Tag Archives: Egypt

Ethiopia and Egypt on collision course over the Nile waters

10 Oct

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Hard times scarcely befriend optimism. Nor do they easily facilitate solutions to hardened problems. This is true for individual circumstances as well as of states.

With the changes of government in Ethiopia and the Sudan, the politics of the Horn of Africa may have changed somewhat, albeit the negatives outweighing the positive in Ethiopia in terms of the human conditions.

Of this, in his July 1, 2019 parliamentary address, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed admitted “internal displacement as one of the challenges his administration has had to contend with” in almost all regions of the country, according to national and international data.

In Ethiopia, these have been exacerbated by a dangerously divisive form of ethnic politics and strifes in the largest of the Horn states. This in turn may have whetted some appetites—both internal and external—encouraging them to satisfy old unyielding ambitions under all sorts of guises.

Therefore, in the three riparian states of the Nile River, i.e., Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia is the most affected and that Egypt has seen a hole to exploit those vulnerabilities. At the official level, there are indications to this effect.

For example, Egypt’s temporary silence after the murder of the chief of Engineer Simegnew Bekele of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and subsequent to Ethiopia’s temporary failure to continue work on the dam project during 2018 and part of 2019, Cairo has felt encouraged, as its pronouncements show,  it is time to attain its long-term dream of controlling the Nile waters. 

Blame the enemy is the game in such situations. Accordingly on Wednesday Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly in what sounded theatrical in his national parliament accused Ethiopia of taking  “a unilateral decision in 2011 to build its Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD).” What I cannot understand is why is Egypt is in denial—by such action—Ethiopia is a sovereign nation. With that denial, Egypt ridiculously  is implying Ethiopia lacks the right to build the dam, even when with every passing day it is becoming the reality it so much hates.

I strongly believe, as could tell you any student of international law, Ethiopia has the sovereign right to build the dam so long as, in keeping with the terms of the May 1997 United  Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses, no harm is done to downstream states’ interests. From the Ethiopian Permanent Mission in New York, I was present with my national delegation in the General Assembly Hall all of us guarding our nation’s interests up until this first international water law was adopted. It was both a moment of relief and historic.

We were all tense and still I recall my Egyptian colleague seeking clarifications about trans-navigational issues. I have enormous respect for this first international water law, whose elaboration took about thirty years of experts’ efforts and came into force only on August 14, 2014. Bear in mind, following negotiations since 2012 on this matter with Egypt, Ethiopia has done what any state in the circumstances would do: guard its jewels at all times from those wishing to claim it as theirs!

And yet, the prime minister of Egypt in his national parliament Wednesday did not only see it fit to question the sovereign right of Ethiopia to have a damn.  But by implication, he ignored Egypt negotiating with Ethiopia and Sudan from the moment the dam idea was conceived, made known to the world and project started. At the same time, contradicting an earlier position, the prime minister recalls engaging Ethiopia and the Sudan in the many consultations and negotiations up until the declaration was born. Still referring to GERD as “a unilateral Ethiopian project”. I hope you would agree with me, Sir, the baby could have only one father. That is my response to what you stated in parliament:  

“This unilateral decision was in violation of international agreements, and despite this fact we choose dialogue to reach agreement with Ethiopia…. “Ethiopia’s radical positions represent a violation of the declaration of principles reached by the presidents of Egypt, Sudan and the prime minister of Ethiopia in Khartoum on 23 March 2015.”

Egypt’s is a bit of a stretch. In reading that, I was reminded of Cairo’s strategy to wrestle the waters of the Nile River, by any means, I repeat, by any means, is troubling. This would only make future cooperation between the two countries increasingly difficult. 

Again the question is why does Egypt take this lane and react about this now as something out of the blues. Recall that Egypt has been in negotiations along with  Ethiopia and the Sudan on many aspects of the dam in the trilateral forum. Recall also it is this forum that on March 23, 2015 had given birth to the Khartoum Declaration into which Egypt had put its volition  and commitment with its signature to work toward the future under the terms of the agreement.

At the same time, Ethiopia cannot miss the necessity for Egypt of internal stability, which is a primary consideration in that country especially at present. That in mind, Foreign Minister  Sameh Shoukry went into the duty of assuring Egyptians “Egypt will never allow Ethiopia to impose the status quo and that Egypt has the power not only to protect its rights to the Nile water but also to resort to international law in this respect.”

Excellency, I hope, you are not suggesting violence against Ethiopia, when your country has become the most strident in condemning Turkey’s operation in Syria. You make it public that your are also contemplating military operation against Turkey in Syria, in collaboration with Iraq.

As far as Ethiopian interests are concerned, the strategy of Egyptian leaders at the moment aims to reach everything and touch everyone. We hear of Foreign Minister Shoukry proposing the World Bank to be approached to act as a mediator with Ethiopia. Furthermore, now we see he has also been instructed to raise the GERD question in all concerned international organisations, according to Ahram Online.

Due to this misguided Egyptian strategy, of late we read in the international media that the three Nile riparian states, especially Ethiopia and Egypt, are once again on a collision course over the utilisation of the waters of the Nile River.

Why now is a good question. It is because, while intended to serve the ambition Egypt has long-harboured, it deliberately makes its acts to look like that of a person who has  suddenly woken up from a long slumber. As usual, genuine or false sleep, its first temptation would be to look around and exploit the situation to address new and existing ambitions of Egypt. That knowledge has been with Ethiopia since 1875, and let it be known, Ethiopia would not close its eyes.

As Egypt woke up, it saw a weakened and disorganized Ethiopia, which in those circumstances looked it was to fall apart, among others, a new government in office and the rise of ethnic tensions that has been raging especially since 2018-and continuing.

On signing the Khartoum Declaration on March 23, 2015, while somewhat skeptical, still I was one of the many individuals who entertained some hope about future prospects of the cooperation between the three riparian states. As a matter of fact, despite my deep distrust of the TPLF and its walking into the Egyptian trap that was intended “to limit  Ethiopia’s Nile water uses”, I strongly believe the future between Ethiopia and Egypt would be better off with cooperation, instead of confrontation and sabotages, facilitating the secret flow of weapons into Ethiopia.

I recall the guarded optimism many entertained on March 23, 2015, when the three states signed the Agreement on Declaration on Principles between the three on utilisation of the Nile in post-Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project (GERDP) completion period.

Summing up the day’s discussion in the Egyptian Parliament, Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, while urging Ethiopia to exercise wisdom and to show respect for Egypt’s rights, he called on parliamentarians “…not to jump to hasty conclusions, we still have a lot of diplomatic and peaceful channels, but in the end, there is a red line that none should cross, and Egypt will never allow the loss of any drop of Nile water.”

Sudan military council rejects Ethiopia’s proposal for peace, accepts African Union’s

24 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Sudan’s military has rejected a proposal made by Ethiopian mediators and already accepted by the opposition coalition for the creation of a civilian transition body, and instead expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), both of whom are accused of backing the junta’s crackdown against civilians.

The ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) rejected Ethiopia’s proposal on Sunday, saying Ethiopia and the African Union (AU) should be unified in their efforts to mediate between the council and an opposition coalition on the structure of the country’s transitional government.

Back in April, Sudan’s military announced that it had unseated president Omar al-Bashir and later imprisoned him. It then set up the TMC to rule the country and promised to hand over after elections.



 

But protests, under whose pressure Bashir was forced out, have continued in Sudan, with people demanding that more civilians be on the council than military figures during the transition period.

Peaceful protests turned violent earlier this month, when the military started cracking down on demonstrators and using force to disperse sit-ins in the capital Khartoum.

PressTV-Sudan military attacks protesters as civil disobedience begins
PressTV-Sudan military attacks protesters as civil disobedience begins
Sudan’s military forces fire tear gas at protesters after they begin a civil disobedience campaign, called in the wake of a deadly crackdown on demonstrators.
The ruling generals and the coalition have also been holding talks for several weeks, but have so far failed to find a way out of the crisis.
In the meantime, Ethiopian mediators suggested that a ruling sovereign council would be made up of seven civilians and seven members of the military, with one additional seat reserved for an impartial individual, Reuters reported.
The council’s spokesman, Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi, said on Sunday the council had rejected Ethiopia’s proposal, but had agreed in principle to the African Union’s plan, details of which were not immediately known.

“The African Union’s initiative came first,” said Kabbashi, adding that the council had not studied the Ethiopian initiative, which he described as unilateral.

“We asked the mediators to unite their efforts and submit a joint paper as soon as possible to return the parties to negotiations,” Kabbashi added.

“The president (of the military council) clarified that he gave the mediators until tomorrow to present the joint vision,” said Yasser al-Atta, a member of the military council.

Atta also went on to dismiss reports that Saudi Arabia and UAE interfere in Sudan’s internal affairs.

“We do not accept dictations from any country,” Atta said. “Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not and will not dictate political or economic conditions.”

Both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have announced their support for the transitional military council. They have also expressed support for measures taken by the council following Bashir’s ouster.

PressTV-‘Bloody crackdown in Sudan launched at Saudi bidding’

PressTV-‘Bloody crackdown in Sudan launched at Saudi bidding’

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) launches the recent brutal crackdown on Sudanese protesters at the behest of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, an expert says.

In a separate statement on Saturday, the deputy head of the military council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, thanked both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, saying they have provided the country with assistance without interfering in its affairs.

Dagalo, currently the second most powerful man in Sudan, has had close ties with both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, since his country joined a Saudi-led war against Yemen more than four years ago.

He has been overseeing Sudan’s more than 10,000 ground troops in Yemen.

Back in May, the general met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a visit to the kingdom. Reports said Riyadh pledged to continue supporting the military if Khartoum agrees to keep its forces in Yemen.

Dagalo said on Friday that Khartoum deployed some 30,000 troops to join the coalition in Yemen.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.

June 24, 2019

 

Egypt angling to exert pressure on Ethiopia regarding Nile water share. Is Cairo capitalising on country’s internal difficulties?

7 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Asharq Al-Awsat

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi hoped on Tuesday that Nile dam project with Ethiopia will not exploited for political purposes.

He told reporters that he has seen “positive signs” from Ethiopia’s government in this regard.

 


In June, Abiy and El-Sisi signaled that they had made a breakthrough during talks in Cairo after an extended deadlock on the issue. The Egyptian president said at the time that the two countries have come a long way in building confidence and strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Abiy said at the time that his country was committed to securing Egypt’s share of Nile water.

Ahram Online

August 26, 2018


He added that Cairo wants “formal agreements” that Ethiopia will not reduce Egypt’s share of the Nile during the filling of what will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam.

“We need to turn Ethiopia’s goodwill into formal agreements,” he stressed.

 


Sisi:

“The waters of Egypt is not a subject for talk, and I assure you, no one can touch Egypt’s water,”

Egypt Independent , Nov. 18, 2017


Egypt fears the $4.8 billion dam could reduce its share of the Nile River, which provides virtually all its freshwater. Ethiopia says it needs the dam for its economic development.

The two have been at odds over how quickly the reservoir behind the dam will be filled and the impact it would have on Egypt’s share of the Nile.

 

 Related:

Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is a big challenge to Egypt’s aggressive stance over the Nile

 

Ambassador Robert Ford speaks on diplomacy and current US policy

20 Mar

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 

At his last diplomatic assignment, Ambassador Ford was US envoy to Syria. He disagreed with his government’s policies and resigned from his post. He’s now in the academic world.

In my July 14, 2016 article fighting Tedros Adhanom’s campaign to become Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), I unsuccessfully used some facts from Ambassador Robert Ford to oppose his candidacy. Therein a reader would find the following:
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Ethiopian attempt to begin filling Renaissance Dam may scupper deal with Egypt and Sudan, say experts

13 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Arab News

“Egypt, on the other hand, demanded filling the reservoir over a period of nine years.”

CAIRO: There are fears that a unilateral attempt by Ethiopia to begin filling a huge new dam on the Nile will lead to the failure of technical discussions with Egypt and Sudan.

Disagreements between Ethiopia and Egypt on filling the reservoir and generating power within a few months on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which will be the largest in Africa, could not be resolved during the Tripartite National Technical Committee’s meeting, which brought together the Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian ministers of water and was held in Addis Ababa on Oct. 19.
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Nile River regional ministers fail to reach agreement on Ethiopian dam studies report

13 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by AhramOnline
 
Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Ati said on Sunday that participants in the tripartite ministerial meeting held in Cairo to discuss a preliminary studies report on the regional impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have failed to reach a consenus, state-run MENA news agency reported.
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How State Restrictions Are Reshaping Civic Space Around the World: The Case of Ethiopia Under Rogue TPLF Included

26 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Saskia Brechernmacher, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace May 22, 2017
 

“In addition to heightened administrative and legal harassment, activists fear prosecution under sweeping anti-terrorism measures. Ethiopian authorities have used the 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation to selectively target journalists, lawyers, and civil society leaders…In Ethiopia, the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation effectively bars a wide range of advocacy and rights organizations from receiving external support—while preserving access to such funding for development and service delivery organizations…In Ethiopia, hundreds of organization decided to abandon rights-based programming and shift their focus toward politically neutral capacity-building and local service delivery in order to preserve their access to foreign support. A 2011 survey found that 70% of development NGOs and 44% of human rights organizations changed their mandates and activities in response to the government’s NGO regulations.

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Civil Society Under Assault: Repression and Responses in Russia, Egypt and Ethiopia

21 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
by Saskia Brechenmacher, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 18, 2017
 
The closing of civic space has become a defining feature of political life in an ever-increasing number of countries. Civil society organizations worldwide are facing systematic efforts to reduce their legitimacy and effectiveness. Russia, Egypt, and Ethiopia have been at the forefront of this global trend. In all three countries, governments’ sweeping assault on associational life has forced civic groups to reorient their activities, seek out new funding sources, and move toward more resilient organizational models. Competing security and geopolitical interests have muddled U.S. and European responses, with governments divided over the value of aggressive pushback versus continued engagement.
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