Ethiopia's decision to close five U.S. cities brings to a head a crisis in U.S.-Ethiopian relations that has been [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for the past two and a half [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
The crisis involves more than Washington's relations with Ethiopia: It is of a larger problem the United States has in coming to terms with [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and socialist regimes throughout Africa.
Ethiopia is becoming a major test of the Carter administration's attitude [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Marxist black Africa, an area where it has yet to hammer out a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] any kind. How it deals with this [WORD ILLEGIBLE] could become an indication of the thinking toward the growing number of radical and Marxist regimes on the African continent.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] the leftist military rulers of this mountainous country of 32 million people the crisis was not only anticipated but seen as a necessity. In their [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the Ethiopian-American military political alliance, a legacy of the deposed Emperor Haile Selassie, a burden that had to be shaken to make way for a new more [WORD ILLEGIBLE] "relationship with the social-states of the East.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE]120:these radical military officers [WORD ILLEGIBLE] their Marxist civilian advisers, as- [WORD ILLEGIBLE] from Western "imperialist" countries such as the United States is [WORD ILLEGIBLE] different than the salt used to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] beasts of burden into servitude."
Ethiopia, they said Saturday in announcing that the U.S. facilities here were being closed, had become an American beast of burden under the Leadership of the deposed monarch.
Thus, for the past year, these officials have been carefully and deliberatly maneuvering to end their defence on Washington and to build a new alliance with Moscow.
The decisive factor in the crisis, never, may have been Washington's leasing reluctance to provide arms ammunition, except for cash just the threat to the military government's existence and to the country's [WORD ILLEGIBLE] unity grew much worse.
Early this year, in northern Eritrea province a separatist guerilla movement suddenly began making giant [WORD ILEGIBLE] on the battlefield. In the northern province of Begemdir the Ethio?
Democratic Union, seeking to the Marxist military government, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] a number of towns. In Ethiopia disputed Ogaden region, claimed Somalia, a full-scale insurgency [WORD ILLEGIBLE] into the open.
Now, ruling Provisional Military Council has ordered the closing of the Kagnew communications station [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Asmara, the Military Assistance Advisory Group, the U.S. cultural center and the Naval medical research in Addis Ababa. Also closed, enough the government's statement did not mention them, were the U.S. consulate in Asmara and six small literies in various parts of the country.
The military government, in effect, burying the Ethiopian-American relationship that dates from 1953, when two countries signed a mutual defies pact. For 21 years, the United States had been the main arms super to Ethiopia, to the tune of more than $350 million, and the principal sign ally of this East African nation bordering the strategic Red Sea.
But the overthrow of Haile Selassie September 1974, spelled the beginning of a radically new era in Ethiopia, and neither Washington nor Addis Ababa at first clearly understood where the Ethiopian revolution was [WORD ILLEGIBLE] this country in its foreign policy
Last summer, relations between the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] radical of the ruling officers and the United States began to sour. In [WORD ILLEGIBLE] a member of the council, Capt. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Hapte, and two others were expected for plotting against the revolution. The officers were accused of having contacts with the U.S. Central intelligence Agency.
Thereafter, Ethiopia compared its relation to Chile under the late Marxist leader Salvador Allende and the United States was suspected of seeking to "destabilize" the military government here so that a more modernization could come to power.
Washington appeared increasingly certain about its attitude toward Ethiopia. Policy review followed policy review but no real policy emerged. Meanwhile, U.S. relations with Sudan, such supports both the Eritreans and Democratic Union, were markedly improving.
The United States continued to sell [WORD ILLEGIBLE] to Ethiopia, but when its interate for credits increased about 1 per cent last summer, the military government cancelled some orders. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Ethiopia bought more than $150 million in sophisticated arms, including the M-60 tank, the F-5E jet fighter long-range artillery and even a radar complex.
But Washington never gave Ethiopia all it wanted or felt it needed, particularly to match the Soviet-equipped Somalia army. Deliveries were delayed and the modernization of Ethiopia's armed forces, to which the United States theoretically was committed, was slower than the Ethiopians wished.
Twice the military government was kept waiting for months while Washington pondered requests for ammunition, forcing Ethiopia to scurry all over Eastern and Western Europe in search of badly needed ammunition.
A decision on the latest request for more than $45 million worth of ammunition was complicated by the change in administrations in Washington. Then Carter ordered a review of American policy on foreign arms sales and decided to take into account each client's record on human rights.
On both accounts, Ethiopia was a big question mark for the Carter administration. This additional wavering in Washington increased the suspicions of the military government here that the United States opposed Ethiopia's revolution and the indecision played into the hands of anti-American officers and their Marxist civilian advisers who were building their case for a break with Washington.
Meanwhile, the Military Council was striving for an "opening to the East." In December the breakthrough came when a military delegation went to Moscow and signed a secret agreement for the purchase of more then $100 million in arms.
This opening to the East was sealed in February when Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam crushed an attempt by his colleagues to oust him and seized power in a shoot-out that left seven council members dead. Although he had attended American military schools, Mengistu has a reputation for being extremely anti-American. He is convinced, according to various sources, that the United States backed his more moderate and probably more pro-Western opponents.
Finally, the United States announced on Feb. 24 that it was suspending military grant assistance to Ethiopia, amounting this fiscal year to about $6.6 million, because of alleged human rights violations. This infuriated the Ethiopians since the United States had never complained about such violations when Haile Selassie was in power.
Since the Pentagon was cutting all grant military assistance around the world anyway, it appeared somewhat gratutious even to some U.S. policy makers to te it to the human rights issue - a thorny and complicated issue for any contry in the midst of both a revolution and a civil war.
Meanwhile, relations between Ethiopia and Arab countries like Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia grew worse, as these countries showed increasing willingness to support the Eritrean independence struggle and began attacking the pro-Moscow Ethiopis by carving off Eritrea from the rest of the military.
It now appears that Mengistle has lined up supports from the Soviet Union, Yugoslavias, Cuba, South Yemen, Libya and Vieteam to provide him with either Soviet or American arms and ammunition. A combined military-civilian delegation has just returned from Vietnam, where it reportedly wneta to the suggestion go the gog yhr Soviet Union to obtain some of the Americans arms and equipment captured by Hnoi when the Saigon government fell.
Whether Ethiopis is planning to break diplomatic relations with Washington is unclear. The prevailing view here is that Ethiopia prefers to provole Washington into taking to this action first. This, it is believed, would strengtherd Ethiopia's effort to get stronger military commitments from the Soviet Union and Cuba.