Egypt`s White Lie and Monday`s Addis Ababa Meeting

Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw

On 10 February 2014 a delegation from Egypt led by Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abd el-Motaleb was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to resume talks regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which is deadlocked due to Egypt`s rigidity. The Egyptian Minister came to Ethiopia after requesting Ethiopia`s Minister of the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy Ato Alemayehu Tegenu in a telephone conversation they had to resume talks which Ato Alemayehu Tegenu accepted in a good faith. Nevertheless the Egyptian media stated it as if the Egyptian Minister`s went to Ethiopia following the invitation from Ato Alemayehu Tegenu. This is in fact Egypt`s white lie with its common strategy of giving a distorted information about Nile issues.

The fact is that Monday`s meeting was not a result of Ethiopia`s request but Egypt`s own request. Their white lie, however, might be designed for political profit at home and for obvious reasons with a regional message. It should be remembered that following the last Khartoum meeting Motaleb said that he would not go to Addis Ababa until what Egypt proposed is accepted. But he did requested to come to Ethiopia and he did came despite what Egypt proposed is rejected by Ethiopia and Sudan as the intention is far from reaching on an agreement on the issue. Again the Egyptian media is lying the Egyptian people together with the government which is a captive of its own lies. Their lie further has to do with an attempt to alienate Ethiopia from Sudan by portraying as if Ethiopia starts bilateral talks with Egypt without Sudan. As reported by Daily News Egypt, Spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Khaled Wassif stated that Sudan is not represented because “because there are issues for Ethiopia and Egypt to discuss bilaterally.” This is, of course, part of their usual divide and rule strategy which they have been trying for long but a total failure.

What should be clear is though Egypt came on Monday with same old stance that it brought at the third round Khartoum meeting between 4 and 5 January 2014. The so-called confidence building principles they talk about and their proposal of establishing International Panel of Experts are manifestations of their irresponsibility regarding cooperation on the Nile in general and the GERD in particular. Furthermore, the Egyptians requested Ethiopia to stop the construction of the dam to undertake the two studies recommended by the International Panel of Experts. From the Ethiopian side the Egyptians are told that future talks regarding the GERD will only be conducted on a tripartite level with the inclusion of Sudan and the construction of the GERD will never be delayed and stopped for second. The only solution is hence to resume talks at the sub-basin level and discuss on matters that are agreed upon in good faith to enhance the benefits of GERD to the peoples of the Nile Basin. Still the door is open for Egypt to accept what is right for the benefit of the peoples of the Nile and to drop its obsoleted stance which will take it nowhere but total lose.