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Egypt: Diplomatic offensive against Ethiopia

Addis Ababa (HAN) March  1st, 2014  – Egypt may be in the throes of political turmoil, but the government has begun a diplomatic offensive aimed at stopping Ethiopia from building a huge hydroelectric dam on the Nile River that Cairo says will be a disaster for the Arab world’s most populous nation.
The military-backed administration began its effort to internationalize the thorny issue in hopes of gathering support for its case against Ethiopia, where the Blue Nile rises in the northwestern highlands, after bilateral negotiations deadlocked in January.

“The campaign initiated by Egypt … aims to persuade the international community to reject the dam’s construction because it may lead to further conflict and instability in the region of the Nile Basin,” an Egyptian diplomatic source in Cairo told the Middle East’s al-Monitor website Feb.19.

“More negotiations with Ethiopia only waste time and directly threaten Egypt’s water security,” said the source, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“We realized that Ethiopia doesn’t want genuine solutions to end the crisis, but is only trying to portray Egypt as approving of the dam’s construction to facilitate access to the funding.

“But Ethiopia hasn’t provided genuine guarantees the dam will not affect Egypt and has shown no intention to amend the technical specifications to minimize the potential risks according to the report by the international experts’ committee, which recommended reconsidering the dam’s safety studies.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Feb. 13 that Addis Ababa will not back down on the $4.8 billion Grand Renaissance Dam, which will be the largest in Africa.

He observed that since there’s no international court specializing in arbitrating water disputes, Cairo had no choice but to negotiate to reach a settlement acceptable to everyone.

Gamal Bayouni, secretary-general of the Egyptian-European partnership at the Ministry of International Cooperation in Cairo, said Egypt now seeks to “target all countries that provide technical assistance for designing and building the Renaissance Dam through private contractors and also the states likely to fund to construction of the dam.”

On Feb. 6, Egypt’s minister of water resources and irrigation, Mohamed Abdul Muttalib, visited Italy, considered to be Ethiopia’s main technical supporter in building the dam.

Italy’s Salini Construction Corp. is building the 6,000-megawatt facility on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile that flows northward through nine African states to the Mediterranean.

The Blue Nile accounts for 85 percent of the Nile’s water flow. It joins the White Nile, whose headwaters lie in the East African highlands in Burundi.

Muttalib, who was accompanied by Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, said after a series of meetings that “the visit has achieved its goal. Italy has understood Egyptian concerns.”

Egyptian sources say Muttalib’s next trip will be to Norway, which is one of the countries funding the dam project.

But it’s not clear at this stage whether Egypt’s diplomatic offensive will be able to secure enough international support to influence Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopians consider the Renaissance Dam and the other dams they plan to build as a symbol of national pride as they will produce electricity that will transform the economic prospects not only for their country but for much of seriously under-developed East Africa as it stands on the cusp of a major oil and gas boom.

For Cairo, maintaining the current flow of Nile water is a matter of national security.

Egypt’s last two presidents, Hosni Mubarak, overthrown Feb. 11, 2011, and Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, ousted by the army July 3, 2013, both made thinly veiled threats to use military force to uphold Egypt’s current access to the waters of the world’s longest river.

The current military regime in Cairo is focused, so far at least, on riding out the domestic political turmoil and restoring stability amid a growing Islamist insurgency.

But it can’t afford to let this issue slide. The Grand Renaissance Dam is to become operational in 2017.

Egypt, with its 84 million people totally dependent in the Nile for water, cites British agreements in 1929 and 1959 that guarantee it the lion’s share of the water and a veto over upstream dam construction.

But Ethiopia, along with Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and five other African states with growing populations and mounting demands on agriculture, dismiss these accords as colonial relics

Sources: UPI

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12 Responses to “Egypt: Diplomatic offensive against Ethiopia”

  1. tre

    Egypt is making permanent enemies in Africa. They are trying to stop Ethiopia from building the dam by lobbying countries that Egypt thinks are helping in the building of the dam. The problem in this approach is that Ethiopia is building the dam by itself. Even if other countries are helping Ethiopia in building the dam, these countries already have made up their mind how to approach the construction of the dam. What Egypt doing right now is nothing more than a campaign to expose itself as bully when it comes to blue Nile issues in Africa. There are about ten countries that share the Nile water which consider Egypt’s action toward Ethiopia is racist, bully, and inconsiderate. What ever happens to Ethiopia renaissance dam the action of Egypt when it comes to the Nile water has been seen based only on Egypt’s need only. If other African countries who have common interest on Nile water sees Egypt as mentioned above future negotiation in this matter would be very difficult for Egypt. These African countries are not going to see Egypt as equal partner but a manipulator who tries to get the best for themselves regardless of what the cost is for other African countries. If Egypt wants to be apart of the Nile riparian countries her role will be diminished to very small role and the influence the Egyptians would have to get the share of Nile water will come down to a drop; a country that is fighting not to lose a drop of water from the Nile.

  2. Steven

    I am a Nigerian who is proud to be African in any sense.
    I fully support the Ethiopian project that will enable the country to utilize its natural resources. I think what Ethiopia is doing is an inspiration for all African leaders. We should stop this little white Egyptians harras or harm our brothers in Ethiopia.
    Ethiopia resources is mainly to serve its people – be it with generating hydroelectric power or using the water for irrigation purpose. If excess water is avaialable to benefit their close neighbour Sudan. And sudan will determine how much water will be left to Egypt to use.
    Egypt with its oil rich- cousins can use modern techniques to exploit their underground water and the sea water.
    In my opinion all African leaders should support Ethiopia and its causes, even contributing money to make sure the project succeed in time and in buadget.
    The western support to the Egyptian cause was to make sure that sub-saharn African nations remain poor and diseases riden.
    We in the west africa fully support your ambition.
    Long live the christian nation of Ethiopia.

  3. Alemgena Taye

    Egypt is against the rest 10 Nile basin countries on the idea of “sharing”. But, no one is ready to hear that. Egypt should sign the Nile cooperative Framework agreement document first and ask for its share. Otherwise, it can’t continue barking at every project to be undertaken by each member of Nile Basin Initiative, such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and so on.

  4. No water for Egypt

    Africa in general, Ethiopia in particular must expel Egypt from AU and deny membership of NBI. There is no need for Egypt in our continent. It is a parasite country, not only to Africa, but a parasite of all human being. We told who they are and here we go time proved us right by their own action. No talk is needed with type of racist human being. Enough is enough. The Ethiopian government need to take an action that reciprocate their action by mobilizing all African countries and expelling Egypt permanently from AU and deny member in NBI. There is clear evidence they do not belong to this continent. They are robbers and foreign to our continent. How people have brain ask other countries to stop working with the country that provided them free water? This is more than war, this is more than insult. There is nothing to save from this. We are done and the door must closed now for them. They have no any right on our water. The next talk must be how much they will pay, not about their non-existent right. Please government of Ethiopia apply the law of physics and respond to them by requesting AU to expel Egypt from AU permanently. Dot tolerate them because the more your tolerate them the more they will pee on us. For every action there must equal and opposite reaction.

    1. Getachew

      Ur iwe ethiopians have a culture in feeding with others. And also we have also a traind to response any thing in their context.dea is not our culture.

  5. t

    Learn how to eat from a plate then u can talk. Feed your people first then build a dam that u cant even control. U thought your supporters will let u push man run anything. Come on brother walk up

    1. Mulat

      The Blue Nile river originate from Ethiopia and goes to the down countries and Ethiopia has a right to use blue Nile for what ever activities. As you tried to mention a stupid person like was thought Ethiopia can’t do it but the Ethiopian people are doing it now and you will see what is going on in the future. My brother/sister please don’t be blinded, just think as human being and make a habit of sharing what ever the things in this planet earth. Our tradition can’t allow us to take what ever things in our hand, that is why we are trying to work with Egyptian people thinking that Egyptians are our brothers.

  6. Al

    I support what Ethiopians doing what i do not understand is why is this we called the world are not with Ethiopia when this could help to most east Africans …why is not Africans untied when any country try to improve their country ?

  7. Andargachew

    Better to Cooperate with Ethiopia
    Egyptian political leaders and other bodies should cooperate with Ethiopia and other African countries, that have access to the Nile, in order to have proper use of the water. Get the spirit of selfishness out of your mind and try to reveal togethrness, brotherhood and/or sisterhood, unity, …aboveall, humanity as a civilized nation. Egypt has to learn that the current stance that the socalled political leaders have had can not bring solution. The longlasting solution of the issue is one and only one; and it is, I think, at your hand: working together with NBI (Nile Basin Initiative) countries.
    To be brief, take off your uncivilized, outdated, and self-centered thought and share the dish with Ethiopia and other African countries.

  8. Getachew


  9. Getachew

    Ur idea is not our norm we ethiopians have a culture in feeding with others. And also we have also a traind to response any thing in their context.

  10. Rome

    Hossam Bashari,

    Since ancient Greeks, Egypt is continuously colonized by at least 7 Empires fighting against each other. Namely, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, mamluks, Ottomans and the English. Egypt was an English colony until 1922 and a proctorat until 1937. However, The English Empire was forced to leave Egypt in 1959.

    That means the vast majority people living in Egypt are not native Egyptians but came beyond Africa as colonizers. The ottoman Turk colonized the Entire Arab including Egypt for more than 500 years. Most Egyptians living in Egypt today came to Egypt during this period from the territories colonized by Ottoman Turk as far as to Bosnia and Albania.

    The so called Modern Egypt is created in 1888, by an Albanian (Ali Pasha) governor of the ottoman Turk agent in Egypt. Before that his grandfather and father also ruled Egypt while calling not only the Native Egyptians but also the Arabs as Blacks. During the ottoman colonization of Arabs, the Arabs were regarded as backward blacks.

    Read more about Ali Pasha (Ottoman Turk agent in Egypt) originally from Albania. 95% Egyptians living in Egypt have no any history or ethnic connection with the Arabs from Yemen and western Saudi which is the Arabs originated from.

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