting them as fronts to destabilize their countries. During the course of these investigations, they might scale back or even freeze these operations for safety’s sake until they arrive at a conclusion.
Those people who most desperately need such aid might therefore not be able to receive it due to the distrust that their host governments might have of the UN’s humanitarian operations after representatives of its relevant wings have just been expelled from Ethiopia for meddling. It would be a tragedy if this happens and if it’s later determined that no such meddling was taking place in the countries that possibly scale back or freeze these operations for safety’s sake while conducting their investigations, but this would only be the UN’s fault.
The global body should never have meddled in Ethiopia’s internal affairs under humanitarian pretexts. The US should also have put a stop to everything before it got this far, but evidently it prefers to double down and is likely preparing to manipulate international perceptions of Ethiopia’s “Democratic Security” move in order to put further pressure on the country. It’s these two developments that are truly “a stain on our conscience”, not Ethiopia’s confident defense of its sovereign interests against humanitarian-disguised Hybrid Warfare plots.