Interview: Former US Ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn
A must to read interview by Jimma Times. It spoke to former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Dr. David H. Shinn. Issues as diverse as the 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrean war and current events unfolding in the region, Egypt’s Nuclear power program, ONLF, opposition groups from Oromia, the TFG and Somaliland were raised. Below is an excerpt from this interesting interview.
Jimma Times: The New York Times recently wrote “Egypt’s modern pharaoh” referring to President Mubarak, who has been accused of major crackdowns on the opposition since he took power almost three decades ago. Certainly America fears the Islamist opposition winning in a free election in Egypt, the same way in Pakistan as well as in Palestine where Hamas won the election despite being tagged a “terrorist organization” by the U.S. and the EU. Even in Somalia, the ICU might win an election. Just like in Pakistan, Egypt and Palestine, an ICU victory in a democratic election threatens stability due to its irredentism policy and links to al-Qaeda. Is America now less eager to spread democracy around the world?
Dr. Shinn: You raise a tough and legitimate question, especially following the most recent developments in Pakistan. I believe the U.S. will continue to press for democracy around the world, but perhaps with a little less enthusiasm in certain countries. The U.S. has already reduced its pressure on Egypt and it would not surprise me to see a similar approach towards Pakistan. The fact is that the U.S. can not have it both ways. If it pushes for democratic institutions and the result in a free and fair election is an Islamist government or even a government hostile to the U.S., it must be prepared to accept the result.
Jimma Times: Do you see the TFG and Ethiopia stabilizing Mogadishu anytime soon?
Dr. Shinn: No.
Jimma Times: What do you think the Ethiopian government should do with the ONLF?
Dr. Shinn: I believe the government should revive discussions with the ONLF, deal responsibly with ONLF grievances, and create an environment that will encourage the ONLF to return to the political process. I do not believe this conflict will be resolved militarily. While it will not be possible to accept all of the ONLF demands, it is in the interest of all parties to sit down and determine which ones are legitimate and can be accepted by the government and the ONLF.
Jimma Times: What if the dozens of oilfield workers killed by the ONLF in April were Americans instead of Chinese?
Dr. Shinn: As the Chinese concluded, the situation is too dangerous to continue operations. In such a situation the remaining Americans would have left as the Chinese have done. Depending on the precise circumstances of the deaths of the Chinese-singled out by the ONLF for killing or caught in the cross fire-there might have been more pressure in the U.S. to label the ONLF a terrorist organization. The circumstances of their deaths are not clear to me. The fact is, however, that Americans were not in the Ogaden in large part because of the perceived danger in operating there.