JINSA in Ethiopia
A delegation of 18 JINSA leaders has returned from a mission to Ethiopia in which they discussed a variety of points in Ethiopian-American and Ethiopian-Israeli relations. The delegation met with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister, the Speaker of the House and many others.
A delegation of 18 JINSA leaders has returned from a mission to Ethiopia in which they discussed a variety of points in Ethiopian-American and Ethiopian-Israeli relations. The delegation met with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister, the Speaker of the House and many others. They stayed in Addis Ababa, traveled to Gondar and had meetings with both the American and Israeli Ambassadors to Ethiopia.
For those wondering why JINSA chose Ethiopia as appropriate for such a mission, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said it best, “If Africa is important, then Ethiopia is very important.” JINSA believes a look at the map makes the point. Northeastern Africa is comprised of Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Across the Red Sea lies Yemen. As far as American (and Israeli) interests are concerned, Ethiopia and Eritrea are the only two theoretical options for partners. JINSA takes no side in the current war between the two, for such a war would be bad for all parties involved.
Ethiopia perceives itself as being “not completely of the Middle East and not completely of Africa” but having one foot in each, making it an influence broker throughout the region. The government has been pursuing democratic and economic reforms which, until the war with Eritrea, had been making tremendous headway in coping with the problems left from the old, pro-Soviet Mengistu regime. Primarily a Christian country, Ethiopia has significant problems with Sudan – which, along with Iran, is a major exporter of terrorism and radical Islamic fundamentalism. Ethiopia also has difficulties with Egypt.
JINSA’s agenda for the trip included the defense and foreign policy interests of the United States and Israel. The group’s goal was not only to be educated and to cultivate a relationship but also to educate the Ethiopian government about the issues that are important to JINSA – Israel and the Palestinians, regional security, terrorism and the situation of there maining Jews in the country – both the Quara Jews and the Falas Mura.
Over the years, JINSA has often been able to identify emerging areas of security interest. Our relations with the Turkish military predate even the first Turkey-Israel security memorandum. Trips to India and China were predicated on our understanding of the regional and world-wide security roles both countries would play, as well as our concerns about WMD and ballistic missile proliferation. JINSA’s association with the Iraqi National Congress, mission to Korea and interest in Central Asia are all based on our assessment of America’s world-wide responsibilities and the need for broad regional relationships.
Ethiopia may not achieve Turkey’s prominence with respect to American and Israeli security interests, but we believe that it will be a major regional player in the not-too-distant future.