USG diplomatic priorities: Ethiopia and Eritrea – A cursory look

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Ethiopia and Eritrea have very different relationships with the United States government. The Ethiopian government is a valued ally while relations with Eritrea have been adversarial for the last decade. One would therefore expect somewhat different priorities between the concerns of US diplomats in the two countries. Looking at the tags that describe each cable available through Wikileaks, however, the diplomats concerns in the two countries appear quite similar (see below for details). It is especially interesting how Human Rights concerns rank 3rd in importance among the cables from both capitals. The narrative that emphasizes Human Rights in U.S. foreign policy is put in doubt when its relationship with these two governments is so different despite the similar focus on Human Rights concerns by U.S. diplomats in both places.

The following is a summary of all the tags from the Addis Ababa and Asmara cables available through Wikileaks. Each cable has a tag that indicates the country of origin as well as tags that indicate the subject matter of the cable (e.g. PGOV for Internal Government Affairs, PHUM for Human Rights). Tag frequencies provide a glimpse of the priorities of the diplomats in the two capitals. The percentages below exclude country codes for the origin country and only the top 5 are shown below.

Addis Ababa cables (6054 tags excluding country code)
PREL  External Political Relations  14.8%
PGOV  Internal Governmental Affairs 11.6%
PHUM  Human Rights                   6.2%
SO    Somalia                        4.8%
MOPS  Military Operations            4.6%
Asmara cables(2100 tags excluding country code)
TAG KEY Percent total
PGOV	Internal Governmental Affairs	17.4%
PREL	External Political Relations	15.2%
PHUM	Human Rights	        5.7%
ASEC	Security	        4.9%
ECON	Economic Conditions	4.6%

For expanded definitions of the tags, see here. Definitions for the top 3 are below.

PGOV: The form, structure, and organization of local, provincial, and national governments.

PREL: The political relations between countries, international or regional organizations both bilateral and multilateral, that assess intentions, objectives, plans, or possible courses of interaction.

PHUM: The violation of rights attributable to human beings.

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