U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Well Drilling Rig handover Ceremony
Thursday, January 14, 2016
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa
(As prepared for delivery)
Salem new! Good morning, I would first like to thank the Ethiopian National Defense Forces for this ceremony here at the Officer’s Club and for inviting me to speak to all of you today. Thank you Ato Birhanu Abera for attending, and thank you, also, Brigadier General Mulu for your assistance with our security cooperation efforts and your patience throughout the more than two-year process to deliver these much needed well-drilling rigs, particularly at a time when al-Nino is affecting the Horn of Africa. It is truly great to fulfill this commitment and share this moment with you today.
And these two rigs are a small part of the much larger security cooperation between the United States and Ethiopia—Ethiopia being one of the United States’ most willing and capable partners in Africa. From this perspective of cooperation and security, I see three key security challenges looking forward.
First, when it comes to terrorism and violent extremism, the world has become effectively borderless. No single country, region, or continent is isolated from the violence or impact of terrorism and trans-national criminal activity. Foreign fighters have travelled from North Africa to Syria; Boko Haram is spreading from Nigeria into the Lake Chad Basin countries; Al Shabaab threatens to export their terror to neighbors like Ethiopia—which Al Shabaab has, in fact, done in Kenya. We see that terrorists and international criminal networks do not confine themselves to established political boundaries. .
The United States understands that terrorism and organized crime are no longer a problem that can be considered “yours” or “theirs” or someone else’s. Terrorism and criminal activities are collectively our problem. Security cooperation activities such as this well-drilling program are one of the solutions we are using to address this collective problem.
We have seen how important and effective a collaborative approach to address common threats can be. For example, the security situation today in Somalia has improved dramatically through the collaborative efforts of the AMISOM troop contributing countries, the largest being Ethiopia of course, with the support of partners such as the United States. Violence in Darfur has been significantly reduced, if not eliminated, thanks to the assistance of countries like Ethiopia while ongoing conflict in South Sudan is being checked by the significant efforts of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces.
Third, the threat posed by terrorists and criminal organizations cannot be addressed or countered through military efforts alone. While military action may be necessary in certain circumstances, it is rarely the decisive element in any situation.
We must look together at the political, social, economic, cultural, and security issues that have allowed violent extremism to flourish. We must then work together to develop tailored approaches to mitigate against these conditions in a way that prioritizes equally the development of effective government institutions while also promoting security, civil society, and democracy.
It is with the recognition of our interconnectedness and mutual understanding that military actions are not enough to defeat violent extremism. This is one reason why we so strongly support the ENDF well-drilling program. These rigs will not only improve the ENDF’s capabilities to conduct Counter-Terrorism and Peacekeeping operations in remote areas, but also furnish the ENDF a critical capability to provide humanitarian assistance and react to natural disasters, particularly in light of the current al Nino drought.
In conclusion, we know that the only way to succeed in today’s security environment is for countries to work together to solve common problems. These well-drilling rigs are but one example of the United States and Ethiopia working together to solve our common security challenge to make Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa, safer and more secure.
I am convinced that these well-drilling rigs will not only help the operational capability of the ENDF but improve people’s lives.
Thank you for your attention and for inviting me to share this moment with you.