Ethiopia’s government is aiming sharp criticism at the US State Department as it seeks to maintain order in the face of a nearing rebel army that threatens to totally overwhelm its forces and unseat its leaders.
Reuters reported that Ethiopian officials accused the US of spreading “fake news” after the US Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a warning to US citizens in the country warning of the potential for terrorist attacks in open public spaces.
State minister Kebede Dessisa issued a statement accusing the State Department of being the source of "shameful fake news and defamation regarding Ethiopia”, according to the news wire.
His remarks come as protests continue in the capital against western intervention and the narrative surrounding Ethiopia’s civil war portrayed in western media. The country’s government has increasingly accused the US and other world powers of interference as an army from the Tigray region closes in on Addis Ababa.
As of Monday, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa was warning of the potential for terrorist attacks “targeting diplomatic facilities, tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, western businesses, restaurants, resorts, local government facilities and other public areas”.
The State Department as a whole was also urging US citizens to evacuate the country, while warning that US forces would not undertake a similar evacuation effort as was seen in Kabul as Taliban forces overwhelmed and ousted the former Afghan government.
“[W]e’re urging US citizens to leave Ethiopia now while commercial flight options are available,” a senior State Department official said on a briefing call with reporters on Monday.
“Our core message is: Do not wait until the situation gets worse to decide to leave; leave before things change,” they added.
NPR reported in early November that a number of rebel groups had recently formed an alliance as they neared the capital. Meanwhile, Eritrean forces allied with Ethiopia’s embattled prime minister have allegedly committed massacres in Tigray areas in the country’s northernmost region, which borders Eritrea.
An internal US government report obtained by The New York Times in February accused forces allied with Ethiopia’s government of committing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the country’s northern regions.