Dr. iur. Mehari Taddele Maru and Abel Abate
Ethiopia’s Pan-African positions promoted by the three regimes were equally solid, nevertheless, their policies foundations and ambitions in relation to the AU were unambiguously divergent. While the regimes of Emperor Haile Selassie and Colonel Mengistu were outward looking and excessively externalized Ethiopia’s internal problems, the current regime is extremely inward looking. Emperor Haile Selassie and Colonel Mengistu were outward looking, and excessively externalized and reduced Ethiopia’s domestic problems to what they termed ‘historical enemies’, and thereof using OAU to mitigate these external threats. Rooted in its ideological beliefs about the root-causes of Ethiopia’s internal troubles and perceived solutions, for the EPRDF, the AU and the IGAD remains another platform for solving regional challenges that affect Ethiopia’s internal governance and development problems. Consequently, unless directly affecting Ethiopia’s developmental agenda, Ethiopia’s current approach to the AU and continental affairs is unambitious and self-restraining. It is narrow as well as ad hoc. For this reason, Ethiopia has no grand strategy regarding the AU.
For Ethiopia, a country with a population of 90 million, projected to reach 120 million in the next 20 years, a strategy that proactively deals with its challenges with foresight is not only vital for Ethiopia’s economic transformation, peace and stability, but also critically important for the peace and security of the entire region. Extreme poverty, internal political stability, economic development and regional integration, security in water, energy, food and climate change, the Nile River Basin, access to the sea and port services, as well as transnational threats dictate the need for grand strategy towards AU and even IGAD.
Thus, in order to maintain and increase Ethiopia’s influence in the AU, in addition to and beyond the personal capacity of its leaders, Ethiopia needs strategic long-term policies and institutions anchored inwardly not only to protect, but also promote its interest at the AU level. Enough has been changed to demand a grand strategy for Ethiopia regarding the AU. FANSPS needs a fundamental rethinking and reorganization to ensure Ethiopia benefits from the AU. Less concerned about ideological positions, grand strategies on the AU would detail how Ethiopia should make use of the AU in fostering peace, security, prosperity and stability. Anchored within the inward looking foreign policy along the lines of the national interest of Ethiopia, such a grand strategy to the AU need to be an outward looking pursuing multilateralism in vigorously promoting economic and integrative opportunities and dealing with threats proactively. Such a strategy would take Ethiopia’s history, large population, strategic geographic location, military strength and economy, but primarily on mega trends that will define Ethiopia in the future.