Egypt demands Ethiopia halt Nile dam, upping stakes
June 6, 2013
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt will demand Ethiopia stop building a dam on one of the main tributaries of the Nile, a senior government aide said on Wednesday, ramping up a confrontation over the project that Egypt fears will affect its main source of water.
Ethiopia set off alarm bells in Cairo last week when it began diverting a stretch of the river to make way for the $4.7 billion hydroelectric plant.
Countries that share the river have argued over the use of its waters for decades – and analysts have repeatedly warned that the disputes could eventually boil over into war.
The high stakes involved were underlined on Monday when senior Egyptian politicians were caught on camera advising President Mohamed Mursi to take hostile action to stop the project, and one went as far as suggesting Cairo destroy the dam.
Egypt, which has been involved in years of troubled diplomacy with Ethiopia and other upstream countries, said Ethiopia must now halt work on the dam.
“Demanding that Ethiopia stop construction of the dam it plans to build on the Blue Nile will be our first step,” said Pakinam el-Sharkawy, the presidential aide for political affairs, in comments carried on the state news agency MENA.
“The national committee that will be formed to deal with this issue will determine the steps that Egypt has to take.”
No one from the Ethiopian government was immediately available to comment.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA
Senior Egyptian politicians called in to discuss the crisis with Mursi on Monday were apparently unaware their meeting was being broadcast live on television.
The leader of Egypt’s Ghad party, Ayman Nour, suggested spreading false reports that Egypt was building up its air power.
“We can ‘leak’ news information claiming that Egypt plans to buy advanced aircraft to increase its aerial presence etc., to put pressure, even if not realistic, on diplomatic discourse,” he said.
Younis Makhyoun, leader of the Salafi Islamist al-Nour party, was filmed saying Egypt should back rebels in Ethiopia or, as a last resort, destroy the dam.
The broadcast triggered widespread ridicule, particularly among Egypt’s vast army of users of social networks.
“Among Mursi’s achievements: the first ‘secret’ meeting in the world to be aired live,” read one joke that made the rounds.
Egypt has so far not apologised to Ethiopia for the broadcast – el-Sharkawy’s main response on Twitter was to say she was sorry members of the meeting did not know they were being broadcast.
The most prominent expression of regret came from leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, who was invited to the meeting but did not attend.
“Sincere apologies to the people and governments of Ethiopia and Sudan for the irresponsible utterances at the president’s national dialogue,” he tweeted.
Ethiopia has laid out plans to invest more than $12 billion in harnessing the rivers that run through its rugged highlands to become Africa’s leading power exporter.
The centrepiece of the plan is the Grand Renaissance Dam being built in the Benishangul-Gumuz region bordering Sudan. Now 21 percent complete, it will eventually have a 6,000 megawatt capacity, the government says, equivalent to six nuclear power plants.
Cairo argues that Ethiopia has not properly considered the dam’s impact on the river, saying that a report put together by experts from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia is insufficient
በግብፅ የኢትዮዽያ ኢንባሲ በታንኮች ተከባል ኢትዮዽያንም እየተደበደቡ ነው
Posted by Ethio Tribune on June 5, 2013
Awramba Times – The Ethiopian embassy in Cairo is surrounded by heavily armed personnel and armoured vehicles. Ethiopian citizens, both refugees and Ethiopian-passport holders, are savagely harassed and beaten by ordinary Egyptians and the
police everywhere they move.
According to our sources, it is very difficult for Ethiopians to move around and many people are starving as they fear for their life to go out and buy foodstuff and drinking water. Egyptians are preparing a massive demonstration against Ethiopia to be held next Friday.
On the other hand, Ethiopian Ambassador to Egypt Mohamed Dirrir met with Egyptian opposition leader and former Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa in Cairo today. Ambassador Mohamed Drirr has a two hours meeting with Amr Moussa on the recent developments on the Nile and has made clear that Ethiopia has no any intention of harming egypt or affecting its access to the Nile waters.
ሰበር ዜና – ኢትዮጵያ ለግብፅ ምላሽ ሰጠች– ”ግብፅ የቀን ሕልም ላይ ነች” አቶ ጌታቸው ረዳ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር አቶ ሃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ ቢሮ ቃል አቀባይ
ኢትዮጵያ ለግብፅ ምላሽ ሰጠች- ”ግብፅ የቀን ሕልም ላይ ነች” አቶ ጌታቸው ረዳ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር አቶ ሃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ ቢሮ ቃል አቀባይ
”አህራም ኦን ላይን” የተሰኘው የግብፅ ድህረ ገፅ ጋዜጣ በዛሬው ግንቦት 28፣2005 ዓም ባወጣው ዘገባ የኢትዮጵያ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር አቶ ሃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ ቢሮ ቃል አቀባይ አቶ ጌታቸው ረዳ ግብፅ ኢትዮጵያን ለማተራመስ ብዙ ያልተሳካ ሙከራ ማድረጓን መግለፃቸውን እና አሁን ”በኢትዮጵያ ላይ ወረራ ማድረግ እና ሴራ ማድረግ” የሚሉ አስተያየቶች ጊዜ ያለፈባቸው የከሸፉ ሃሳቦች ”old failed concept.” እና የቀን ሕልም ”day dreaming.” ከመሆን ያልዘለለ መሆኑን አክለው መናገራቸውን ዘግ ቧል።
የጋዜጣውን አጭር ዜና ከእዚህ በታች በጉዳያችን ጡመራ ላይ ያንብቡ።
Political leaders in Egypt on Monday proposed carrying out hostile acts against Ethiopia. Egypt, which is dependent on the Nile, fears a diminished flow.
Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said late Tuesday that Egyptian leaders in the past have unsuccessfully tried to destabilize Ethiopia. He called the suggestions of attack or sabotage an “old failed concept.” He also labeled it “day dreaming.”
Ethiopia last week ago began diverting the flow of the Nile toward its $4.2 billion hydroelectric plant that has been dubbed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The project, currently about 20 percent complete, has raised concerns in Nile-dependent Egypt.
posteed by Aseged Tamene
Aide to Egypt’s Morsi sorry for on-air Ethiopia gaffe
June 5, 2013
An aide to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has apologised after she failed to inform politicians holding talks with the president that they were live on air, allowing viewers to watch them cook up plans to sabotage a dam in Ethiopia.
“Due to the importance of the topic it was decided at the last minute to air the meeting live. I forgot to inform the participants about the changes,” presidential aide for political affairs Pakinam El-Sharkawi said.
“I apologise for any embarrassment caused to the political leaders,” she said on Twitter.
The talks, chaired by Morsi, revolved around a report of a tripartite Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia commission on Ethiopia’s decision to divert the Blue Nile for a massive dam project, sparking fears of a major impact on downstream states Egypt and Sudan.
Seated around a large table, the politicians thinking this was a closed meeting began to suggest ideas for ways to stop the dam project.
Ayman Nour, head of the liberal Ghad Party, suggested spreading rumours that Egypt was buying military planes in order to put “pressure” on Ethiopia, he said.
He also suggested Cairo send political, intelligence and military teams to Addis Ababa because “we need to intervene in their domestic affairs.”
He slammed Sudan’s stance as “disgusting” for not standing by Egypt in stronger terms.
Yunis Makhyun, who heads the conservative Islamist Nur Party, said the dam constituted a “strategic danger for Egypt”, requiring Cairo to support Ethiopian rebels “which would put pressure on the Ethiopian government.”
The meeting, a huge embarrassment both for the presidency and the opposition members who attended, caused a storm of ridicule and anger in the media and prompted even those who didn’t attend to apologise on behalf of Egyptians.
“Sincere apologies to the people and governments of Ethiopia & Sudan for the irresponsible utterances at the president’s “national dialogue”,” wrote leading dissident and former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Twitter.
“A scandal in front of the world,” read the headline of the independent daily Al-Tahrir.
Popular talk show host Reem Magued, who aired parts of the meeting on her show, said: “It’s true that we asked for transparency from the government but not like this, not to the point of scandal.”
In Addis Ababa, Minister for Water and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, said he had not heard about the incident, but insisted that Ethiopia’s relationship with Egypt remained “healthy.”
“I believe that our relationship will continue in a very healthy way,” Alemayehu told AFP.
“We don’t believe in military intervention for such peaceful Ethiopian efforts to overcome poverty.”
He insisted that water levels would not be affected by the construction of the dam: “Why diversion is a headache for some groups, I am not clear about. Any layman can understand what river diversion means.”
Ethiopia has begun diverting the Blue Nile 500 metres (yards) from its natural course to construct a $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) hydroelectric project known as Grand Renaissance Dam.
The first phase of construction is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts. Once complete the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts.
Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.
But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.
Alemayehu insisted Ethiopia is committed to sharing Nile resources with the region.
“Ethiopia’s agenda is development, Ethiopia is a country which is fighting against poverty and Ethiopia is a country that is developing with its resources to benefit its people and wants to live with neighbouring countries peacefully, sharing its resources,” he said.
- ElBaradei apology to Ethiopia ‘disgusting’: Salafist Nour Party spokesman
Salafist Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar expressed his discontent wit…h opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei after the latter issued an apology to Ethiopia for controversial comments made by Egyptian politicians during a meeting with the president.
The meeting with President Mohamed Morsi on Ethiopia’s dam ‘crisis’ on Monday, which was aired live without notifying the attendees, witnessed suggestions of sabotaging the Ethiopian dam through bribing Ethiopian tribes or spreading false rumours of impending an Egyptian airstrike on the dam as solutions to end the issue.
ElBaradei, who had refused to take part in the meeting, described the statements made at the event as “irresponsible.” In his statement he expressed his “sincere apologies to the people and governments of Ethiopia and Sudan” for what was said by meeting participants.
“ElBaradei’s apology to Ethiopia is a contradiction that adds to a list of past contradictions. We never heard your opinion; you have never participated in a dialogue that concerns the nation,” said Bakkar on Tuesday, who further described Egypt’s opposition bloc as “lame.”
Bakkar said not announcing that the meeting would be aired live on television was a “great mistake,” adding that “an apology to a country [Ethiopia] that initiated the hostility is disgusting.”
He also expressed his appreciation to opposition members who participated in Monday’s meeting. “They realise when is the time for competition, criticism and when it is time for national alignment.”
Tension between Egypt and Ethiopia escalated last week after the latter commenced plans to divert the course of the Blue Nile as part of its project to build a new dam.
The Renaissance Dam has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government with fears expressed that the project, if completed, could negatively impact the volume of Nile water that will reach Egypt.
Ethiopian officials, for their part, have attempted to dispel fears regarding the dam’s potential impact on downstream states, insisting that the project would ultimately benefit all riparian states.
According to Egypt’s National Planning Institute, Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050, on top of its current 55 billion cubic metres quota, to meet the water needs of a projected population of 150 million people.
Popular figures offer solutions to Ethiopian dam
The Popular Diplomatic Delegation announced on Wednesday establishing a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to offer solutions to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis.
In a press conference held on Wednesday, the committee announced that the NGO, to be inaugurated by committee member Alaa Abdel Moneim, will include all members who initially took part in the committee’s visit to Nile Basin countries in 2011, including Muslim Brotherhood members. Brotherhood Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein was part of the delegation in 2011.
The delegation, formed after the 25 January Revolution and made up of prominent political figures, visited the Nile Basin countries of Uganda and Ethiopia in 2011.
Hamdeen Sabahy, Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby leader and delegation member, stated that the delegation would also be holding workshops to offer solutions to the dam crisis. George Ishak, the prominent Al-Dostour Party member and member of the delegation, added that Ethiopians and Ugandans would be invited to the delegation’s workshops and meetings to stress on the concept of “partnership” between the Nile Basin countries.
The delegation released a statement where it mentioned that the only possible solution is a peaceful one void of any threats. “The solution lies in brokering developmental projects which link Egypt to other Nile Basin countries,” the statement read.
“We stress Ethiopia’s right to development,” Sabahy said. “We also stress that such development needs to take place through partnership with Egypt. Egypt cannot remain isolated while Ethiopia is striving for development.”
The Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby leader stated that it’s the right of all Nile Basin countries to pursue their development. Yet, Sabahy said, this right is governed by avoiding harm to any neighbouring countries’ interests.
“We are all one big family sharing one Nile,” he said, referring to the Nile Basin countries. “Even through disagreements, we need to maintain this spirit.”
Delegation members criticised the televised presidential meeting held between the presidency and political figures on Monday, while participants in the meeting later criticised the decision to broadcast the discussion live without them being notified.
The delegation stated that the meeting harmed Egyptian relations with other Nile Basin countries, especially Ethiopia. “The meeting further outlined Egypt’s arrogance when dealing with African countries, a matter those countries have long been suffering from,” the delegation’s statement read.
Delegation member and Al-Dostour Party figure Mustafa Al-Gendy stated that the delegation would do its best to reverse the consequences of what was said in the presidential meeting on Egyptian-Ethiopian relations. He issued an apology to the Ethiopian people for the utterances which came from some of the attendees of the meeting
During the meeting Ayman Nour as well as Al-Wasat Party Chairman Abu Elela Mady suggested military action against Ethiopia; others talked about using actors and sports figures to negotiate while Al-Azhar representative, Sheikh Hassan Al-Shafei, suggested embarrassing Ethiopia through international pressure.
“What the presidency did, broadcasting this meeting live, and being aware of its consequences, is high treason,” Al-Gendy said. “It was done for mere political gain by the authorities.”
Al-Gendy criticised the presidency for not inviting the Popular Diplomatic Delegation to the meeting. He claimed that when Sabahy called for their invitation, he was told it would come later for other meetings.
Ishaq expressed the delegation’s desire to view the entire report released by the tripartite committee on the repercussions of the Renaissance Dam on Egypt and Sudan’s share of the Nile water.
“The tripartite committee was formed upon the Popular Diplomatic Delegation’s request to late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,” the statement read.
Amr Helmi, delegation member and former health minister, stated that Ethiopia’s cold welcome of the official Egyptian delegation during the latest African Union summit is reflective of the change in internal Egyptian politics.
“The delegation was met with utmost warmth by official as well as popular Ethiopian parties during our visit in 2011,” he said. He suggested Ethiopia fears the dominance of a single Islamist movement, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, over Egyptian politics.
“Ethiopia suffered from interference by the Sudanese Islamist regime; there were attempts to upset its sectarian harmony.”
Helmi claimed that the issue of the Nile Basin conflict was ignored by then-Minister of Irrigation Hesham Qandil upon the delegation’s visit in 2011. He added that Qandil did not want the solution to come through the Popular Diplomatic Delegation.
“An Ethiopian Popular Diplomatic Delegation arranged a visit to Egypt twice to discuss the dam issue,” Al-Gendy said. “Both times, they were refused entrance into the country by Egyptian authorities five days prior to their scheduled visit.”
“The issue of the Nile water is too grave to be left to the presidency and official institutions to handle independently,” Sabahy said.
Helmi stated that the issue is not just with the Renaissance Dam, adding that the Entebbe Agreement, an agreement which re-divides the Nile Basin countries’ share of the Nile water, is a much graver issue. “Dams get built every day; it’s preserving our share of the Nile water that’s a priority.”
The delegation’s visit to Uganda in 2011 was to talk the African country out of signing the Entebbe Agreement until the political situation in Egypt settles. They were then invited by Zenawi to visit Ethiopia, where the late prime minister assured the Egyptian delegation he would reconsider the dam construction if it negatively affects Egypt’s share of water
Morsi meeting discusses effects of dam
The meeting discussed the findings of the report issued by an international panel of experts which political leaders described as ‘worrisome’
A report by an international panel of experts (IPoE) has recommended establishing a water reserve for downstream countries, like Egypt and Sudan, to use in cases of droughts or emergencies.
The IPoE’s recommendation is part of a report about the affects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam delivered to President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday by the Egyptian delegation from the IPoE. The panel also recommended Ethiopia present more comprehensive and in-depth studies.
President Morsi held a meeting on Monday with political leaders to discuss the report on the potential effects relating to the construction of the Ethiopian dam.
“Egypt is the Gift of the Nile, and the Nile and Egypt are the gifts of God; nobody can take away God’s gifts,” Morsi said in his opening speech at the meeting.
The president said he tasked the Egyptian members of the international panel of experts (IPoE) that issued the report to write a summary of the findings which were presented to Morsi by the delegation on Sunday.
“I wanted to discuss the summary with you before I met with the cabinet later today to relay your recommendations to them,” Morsi added.
Khaled Al-Kazaz, the president’s secretary for foreign affairs, presented the findings of the report to the meeting attendees.
“Ethiopia should sign a written commitment, recognised by the international community, not to affect Egyptian or Sudanese shares of Nile water,” the report read.
The findings also suggested establishing a tripartite technical committee to supervise the construction and operation of the dam.
The IPoE stated that in one section of the report intended for environmental and social effects needed additional information to produce more accurate findings, saying Ethiopia did not present any in-depth studies.
“We don’t have any information on whether agriculture would be affected or people would be forced to migrate, as well as many other issues,” Al-Kazaz said.
The panel stated that there was no information available for an economic analysis regarding the size of the dam, its height and ability to generate electricity. “Maybe Ethiopia didn’t want to disclose information that could indicate profits or losses for the country and partner countries,” Al-Kazaz speculated.
One section of the report warned that in times of drought, the Renaissance Dam’s water reserves will lead to an unprecedented low water level in Egypt’s Aswan High Dam.
“The final comments [of the report] noted the benefits of the dam to the downstream countries; reducing silt deposits, reducing floods and increasing agricultural areas,” Al-Kazaz said.
He added that experts warned against depending on the Ethiopian studies provided to the IPoE; the studies, he said, were very poor and used only simple simulation models. They also had concerns about the design concept of the dam.
The Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy had issued a press release on Saturday stating that the panel’s report indicated the design of Renaissance Dam was based on international standards and that the dam will benefit the three countries and would not cause significant harm to neither Egypt nor Sudan.
Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party Saad Al-Katatni described the report as highly concerning and recommended the use of diplomacy and international law to solve the crisis.
Younes Makhyoun, chairman of the Al-Nour Party called on political powers to unite. “Ethiopia is taking advantage of the political rifts in our country,” he asserted.
He also criticised statements made by Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Bahaa Al-Din, saying “his statements are weak and only serve the interests of Ethiopia”.
Chairman of Al-Wasat Party Abul Ela Mady suggested military pressure if political pressure failed.
Representatives of Al-Azhar and Egyptian churches also attended the meeting. Sheikh Hassan Al-Shafei, chief adviser to Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, said that we should use African, international and religious institutions to embarrass Ethiopia. “But we should avoid violence, they are our neighbours,” Al-Shafei said.
Bishop Danial of the Coptic Church said that the Ethiopian Patriarch is visiting Pope Tawadros II in ten days and “they will discuss the dam among other topics”.
“We neglected Africa for a very long time, now we reap what we sow,” said Safwat Al-Bayady, head of the Evangelical Church.
“We visited Ethiopia and promised mutual projects and did nothing” said Chairman of Misr Party Amr Khaled, he suggested forming an international Egyptian lobby and a crisis management group.
Former MP and Political Science Professor Amr Hamzawy criticised statements made by state institutions that harm our interests. “Following a policy of racism and looking down on African countries has worsened the Egyptian stance throughout the past years.”
Co-founder of Reform and Development Party (RDP) Ramy Lakah suggested a water awareness revolution; he said water shortage is inevitable due to population growth, misuse of resources and pollution.
Other figures like Mohamed Al-Sadat and Magdy Hussein suggested using artists and sports figures as mediators.
Al-Kazaz added that the current regime has been working on strengthening relations with African countries. “President Morsi and Prime Minister Hesham Qandil have attended African conferences and encouraged investments in Africa,” he said.
He stated that Ethiopia had started the preliminary stage of constructing the dam two years ago.
The committee that issued the report includes experts from England, France, Germany and South Africa as well as six representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan equally.
The committee started working in May 2012 and held six meetings, the last of which was in May 2013. They presented the report to the governments of the three countries.
Ghad Al-Thawra Party leader Ayman Nour expressed his surprise that the meeting was aired live on television despite the sensitivity of the topic.