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Strong unity essential to defending national sovereignty

Strong unity essential to defending national sovereignty

The ignorant and irresponsible comments U.S. President Donald Trump last week in which he said Egypt will end up blowing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is entirely unacceptable by any standard. It’s not only Ethiopians who find his comments abhorrent; all Africans share the same sentiment. The talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on the dam and the sharing of the Nile waters must be conducted without the unwarranted interference of third parties. Unfortunately, Egypt has been courting such meddling, particularly since construction of the dam began, in a bid to assert dominance over the region instead of working towards a settlement that is in the shared interest of brotherly Africans. One of the manifestations of Ethiopia’s sovereignty is its ability to demonstrate that it does not seek anyone’s approval to exploit its natural resources. This requires of it to develop a strong defensive capability in all respects. As such it’s critical that Ethiopians set aside our differences and endeavor to forge a strong unity.

Regardless of whether President Trump’s comments reflect his views only or are that of his administration Ethiopians should never allow the sovereignty of their nation to be compromised. Successive Egyptian governments have long been adept not only at using the Nile as a lightning rod to distract attention from their failings, but also doing all it can to weaken Ethiopia. Egypt does not suffer from water shortage given it gets more than enough of it from the Nile. It also possesses considerable subsurface water reserves and has embarked on a large seawater desalination project to secure its water needs. Moreover, it has three large water dams. Nevertheless, it is insistent on controlling the waters of the Nile, 86 percent of whose annual flow Ethiopia accounts for, to ensure the continued viability of joint agricultural investments with Gulf countries. This explains its strategic goal of becoming a regional heavyweight that dictates to Ethiopia and other riparian countries what they can or cannot do on the river. There is no stone it will leave unturned to achieve its long-held objective, including having President Trump intimidate Ethiopia at its behest. 

Though Ethiopia does not need anybody’s blessing to useits nature-given resources equitably, the belligerentthreat made by the misguided president of a superpower should not be taken lightly.  Ethiopians need to go beyond condemning President Trump’s remarks and support the government to defend the nation’s sovereignty. In this regard it’s important to shore up gaps in the diplomatic arena so that the international community stands with Ethiopia over the GERD. Furthermore, every effort should be made to inform the American people about the folly of their president and denounce it as such. In addition, pressure must be brought to bear in order to ensure that the A.U.-led talks between the three countries lead to a productive conclusion for all sides. It’s high time to launch a coordinated and coherent campaign via the international media with a view to convey the justness of Ethiopia’s position and thwart Egypt’s nefarious agenda. Meanwhile politicians which put their interest above the national interest have to refrain from collaborating wittingly or otherwise with the enemy. At the same time compatriotswho feel from all walks of life have the obligation to pay the necessary sacrifice to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty. None of us must turn a blind eye when Ethiopia’s sovereign right to use its natural resources without harming others is unfairly curtailed.

Ethiopians have never put their beloved country’s sovereignty up for negotiation. Irrespective of ideological, ethnic, religious or other difference that have culminated in deadly internecine conflicts, they unfailingly show a united front when Ethiopia’s independence is at stake. Their glorious history bears testament to their unwavering patriotism. For them Ethiopia’s sovereignty is synonymous with freedom, dignity, honor and defense of the national interest. No one is entitled to encroach on another country’s sovereignty or intervene in its internal affairs. Ethiopians are always reminded by the Great Adwa Victory that the nation’s sovereignty can only be preserved through strong unity and is something they passionately care about. The fact that they are united in expressing outrage over the unprovoked meddling of President Trump over a dam whose construction they are underwriting on their own is proof that they do not countenance anyone bent on undermining Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

The U.S.’ recent attempt to strong-arm Ethiopia into signing a patently unfair agreement favoring Egypt on the filling and operation of the GERD was an object lesson for Ethiopians about the imperative to set aside differences and pull together on matters of grave national importance. However impassioned the rivalry for political office may be, it must not be allowed to endanger Ethiopia’s sovereignty and very survival. At this critical juncture it’s of the essence to follow in the footsteps of the Adwa heroes in demonstrating unity of purpose and action. As a project that symbolizes the solidarity among the people of Ethiopia, none of us should sit on our laurels or let ourselves be rent asunder by divisions when its completion is jeopardized by enemies from within and outside forces. Ethiopia has repeatedly pledged to abide by the principle of equitable use of the waters of the Nile. Egypt’s implacable opposition to its generation of hydroelectric power using these waters for purely selfish reasons is testing the country’s patience. The administrations of both Egypt and the U.S. must be told in no uncertain terms that they should desist from any and all hostile acts imperiling Ethiopia’s sovereign rights. They ought to know that Ethiopians are an honorable people and brook no intimidation.

Ethiopia’s response to the sabotage perpetrated against it by successive Egyptian governments has persistently been underwhelming. The news that Ethiopia was embarking on the construction of the GERD was greeted with jubilation by Ethiopians from all corners of the country. Since it was broadly agreed from the outset that the dam is a national project, even opposition groups based overseas wholeheartedly supported it, albeit a handful which initially were against it but are now giving their all having realized their mistake. This unmistakably demonstrates that Ethiopians consider the GERD to be a source of pride and a symbol of national identity. If the dam is to come to be completed and commence its eagerly-awaited power generation, it’s of paramount importance to lay the foundation for a strong nation. Towards this end seasoned diplomats, hydrologists, geopolitical analysts, international water law experts and other pertinent professionals have to be brought on board so as to develop and execute a proactive strategy that helps Ethiopia take the moral high ground and foil Egypt’s multi-pronged assaults on Ethiopia.  That is why Ethiopians have no choice but to stand united as one and defend the nation’s sovereignty.