Battle of the Nile: Egypt, Ethiopia clash over mega-dam (UPI)

February 7th, 2014 Print Print Email Email

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Feb. 7 — Egypt and Ethiopia remain at loggerheads over Addis Ababa’s plan to build a $4.2 billion, 6,000-megawatt dam on a major tributary of the Nile River that Cairo says will greatly reduce the flow of water that is Egypt’s lifeline.

Tension between the two African states rose sharply in January after Ethiopia rejected Egypt’s demand it suspend construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the 4,130-mile river, the world’s longest.

Egypt has vowed to protect its “historical rights” to the Nile “at any cost” and says it could lose 20 percent of its water if the giant dam in northwestern Ethiopia, one of several hydroelectric projects planned by Addis Ababa, is completed.

“It would be a disaster for Egypt,” Mohamed Nasr Allam, a former Egyptian water minister, lamented to the Guardian daily of London in 2013. “Large areas of the country will simply be taken out of production.”

Despite Cairo’s tough declarations, and Addis Ababa’s insistence on pressing ahead with the massive dam — which it denies will damage Egypt to any critical extent — there’s little likelihood of the two states going to war, if only because the vast distance that separates them.

But the dispute is swelling into a major diplomatic wrangle in Africa that could have consequences on other continents as the planet faces water shortages in the decades ahead.

Ethiopia’s Chinese-backed dam program will, if completed, produce abundant supplies of electricity that could transform the economies of the regional states long mired in poverty.

Egypt’s position has been seriously weakened by the December defection of Sudan, its southern neighbor and longtime ally, in the Nile dispute with Ethiopia and other upstream African states.

That has left Egypt isolated in a long-running dispute with those states, which all want a greater share of the Nile water than they are accorded under British colonial era agreements that gave Egypt, and Sudan to a lesser extent, the lion’s share of the river’s flow.

Despite political turmoil in both Egypt and China-backed Ethiopia in recent months — the July 2013 military coup in Cairo that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president, and the 2012 death of longtime Ethiopian strongman Prime Minister Meles Zenawi — both sides have dug in their heels over the Nile crisis.

Egypt, with 82 million people, is the most populous and the most militarized state of the 11 riverine states along the Nile, which rises in the highlands of Ethiopia.

But with Sudan now “so squarely in Ethiopia’s camp, Egypt could not stage a ground attack on the dam,” observed Hassen Hussein, a leader of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, in an analysis on al-Jazeera Thursday.

An airstrike on the dam, 20 miles from Sudan’s southern border in the vast Blue Nile gorge, “is still possible, but fraught with risks.

“To Egypt, water security equals national security,” Hussein noted. “To Ethiopia, the dam has become a matter of national pride.

“An airstrike could turn the clock back on the dam. Although Ethiopia lacks the means to respond to such an attack in kind, Egypt risks earning the international community’s wrath and seeing its relationships with sub-Saharan Africa strained.”

But these relations are already strained over Egypt’s claim that it has rights to 87 percent of the Nile’s waters that were guaranteed under British-inspired treaties in 1929 and 1959 that also gave Cairo veto power over dam-building by upstream states.

Egypt was allocated 55.5 billion cubic meters a year of the Nile’s flow rate of 84 billion cubic meters. Sudan, then Egypt’s ally, got 18.5 billion cubic feet.

The Blue Nile joined the White Nile at Khartoum, capital of Sudan, to flow northward to the Mediterranean.

In 2010, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya signed an accord, the Cooperative Framework Agreement, to negotiate a more equitable water-sharing arrangement. They were later joined by Burundi , the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and South Sudan.

These upstream African nations, former colonies of the 19th century European powers, all say they need greater access to the Nile’s flow to meet swelling demographic and industrial demands from a waterway that has sustained civilizations for millennia.

Much depends on how the current dispute plays out. Right now, an estimated 238 million people depend on the Nile to some extent.

  1. yohannse Eshete
    | #1

    Egypt is the arch enemy of Ethiopia and Ethiopia has full right to use its’ natural resources and it is a question of national interest and national security of Ethiopia. We Ethiopia did not accept the so called colonial legacy modeled by Britannia presented to Egypt. It is null and void,even the Nile river sources within Ethiopia territory.

  2. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #2

    Air strike? Are you serious? Are Egypt’s pilots capable of finding a target at such a long distance and returning to their base intact? Even they are capable of carrying out such a feat, then they will end up losing the entire flow of the Blue Nile for ever. Who knows? The river will refuse to flow in its present course and may turn east ward. What are they going to do with Burundi when, enraged by Egypt’s messed up air strike, start plugging up the source on it’s soil? Everyone knows Egypt has F16′s or F-that warplanes. They look good on a centerfold. Don’t they? The current leaders in Cairo are desperately looking for a patsy outside their borders because they have serious problems internally. They always do that. It was the ‘Yahudi’ state of ‘Ezreel’ and ‘satanic’ giant ‘Amreeka’ in the 50′ 60′s and 70′s. With all this 5,000 year history of civilization, they don’t even know how to pronounce the name of Israel and America correctly. Now it is a bunch of ‘niggers’ who they think they can beat the tar out of each and everyone of the. ‘I, Egypt, am the de facto master of you all ‘niggers’ and you better do exactly what I am telling you to do’. That is the order coming out of the ‘Big House’ yo’ll !!!!

    Mind you that Egypt is sitting on immense source of aquifer and it surrounded with sea water on two sides. It should put it’s loafing engineers to work and start exploiting these reserves waiting to be tapped.

  3. Development without freedom
    | #3

    To Ethiopia, water security equals national security.

  4. aha!
    | #4

    According to this article by UPI citing Hassan Hussien, a leader of Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group: “To Egypt, water security equals national security.” “To Ethiopia the dam has become a national pride.” If the contentions between Egypt and Ethiopia are encapsulated in these two concepts, Ethiopia does not much to show for the buildup of the hydroelectric infrastructure dam project that does not compromise with Egypt with regard to its size and at same time providing water for irrigation to increase food production.

    On both the infrastructural development and the frame work of the constitution with the ideologies of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism the TPLF/eprdf regime and the opposition party with ethnic agenda put the cart before the horse and or as the saying goes “yekotun awerd billa yebibituan talech kind of scenario. The gravitational flow of water leans more to countries at lower end of the 4130 miles of the length of the river than at the upper end of the river at higher altitude water catchment basins. That in of itself calls for negotiations on the size of dam project that does not affect the flow of water to Egypt and Sudan, at the lower end of the Nile, despite the fact that dam may have been located in an area with evaporative demand of the atmosphere and does not contribute perhaps to irrigation but malaria infestation.

    With respect to GRDP, as part of infrastructure development, the priority lies with respect to revitalizing the Northern and the Central highlands serving as water catchment basins for the tributaries and the Blue Nile to undergo a revitalization process to conserve soils and water retention in the region and to avoid the siltation of the dam during the filling of the dam and latter on.

    On the political front the TPLF/eprdf regime need to ratify the constitution with respect to Article 2, the flag, Article 46 ethnic federalism, Article 39 (1), secessionism Article 8, reinstate individual freedom, liberty and equality to super cede ethnic and secessionist rights in order to establish a democratic government, with parties aligned along national agenda, rather than ethnic agenda to restore Ethiopian Nationalism based on the original provinces of assorted ethnic groups, private ownership of land to make GRDP as a national pride, which is not measured in terms of economic value of the Dam. Under the current humanitarian, political, economic cries and environmental crises perpetrated by TPLF/eprdf regime the silent majority of Ethiopians are weged between the crises inlicted upon the and the national pride.

  5. aha!
    | #5

    Correction: In the last paragraph the “inlicted should spell “inflicted”.
    In the first paragraph, second line insert “have” after the terms “does not”.

  6. haile
    | #6

    If egypt tries to strike the dam, ethiopa has two very doable choices:
    strike aswan dam and divert nile completly for good by digging the tunnel through the mountain.

  7. Zerayakob Yared
    | #7

    የግብፅ “ፖለቲካ”, “ካብ ሰብኣይክን ሰብኣየይ(ካብ ህዝብኽን ህዝበይ) ይበልፅ, ሽሮኽን ግደፋለይ” ዓይነት ደደብ ፖለቲካ ነው:: የትም ደግሞ የሚደርስ አይደለም:: ድንጋይ ለራስህ ስትል ጣፍጥ እንዲሉት, ግብፅን እንድንመክራት ፈቃደኛ ትሁንና, አለም አቀፋዊ ህግ የሚፈቅደውን እንዲተውላት ኢትዮጵያን ብትማፅእን ይበጃታል:: አለበለዝያ ቱርክ በነሶርያ ላይ የምትከተለውን የውሃ ፖለቲካ ሊካሄድባት, ወይንም እስከነጭራሹኑ ጠቅላላውን ውሃ ከጥቅም ውጭ ለማድረግ ቀላል ነው::

    ኢትዮጵያን ሊያስቸግሩ የሚችሉት የነ ዓዋተን መስመር ተከትለው ከካይሮ እስከ ኣስመራ በመሽሎክሎክ ቅንጥብጣቢ ለቃቃሚ “ኢትዮጵያውያን” ነን ባዮቹና, ዶሮ ሳይጮህ ኢትዮጵያን ሶስት ጊዜ የሚከድዋት ስግብግቦች ከሃድያን ናቸው::

    ኢትዮጵያና ኢትዮጵያውያን እንደዚህ አይነቶቹ ዘመናዊ ባንዳዎች ላይ የማያዳግም እርምጃ መውሰድ ይኖርባቸዋል::

  8. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #8

    Air strike? Are you serious? Are Egypt’s pilots capable of finding a target at such a long distance and returning to their base intact? Even they are capable of carrying out such a feat, then they will end up losing the entire flow of the Blue Nile for ever. Who knows? The river will refuse to flow in its present course and may turn east ward. What are they going to do with Burundi when, enraged by Egypt’s messed up air strike, start plugging up the source on it’s soil? Everyone knows Egypt has F16’s or F-that warplanes. They look good on a centerfold. Don’t they? The current leaders in Cairo are desperately looking for a patsy outside their borders because they have serious problems internally. They always do that. It was the ‘Yahudi’ state of ‘Ezreel’ and ’satanic’ giant ‘Amreeka’ in the 50′ 60’s and 70’s. With all this 5,000 year history of civilization, they don’t even know how to pronounce the name of Israel and America correctly. Now it is a bunch of ‘niggers’ who they think they can beat the tar out of each and everyone of the. ‘I, Egypt, am the de facto master of you all ‘niggers’ and you better do exactly what I am telling you to do’. That is the order coming out of the ‘Big House’ yo’ll !!!!

    Mind you that Egypt is sitting on immense source of aquifer and it surrounded with sea water on two sides. It should put it’s loafing engineers to work and start exploiting these reserves waiting to be tapped.

  9. entiktik
    | #9

    One the very fact about Egypt and the Hiwhat regime is that both are the enemy of Ethiopia and Ethiopians; therefore, based on the reality and the nature to the fact, Ethiopians must be on a 100% alert to fight against archenemy of ours.

    If war breaks out between both enemies, it is our obligatory duties to fight both of them. We hall turn the gun we have in our hands against both enemies of ours. In fact, our primary enemy is, the enemy that has refused our country; that enemy must first be got ridden of the land it occupied by force; then, we shall meticulously and professionally deal with Egyptian rulers; if they refuse to oblige by our rules and regulations, then, they shall kiss the same defeat like their forefathers did when they attempted to cross the red line.

  10. entiktik
    | #10

    One the very fact about Egypt and the Hiwhat regime is that both are the enemy of Ethiopia and Ethiopians; therefore, based on the reality and the nature of the fact, Ethiopians must be on a 100% alert to fight against the archenemy of ours. we can not simply sit with folded hands and see both enemies of ours fool around and mess up with our people and country.

    If war breaks out between both enemies of ours, it is our obligatory duties to fight both of them to the end until both die out like a wounded lion gradually going to its eternal sleep. We hall turn the gun we have in our hands against both enemies of ours. In fact, our primary enemy is, the enemy that has refused to leave our country; that enemy must first be got ridden of the land it occupied by force, 22 years ago; then, we shall meticulously and professionally deal with Egyptian rulers; if they refuse to oblige by our rules and regulations, then, they shall kiss the same defeat like their forefathers did when they attempted to cross the red line.

    Our holly and blessed waters belong to our motherland, Ethiopia; so, why these enemies of ours, namely, Egyptian rulers and the enemy that is currently nibbling our country to death messing up with our very matter and issue. There is no compromise with our country; yes, when this is universal by fact, why these enemies of Ethiopia fight over something that is not theirs?

    Ethiopians, there is another big fact about the enemy that is refusing to leave our country; the fact is, children of bandas don’t have the legitimacy to represent Ethiopians on any issues and matters. These children of bandas are a million times enemies of Ethiopia than the foolish Egyptian rulers. Ethiopians, first thing first. We must first defeat the bandas to their eternal defeat and we then be at Egyptian rulers.

Comments are closed.