Meles and the Wikileaks cables


I usually like what Eskinder Nega writes about Ethiopian politics.  He has great style and the substance is usually interesting.  But I think his interpretation of the Meles-Otero cable is wrong (i.e. that “Meles comes out the clear winner  … strong, confident …”).  What the cable clearly showed is that US opposition to Meles in internal affairs is limited as long as he delivers when it comes to issues that are important to the US.  The US plays a balancing act using local politics as leverage when it is necessary (perhaps, as all nations would when it comes to their interests). At this point in the relationship, I think both sides understand this. So Meles doesn’t put up any resistance to US interests regionally or internationally, and US representatives only pay lip service even when they hear talk about people ‘vegetating in prison’. It is because of this tacit arrangement that, when Meles, the head of the African delegation to Copenhagen, is told that his agreement to sign the Copenhagen accord “is a point of departure for further discussions”, he doesn’t blink. Who has ever heard of a negotiation where you sign first and talk later? Nothing can demonstrate Meles’s weakness better. It is no doubt a strategy that preserves Meles in power in the short run. However, it is immensely damaging to Ethiopian  (and in this case African) long term interests.

See these Guardian links for more discussions on Copenhagen  – 1 and 2.