The recent trial of two Swedish journalists in Ethiopia has shed light on the countries increasingly autocratic practices. Though various human rights groups and international media have raised some concern over human rights and the treatment of the journalists, Western leaders have been largely silent on Ethiopia’s turn towards autocracy.
The Western silence may be explained through Ethiopia’s geographic positioning. They are viewed by many in the West as a important strategic partner in countering violent extremism in the Horn of Africa. Further, Ethiopia is a neighbor to North and South Sudan who could be headed for war. In addition, Ethiopia is a neighbor to Somalia where the al-Shabab terror network is based.
These geopolitical factors combine together to mute criticism of the regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who has used a vaguely worded, far reaching anti-terror law to imprison opposition leaders and journalists as threats to the state.
Nice to see that the Cold War model of diplomacy isn’t dead. The West is basically saying as long as your not an Islamic terrorist, you can abuse human rights at will. Enemies may change, but our policies don’t change with them.