September 3, 2020
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Department of State
2201 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
We write to you with grave concerns over the reported cuts to U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia. Any such cuts would not only serve to degrade our relationship with a trusted partner but also undermine our position as an honest broker in the fragile ongoing negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The construction of the GERD is the product of years of small dollar donations and advanced engineering by the Ethiopian people. The project is a point of national pride for Ethiopians and holds the potential to stimulate economic growth in the region by providing assured access to electricity to millions of Ethiopians. The 6,000 megawatts of power the dam is projected to generate will revolutionize the Ethiopian grid and make Ethiopia the largest exporter of electricity in Africa.
The U.S.-Ethiopian relationship dates back more than a hundred years and have resulted in a diaspora of more than a quarter of a million Ethiopians living in the United States. Our foreign assistance programs in Ethiopia are predominantly humanitarian initiatives focused on addressing healthcare and food insecurity needs, however Ethiopia is also a critical security partner in the region. They are key contributors to the African Union Mission in Somalia and an invaluable ally in combating terrorist groups like al-Shabab. Cuts to U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia would run contrary to U.S. interests in the region and would degrade the strong relationship that our two nations have cultivated over the last century.
We recognize that the controversies surrounding the GERD — including Nile water rights for upstream countries — are exceedingly complex. However, the Administration’s reported cuts to foreign assistance clearly favor one side in a manner that betrays our nation’s commitment to being an impartial observer, undermines Ethiopia’s sovereignty, and subverts the work of African Union diplomats. We believe that the United States must stay true to our commitment to being an independent mediator for this dispute in order to ensure an amicable resolution.
Therefore, we request that you halt any cuts in foreign assistance to Ethiopia and pursue a strategy of impartial mediation to resolve regional disputes related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
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