March 1, 2014 (Politico) — Ethiopia is a democracy at least in name and has had Western (and Chinese) companies salivating at its recent double-digit GDP growth. But longtime strongman Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, and his successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, have leaned on a sweeping anti-terrorism law to stamp out opposition, imprisoning journalists, activists and politicians who dare speak out against the government. Ethiopia has made itself useful to the United States, though, invading Somalia in 2006 at Washington’s behest and disastrously fueling a rise in terrorism that prompted another intervention in late 2011. Rights groups accused the U.S.-trained and -equipped Ethiopian military of war crimes in stomping out an ethnic rebellion in 2008, but Washington has only hugged Addis Ababa tighter: In 2012, Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest states, was the top sub-Saharan African recipient of U.S. aid—and the seventh country overall—raking in some $707 million.
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