A Rogues Gallery of Abusive Regimes- CC: “Abesha Institute”

I just wanted to extend a quick “kudos” to @AbeshaT (Abesha Institute) on the latest news of the US’ donation of Hercules aircraft to the Ethiopian military. The Abesha Institute describes itself as an “independent Ethiopian economic and political policy researcher,” and it claims that it focuses on “advocacy on trade policies and geopolitical strategies”. Although I was not aware of this latest development, the Institute ensured that the “wonderful news” did not pass me by. Thankfully, the story also allows me to kindly remind the Institute of the illustrious company that the Ethiopian government is a part of in being generously funded and armed by the US. This list, comprised of governments that systematically abuse(d) human rights, includes (in no particular order):

Indonesia’s General Suharto who, according to the CIA, committed “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century” during the 1965-66 massacres in Indonesia. SEE

Haile Selassie, who was a despotic tyrant who ruled oppressively, enslaved innumerable peasants via a draconian feudal system, and illegally annexed Eritrea. SEE

Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, who overthrew Selassie. Although heavily backed by the USSR, Mengistu also received millions in aid (at the same time!) from the US. Mengistu oversaw a reign of terror characterized by widespread violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes. In repressing self-determination efforts in Eritrea and other areas, civilians were deliberately targeted and fell victim by the hundreds of thousands as a result of the indiscriminate violence against them. Further, his regime’s “villagization” program played a direct role in the further nearly half a million civilian deaths during the late 1980s. SEE

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. In 1953, the CIA and British intelligence orchestrated a coup d’etat that toppled the democratically elected Mossadegh government of Iran, and installed the Shah. The crushing of Iran’s first democratic government ushered in more than two decades of dictatorship under the Shah, who relied heavily on US aid and arms. The anti-American backlash that toppled the Shah in 1979 shook the whole region and helped spread Islamic militancy. SEE

Saddam Hussein, who received critical assistance from the Reagan administration in the war against Iran during the 1980s. Not only did Ronald Reagan turn a blind-eye to the Hussein regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Iraq’s Kurdish minority, but the US helped Iraq develop its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. SEE

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia for 20 years with dictatorial ruthlessness. His tenure was marked by the cracking down on civil society organizations and journalists, the illegal invasion and occupation of several neighboring countries (e.g. Somalia and Eritrea), the exclusion and marginalization of several of Ethiopia’s major ethnolinguistic and religious groups from political and economic life, the denial of humanitarian and food aid from “disloyal” segments of the country, and a counterinsurgency involving “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” SEE 1 and SEE 2

And to this list, we can add Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Mexico, Chile, and dozens of others generously backed by Washington.* Of course, it would be remiss of me to fail to mention the current Ethiopian regime’s “sterling” record. Led by Prime Minister Desalegn, who came to power following Zenawi’s mysterious and abrupt death, the current regime has utilized much of its aid “well” suggesting that the Hercules aircraft will likely be put “to good use”. Specifically, Desalegn has maintained the Zenawi regime’s longstanding harsh policies. Ethiopia has continued to crack down on all dissent via highly-controversial anti-terrorism laws, sustained the marginalization or persecution of various ethnolinguistic groups or homosexuals, retained the criticized villagization programs, and engaged in an ongoing counter-insurgency against the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) – utilizing executions, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests, and various other abuses. SEE 1 and SEE 2 and SEE 3



*However, due to time and space constraints, I am unable to delve further into these other cases.


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