Persistent mistrust between Ethiopia & Egypt By Robele Ababya

November 14th, 2014 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia and Egypt have indispensable role to play in stabilizing the current perilous political turmoil in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East because of their strategic location in the proximity of the latter, ancient civilization, and relatively large population. In that context healthy relationship between the two countries is essential. But unfortunately, the centuries old deep-rooted and persistent mistrust between the two countries does not seem to die any time soon and this is bad for regional peace and stability.

It is reported on various media outlets including Tigrai on line that “The fifth Egyptian and Ethiopian Joint Ministerial Commission” meeting was concluded on 04 November 2014. This is a welcome development assuming that the outcome of the meeting was arrived at in good faith for sincere implementation by both sides.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Foreign Minister, “led a huge delegation from many ministries to participate in the meetings.” In my opinion, this should probably be the largest delegation for its size and variety experts from various ministries of Egypt unprecedented in the history of relations between Ethiopia and Egypt incessantly marred by mistrust and animosity for centuries owing to repeated aggression, intrigues, sabotage, and deceptions instigated by the latter.

It is well recorded in the annals of history that Egyptian aggressors suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of the militia fighters under the leadership of the epic patriot and true son of Ethiopia Alula Abanega who was known for his ingenuity in the art of war.

Ethiopia has invariably been a victim and Egypt the victimizer in matters relating to all vital national interests of the former including harboring dissidents bent on secession. This evil deed alone stands tallest among innumerable offences against Ethiopia perpetrated by Egypt during the long history of the two ancient countries. So one questions whether the huge delegation came to Addis Ababa to negotiate in good faith and arrive at a ‘win-win’ outcome reportedly involving education, trade, diplomatic, training and women’s affairs.

Several pleasantries were exchanged after the signing ceremony of several agreements by the leaders of both delegations in the presence of EPRDF media. Some members of the Egyptian delegation were superfluous in the praise of the success of the meeting; I watched on the ETV one of the delegates quoting the Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn for his ‘wise words to treat their two countries as one country’. The importance of the Blue Nile River to Egypt took the center-stage during the press conference. The late tyrant Meles Zenawi was crowned with the accolade ‘Great Leader’, which accolade is offensive to democratic opposition entities and the overwhelming majority of the Ethiopian people. One would ask what Egypt is up to!

I have since the reign of the Imperial regime always and consistently advocated for the emergence of good multilateral relations among the three states – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan for they are naturally bound by the Blue Nile River supplying 85% of the waters crossing Ethiopia’s boundary to Sudan and then to Egypt.

I was one of those Ethiopians that were excited by the downfall of the former President Hosni Mubarak by popular uprising dubbed “Arab Spring”. I even wrote an article in which I congratulated the victors believing that the time has come for democratic Egypt and democratic Ethiopia shall put the past relations of belligerence between them and work together for peace, democracy, and prosperity under the AU umbrella. This unfortunately did not happen. The setback for democracy under the deposed President Morsi in Egypt has considerably curbed my earlier hope that “Democratic Egypt and Ethiopia will play key roles in stabilizing the region and promoting development thus becoming formidable political forces to contend with; will be partners in the development of the Nile Basin – a key factor of regional policy to avoid war.

My disappointment with the ruinous performance led me to write my article dated 09 November 2012 titled “Likely war with Egypt? I said:-
Quote The writing of this piece is prompted by the setback in democracy in Egypt and the intransigence of the TPLF controlled EPRDF government so weakened by internal wrangles rendering it unable to defend vital national interests in the face of simmering traditional claims of Egypt to control Blue Nile water. For example: in 1970, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat threatened war with Ethiopia over the proposed construction of a dam on LakeTana on the Blue Nile (El-Khodary, 1995: 1); Boutros-Ghali is reported also to have talked of war over the Nile waters (Butts, 1997: 1); in October 1991, the Defense Minister of Egypt “remarked in al Ahram that his country would not hesitate to use force to defend its control of the Nile River, and predicted that future Middle East wars could result from water scarcity issues (Postel, 1992: 4) adding “I do not actually expect an impending control of the Nile River by a foreign country, but we consider it a possibility and are planning our military strategy accordingly” (Postel, 1992: 5) Unquote.

Therefore at all times and at this time of uncertainty in regional politics in particular, I reiterate my stand that robust defense force and internal harmony are essential to preserve and protect national values; however the repressive EPRDF government in power must change its ethnic-based policy and open the political space for very serious consultations with all political opposition parties, civic organizations, and above all the Ethiopian people as the ultimate and supreme source of power and owners of the country’s resources. I would like to underline that it would be foolhardy to construct the so-called Millennium Dam at a location within artillery range from Sudan – a situation that will require missile defense against in-coming Egyptian Air Force bombers. My hunch is however that Egypt will send a commando force at some critical stage to destroy the Dam, which action would engender political turmoil at home and hefty loss of capital expenditure incurred – a highly probable grave scenario indeed.

It would be irresponsible to weaken internal harmony and strength by pursuing the familiar irresponsible politics of divide-and-rule along religious and ethnic lines thereby playing into the hands of hawkish Egyptian leaders behind the scenes like the former Defense Minister Field Marshal Tantawi seeking to exploit any weak point in our midst to destabilize us.

The TPLF Foreign Minister (and probably Prime Minister in waiting) lacks diplomatic experience and the basic knowledge required to understand the intricacies of foreign policy, less so in the murky political environment of dangerous conflicts destabilizing the Middle East and the Horn of Africa where, in the latter case, Ethiopia is strategically located and ruled by a puppet regime serving foreign powers.

Ideally, enlightened leaders of Ethiopia and Egypt – operating in a democratic setting simultaneously prevailing in their respective countries – have enormous potential for becoming a formidable force that will significantly contribute to the security and stability of the abovementioned regions and beyond on the African continent. So the peoples of Ethiopia and Egypt must work hard to engender democracy and prosperity in their respective countries through enhancing synergy, symbiotic cooperation, and collaboration in terms of human development economic growth, social justice in a secure region bound by the Blue Nile River.

The road ahead for democracy to take root in both countries is not easy. As the old adage goes, birds of the same feather flock together. Both the EPRDF and the Egyptian government have their plates full of tough and urgent issues to contend with. EPRDF should have relinquished power yesterday for having failed to play inclusive politics. It seems that Field Marshal El-Sissi will have time to usher in democracy backed by the powerful army, which has a tradition of 212 years and experience on taking side with the people in the January uprising that toppled the Mubarak regime. The TPLF regime with a vanishing air force, non-existent navy, and demoralized ground forces in a divided country along ethnic lines is no match to Egypt.

So I repeat my mantra that we Ethiopians have only God and ourselves to save Ethiopia from disaster. As always to eternity, God does His part leaving to us what we can do. Unleashing action in unison to regain our freedom and independence from the exclusive EPRDF regime is what we can do!

Finally, I wish in closing to reiterate my consistent conviction that there is nothing more serious than asserting Ethiopia’s right to control the source of the Blue Nile, but this requires the unity of her citizens. This is not to say that riparian states are not entitled to their fair share of the waters of the Nile as stipulated in international law.

The EPRDF government should release all political prisoners, stop its virulent attack the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and acquiesce to all constitutional demands of the Ethiopian Muslims so that Ethiopians can be united and strong to deter any external attack.

LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!
rababya@gmail.com

  1. torr
    | #1

    Egypt will be dry and barren land , the time is coming soon. it is a Bible prophecy. live with it.

  2. Andnet Kebreab
    | #2

    Animosity and mistrust between Ethiopia and Egypt has run for centuries.
    Both countries are in seriously lack the will to engender democracy. Besides Egypt will never allow the GERD to be built to its planned capacity. Therefore relationship between the two countries will deteriorate

  3. Dawi
    | #3

    The developmental state has scored a continuous GDP growth in the country more than ever.

    The policy of using the state to intervene where market fails is an important vehicle to deal with deep-rooted inequality issues among the people. The challenge of developmental state is improving the competency of public bureaucracy actors and keep them politically neutral.

    How do we do that? Not by taking us back to the old failed provinces but by rekindling and building Ethiopian nationalism as being done while building the GERD; four years its start close to 50% is done. We are already seeing its grand effect not just on the future return on investment but it’s power in putting back Ethiopia in its historical grand status of the region; suffice is to notice the influence of the Dam on the size of the Egyptian delegation huffing and puffing in making unheard of over 5 billion business deals in one occasion? Why now?

    I just read Robele’s article on GERD and the power balance between Egypt and Ethiopia. The balance is already tipped towrds Ethiopia’s favor.

    It reminded me of the meticulous calculation/prediction Meles did when explaining to parliament of the worst that Egyptians would do to us and why he wouldn’t lose sleep over it? That was a brilliant analysis; I advice Robele to go listen to that speech.

    No one can discount the benefit of GERD as a mega power project in Africa but the monumental effect of it’s achievement is the making of “the developmental state” feed in the rekindling Ethiopian nationalism. That is bigger than the cash that will be made.

    There can’t be real federalism without democracy and the development that is rekindling Ethiopian Nationalism today as seen on the grand dam [GERD]is building the bases for it.

  4. Anonymous
    | #4

    I think the new negotiation about the dam mainly focus on the capacity and the time period to full the dam. The capacity will not be a problem since can be solved by taking long time to fill the dam. In my opinion the two countries will reach in agreement to take long time such as 6 years to fill the dam. Do not forget the current dam may have international hand . That hand is not the usual political strategy. So the two countries interest for peace and development plus the international pressure will make the two countries to reach in agreement. We will see in the coming four months about the result of the study.

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    Ethiopia and grand renaissance will always forever be a national monument for generations to come,no matter who’s in power. politics and politions come and go…but Ethiopia will always be here.

  6. Teklu Abate
    | #6

    Mr. Robele Ababya,

    It is better to scale down your empty propaganda serving Egyptians as a useless “Bargaining Chip”.

    What a nice proposal for Egypt?

    “Egypt should propose scaling down of the DAM instead of pushing to scrape it altogether taking advantage of the weakness of the EPRDF at this time.”

    What a nice suggestion for Egypt?

    “My suggestion is therefore to scale down the size of the Dam at its present location considerably and build as many other dams as required in the Amhara, Oromia and Gambella regions on rivers tributaries of the Blue Nile.”

    Long live Egyptian Bargaining Chips !!!

  7. Girma Feyisa
    | #7

    I wonder how some individuals still do not understand the hidden motive of woyanes . Their mission is to grab Ethiopian resources and get super rich at any cost , diminish national/Ethiopian/ feeling , stay in power forever , prepare backup head quarter in Mekele for future in case Addis Ababa gets out of hand. What woyanes hate most is Ethiopia & Ethiopians. I also wonder when some people try to compare the nationalist, communist figure/Mengitu/ with nazi, ethnocenterist, robber, apartheid/Meles/ . The exact truth is Mengitu first asked Carter for armaments , which Emperor Haile Selassie paid for. Then Mengitu had to look for any possible alternative to defend Ethiopia from Somali invaders. Thtat option was Moscow , which agreed to supply modern warfare arsenal promptly with a condition . That specific condition was to adopt communism , rather than Ethiopia tikdem . Thus naked fact of the matter is Mengitu was pushed towards Russia . Once you enter into communism you have to apply what that doctrine demands . People are classified along oppressed and oppressors , not along ethnicity like the way currently barbaric woyanes do . I very much hate communi , , but it is by far better than the apartheid woyanes. While fascist Meles was always lecturing about ethnicity , Mengistu never mentioned about his ethnic back ground .Most of us now he is one of the great sons of Oromo and the most nationalist leader of Ethiopia.

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