The plan of the United States, which was using the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks as an excuse to promote their own strategic interests, has failed. This in turn prompted Germany to bring conciliatory points, trying to push the negotiations into a different path.
Even though Egypt’s efforts to control the Abay River and its failure to detach itself from colonial beliefs, has repeatedly been made public; it is even trying to distract Ethiopia on multiple fronts, by using Germany, and becoming a thorn in Ethiopia’s heels. The US exposed itself in a recent press release, which shows it has sided with Egypt, which can give rise to a war over water which is something, new and foreign to the continent.
Germany, using the US’s failure as an excuse and stating that negotiations reached by foreign powers will not stop the confusion, has entered the fray. Germany came out suggesting that, it and its European allies, will financially support Egypt, while Egypt in turn will pay compensation to Ethiopia. This remarkable thought brought by Germany has in it, the worry of warring Ethiopia and Egypt, and what it means in-terms of the refugee influx to Europe.
Diverging from the rules of equitable and justifiable use of water, Egypt has been continuously testing Ethiopia on every opportunity it gets. It is our obligation to foil Egypt’s hidden agendas, by a strong diplomacy and quality in negotiations.
Ethiopia has to strengthen its diplomatic sector with qualified personnel that understand the current way of thinking. The sector needs to stop being a dumping ground for people who are not qualified, or are political appointees. Furthermore, by putting these people in this sector; who either by corruption, lack of capacity or benefiting certain groups; only make the country weaker. It is necessary to understand that this unnecessary act will cost us dearly, as it is known it has in the past.
Many Ethiopian diplomats are ridiculed for their lack of language skills or diplomatic skills. Even though diplomats that give hope have recently been appointed, it is remarkable to have seen hopeless individuals get appointed to crucial positions. The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) needs to correct itself as fast as possible by looking for experts in the field.
The effort made by every Egyptian diplomat to make sure there countries benefits are respected, goes beyond what is thought.
Egypt, being the ground for the implementation of US policies in the Middle East, has received the backing of the US. And as much as Ethiopia has a respected voice in its region, it is not wise to fold our arms and only say truth is on our side. We have to have a wise diplomacy and be strong in every opportunity we get. This is the only way to be a capable negotiator.
The Ethiopian negotiating team needs to be recognized and thanked for, for what they have done so far. As it can be understood from the repeated revelations made through the team’s leader, Ethiopian negotiators have held firm against their Egyptian counterparts and by knowing who they are negotiating with, have undertaken their responsibilities dutifully.
However, this by itself is not enough. The government needs to strengthen this team, by putting geopolitical and water experts together, to come up with a concrete agenda to debate upon and even prepare an agreement.
Furthermore, in addition to experts and capable diplomats, respected international lawyers, and foreign consultation companies, need to be hired to aid in the negotiation process. In addition to following every step taken by Egypt, it is the government’s responsibility to foil and counter Egypt’s conspiracy.
Knowing that the construction of the renaissance dam extracts huge sacrifices, there must be a dialogue opened where all Ethiopians can contribute their fair share. We cannot go anywhere by neglecting, waiting on and avoiding issues, that demand sleepless nights and extraordinary effort.
Due to the construction of the GERD, not only Ethiopia is facing challenges from Egypt, but has also been wronged, prior to its construction, by different governments. The problem on Ethiopia’s side was the disparity it has with Egypt. The dam, since it is a national project by Ethiopians, created a common understanding even convincing the critics of the government living abroad, to support the initiative. Even though some have talked ill towards the dam, they have since then retracted their statements and are contributing their fair share. This shows that Ethiopians consider this as their national symbol.
The government, after giving the role of a mediator to the US, and then recognizing its transgressions, prompted it to hold a dialogue, boycotting the final meeting. This further shows that it has learnt from its mistake. Now, the government has to stand on solid grounds to see to it that the national project is finished.
It is necessary to assemble wise and strong diplomats, experts in geopolitics and water, acclaimed law professors and other experts that can be useful, towards this common goal.
When we rely only on international rules and morals, we have to understand that, more than ever before, we have the responsibility to separate ourselves from the different external pressure. The government should leave behind its trend and backward ways of working and go with the times, stronger and alert. Strength can be found this way.
As we have tried to repeatedly describe, there is nothing greater than national interest and security. The political, economic and diplomatic relationships between countries work towards their benefits. In this relationship, it is wise to work towards the common benefits of countries. The Arab league, calculating there benefits, have sided with Egypt. However, it is not wise to enter into contemplation over why the league has sided with Egypt, but rather use the 55 states the African Union has, to get better benefits and mobilize downstream countries and neighbors.
Ethiopia will only use her water riches equitably when the bureaucracy and slow moving diplomacy ends. Egypt’s hidden wants can only be foiled with strong diplomacy and quick measures.