Today’s exclusive column guest goes by the name of Dr. Eng. Tilahun Erduno. He is the President of the Ethiopian Surveying Professionals Association (ESPA), General Manager of Joka General Business Association, and board member of Renaissance Dam Addis Ababa Park design and construction. Furthermore, he served as coordinator of the Community Development Association (CDA), and Board member of the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Forum.
Of late, The Ethiopian Herald has a short stay with him. He has touched upon quite a lot of issues revolving around the Nile River and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Enjoy reading.
What is your say on the Ethio-Egypt Nile dispute?
Egypt has never attempted to solve its problem related to the Nile peacefully with Ethiopia or any other upper basin countries. Rather it has strived to fulfill its interest destabilizing Ethiopia. Since ancient times the issues of Nile and Ethiopia have been means of solutions to the problems of internal politics in Egypt. In the same vein, today’s government of Egypt is also politicizing the Nile issue and attempting to cover the face of its people by instigating “water war” against Ethiopia.
As usual, today Egypt is trying to use Ethiopia and its river as first aid for its internal political disease. It should be noted that Egypt and Sudan experienced no democratic election. Most of the time government officials of both countries come from military coup one after the other. Egypt strived to invade Ethiopia for a considerable number of times. Fought so many unjust wars, directly and indirectly, destabilized its peace, organized, and supported anti-Ethiopian guerrilla fighters and radical religious extremist groups.
Besides, Egypt worked hard to destroy the unique classic harmony between Muslims and Christians in Ethiopia. The fact behind all its immoral actions is because it believes that peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia as its external threat. Therefore, the position of the Egyptian government and its allies concerning GERD is illegal, immoral, so biased, and inhumane.
Furthermore, beginning from ancient times Egypt and its allies attempted to create many Muslim states in Ethiopia. Sudan’s and Egypt’s support for ELF is a living proof. Egypt did everything possible and continues to do the same today aiming at weakening, destabilizing, and crumbling Ethiopia into so many small pieces of states to keep its dominance on the Nile. Egypt’s veiled agenda was to bring the whole territory under its control and if not to occupy the Nile Basin at any cost. The last one is the option that the government of Egypt mentions again and again.
Could you mention some of the latest facts supporting the above points and justify that Egypt has provoked direct and indirect wars and done interventions against Ethiopia’s sovereignty and interests throughout history?
According to Andrew Carlson, Egypt and Ethiopia fought over control of the Red Sea and the upper Nile Basin in the nineteenth century. The climax came in 1876 at the Battle of Gura in present-day Eritrea where Ethiopians delivered a humiliating defeat to the Egyptian army. Furthermore, in 1961 the Eritrean Liberation Front established in Cairo and began an open revolt in the still autonomous federated province.
Dominated by Eritrean Muslims and aided by Egyptian agents, the ELF declared its war to be a part of the Pan-Arab revolution and went on producing vast literature to this effect.
Likewise, Cairo refrained from an open verbal endorsement of Eritrea’s Arabism, but the Egyptians encouraged the Eritrean Muslims to promote the idea. As deducted from Haggai Erlich sponsored by Egypt’s manifold supporters, Egypt has been hindering Ethiopia’s water resource development agenda for almost a century.
If we look at the latest truth as stated by Andrew Carlson “The World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Chinese import-export band and the African Development Bank provided financing for some of the other dams in Ethiopia; but concerns about the environmental and political impact of this latest dam have discouraged lenders.” The underlined reason for not lending money is categorically untrue because GERD has no negative environmental impact at all.
What do international scholars say about the importance of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)?
As per Professor Haggai Erlich, in 1946 a British hydrogeologist in the service of the Egyptian Ministry of Public Works, Harold Hurst, published “The Future Conservation of the Nile,” proposing dams at the outlet of the great lakes and Lake Tana in Ethiopia, which would provide reservoirs of minimal evaporation for every year or “Century Storage.”
Haggai E. continues “In their Report on the Nile Valley Plan” In 1958 H. A. Morrice& W. N. Allen, British Experts representing the government of Sudan, proposed dams and hydroelectric stations on the Blue Nile and the Baro` in Ethiopia.” “In 1964 the U.S. bureau of reclamation published the results of a five-year study ordered by the Ethiopians.” “Land and water resources of the Blue Nile Basin: Ethiopia” envisioned twenty-six projects in Ethiopia, including four dams designed to turn Lake Tana and the Abbai’s gorge into the primary allNile reservoir and to supply electricity and irrigation for Ethiopia while significantly enlarging and regulating the amount of water flowing to Sudan and Egypt.
This is also justified by the analysis of the leading historians of Nile hydro-politics namely Robert Collins, RushdiSa’id, and John Waterbury, “the Aswan High Dam, finally completed in 1971, is the wrong dam in the wrong place.” Carl Andrew deliberated the sabotage behind the use of Nile water this way “The International Monetary Fund suggested that Ethiopia put the dam on a slow track, arguing that the project will absorb 10% of Ethiopia’s Gross Domestic Product, thus displacing other necessary infrastructure development.”
It is amazing, that the lenders did not want to lend them money. Carl Andrew concludes his impression about the attitudes of the governments of Egypt, Sudan, and their supporters and international lenders regarding GERD this way “If Ethiopia cannot use its elevation and rugged terrain and seasonal rains for hydro-electric power, what is it to do?” I think the UN, the African Union, and all other international community have the moral obligation to give a neutral answer to this question.
What is your say on Egyptians government officials, politicians, writers, and other individuals regarding the Nile?
If truth be told, since 65% of the Ethiopian population out of access to electric power, Ethiopia needs to construct more hydroelectric power-generating dams on the Blue Nile without significant harm to any including Egypt and Sudan. Abuse of power and mismanagements of the Nile issue by Egyptian government officials, politicians, writers, and some other individuals is common for many centuries.
For example, former president Morsi in his speech in front of the parliament and the world at large said “If Egypt is the gift of the Nile, then the Nile is the gift of Egypt”, .… “If our share of Nile water decreases, our blood will be the alternative” “President Morsi’s speech is an unjustified escalation” said one Sudanese government official. Morsi added, “Regarding Nile water all options are on the table.”
How was Egypt getting to the bottom of Nile related problems in the past?
To begin with, there is an Ethiopian proverb appropriate for this i.e. salt disregarded by the owner cannot be respected by the debtor. Egypt never respected and gave no appropriate attention to its serious Nile related problem. It never proposed constructive methodology and dialogue except terrorizing Ethiopia. Let us see how Egypt attempted to solve its Nile problem.
“In 1959 Cairo embarked on working for the instigation of an “Arab” revolution in a new-autonomous Ethiopian province (Eritrea). Hundreds of young Muslims from western Eritrea, most of the Banu Amir clans were invited to study and enjoy special benefits. They as well absorbed the spirit of the Arab revolution in Cairo and adopted a modern Arab identity. There they also learned how to set up a modern guerrilla “liberation front” from the widely admired Pan-Arab Algerian FLN.
In the same way, by 1959 they had been trained in Egypt and were ready to establish the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). The ELF launched an open anti-Ethiopian revolt in Eritrea in 1961, manufacturing and transmitting an Arab Eritrean identity. As deducted from Haggai Erlich “The Arabism of the Eritrean People” remained one slogan of the rich repertoire of Nasserism to its end. “To promote Eritrea’s liberation from Ethiopia, Nasser was also ready to help local Christian Tigreans who resisted reunification with Haile Selassie’s regime.
Their prominent protestant Christian leader WeldeabWelde Mariam was invited in 1955 to broadcast daily anti-Ethiopian messages on Radio Cairo to Eritreans. “No less significant was the issue of Nasserist influence on the Somali nationalists.”
Beginning in the mid –1950s Nasserist policy, literature, and agents worked to enhance the anti-Ethiopian dimension of emerging Somali nationalism and render it revolutionary and Arab.” Based on the above facts it is possible to conclude that according to Egyptian government officials’ belief there is no peaceful option to solve the Nile problem. Truly speaking, there is no Nile problem as such, the problem they propagate each time is simply a vague problem fabricated by Egyptian officials themselves.
Instead of sitting together and play a win-win game they always gamble with Herodotus say “that Egypt is the gift of the Nile” and the agreements of colonial periods. They know very well that Ethiopia never dreams to let the Egyptian and the Sudanese people without water, except that it insists on equitable use of water from the Nile. Therefore, the problems are politically motivated, groundless suspicion and mistrust created by Egyptian and Sudanese governments.
How does Egypt dare to think and speak to solve the Nile related problems by instigating war against the supplier of 86% of the water on which its people depend?
It should be underlined that the Nile flows from Ethiopia through Sudan to Egypt, not from Egypt through Sudan to Ethiopia. In this regard wherever it is reserved, Nile water alone can serve as a weapon of all types of weapons for Ethiopia. But that is not what I propose. Never, ever. Rashid Al Barawi one of the radical Islamists in his book named “Ethiopia between Feudalism and modern times” wrote “Ethiopia committed to fighting Islam in alliance with crusading Europe” this is untrue and against what Prophet Mohammed himself justified about Ethiopia.
Rashid continued “Egypt had always fought for the welfare of local Muslims.” “When fighting Ethiopia at Gura in 1876 Egypt’s goal was the liberation of the Somali’s and the Eritreans.”
On what base? Who made them involve in such futile attempts?
Furthermore, Rashid concludes “Egypt’s defeat in the battle of Gura perpetuated Ethiopian Christian oppression of Islam.” In this regard the battle of Gura was not envisioned to help the Somalis and Eritrean Muslims. Nevertheless, it was deliberately intended to realize the dreams of Egyptian governments of all times to occupy the Nile basin by joining the port of Massawa in the Red Sea with Lake Tana, the source of Blue Nile found at the heart of northwestern Ethiopia.
All the above are some examples and justifications that many Egyptian scholars, writers, politicians, particularly radical extremist religious leaders, Arab revolutionists, and Egyptian nationalists, etc. support the wrong positions of their government heads and lie to their own people without plan B for many centuries.
Another scholar, AbduhBadewi in his book entitled “With the Islamic Movement in Africa,”mentioned “all problems in the horn should be solved through peaceful and friendly dialogue with Ethiopia.” Few scholars particularly the Coptic intellectuals of Egypt tried to focus on what to be focused than playing important to none political game. This is what I also propose today.
What do you think should be done to address the problem?
In my opinion, people must suffer until they identify, prioritize, and tackle the main causes of their problem. If people continue to suffer from the same problem after all that has been done, then corrupt and ill-advised government official or group of officials are behind and benefitting from that problem. It is obvious that the past and the present governments of Egypt and Sudan stiff to the same idea related to the Nile issue. They propagate that “Egypt is the gift of the Nile,” but none of them took the issue of Nile seriously and in a humane way except reflecting their self-centeredness.
They always follow the same root as their ancestors without plan B. Moreover, they threaten Ethiopia with their military might about which Ethiopia never cares. I think this is because the heads of the governments come from none democratic way, by military coup one after the other for many decades. Maybe the military heads are benefitted by politicizing Nile issue than profoundly solving the problem peacefully with Ethiopia and other upper stream countries.
Truly speaking Ethiopia understands that the Nile has been essential for civilization in Egypt and Sudan. Without the Nile water, there would have been no food, no people, no state, and no monuments in Egypt. It also credits Herodotus’ quote in 425 B.C. positively, that he mentioned “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.” But this quote must not be utilized each time to exclude Ethiopia from using Nile water within its sovereign territory.
What is your reflection on his narrow quote?
To the best of my knowledge, his narrow quote maybe because he did not see the other side of the horizon. Therefore, in my opinion, Egypt alone is not the gift of the Nile, rather all Nile Basin states including Egypt are the gifts of God who must use the Nile water based on common understanding and mutual benefit and live one for the other, in harmony in one Nile Family than in eternal suspicion and mistrust created by the minds of ill politicians.
In my opinion, he added, Ethiopia should be accredited because it gives life to Egypt and Sudan. Moreover, Ethiopia never complained and interfered in the internal affairs of Egypt while the Nile originating from its highlands and take away 86% of its rainwater resources from 90 tributaries and springs to Sudan and Egypt.
On the contrary, Egyptian government heads of all times consider that peaceful Ethiopia is their everlasting strategic enemy which is a complete blunder. Ethiopians are people with ample morale who never cross others’ rights and never give up when their right is crossed by uninvited guests. That is why Ethiopians kept their freedom forever while many other countries in the world including Egypt and Sudan have been colonized and humiliated.
Amazingly, Egypt and Sudan are among those nations to whose freedom Ethiopia paid a lot.
BY ADDISALEM MULAT
Source Ethiopian Herald