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Ethiopian unity is deterrent to Egyptian threat

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is initiated, funded, and being built by Ethiopians reflecting their collective determination to leave the next generation socially and economically secured. They do not want their children and grandchildren to inherit poverty-stricken and totally underdeveloped Ethiopia, as they have inherited from previous generation.  Just for the record, Egypt has no legal right to support her objection to the building of the Renaissance Dam.  The Dam is designed to improve the quality of life of the Ethiopian people without negative impact on the lives of the Egyptian people and others as well.

Having said that, I was under impression, that colonialism, be it of European or African in origin was dead and brayed.  My generation have witnessed the colonial powers leaving Africa and Asia one by one.  Even though they left Africa, we knew that colonial powers would not give up the exploitation of the continent by other means at the disposal.  I was reluctant to embrace the notion advanced by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, who warned the newly Independent African states that colonialism is alive and it will return to Africa in the form of neo-colonialism.  The ongoing negotiation, around the Renaissance Dam, as well as the United States involvement, fist as observer and then quickly becoming active negotiator, favoring Egypt over Ethiopia, makes me to think of the making of new colonialism in the Horn of Africa with a brand new player on the field.

Describing the dangerous nature of Neo-Colonialism Kwame Nkrumah wrote: “The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty.  In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.”  Dr. Nkrumah added: “A State in the grip of neo-colonialism is not master of its own destiny.” Even though, Ethiopia was never colonized, it would be misleading to assume that Ethiopia is free from neo-colonialism or from its pressure.  To that end let us examine what is taking place concerning the debate over the use of Blue Nile River/Abay River.

The discussion between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia over the Nile River was going reasonably well giving hopes for positive conclusion until the United States, persuade by Egypt, entered the picture.  The tension between Ethiopia and Egypt is increased reaching almost a boiling point. If America is not willing to be fair and unbiased observer/mediator, this writer strongly suggests that, America should keep her hands off and let African leaders deal with the Nile River issues as they see it. After all, it is an African problem and therefore let it be addressed by African countries. Moreover, if America continue taking the Egyptian side and attempt to push Ethiopia to sign a treaty favoring Egypt over Ethiopia, America would be seen, by the entire Ethiopian people, as the new Neo-Colonial Power replacing old British colonial rule in Africa.  Ethiopia, as everyone knows, have been and is a good and trusted allies of the United States. To be treated by one’s ally in such way, will be taken not only as a betrayal but also as a deliberate insult.  

Let me share few facts not with homegrown socio-economic and political bandits and parasites, but with all dedicated Ethiopian sons and daughters, students and teachers and men and women who invested their hard earned money and placed their high hopes on building the GERD. The funds raised by Ethiopians would have been adequate enough to complete the dam on time, had it not been for pocketing the funds by the gang of greedy and selfish officials headed by the late Meles Zenawi, former prime minster of Ethiopia. Even though, Meles Zenawi is credited for proposing the construction of the dam, his own family and his team of leaders were interested investing in foreign banks, buying properties in Asian and Western countries as well as sending their children and relatives to study in American and European universities. For 30 years, the regime headed by Meles Zenawi kept Ethiopia socially, economically, politically and institutionally underdeveloped.

By now it’s well known fact that Prime Minister Abiy Ahemed (PhD) inherited not only empty treasury but also nearly 114 million poverty stricken Ethiopians—Ethiopians who would not wait any longer to have their essential needs met. It is against such urgent background the Renaissance Dam project started.  The dam is designed to generate sufficient hydro-electric power enough to provide her ever-increasing population with food security, eradicate poverty and to have electricity for cooking, washing and to heating their homes with no negative impact on any African countries using the Nile River.

Not giving up their dream or illusion of building the “Greater Egypt”, Egyptian leaders made several attempts to conquer Ethiopia and control the Nile River from its base.  Richard Greenfield described some of Egyptian attempt this way: “The opening of the Suez Canal had brought a new significance to the Red Sea and by 1872 Egypt was in control of its western coast and had occupied the highland town of Keren on what is now called the Eritrean plateau.  By 1875 Egypt had encircled the highlands of Ethiopia and was in possession of the important sultanate of Harar to the south-east”. Egyptian army led by European and American officers continued to advance with objectives of occupying the rest of Ethiopia.  

According to Greenfield, the Egyptians, “were defeated and practically annihilated by Ethiopian forces led by Emperor Yohannes on several occasion”.  Infuriated by the repeated defeat at Gundet and Gura in 1876, Egyptians evacuated the highlands and the rest of Ethiopia.  Never giving up their dream of creating an Imperial Egypt, Egyptian leaders, then and even today, committed, if unable to have 100% control of the source of Nile River, they will go to any distance to prevent Ethiopia from completing the Renaissance Dam.  Until Ethiopians stand united and convince Egyptian leaders, once and for all, that Egypt has neither the right to control of nor the right to veto over the Abay River, Egypt will not stop interfering with any project proposed by Ethiopian government. Egypt does not want to see secure and developed Ethiopia.  

To that end, it is a well-known fact that Egypt adopted three strategies to keep Ethiopia underdeveloped and unable to construct any project aimed at improving the economic, social and political life of the Ethiopian peoples. Egypt’s first strategy has been and is to instruct her Ambassadors throughout the world to persuade, members of Arab league and other lending countries not to lend Ethiopia money to develop her economy. Second strategy is to create, support and sustain divisive ethic, language, and religion based conflicts throughout the country to keep Ethiopia busy putting out the fire set by her homegrown divisive activities.  Using paid Ethiopian and foreign nationals as well as various Social Medias, Egypt have been successful in fulfilling her second strategy.   Her third strategy has been to rattle her swords and flex military muscles threating Ethiopia with military action.  Disagreements resulting in repeated wars between two countries, often initiated by Egypt to fulfil her dream of conquering Ethiopia and controlling the flow of the Nile River is not new. Egypt has no intension of stopping her interference in the internal of affairs of Ethiopia or objecting Ethiopia’s use of Blue Nile River to improve the economic condition of her people.

Egyptian leader often cite the 1902, 1906, 1929 and other treaties—treaties between Britain and Egypt gave them the “historical right” to use the Nile and to have a “veto power” over any project proposed by Ethiopian government using the Nile River.   Please note that all bilateral treaties entered between Britain and Egypt during the colonial rule were “immediately rejected by Ethiopia as a denial of her sovereignty over the use of the Blue Nile.  Moreover, since Ethiopia was not colonized by any Wester powers, including Britain, any treaty or treaties entered between Britain and her colonies are not legally binding.  

Ethiopia is not required by any law to honor treaties entered in violation of her sovereign right over the use of her natural resources within her internationally recognized boundary.  It is said that the “sovereign cannot order the sun to rise in the west nor can he change the cycle of seasons.  If a sovereign would claim to do that, he will be sent to the lunatic asylum”.   To resolve the conflict peacefully, PM Abiy Ahemed, explained repeatedly, supported by series of studies, that the construction of Renaissance Dam will have no negative impact on Egypt and other members of Arab League who rely on the Nile River.  Instead listening to the logical explanation supported by national and international experts, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, went to mobilize the Arab league members and gained their support for his illegal demands.

Describing Ethiopia’s historical relationship with the Arab world, Sylvia Pankhurst wrote: “When the followers of Mohammed suffered persecution by the Quraish, in Arabia, they were advised by the Prophet himself to take refuge in Ethiopia, ‘the land of righteousness where no one is wronged’.  The fugitives were kindly received and lived under the protection of Emperor Armah who now occupied the Ethiopian Throne.  Subsequently ambassador from the Quraish appeared at the Court bearing rich gifts requesting the surrender of the Muslim fugitives”… Declining to accept the gift the Emperor was quoted to have said:If you were to offer me a mountain of gold I would not give up these people who have taken refuge with me.”  To that end, I would like to remind Arab league members that as a result of Ethiopia’s generosity in receiving and protecting Muslim refugees, the Prophet Mohammed concluded that Ethiopia should not be targeted for jihad. 

The Arab leagues support for Egypt’s simply unrealistic and untenable as well as unjust and illegal demand for total control the Nile River from its base, and her plan to interfere in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, makes this writer to conclude that the Arab league members, are not only going against Prophet Mohammed’s command but also becoming the new Jihadist.  At this point, on the behalf of the entire Ethiopian people, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Sudanese people and to their leadership for standing with Ethiopia on the question of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

I want to conclude this article by saying to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt this:  If you are encouraged by the prevailing religion, ethnic and language based divisive politics in Ethiopia, by securing Arab league’s support for your illegal demand, and if you are contemplating to use Egyptian army to secure a treaty favoring Egypt over Ethiopia, you are either ignorant of Ethiopian history or just bent on sacrificing Egyptian lives in order to stay in power for more years.  May I remind you the price paid by Ismail Pasha both the battle of Gundet and Gura; Emperor Umberto of Italy’s at the battle of Aduwa; Benito Mussolini’s at the battle of Maychew, as well as Siad Barre’s defeat at the battle of Karamara with each battle claiming thousands and thousands of lives. 

The leaders mentioned above started their invasion of Ethiopia by assessing Ethiopia’s weakness caused by internal feuds and by relying on the collection of their own military hardware. None of them understood that Ethiopians have never wanted or declared war against any of them or against any nation, but when attacked, they will stand united and fight their enemy to the end.   I hope reading the historical events cited above will help you, the Egyptian leader, to refrain from making the most serious mistake of your life against Ethiopia hopping to secure the control of Abay River again. Be well advised that Ethiopians are not known to compromise their honor and dignity and kneel to anyone. Know also that they will not compromise on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. For completion of the dam means life or death to millions of Ethiopians.

Ed.’s Note: Alem Asres (PhD), (former Alemayehu Wondemagegnehu), earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Social Foundations of Education with emphasis on Comparative and Multicultural Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected]

Contributed by Alem Asres