Tag Archives: US Foreign Policy

Global Conflict Mediation Proves Elusive for President Trump

29 Jul

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Patsy Widakuswara VOA

Trump the mediator

Trump, the one-time New York real estate businessman and reality TV star, has inserted his administration in dispute negotiations, some of which began in his first year in office. He has more than once offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir, which New Delhi has rejected. India has also rebuffed Trump’s offer to mediate its border feud with China.

In trying to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians, and Kosovo and Serbia, Trump picked up on efforts by past administrations. Other efforts at intervention, including getting involved in the feud over a hydroelectric dam between Egypt and Ethiopia, are entirely of his own making.

So far, none of these initiatives has borne agreements accepted by the disputing parties. Israel is on the brink of annexing about 30% of the West Bank which includes areas populated mainly by Palestinians. Meanwhile, Addis Ababa is allowing rain water to fill the Grand Ethiopia (GERD), angering Cairo officials who fear the massive hydropower dam will cut off their water supply.

FILE – This frame grab from a video obtained from the Ethiopian Public Broadcaster July 24, 2020, shows an aerial view of water levels at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Guba, Ethiopia. (Photo credit: VOA)

In trying to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians, and Kosovo and Serbia, Trump picked up on efforts by past administrations. Other efforts at intervention, including getting involved in the feud over a hydroelectric dam between Egypt and Ethiopia, are entirely of his own making.

So far, none of these initiatives has borne agreements accepted by the disputing parties. Israel is on the brink of annexing about 30% of the West Bank which includes areas populated mainly by Palestinians. Meanwhile, Addis Ababa is allowing rain water to fill the Grand Ethiopia (GERD), angering Cairo officials who fear the massive hydropower dam will cut off their water supply.

Honest broker?

Analysts say the president’s bid to facilitate resolution of these long-running disputes have stalled partly because he is not seen as an honest broker attempting to placate both sides in sensitive talks.

This is most apparent in the administration’s Middle East peace plan led by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, that was released in January 2020. The plan was drawn up without any Palestinian involvement and its leaders have rejected it. Critics say negotiations had a distinctive pro-Israel tilt from the start.

A negotiation is a conversation between two equal parties, said Halah Ahmad, a policy analyst with Al-Shabaka, a transnational Palestinian think tank, in an interview with VOA. “The Palestinians have not been brought to the table as an equal party in negotiations with the Trump administration, and the stipulations of the administration really cast aside international consensus and decades of U.S. foreign policy.”

In September 2019, after making a personal promise to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to mediate the feud over the Nile dam, Trump appointed U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the lead person.

Mnuchin has hosted a series of meetings between Ethiopian, Egyptian and Sudanese officials in Washington, including two in the Oval Office with Trump. The controversy is over the future of a giant hydroelectric power plant being built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile tributary in the northern Ethiopia highlands. At issue is control of the flow of the Nile as Ethiopia fills up the dam’s reservoir.

But Trump’s coziness with Egypt’s Sissi, who he once referred to as “my favorite dictator” and with whom he has spoken twice this month to reiterate the U.S.’s commitment to “facilitating a fair and equitable deal” on the dam, planted doubts about Washington’s neutrality. Ultimately, Ethiopia walked out of what was supposed to be the final round of talks in February, rejecting U.S.’s “characterization” in the draft agreement, signed off by Cairo, that the negotiation on filling and operating the dam is “completed.”

The U.S.-drafted agreement gave Cairo unrealistic expectations that created difficulties in the ongoing negotiations, said Addisu Lashitew, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington research group. “It promised Egypt a legally binding treaty and a guaranteed water release from the [Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam], which Ethiopia fears will undermine its ability to use the Nile waters in the future,” Lashitew told VOA.

FILE – President Donald Trump welcomes visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to the White House, in Washington, April 9, 2019 (Photo credit: VOA).

/Global Conflict Mediation Proves Elusive for Trump

July 26, 2020

 

 

 

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