Ethiopia: Interview with Ambassador to Egypt, Mahamoud Dirir

Cairo (HAN) June 24, 2014.  Egyptian TV host interview with Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Egypt, Mahmoud Dirir. Egyptian TV-host bespoke country’s bad habit, Published by Selamawit.

Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Egypt, Ambassador Mohamoud Dirir, has underlined the importance of constructive dialogue as “the only alternative in order to maximize the benefits, which our peoples and the region can reap from the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam.”

The Ambassador said it was “naïve to consider that relations between Ethiopia and Egypt should solely be viewed through the prism of the Nile issue.” He stressed that it was Ethiopia’s conviction that the deep historic relations between the two nations called for a vision which went far beyond such a narrow scope and encompassed integrated economic and social aspects of development. Ambassador Mohamoud, in a statement over the weekend, said press reports about possible third party mediation between Ethiopia and Egypt had no foundation.

The sources also confirmed for “Egypt” that the instructions were issued to all media, to stop the attack on Ethiopia, in the current period. This came after a note of protest made by the Ethiopian Ambassador in Cairo, Mahmoud Dridi Gedi, to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, on the background presenter Rania Badawi shut the phone in his face during televised interview.


The Badawi has hosted the Ambassador over the phone, confirmed to her that Ethiopia is proceeding with construction of the dam, and that this will not affect Egypt and Sudan, according to a tripartite committee has conducted a study, it also called on her to stop what he called the tone condescending in talking to him, so she shut down the phone face.

This comes just days before travel President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to deliver a speech in front of the African Union, amid reports about the presence of a strong and calming mediation between Egypt and Ethiopia.

The incident is the second in the same channel during the past few days, where the administration decided to turn off the TV presenter Maha Bahnasy from work, after which was issued in its “morning Liberation Weekend,” and that after speaking with the correspondent channel from Tahrir Square, where she said her correspondence The Field by the many cases of harassment, to respond announcer suddenly “remained happy with, vacate Ahas people



An Egyptian TV host talked down Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Egypt, Mahmoud Dirir, during a phone conversation televised on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

Earlier that day, the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom phoned his counterpart Sameh Shoukry to congratulate him on his new appointment; and shortly, it was heard Ambassador Dirir to have welcomed Egypt in its return to the African Union from suspension, actually making Ethiopia and its Ambassador the first to do so.

But what had awaited the Ethiopian Ambassador later that evening is much to everyone’s surprise.

The Egyptian television channel, Al Tahrir, invited Ambassador Dirir on its programFil Midan (In The Square) to discuss the latest on the two countries relation over the Nile dam row. The TV-host, Rania Badawy, seems to have already been fired up with the interview she had with Egypt’s new Irrigation Minister on the same subject right before she welcomed Ambassador Dirir.

Following is the entire unedited interview translated to English from Arabic:

TV-host: Your excellency, Mr. Ambassador, good evening.

Amb. Dirir: Good evening. First, I’d like to salute the minister and congratulate him on his new position. And there will be the usual cooperation between the ministry and us. By now, I’ve worked with many ministers in Egypt and we’re optimist with his appointment.

TV-host: Cool. Does that mean there will be cooperation for viewpoints to meet halfway?

Amb. Dirir: First, it appears to me that you were speaking in a clichéd political tone while you were talking with the minister. We are now … [Interrupted]

TV-host: Which is what exactly? Explain it to me.

Amb. Dirir: We are now talking about reviewing the entire Ethiopian-Egyptian relation and we do not limit our relations to the Renaissance Dam. The Ethiopian-Egyptian interests are much bigger than that. Promoting that this dam will endanger the lives of Egyptians and that it’s going to threaten the Egyptian water interests, do not have a place in our ongoing negotiations. We’ve reached … [Interrupted]

TV-host: So, if it’s not threatening the lives of Egyptians, why is Egypt bothered to send you delegates for negotiations?

Amb. Dirir: Excuse me … Allow me. Allow me … Allow me my lady.

TV-host: Go ahead.

Amb. Dirir: We are going to build this dam, and we’ll continue to build it. It’ll not negatively affect Egypt or Sudan.

TV-host: Hmmm [Smirked]. All right, your Excellency Mr. Ambassador, again my question is, if you (Ethiopians) think this dam will not burden the Egyptian people, then how do you see the formation of committees every now and then [stuttering] to go to Ethiopia and negotiate with the officials? Do you think the Egyptian government doesn’t understand the subject and is wasting its time or what’s it exactly?

Amb. Dirir: No, no. On the contrary, you’re looking at the issue in a very pessimistic way. What we’ve reached at this level is a positive achievement.  First, with Ethiopia’s initiative, a tripartite committee of experts was formed from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia together with international experts. And a comprehensive report was released from this initiative, which has concluded two main points: one is that this dam does not harm Egypt and the other is, the construction of the dam complies with international standards. Secondly, when we talk about the Renaissance Dam, we’re talking about combating poverty in Africa especially in Ethiopia. Moreover, we are talking about the electricity shortage this region suffers in relation to the industrialization boom. Because the Ethiopian economy depends on agriculture, it is impossible to achieve industrialization without electric power especially one that is environmentally friendly like hydropower.

TV-host: Ok, ok, your Excellency, Egypt has announced repeatedly she’s not against development or if the level [standard of living] of Ethiopians improve or [against] your policies in combating poverty … Egypt is for development and I think you’ve just heard the Irrigation Minister saying we’re willing to operate the dam and participate in the technical administration and cooperation. Egypt is offering everything only on the condition that the construction of the dam is reversed to its initial specification & capacity without the new alternations. Not the 47 billion per hour as it is now … [Interrupted]

Amb. Dirir: Excuse me … Excuse me, we’ve gone past this dictation and description you’re talking about, and it doesn’t concern us in anyway. What concerns us [Interrupted]

TV-host: When you say you’re past it, do you mean you refused it or what?

Amb. Dirir: What concerns us is that there are recommendations presented by the tripartite committee, which we have to work together to realize. And excuse me, with regards to Egypt’s desire to operate the dam and etcetera, that’s Ethiopia’s affair not Egypt’s.

TV-host: Aha… So, you don’t want us to jointly operate the dam with you?

Amb. Dirir: I told you, this decision is Ethiopia’s to make.

TV-host: Let me ask you again. You’ve passed the discussion on the capacity of the dam. As I understand, you’re still insisting on the present specification and capacity of the dam.

Amb. Dirir: You don’t understand about dams and you’re speaking in a bumptious tone. And this doesn’t add one iota to the talks between the two nations, and these superfluous questions doesn’t benefit anyone. [Interrupted]

TV-host: Mr. Ambassador, you trespassed your limits with me and it is not your right to characterize my words. I do not characterize your words, and you shouldn’t be talking about bumptiousness. I have the right to ask the question that the Egyptian people are asking and are concerned about. These questions are not superfluous. It’s my right to ask Mr. Ambassador and it’s only diplomatic and a protocol of engagement that you do not attack anyone or characterize a question. And when you’re being asked a question, either you answer that question or say no comment. I ask and you have to answer or refuse to comment, that’s your right. Otherwise, it’s none of you’re right. Your Excellency, you’ve trespassed the limits and I thank you… Thank you very much.

With that the TV-host Rania Badawy hanged up and discontinued the televised phone conversation. But right before he was cut off, the Ambassador was heard in the background saying, “No, you’ve trespassed you’re limits as a journalist.”

Apparently, the television station has supported Badawy, seeing that it has let her keep ranting on the Ambassador even after she discourteously ended the phone conversation.

“And I think we had a show with him before and I wish my colleagues [search for the clip] so that I can show you, it was clear from the beginning that there is insistence, adamancy and aggression when dealing with this topic.”“It’s known that Mr. Mahmoud Dirir, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Egypt, is one of the adamant people towards Egypt in general and regarding the dam,” she exclaimed.

At this point, Ms. Badawy got to sound even more furious. “When I talk about the dam, it’s improper to characterize my questions & say it’s bumptious. When I probe if they’re insisting on the present specification and capacity of the dam, it’s improper of him to question my knowledge about dams.”

She continued: “Whether an Ambassador or non-ambassador, it is out of protocol to characterize a question. He has to answer the question or decline to comment and that’s his right. But characterizing a question is not his right at all. I’m asking the questions that are in every Egyptian’s mind, and I think its your (TV-viewers) right to know if Ethiopia will agree this time, if the negotiations are going to be fruitful, if they are still clinging to their opinions, if they are still adamant. This is not my talk; all the ministers that went, all the committees that were sent, released reports that indicate the adamancy of the Ethiopian administration. And I think the position of Mohammed Dirir, the Ambassador of Ethiopia, is no different.

Ms. Badawy even went further as to advise how Egypt should conduct its negotiation with Ethiopia. “The Egyptian side has to be decisive on the negotiations this time and find a means to put real pressure because it’s clear that the Ethiopian negotiator is still maintaining his position and keeping his extreme adamancy which is neither in the interest of Ethiopia nor Egypt or for the relations [of the two nations].

Says Badawy, “When the Irrigation Minister tells me that it’s not in our favor in its present form, when he tells me that we will assist in the operation of the dam and offer technical assistance on the conditions that they revert to the original design, it’s improper for the Ambassador to come and say it’s Ethiopia’s matter not Egypt’s.”

“If he’s talking about arrogance,” she concluded, “then they [the Ethiopians] are the arrogant ones, not the Egyptians. They are the ones talking bumptiously!”

The TV station quite proudly titled the YouTube clip as shown above, and it reads: “Rania Badawy’s fury after finishing a call with the Ethiopian Ambassador in which she thought him a harsh lesson about Egyptian’s glory.” And the Station is not alone. 

A man who goes by the username ‘Strong Man’ praised the TV host on thechannel’s YouTube page as follows: “…Much respect to our authentic Egyptian sister, you spoke our heart and kept your dignity and the dignity of all sincere Egyptian journalists in your response to this ignorant, who lacks diplomacy and common courtesy…”.

But as there are people who have positively taken her brazen act as patriotic, there are as much who have denounced her manners, and who have actually began to question the professionalism of the country’s media.

Another social media user, Mahmoud Haiba, had to comment this on one of the local news outlets’ website: “The truth is, the Ambassador spoke with courtesy and respect. It’s the TV-host that delegated herself as a spokesperson for the Egyptian people… and she spoke disrespectfully. A TV-host can’t talk for the Egyptian people… It’s the duty of the ministers of the government and the foreign affairs… The solution comes through diplomatic channels, not through satellite channels.”

What’s rather surprising is to see words of support coming from Mr. Hani Raslan (PhD), the head of the Nile Basin Studies Unit at the country’s think tank, Al Ahram for Political & Strategic Studies.

“It is the Ambassador’s mistake not the host’s,” Mr. Raslan was quoted as saying on one of the news websites, “and he was the one who talked with a rough accent and a condescending tone as if he was the high commissioner, not as an Ambassador in Egypt. This is not the first incident for the Ethiopian Ambassador. It has happened repeatedly dozens of times.”

The gaffe made by the TV host can be ignored especially, in light of the fact that just two days ago Ms. Badawy also had a similar incident with Iraqi ambassador to Egypt; perhaps it could be her tactic to bring attention to her show. Yet, it will be difficult to ignore the way of thinking displayed by people like Mr. Raslan along the topic.

And although Ambassador Dirir has already submitted a letter of complaint about the incident, so far no Egyptian official have come out and gave response on the matter.

In the past, Ethiopian and other African delegates have long criticized Egyptian officials’ condescending approach. Last year, a delegation of prominent Egyptian figures advised that Egypt’s arrogance when dealing with Africans is harming the country.

The softened tone of the new administration appears to be in line with this recommendation, and seems it has resonated well with the Ethiopian side, with Ambassador Dirir expressing optimism just last week that talks would resume soon.

As for Rania Badawy’s conduct, well it may just be a media blunder, or as the Ambassador stated, she was speaking in a “clichéd political tone”.  As the saying goes, old habits die hard. Source: addcafe

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  1. =1=
    I like the comment by Mahmoud Haiba which reads as follows:
    “The truth is, the Ambassador spoke with courtesy and respect. It’s the TV-host that delegated herself as a spokesperson for the Egyptian people… and she spoke disrespectfully. A TV-host can’t talk for the Egyptian people… It’s the duty of the ministers of the government and the foreign affairs… The solution comes through diplomatic channels, not through satellite channels.”

    Furthermore, who is she to command the Egyptian people or government. Read the following:
    “The Egyptian side has to be decisive on the negotiations this time and find a means to put real pressure because it’s clear that the Ethiopian negotiator is still maintaining his position and keeping his extreme adamancy which is neither in the interest of Ethiopia nor Egypt or for the relations [of the two nations].”

    Let us say the Ambassador is arrogant. Is it professional to say Ethiopians are arrogant?
    Read this:
    “If he’s talking about arrogance,” she concluded, “then they [the Ethiopians] are the arrogant ones, not the Egyptians. They are the ones talking bumptiously!”

    This is completely unprofessional. In my opinion, the Egyptian government has to act. She has to be punished. If the Egyptian government is not taking action, that means her words are also the government stand or at least they support her. As Badawy said her reflection is truly Egyptians people reflection. That means, the Ethiopian has to take action carefully against the Egyptian people.

  2. How come she says Ethiopians are arrogant? Let any African people witness who is arrogant. It is not claim but it is your inherent behavior Ms Badawy.

    Regarding the pressure you were talking about, did not we tell you that you don’t have an option except cooperation? I think you can read media. We told you this hundred times. Actually your behavior expresses how deep you are illiterate.

  3. What a piece of dung this fart-smeller host! I am shocked by the verbal vomit of this crap splatter pseudo journalist, who is aging without wising up!
    Although it is a pattern since primordial, some within the Egyptian media have overly used it lately as a suitable tool to disseminate their concocted fairytales to mislead their gullible audience. It angers me though when representatives are accosted in the name of interview by a barefaced host to implant or make believe wanton propagandas.
    A seasoned journalist applies meticulous skills to get as much as adequate answers but does it respecting the strict tenet of journalistic boundaries. Anchors usually ask difficult but relevant questions, and if needed, add follow-ups so that to get full answer, but do not engage in debate, argument or answering the questions. In this case, in addition to breaching decorum, the host has made condescending statements and become the invited guest as supposed to the questioner. She was rude, impudent for cutting the guest repeatedly and unenlightened as she jabbered as an expert on subjects she has no clue. Again, this is the same old behavior with some of the Egyptian media, and it has the proclivity to erode trust among the two brotherly people.
    If you scrupulously examine the substance of her questions, the insolence words she formed and the overall hysterical tone she was fretting, it subtly affirms the vestige of colonial mindset or sort of master-servant relation, concealed in the name of journalism.
    Although the underlying argument both countries try to find a solution is how to use the Nile River fairly and equitably, the behavior of the manure head host failed her audience.
    I would like to thank the Ambassador of Ethiopia H.E. Mohammed Dirir for the grace he showed.

  4. She has the right to ask any questions she likes. On the other hand she has to now how to accept when she gets the an answer she doesn’t like. Most Egyptian have a perceived reality about the Nile water which is completely too far away from the reality. For example when Egyptian signed an agreement with Sudan in 929, they have no any idea how important the water coming from Ethiopia; that is why they ignored Ethiopia. The Egyptians are very condescending to black people. I lived in Cairo, Egyptian if a person is black and Muslim, they consider that person as slave who has been forced to become slave, suggesting all African people are subjugated to be Muslim. One professor told me while I was in Cairo that blacks in Africa don’t have their own religion but assimilated to one, be it Islam or Christian. In Islam though, blacks areas merchandise because the Arabs used to sell them as slaves. I was socked. but I was not surprised with the women’s tone and attitude in the interview. That is general felling in Egypt underneath. The contested issues just brought out what is the general sentiment about black people in Egypt

    • “tttye”, You don’t seem to have any clue about Islam. In fact you confuse Arab cultures with Islam, not to mention that not everything you said is true, even for Arabs.

  5. I wonder how you can make progress on negotiations with this type of die-hard attitude. So, Egypt wants to operate the dam jointly with Ethiopia ? Why on earth ? Do we jointly operate anything in other countries ? And to dictate to resort to specifications set by yourself ? The fact remains that the GERD will be finished and everyone will benefit from it. Trying belligerent tones and denigrating blackness would not get anywhere. There are so many lessons from the past that Ras Alula has taught others in the region. Now, the time is to sober up and talk current logical with the present reality. This woman does not represent the Egyptian people, we hope.