Egypt may take Nile dam dispute with Ethiopia to UN (Al-Monitor)

January 21st, 2014 Print Print Email Email

After all attempts to solve the Egyptian-Ethiopian crisis over the Renaissance Dam at the negotiating table ended in failure after a third round of negotiations on Jan. 4, with Egypt withdrawing from the discussions and conferences being held in Khartoum, there is now talk at the governmental level about internationalizing the issue. At the same time, Egypt is witnessing rising popular demands to resort to the UN Security Council to establish Egypt’s right to veto the establishment of the Renaissance Dam, given the potential danger it represents to Egyptian water security.

Khalid Wasif, the official spokesman for the minister of irrigation and water resources, revealed to Al-Monitor that Egypt has “begun to explore international channels for setting up alternative diplomatic and political tracks to ward off the dangers that might afflict the country if the Renaissance Dam is built, in light of the announced specifications of the dam.” He emphasized, “Egypt will not allow the dam to be built and will move to rally international pressure to prevent it from being funded. Moreover, Cairo will work [to secure] a public declaration by the international community rejecting the dam’s completion, in the absence of [Ethiopian] guarantees that Egypt and Egyptians will not suffer any loss in water security, nor will the other states of the Nile Basin. Egypt has rights guaranteed by international law and agreements, which the Ethiopian side is not respecting.”

Wasif added, “According to existing agreements governing the river — which require upriver states to notify Egypt in advance and obtain its consent prior to embarking on any projects that would affect the Nile sources — Egypt’s is the stronger legal position. Yet, Egypt has nevertheless insisted upon resolving the issue in a friendly manner, through reciprocal dialogue with the Ethiopian side, devoid of any escalation. But the government in Addis Ababa has shown no appreciation for this fact. Thus, Egypt has refused to continue the latest Khartoum meetings, given Ethiopia’s insistence on not providing the necessary guarantees that Egypt’s share of the water supply will remain secure.”

Rida al-Dimak, the director of the Center for Water Projects at Cairo University’s Engineering College, told Al-Monitor, “The development of alternative supplies of water must be accelerated, to replace the water that will be lost as a result of the construction of the Renaissance Dam. Foremost among these alternative sources is the exchange of wellspring [water] with the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo, transferring water from the Congo River to the Nile, so as to guarantee that the amount of water available to Egypt remains constant.”

Dimak warned against the completion of the Renaissance Dam according to its current specifications, stating that it would constitute a violation of human rights. The social and environmental effects, he explained, must be taken into consideration whenever a new water project is built, in accordance with inviolable international conventions. Some international reports have confirmed that the Ethiopian dam will result in a shortage of drinking water and destruction of a great deal of Egyptian agricultural land. This, he states, provides the foundation for Egypt’s right to object to the dam in international forums.

For his part, former Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Muhammad Nasr al-Din Allam said in an interview with Al-Monitor that the Egyptian government no longer has any alternative but to move quickly to take steps toward international escalation. The first of these, he states, should be to lodge an official protest against the government in Addis Ababa, formally declaring Egypt’s rejection of the project.

“This right is guaranteed to us by old agreements signed and recognized internationally, and which were conditioned upon notifying Egypt in advance before any Nile-related project was established. This protest ought to be followed by the lodging of an official complaint with the UN to establish Egypt’s position and [remonstrate against] Ethiopian intransigence, as well as to formally demand the formation of an international fact-finding committee to study the points of disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia. These points include the dam’s capacity, the period of time needed to fill it, [details concerning its] operation, the project’s unsound and unsafe construction and the lack of rigorous Ethiopian studies demonstrating that the dam is not vulnerable to collapse, something that would have disastrous consequences for both Egypt and Sudan,” Allam noted.

Allam stressed the need for Egypt to demand that construction on the Ethiopian dam be halted at once, until the fact-finding committee completes its work. According to Allam, this would require “a period of, at most, three to six months.” Moreover, he added, “A copy of the committee’s report should be brought before the UN, to demonstrate the damage that the dam would wreak upon Egypt, which should then head to the Security Council.”

In an interview with the daily El Fagr on Jan. 9, Ayman Salama, an Egyptian expert in international law, stressed that the Egyptian government would be justified in taking its case to the UN Security Council, even though “one cannot adopt international arbitration to settle the crisis, since that would require the assent of both parties to the conflict to adopt this formulation of crisis resolution. The Ethiopian government has indicated that it will be highly intransigent on this issue. International arbitration has therefore become extremely unlikely. But Egypt might be able to turn to the Security Council. This, however, would require the preparation of a file containing documented facts of legal and material evidence of the harm that this dam would incur, both to Egypt and to its vital interests. The issue must be shown to threaten the peace and security of the two countries. [If successful], a number of measures could then be taken by the Security Council to compel Ethiopia to meet Egyptian demands.”

Egypt’s National Defense Council has already held an emergency session on Jan. 8, headed by President Adly Mansour and dedicated to reviewing internal developments and the domestic Egyptian security situation. With the irrigation and water resources minister in attendance, the council also examined the latest developments concerning Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and the steps being taken on that front to preserve Egyptian water security. It also noted the steps devoted to reducing or eliminating any negative effects that the soon-to-be-built dam might have on Egypt or the other states of the Nile Basin. The council also stressed that Egypt’s water rights must not be squandered, and that it would not accept any undermining of Egyptian national security.

These steps, and Egyptian moves toward international escalation and the internationalization of the Renaissance Dam crisis, follow years of Egyptian insistence upon solving the crisis through mutual dialogue at the negotiating table.

  1. Zerayakob Yared
    | #1

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    ከ”ኢትዮጵያ ለምን ኋላ ቀረች?” የተወሰደ,

    “በዚህም ሆነ በዚያ, ምንም እንኳን ከጦረኛነት ይልቅ ፓሲፍዚም ቢስበኝም, አፈራችንንና ውሃችንን ለመቀማት የማይተኙልን የውጭ ጠላቶች ስላሉብን, አስዋንን የሚያስፈራራ የጦር ሃይል እንደሚያስፈልገን ላሳስብ እወዳለሁኝ::”
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  2. Development without freedom
    | #2

    If Egypt was the source of the Nile Ethiopia would not have gotten a drop of water. Those Arabs threatening us still think their interest is above anyone else’s.

  3. Assta B. Gettu
    | #3

    Egypt as an Arab-Muslim country has never been comfortable with Ethiopia, a Christian country, an independent nation, and a source of natural beauties.

    In all her amazing history, Ethiopia has never refused sharing her resources with Egypt, a country not blessed with many rivers of her own.

    Knowing Egypt cannot survive without the River Nile, Ethiopia has assured Egypt that the Renaissance Dam will not affect the Egyptian farmers; however, unsatisfied with Ethiopia’s responses to Egypt’s concern about the Renaissance Dam, the unfaithful Egypt’s main concern is not, in fact, about the future shortages of water in Egypt; rather, it is about “Egypt’s right to veto the establishment of the Renaissance Dam….,”of which Egypt has no right whatsoever.

    Egypt has been working since day one to stop the Renaissance Dam from being built and completed by rallying the international support against Ethiopia’s ambitious project that would benefit, if completed on time, not only Ethiopia but the other neighboring countries, including Egypt.

    Finally, Egypt has decided to take Ethiopia to the International Court, and, if that doesn’t work, the only option left for Egypt is to declare Jihad against Christian Ethiopia and destroy the Renaissance Dam.

    Christian Ethiopia is not new to an Islamic Egyptian war: in the past, Ethiopia had defeated Egypt two times, one at Gundat on November 16, 1875, and the second at the Battle of Gura in 1876, where the entire Egyptian army was wiped out by Emperor Yohannes IV.

    Rida al-Dimak’s remark that the completion of the Renaissance Dam “would constitute a violation of human rights” is laughable. In my view, the violation of human rights is to sit down and not to use one’s own resources to feed starving children while a resource such as the Blue Nile is available in one’s own country.

    Egypt has no right to stop Ethiopia from building the Renaissance Dam, and it is not important for Ethiopia to acquire from Egypt permission to use one of Ethiopia’s resources – the River Nile.

    Egypt can go to any court, either to the Sharia court or to the international court, and, at the end of the day, Egypt will come out empty handed.

  4. Aba Biya
    | #4

    These arabs/egypt are very stupid and ignorant idiots. What the hell they have to do with the Nile. Nile is the sole water of Ethiopia. It flows from the heart of Ethiopia. Ethiopians should tell the Egyptians go to hell. Why waste time discussion with the on some thing which has nothing to do with them.

    What happens if Ethiopians ask these whole bunches of Arabs to share their oil wealth with Ethiopians.
    Tell to Egyptians and their arabs go to hell for ever.
    Ethiopia prevails.

  5. ዳኒ
    | #5

    ውድ የሃገረ ሰዎች ኢጅፕት በአባይ ግድብ ከፍተኛ ስጋት ስላላት ክምትጎዳን አንዱ መንገን የውስጥ አርበኞችን በማሰማራት ስለሆነ
    ‘የተባቦች , የአክራሪዎች, ጽረ አንድነት ሃይሎች እና hate mongers ‘ እሪታ የሚተበክ ስለሆን ሁሉም ለሃገሩ ነክቶ ይኩም.!!
    እግዛብሄር ኢትዮጵያን ይባርክ!

  6. CFA
    | #6

    @ Assta B. Gettu
    You wrote “… Knowing Egypt cannot survive without the River Nile” , that is not correct.

    1. Egypt like Libya has huge aquifer enough for centuries. It can exploit that resource like Libya.
    2. Egypt like Saudi Arabia can desalinate sea water. Egypt already produces water through desalination.
    It is not 100% dependent on the Nile river. In addition it uses 80% of the Nile water for agriculture. I think agriculture should be a luxury for a desert country.

    In general Egypt would embarrass itself if it goes to the UN or ICC to keep that extremely unfair, unacceptable and unique colonial “agreement”.

  7. Sam
    | #7

    Al-Monitor, not a surprise here, spent many paragraphs about the concern the Egypt government has about the dam Ethiopia is building. The concern might turn out to be real. Both the Ethiopian and the Egypt governments have no precise knowledge about the outcome. The Ethiopian government insists on saying the dam will not affect the flow of water to Egypt “significantly.” But it is unwise to believe both Egypt and Ethiopia understand exactly the same way what “significant” means in this context. Egypt is practically a desert, ninety-six percent of its land is desert. The only water source the country has comes from Nile. Based on this fact the late Anwar Sadat said, almost forty years ago, if Ethiopia manages to divert the flow of water Egypt will not have any choice but declare war. That feeling was shared by some politicians when the Moslem brothers was in power. Some entertained the idea of outright war, and some sabotaging the dam, by sending airplanes to downgrade its foundation. Such threats should not be discounted as nonsense. There should be concern. Does Ethiopia in the face of the challenge surrender to Egypt’s “concern?” The Ethiopian government might ridicule the very idea of concern, and might interpret it as a threat Ethiopians are not willing to endure. But that is not a wise idea to uphold. I sincerely believe Ethiopia has every right to build the dam. In the meantime it is not reasonable not to try to answer Egypt’s concern. Now, Egypt seems to present its concern to the international community. Ethiopia cannot afford to lose the diplomatic battle. For the diplomatic battle to be a success, Ethiopia should come with a better answer than saying “it will not affect “significantly.” To expect Egyptian’s understanding to be on par with Ethiopia’s regarding the effect the dam building might entail is not only unwise, but downright stupid.

  8. TTK
    | #8

    Egypt can take this to whatever
    Court they wish or want; what difference is it going to make?
    As a free country , let Egypt do what it has to do.
    More so, Ethiopia needs to work even harder
    On completing the dam & other projects
    Ethiopian people & govt.; please have less talk
    and more work

  9. Abraham, UK
    | #9

    It is naked facts colonial treaties are colonial legacy used by smart egyptian to intemdiate black africans.
    I beleive much of Europea and America will support the Egyptians because Ethiopian government and its people are forgiving people.
    No country in the world accept this injustic but our governments from Hile selasi to Mengistu, to Meles and Haile mariam, all accept and are soft when it comes to sacrifying Ethiopian interest as long as it does not affect them.
    I believe it is our right to use the water and keep it in the country fully. But strategically I do not know why the EPRDF/ Meles want to build big dam close to the border. Strategically and for their efficiency multiple dams could have been build in a number of sites in Shoa, Gojam, Wolega and Wollo and Tigray, Illubabure and many sites. The water could have been used not only for generating electricity and irrigation. These multiple dams would have more moral ground to serve local population.
    This Giant project for the outside lookers sound like excess, and the government claims that it is for export of electric power is not appealing for the international community.
    You see, the egyptians talk about their population growth and the need to feed their people- it is morally accepatble.
    But most of the military are in business building resorts and big housing projects in a desert. The cheap water source is the nile. They do not want to invest money to extract the underground water or to desalinze the sea water. But they use the poor people of Egypt as the losser.
    One of the writers stated that when our government say ” insignificant”, it is not quantifiable. But I believe the Ethiopia governments can give a guarranty if the rainfall remain the same, it will make sure that the water would be available for public use. But we would not give guarranty for their new housing projects in the desert, and their resorts and golf course.
    I believe the dam will not significant affect the water volume, but Egypt fear is from the fact that once we started to develop, there is no way that they will have any influnece. As we know the cost of foods is on the increase for the last 10 years, Ethiopia with its water can become a dominant force in the planet unless our government signs an agreement that will limit our future development.
    Long live Ethiopia with its people.
    Abraham, UK

  10. saba
    | #10

    Egypt exports fresh fruit juices, vegetables and cotton to the world while our people starve and go naked. It is not fair to blame Egypt for all our country’s ills, but no one can deny that Egypt has always been a major part of the problem. Egypt is our existential threat. Nature dealt a bad hand to Egypt regarding The Abay but Egypt has been very canning and adept at playing its cards against Ethiopia. It is now indisputable fact that Egypt, through out history, has thwarted Ethiopia’s aspirations to use its waters and sea ports, no doubt aided by the greed, short-sightedness and diplomatic ineptitude of our own leaders. I am sad to admit Egypt had succeeded and continues to succeed.

    Every self appointed Ethiopian regional chieftain, ruler, king or dictator had unwittingly promoted Egyptian cause by ruthlessly pursuing his selfish thirst for power. It is patriotism , in my view, to admit even the most noble, the most revered Ethiopian leader is burdened by the guilt of a treasonous act of one form or another that played handsomely in to the hands of Egypt. I fear our present day politicians have not learned lessons from history and continue to follow the trail blazed by their forefathers- rebellion, betrayal, treason and acquiescing to the demands of foreign powers at the expense of our national interest. No Ethiopian has done more to champion the cause of Egypt than the late Meles, chief architect of the destruction of Ethiopian prestige. Ethiopia now is more divided and weaker than ever, thanks to Meles’s disdain for the national state of Ethiopia, its ancient civilization, pride and independence. The terrible thing about losing Midrebahir to the Eritrean Ascaris is not just losing the land and the many patriotic Ethiopians with it, but it is, most prominently, about our survival as a nation, and our security. Meles , out of his own wicked volition, with out any one holding a gun to his head, carved out a piece of land out of our ancient territory and created a formidable foe right under our nose, who, ever since its inception, has bean an annoyance, a thorn on our side, and worse, a ready and willing allay to our eternal adversary Egypt. This treasonous action gave impetus and tacit approval to LO’s and FLO’s who are now gagging to rip our country apart and turn it in to a multitude of warring principalities headed by blood thirsty morons and imbeciles. Guess who will benefit?

  11. Ababulo Chante
    | #11

    I want to tell one thing to our Egyptian brothers and sisters ;don’t listen that your mad leaders false saying. They want to divert people’s attention toward Nile rather solving internal economic and Democratic problems. Listen to all a child that born doesn’t return to it’s mother womb. Slaves doesn’t have a right to think by their own mind. They are the mouth their 19th lords.

  12. Gezaeee Hailemichael
    | #12

    Hello Ethiopians:

    What crime did Ethiopia or Ethiopians do to be taken to international criminal court? This is very funny. Who is criminal? Ethiopians or Egyptians? In my opinion, the criminals are Egytians who have been sponsoring rebels for more than 100 years to destroy Ethiopia. They invaded Ethiopia twice and they were defeated twice. Then they got plan B after the defeat. The plan B was to sponsor rebells and to keep Ethiopia bleeding itself and dying while Egypt milks our water with no on asking how much it is taking.

    They can go to whatever they want, but Ethiopia must never participate any court. If Egypt file a case, Ethiopia must never respond to Egypt. Reasons: Ethiopia has no obligation to talk to Egypt. A court needs to parties to argue. But if Ethiopia does not subject itself to such bullshit court, it will be better off. I am against Ethiopia going to court whatever. Ethiopia must not attend anything with Egypt. Listen, they will never allow u to use your water one drop? so that what do you want to talk with them? I do not get it.

    The court must be defeating Egypt by Military and destroying all the dams in Egypt and polluting the wateer. That would be the best court forever. If you are doing to court, then you better stop the dam. If you go court, they will buy the case by Billions of Arab dollars and the court will tell you that you will not touch the river. TPLF is a sick party and they will do it again lik EEBC. No deal is the best deal. They have no any right. The water is ours. Turkey owns Euphrates and Tigris river and no on is able to intimidate Turkey.

    Please TPLF do not go to court because you are killing Ethiopians now. Do not deny us our resources. I suggest Ethiopia get 1 trillion loan from China and Japanese and finish the dam fast. And no deal with Egypt. Tell them to go to Saudi Arabia where they came from. They have no right on our water. Believe me, even if the current governemnt give away our water? rest assured, after now no Ethioppian will sleep with rest.

  13. Assta B. Gettu
    | #13

    CFA

    Life without the Nile water will never be the same for many Egyptians as we all know and understand the fundamental value of the Nile for millions of Egyptians who have been worshiping and revering the River Nile for millenniums.

    The Nile River has been the source and existence of the Egyptian civilization: For example, the Pyramids of Egypt could have never been built without the River Nile, and because of the River Nile, ancient Egyptians were able to use paper for the first time from the large reeds that grew along the River Nile. On this paper or papyrus, they used to write their calendar, using the planting and the flooding seasons of the River Nile. They developed a calendar of 365 days that could be divided into 12 months, each month with 30 days and with five extra days at the year’s end.

    They planted fruit trees and grew crops along the River Nile; they also caught abundant fish in the River Nile; therefore, the River Nile has helped the Egyptians to possess a flourishing culture, a civilized government, a well-developed thought about life after death, and, above all, an unbreakable sustenance of life till this day.

    When I say that Egypt cannot survive without the River Nile, I am saying the kind of life Egyptians have been enjoying throughout the ages, depending totally on the flow of the River Nile that brings with it rich soils from the land of paradise – the blessed land of Ethiopia. Without the River Nile, life will never be the same for most Egyptians, especially for the Egyptian farmers, and that is one of the reasons why Egypt is trying to take Ethiopia to the international court to prevent her from building the Renaissance Dam.

    Catching fish, growing crops, washing clothes, taking shower, and drinking water from desalinated liquid cannot be the same like using fresh water from the River Nile, and the cost of purifying and desalinating water is enormous since we know Egypt is living from day to day by handouts from the oil-rich Arab countries and the United States.

    To tell the truth, Ethiopia has been generously and freely donating her life-giving blood – the River Nile water – to Egypt so that Egypt could survive and prosper for another millennium. If Ethiopia stops donating her blood to Egypt, Egypt will die! We do not want Egyptians to die: we want to share our precious wealth – the River Nile – with them as we have been doing for centuries.

  14. Blackie from Akaki
    | #14

    Egypt will do everything in its power to destroy not just the dam but also Ethiopia. Ethiopians should watch them very carefully and prepare for every possibility and eventuality. Contingency plans are needed for every move Egypt makes. Their view of black Africa is so low, they do not believe we deserve anything. You know, i really do not care about how they view us. I am more worried about how we view them I do not think Ethiopians fully understand how much the Egyptians undermined our country throughout history. That is the first step. Even now while Egypt media is blowing anti Ethiopian horn day in day out, Ethiopian media is not educating the public how evil Egypt is.

  15. Tarek Salahdin
    | #15

    The Ethiopian deals with the subject as we stole them but the river Nile is owned to the seventh countries pass on them.
    it is not christian and Muslim, this pull shut talk to rise the international opinion that Egypt want to finish the christian, it is dirty game from Ethiopian to said that.

  16. MEKONNEN
    | #16

    THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH MANY ETHIOPIANS AND CURRENT ETHIOPIAN POST 1991
    POLITICAL RELITY IS THAT; MANY TAKE IT AND ACCEPT IT IT AS A NORMAL
    THING ( SOME EVEN THINK ETHIOPIA IS BETTER AND PROGRESSED WHILE THE
    COUNTRY IS BROKEN INTO TWO AND THE COUNTRY IS FRACTURED THAN ITS PAST)
    WHAT MELES HAS DONE IS STOP FURTHER FRAGMENTATION AND DOWNWARD SPIRAL
    OF THE COUNTRY FROM FURTHER WORST SCENARIO WITH HIS DIPLOMATIC SKILLS
    TO GET HELP FROM FOREIGN POWERS. BUT HE SUCCEDED IN CONTROLING FURTHER
    CRISIS AND DISINTEGRATION WOULD NEVER MEAN ETHIOPIA IS BETTER THAN ITS
    PAST. BECAUSE AT LEAST IT WAS ONE UNITED COUNTRY AT THAT TIME.
    THOSE WHO ARE PREACHING IT ARE ONLY THOSE WHO LIKE TO CONSOLIDATE THEIR HOLD TO POWER AND DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE AT ALL!

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