Utilizing The Nile: A Matter of Life and Death for Ethiopia

Sanyii Belayineh Hunde

There have been different narratives regarding the management and utilization of the world`s longest river-the Nile. These stories mainly are reflected in different forms and styles. But their messages have been the same. One of the narratives is based on obsolete, partial and unfair self declared water `right` propagated by the most downstream state-Egypt. According to Egyptian policy makers, they have “a historical right to the Nile which is declared under the 1929 exchange of notes with Britain and the 1959 agreement with Sudan.” But, Egypt`s such self-declared `historic right` is a historic wrong which Egypt is not yet trying to undone and solve. Based on such a historic wrong, Egypt has claimed that it has a fixed amount of water i.e. 55.5 Billion Cubic meters of the Nile waters.

Based on the aforementioned wrongly self-declared claim, it is common for Egyptians saying that, that fixed amount of water is a matter of life and death for Egypt. In a futile attempt to justify this claim, Egyptian pundits and politicians state that ‘their population is rising therefore they need more water than the 55.5 BCM, they have no any other water source except the Nile, other riparian states in the Nile Basin has other water sources such as rain and other rivers etc…’ This unconvincing and baseless justification is more or less very strong when it comes to Ethiopia which is the source of more than 86 percent of the waters of the Nile.

For Egyptian policy makers, as they have heard saying it repeatedly, “while the Nile is a development issue for Ethiopia, it is a matter of life and death for Egypt.” As stated this narrative is not new. It is one of Egypt`s attempts to thunderously tell its version of the `Nile is a matter of life and death for Egypt` and undermining Ethiopia`s and other upstream states` claim on the management and utilization of the Nile waters a mere development issue. But the truth is the contrary.

The Nile: A Matter of Life and Death for Ethiopia too!!!

As stated earlier Egypt`s attempt of narrating the Nile as a matter of life and death for Egypt is a mere attempt to undermine Ethiopia`s just claim. In fact, Ethiopia`s humble and smooth use of language might helped the Egyptian narrators as Ethiopia has been saying “its aim of building dams on the Nile is to alleviate poverty and achieve development to millions of poverty stricken Ethiopians.” However, the Nile is a matter of life and death for Ethiopia as it is to Egypt. In fact, Ethiopia needs the waters of the Nile not simply to achieve developmental objectives but to answer a question of survival. The Numbers do indeed speaks louder than anything else why developing the Nile waters has an indispensable and irreplaceable role in Ethiopia`s political, economic, as well as socio-cultural life.

As clearly stated, in Ethiopia`s “Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy” document, achieving “rapid development is not merely important in raising the standard of living of the people, but also a guarantee of national survival.” Therefore, if Ethiopia is to continue to survive as a country, in this globalized and fast growing Darwinian world, it must able to achieve rapid socio-economic development that benefits the Ethiopian people. The document further stressed that, “assuring accelerated development and raising the living standard of [the]… people of [Ethiopia] is critical in preventing [Ethiopia]… from disaster and dismemberment.” But the question is, how can Ethiopia achieve the intended developmental goal which has a direct link with its survival? How can Ethiopia able to survive as a country by dismantling its number one enemy-poverty which has been a threat to its national security?

The answers to that question basically rely on whether Ethiopia is able to turn its natural resources into an asset apart from ‘establishing a democratic order in a multi-ethnic Ethiopia’ as the document clearly states it. Therefore, the key to Ethiopia`s development and alleviation of poverty is at the mercy of developing the available water resource of the country. The total annual volume of Ethiopia`s surface water is estimated 122 billion cubic meters of which more than 96 percent flows to the neighboring countries mainly to Sudan and Egypt, Somalia and Kenya. Out of the major river basins of the country, the Nile in Ethiopia covers 70% of the country`s total surface water. This makes the Nile life for Ethiopia. The detail arithmetic of the mentioned figure makes the Nile the issue of life and death for Ethiopia. Here is why.

One of the mysteries of the Nile river in Ethiopia is the total area that it covers. The Nile Basin in Ethiopia accounts 32 percent of the total area of Ethiopia. It traverses two-third or six of the nine regional states under the current federal arrangement-namely Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, Benshangul-Gumuz, Gambela and Southern, Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State. One can, therefore, imagine how many people lives directly in the Basin in particular and in the mentioned regional states in general. According to statistics from the State of the Nile Basin Report of 2012 prepared by the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), 40 percent of 86.5 million population (almost 39.5 million) lives directly in the Basin. There is a higher figure, however, in 2014 as reported by the world Population Review, which is estimated at 96.5 million which makes Ethiopia the second populous country in Africa next to Nigeria. Out of this, more than 67 million population lives in the six regional states mentioned above. One has to also take in to consideration that the total population of Ethiopia will grow to more than 187 million by 2050 double from where it is now. This rapidly growing population, therefore, needs water to survive.

Energy is fundamental to achieve socio-economic transformation in any country. Without Energy it is impossible to achieve development and alleviate millions of population from poverty. Energy is the backbone of development. Despite such truth and its rich potential, Ethiopia is one of the energy hungry countries of the world as access to modern energy sources is very limited. The country`s major energy source is biomass fuels which aggravates the deterioration of the natural environment because trees are cut down to meet energy needs especially in the rural areas. In Ethiopia more than 65 million people have access to electricity. And electrification rate in the country is very low which is about 74 percent in urban areas and 24 percent in the rural areas-where nearly 84 percent of the total population lives. This is the lowest even in Sub-Saharan standard. If we compare this with Egypt it is astonishing. Electrification rate in Egypt, for instance, is 100 percent in urban areas and 99.6 percent in rural areas. This shows the gap in energy access between the two countries. Besides, the demand for energy in Ethiopia is growing by 32 percent which is a high rate as compared to the 25 percent demand growth for the last 5 years. Despite government attempts to solve, energy shortages, power outages and power rationing are not exceptions in Ethiopia. The energy shortage in the country in one way or another has a huge negative impact on the country`s fastest growing economy. Ethiopia to sustain its economic growth and development, energy security is a matter of necessity. Therefore, Ethiopia has to find some way or mechanism to tackle the energy poverty that it faced. The Nile has the answer!!

The Nile Basin in Ethiopia is the power house of the country. Ethiopia is blessed with hydropower potential-thanks to its geography. Research findings estimate that the country has a potential to generate 45000 megawatts of hydroelectric power which makes Ethiopia the second potentially rich country next to the Democratic Republic of Congo which has a potential of generating almost 100,000 megawatts. Despite this huge potential Ethiopia has produced not more than 2100 megawatts which clearly shows the country`s hydropower potential is underutilized. In fact, this will change when Ethiopia accomplishes its mega hydropower projects in Gibe III and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and other forthcoming projects. Out of the aforementioned 45000 megawatts of hydropower potential two-third or almost 30000 megawatt is in the Nile. Ethiopia, to solve its energy hunger, therefore, has to develop the Nile. Besides, it is worth noting that the energy that Ethiopia will produce will be its petroleum oil and source of foreign currency. This will benefit not only Ethiopia but also the electric buying neighboring countries who will have access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy. The Nile is energy, the Nile is life!!

Due to climate change rainfall patterns at the global level is becoming unpredictable at the global level. Ethiopia is  country which suffered from a long history of rainfed agriculture. Ethiopia`s reliance on rain for its agriculture cost the country millions of lives due to drought and shortage of water. Ethiopians in the 1970s and 1980s were survived by the mercy of the food aid from the developed world. The 1973 news coverage and broadcast of the Hidden Famine by Jonathan Dimbleby, the mid 1980s Live Aid concerts and the released charity song “We are the World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” are eternal testimonies to that tragic history.  It is, therefore, difficult to continue to survive as a people and a country while stretching hands to the erratic rain in a situation where the country is exhibiting rapid population growth. Hence, switching to irrigation is not a luxury for Ethiopia rather a necessity triggered by a need to survive.

Despite there are various figures about the irrigation potential of Ethiopia, many agrees that the country has 3.7 million hectares of irrigable land. Here again, the Ethiopian Nile comes to the equation. Of the mentioned figure nearly 2.3 million hectares of land or 62 percent of the total irrigable land is in the Nile Basin. To put it more clearly, the three sub-basins of the Ethiopian Nile namely Abbay/Blue Nile, Baro-Akobo and Tekezze sub-basins have 1,001,000, 985,000 and 317,000 hectares of irrigable land. Is not the Nile Ethiopia`s bread basket? Is not the Nile a matter of life and death for Ethiopia?


To sum, according to research findings Ethiopia so far has able to utilize nearly 5 percent of its total surface water. When it comes to the Nile it is a meager. Ethiopia utilizes less than 1 percent. The numbers shown above are calls for Ethiopia that Ethiopia must utilize its water resources. This writer remembers a speech by Ethiopian famous engineer Tadesse Gaileselassie in 2007 when he remarked that, “It would have been a great importance that the students` movement of the 1960s in the Haileselassie I University sloganeered Water to the Farmer in line with the famous Land to the Tiller slogan of the day.” It is true that, the recent initiatives taken by Ethiopia are signaling that Ethiopia has firmly, truly and passionately take utilizing the country`s water has no other alternative.

What is interesting, as well, is Ethiopia`s firm stand that when it is utilizing its water resources, it is not with a blind eye of let me and me alone use the water. It is the country`s unchanged policy and principle that, utilizing the waters of the Nile or any other transboundary water in its territory is based on fairness and equity. Egypt or any other downstream country has to thank Ethiopia for this as there are countries in other transboundary watercourses with little concern for other users downstream. Irrespective of the bad memories due to the injustice done by Egypt against Ethiopia, the later still has open arms to utilize the Nile waters equitably and reasonably.

Therefore, it should be underlined that, the Egyptian narrative that the Nile is a mere developmental issue for Ethiopia and a matter of life and death for Egypt is far from the truth in Ethiopia. The Nile is a matter of life for Ethiopia as it is to Egypt despite little degree difference. And of course, it is worth noting here that Egypt is one of the water rich countries in the world taking its huge and exploitable ground water. In any case, trust and confidence and strong belief in mutual benefit and win-win gains is the solution.

At: http://www.eipsa1.com/cms/node/47


Cain`s Path of Bernard Membe of Tanzania on the Nile

By: Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw

Tanzania like any other Nile riparian state has its national interest on the Nile waters as it is one of the water source country through the White Nile. Knowing the injustice done by ex-colonial powers, it was Tanzania which for the first time-among the Equatorial Lakes countries to nullify colonially entered treaties which privileged downstream Egypt at the expense of the interest of upstream states. Tanzania is a pioneer of the Nyerere Doctrine which is even regarded as one of the doctrines of international law in the post-colonial world pertaining to state succession to treaties. The doctrine was named after the first president of Tanzania Julius Kambarage Nyerere-who was among Africa`s liberators and intellectuals. Following the independence of his country Tanganyika which later unified with Zanzibar and named Tanzania Muwalimu Julius Nyerere made his country`s position on the Nile very clear and unambiguous particularly regarding the 1929 Agreement which Britain signed on behalf of its East African ‘colonies’.

In a statement sent to Britain, Egypt and the Sudan on 4th July 1962, after discussing the importance of Lake Victoria and its catchment to the needs and interests of the people of Tanganyika, the Government of Tanganyika (Tanzania) declared that: “… the Government of Tanganyika has reached the conclusion that the provisions of the 1929 Agreement purporting to apply to the countries under British Administration are not binding on Tanganyika…” In line with this, Tanzania further noted that ‘recognizing the importance of the waters of the Nile to all riparian states the government of Tanganyika is willing to enter in to discussions.’ The very idea of the note identically sent to the governments of the three countries is that Tanzania will not bind by the colonially signed treaty and the waters of the Nile is important to all riparian states. Hence, its utilization should be conducted in “a manner that is just and equitable to all riparian states and to the greatest benefit of all their peoples.”

It is based on the above fair and reasonable declaration that Tanzania has been engaged in Nile negotiations to create a Basin which is based on fairness and justice for all riparian states. Tanzania is one of the leading countries in shaping contemporary Nile Basin and has been active in the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) activities and the process of formulating the Cooperative Framework Agreement on the Nile Basin (CFA). It is one of the four riparian states of the Nile which signed the CFA in the first day of signing in Entebbe-Uganda.

But recently mixed news are came out of Dar es Salaam-Tanzania. On 27th of May 2014 the media reported that Foreign Minister Berand Membe of Tanzania was saying that the CFA should be reviewed in favor of Egypt which is a downstream state on the Nile. The Minister in a statement that he submitted to the country`s parliament was further quoted saying “A total of 78 million Egyptians depend on the Nile River hence without Nile there is no Egypt. If the water level goes down, then the Egyptians will not be able to do any irrigation farming,.” While stating that Egypt was solely dependent on the Nile, Mr. Membe do indeed forgot to mention or deliberately hide the fact that Egypt`s ground water make the country one of the richest in the world with the utilizable storage capacity of more than 53,000 Billion cubic meters of water which is equivalent to the 500 years flow of the Nile River. Moreover, Mr. Membe did ignore or undermine the desalination potential that Egypt could undergo as a country surrounded by the Mediterranean and the Red Seas. I do not blame Mr. Membe, of course, as he is a politician but not an Engineer or a man with the technical expertise to look deep into the fundamental issues. Or Mr. Membe was speaking as if he was an Egyptian minister and protecting Egypt`s interest against the interest of his country-Tanzania. Be that as it may, Tanzania`s Water Minister Professor Jumanne Maghembe told the parliament that his country will continue abiding by the CFA and “Tanzania is now in the process of ratifying the protocol to the agreement,” as the CFA ” seeks to establish a permanent Nile River Basin commission which will set clear procedures of water sharing.” Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Bernard Membe on June dismissed Prof. Maghembe`s statements and stated that Tanzania`s position is what he had said and “there will be no ratification” of the CFA in November, The EastAfrican Reported.

Why Bernard Membe is Wrong?

Membe is Tanzania`s minister not of Egypt. States are sovereign and they strived to maintain and if possible to maximize their interests not to abandon. Tanzania`s interest on the Nile basin can best be maintained, maximized and protected not through the way Membe opts but through the Maghembe`s way. Tanzania despite available surface water resources it is a country with mounting problems. According to World Population Review, currently (2014) Tanzania`s population is about 49.48 million which is growing at a rate of 3.0 percent annually. This has its own impact on the country`s current and future water utilization. Due to rising population and other related problems by 2025 Tanzania will fall under the category of water-stressed countries. While demand for water is increasing with rapidly growing population the supply is dwindling. Besides climatic change has posed another problem on the country as its water sources such as mount Kilimanjaro is losing its ice tremendously. And the country to meet its water demands for agriculture and pure water supply for its rural and urban dwellers is forced to utilize the Nile waters from Lake Victoria and its catchments.

But Foreign Minister Bernard Membe was speaking as if he was Egyptian and undermining his own country`s current and future water needs on the Nile. At the beginning of this piece, the position of Tanzania which is defined by Muwalimu Julius Nyerere-the father of Modern Tanzania is presented. But Membe`s moves are of ruining such a historic and principled stance of Tanzania for unknown reasons which is tantamount to betraying his own country.

Membe: Fall in the Egyptian Trap?

Among the Nile Basin countries, it is only Egypt which have been trying to excessively politicize the waters of the Nile. The very purpose is toMembe detach the Nile from being a technical issue where scientific data can assist to solve the Nile problem and shove it into politics and subject to pressures. Here, Minister Membe seems ensnared by the Egyptian perilous tactic. To quote himself, he has said to the EastAfrican that, The Nile “…is a diplomacy issue, not a technical issue for any engineer to comment on.” From such a remark one could conclude that, Membe is either deliberately ignoring that water diplomacy is based finding novel solutions based on scientific knowledge or he is not well aware of that. If not Membe again could have been trapped by the appeal to pity of Egypt as he is quoted for saying that “A total of 78 million Egyptians depend on the Nile River hence without Nile there is no Egypt. If the water level goes down, then the Egyptians will not be able to do any irrigation farming.” Again, in his recent remark, Membe was quoted for saying, “that Egypt should be given preferential treatment in using Nile waters. That is a desert country; we have to be fair to them.

Moreover, Membe is likely hijacked by the divide and rule policy of Egypt most of the time which is implemented via detaching one riparian state from the others by pledging unrealized promises. This process of action is mostly devised in the name of strengthening bilateral relations against multilateral one. Media reported that, in the document that he submitted to the Tanzanian Parliament, Membe stated that, “the Nile basin has also increased tourism activities between Tanzania and Egypt as Egypt Air had added two direct flights from Tanzania to other parts of the world to ensure Tanzania expands the tourism sector. He said for the past two years Tanzania has received over 13,000 tourists from Egypt.” But, disregard it not, what Membe said is value-free.

In general terms, Membe`s moves are costly for Tanzania to afford. His path is Cain`s path as he has stood on the interest-life of his own brothers and sisters both in rural and urban Tanzania both against their bread and water. Of course, his move would detach the African country Tanzania from its African brothers and sisters. Besides, Membe will end up in regret as Cain did after what he did against his brother, Abel. Of course, no one needs to be Cain, at least in principle.

Tanzania: What is Next?

Maghembe of Tanzania MoWTanzania has been one of the leading countries in the Nile Basin in fighting for equality of all riparian states and enhancing justice, equity, fairness and equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile waters to the greatest benefit of all the peoples of the Nile Basin. Julius Nyerere`s Doctrine was a pioneer in mobilizing riparian states of the Nile in the Equatorial Lakes Region in denouncing the injustice and the crime committed against them by self-interested ex-colonial powers. Currently, the Cabinet of Tanzania has approved the CFA for ratification by the parliament which is a very good step to maintain the legacy of Muwalimu Nyerere. Ratifying the CFA by the Parliament as uphold by Water Minister Prof. Jumanne Maghembe will preserve the interest of the great people of Tanzania, otherwise, the current and future generations as well as history, will judge the duplicity of the wrong doers against the interest of the people. It is the hope of this writer that Bernard Membe will not desire to stand on the left during the judgment day of the Nile.

Al-Sisi`s Nile Policy: What is New and What is Not?

By: Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw

As A Background

Following the popular revolt supported by a military coup of July 2013 Egypt`s democratically elected President Morsi was deposed and the country was ruled by a caretaker government nearly for a year. On June 2014 Egyptians “elected” a new president named Abdel Fatah Al Sisi-who was a defense minister under Morsi and who was, in fact, in the forefront in unseating Muslim Brotherhood`s Mohamed Morsi. Since January 2011, from Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi to Field Marshal Abdel Fatah Al Sisi, Egypt has seen four presidents and four prime ministers who in one way or another reflected their stance about the Nile.

Following the ousting of Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, Essam Sharaf`s transitional government was quick to criticize the way Mubarak`s regime ‘treat upstream states of the Nile and lambast its Africa policy. The transitional prime minister further while sending a public diplomacy delegates to upstream states of the Nile pledge that the old era is gone and a new era is opened between the riparian states of the Nile and Egypt. As a good gesture and good neighborliness, the then Premier of Ethiopia the late Ato Melese Zenawi promised to delay the ratification of the Cooperative Framework Agreement on the Nile (CFA)-which is devised to establish a new Nile Basin based equality of all riparian states, until Egypt elects a stable and democratic government. This promise worked for Egypt and despite the public diplomacy delegates and the then Prime Minister Essam Sharaf promised a new era was opened, his successor Mohamed Morsi who was elected as a result of popular election slightly wining over Ahamed Shafiq who was the last Prime Minister of the Mubarak era was not strong and committed enough to continue the track.

Despite Morsi`s had the chance to solve the Nile dispute, the Tamarod movement with the military was on his neck. Then he was forced to use the Nile card to mobilize Egyptians to a foreign ‘enemy’ on the upstream of the Nile to avoid the mob stood against him. His speech and people around him barreled of a water war drums and `our blood is an alternative for a drop of water of the Nile` with the drama at the Presidential campus are what makes his presidency`s memorable moments regarding the Nile. But the very interesting development was the June 2013 brief visit to Ethiopia of Mohamed Amr who was a Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and the consequent joint statement they made to commence on discussions to implement the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE).
Following the termination of the discussion, Egypt went back to the common way of undermining Ethiopia through its propaganda machine in the media. The then minister of Egypt`s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Motaleb turned in to accusing Ethiopia of being uncooperative and stated that “Egypt will never negotiate on its water share”- a share which Egypt claimed it has under the 1959 ‘Agreement’ with the Sudan-an agreement which is nullified and not a concern of upstream states mainly Ethiopia.

Politicians and statesmen in Egypt have this commonality that they always state that their country`s only water source is the Nile and strives to show that their country is unthinkably dependent on the Nile. And they went further and for them the Nile issue is a matter of life and death. For them the self-apportioned 55.5 billion cubic meters of the Nile waters as per the 1959 ‘Agreement’ is not negotiable. So they say Ethiopia and other upstream states must recognize that. Due to this main reason, Egypt`s relation with upstream Ethiopia is at unhealthy. At the center of the conflict mainly is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Behind all these developments, Abdel Fatah al Sisi`s inauguration as the new president of Egypt, by many, is regarded as a change in policy and in fact for some a shift in Egypt`s policy on the Nile. The question is the, are there any new developments on the Nile? Is Al Sisi`s presidency different from his predecessor`s policy on the Nile? What is new and what is not?

The Al Sisi Rhetoric

President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi (photo from BBC) As a presidential candidate competing with the Nassrist Hamdeen Sabahi, Al Sisi stated that, he understands Ethiopia`s need for development but the “Nile water is a “matter of life and death” for Egypt,” Ahram Online reported. He further stated that he is ready to visit Ethiopia for dam talks to resolve the dam row with Ethiopia peacefully. In his inaugural speech, Sisi also stated that he “won’t allow the Renaissance Dam to cause a crisis or a problem with sisterly Ethiopia“. This new rhetoric is mainly a pledge that Egypt is ready to solve the Nile crisis especially the dispute on GERD peacefully and through dialogue. This was further stressed in the discussions between Dr. Tedros Adhanom and President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi. The new president further understands that GERD is not an Ethiopian dam project alone rather it is a symbolic Africa`s project. This understanding is of course reflected in the President`s speech when he say, “I will never allow the issue of the Renaissance Dam to be a source of creating a crisis or a problem or be an obstacle for enhancing Egypt’s relations with Africa in general or with sisterly Ethiopia in particular.” The meeting between Ethiopia`s Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Egypt`s previous Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and the understanding to continue the tripartite meeting was also regarded as a positive step. The remarks and developments mentioned in one way or another were regarded as Egypt`s change of heart.

Continuing the Tripartite Meeting

What is new from the pre-Sisi Egypt is, the agreement reached between Ethiopia and Egypt to continue the Tripartite discussion to implement the recommendations of the IPoE. The discussion was started in November 2013 under the Adly Mansour presidency and continued until January 2014 in Khartoum-the capital of the Sudan. However, the discussion was halted due to the unnecessary tabling of an agenda out of the scope and purpose of the discussion by Egypt. Mainly, in the January discussions, Egypt came up with the so-called “principles of confidence building” which was another attempt to bring back the 1959 ‘Agreement’ by other means.

Now the Al Sisi administration seems worried that Egypt`s unwise decision to push for the discussion halted back in January is not helping the country as Ethiopia is also continuing the construction of GERD 24 hours a day for seven days a week. The decision to resume the discussions by including the Sudan is a positive step. Yet no one is sure whether Egypt will stick to the principles of the discussion and refrain from tabling unnecessary agendas.

Egypt: Stemming the Technical Nile and Propel the Political Nile

Despite almost all transboundary watercourses involve politics and appear political due to the nature of modern states and their boundaries. Had there no boundaries, rivers would have remain one geographical unit and apolitical. The Nile is the most politicized transboundary watercourse as compared to other similar transboundary watercourses including Euphrates-Tigris as well as Mekong. Egypt is the dominant state in pushing the politicization of the Nile as compared to other riparian states. For almost all riparian states of the Nile upstream to Egypt including Sudan, the Nile is a technical issue not a political one. It is the Ministries of Water Affairs which are responsible in dealing with the Nile issue in all riparian states except in Egypt-where the Ministry of Water and Irrigation has nominal power in Nile related negotiations. In almost all upstream states the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other related institutions play a supportive role and plays a crucial role in diplomacy. That is why the ministries are working together by strengthening their horizontal relationships.

But, Egypt, relentlessly has been trying politicizing the Nile especially following the signing of the CFA and the commencement of the construction of the GERD. This is move of Egypt is based on its (mis)calculation that putting the Nile issue on the political table will allow here to use any instrument possible to pressurize upstream states rather than solving the issue technically which is more based on scientific data and evidences. Egypt is trying to play its 1959 game that helps her to win over the coup troubled Sudan. The political Nile is more open for lobbyist strategy than the technical Nile. It is this writers doubt that the recent moves of Egypt despite not new is an attempt to propel the Nile in to the political space.

The Nile: “Importance to Egypt and Ethiopia`s Plan and need for development”

On Ethiopian side it is most neglected to remind the phrases in Al Sisi`s inaugural speech where he said, “if the dam [GERD] constitutes its [Ethiopia`s] right to development, the Nile represented our [Egypt`s] right to life.” The Egyptians have been constructing the discourse of their extreme “dependence” on the Nile and Ethiopia`s perceived “less dependency on the Nile”- a statement which is baseless and not supported by facts. As for Egypt, it is one of the most ground water richest countries on the world with the potential of almost equivalent to the Nile`s 500 years flow. Ethiopia`s dependency on the Nile is more than answering its developmental questions rather it has to do with the life and death of the people of the country. Ethiopia`s territorial integrity, its peace and stability, its economy-in terms of energy, agriculture, surface water availability etc is shouldered by the country`s Nile Basin which accounts 2/3 of energy and irrigation potential, 70 percent of the country`s water resource, nearly 40 million people and 2/3 of the regional states.

Following the 23rd African Union Summit (AUS) in Malabo-Equatorial Guinea the leaders of the two countries-Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi met and discussed on various issues to boost bilateral relations. In the meantime, the Egyptian media have reported that, following the meeting of the two leaders, “Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister, along with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom, stressed in the statement that Ethiopia will understand the importance of the Nile to Egypt; and that Egypt will understand the Ethiopian plans and need for development.” In this statement the phrases “Ethiopia will understand the importance of the Nile to Egypt” is a manifestation that Egypt is trying to bold its dependency on the Nile and is an attempt to bowl Ethiopia in to its shrewd politics. This is clearly seen when the following statement declare that “Egypt will understand the Ethiopian plans and need for development.” These statements clearly and unambiguously matches President Al Sisi`s inaugural speech and his remark about the GERD. The statements are not, of course, a problem but they are because of the discourse attached. The message is Ethiopia is less dependent on the Nile than Egypt, and as far as Ethiopia`s question is concerned, its question is a question of development and it can be answered by other means. Can Ethiopia afford that? Never! Ethiopia should be worry of such phrases and texts. It is language in use and that is discourse. What is astonishing is, though, the statement by the two foreign ministers was misinterpreted by the Egyptian media-which is the usual business. The discussion and the focus of the joint statement was regarding the GERD but the Egyptians attempted and tried hard to make the center of the discussion the Nile in general and with the usual cunning politics.

Where is the Changed Heart?

The Sisi rhetoric does not reflect a change of heart of Egypt. It is too early to conclude that Egypt`s Nile policy is changed. The declaration that the solution on the Nile is dialogue and peaceful discussion between the concerned parties is what all Egyptian leaders since the January 25, 2011 popular revolt have been saying but fall a short when it comes to practice. Above all the pillars of Egypt`s Nile policy is not changed and is less likely to happen in the near future. There are plenty of reasons for this conclusion.

Egypt has always saying that the self-claimed and apportioned “Nile water share as per the 1959 Agreement is not negotiable.” This is a matter of life and death in the Egyptian view of the Nile and any hydraulic infrastructure development in the upstream of the River. In his visit to Chad on April 2014, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab stated that ” We’re not against the Ethiopian people but we advocate our interests… We [Egypt] will protect our rights to the Nile water with the support of the world and African countries, and with our efforts,” The Problem is not protecting their interest. The real problem is the definition of their interest as it is based on unfairly, unjustly and unlawfully claimed right based on colonial, partial and non-inclusive pseudo agreements of 1929 and 1959. Moreover, the emphasis on the importance of the Nile for Egypt and its restriction as a question and plan of development for Ethiopia is a clear manifestation of the real stance of Egypt. In fact, it is in the same administration that we are hearing from the Minister of Agriculture, Adel Al Beltagy appointed by President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi himself, saying “Egypt will not give away a single drop of water of its share of Nile Water, which totals at 55 billion cubic meters.

Besides, like the previous years Egypt seems continuing the divide and rule policy that it is known for. The solution for the Nile is not a bilateral path rather a multilateral one which embrace all the riparian states under one legal regime and river basin commission which is responsible for the management and utilization of the Nile waters. But the Sisi administration like its predecessors have already focused on strengthening bilateral relations than the multilateral one. The visits to Sudan by the president Al Sisi and the minister of Irrigation -Hossam Moghazy  and the planned visits to other Nile Basin countries is part of the divide and rule approach that the country adopts. So where is the Changed Heart of Egypt?

In Sum
Negotiation on the Nile is over and closed back in 2009 at the Kinshasa meeting of the Nile Council of Ministers of Water Affairs. What remains is discussion regarding the implementation of the recommendations of the IPoE on the GERD. The discussion despite held in three rounds from November 2013 to January 2014 at Khartoum it was halted due to the obstructionist strategy of Egypt. Currently, Egypt through its president and minister of foreign affairs pledge that the discussion will be resumed by including the Sudan-whose GERD position is clear and supportive of Ethiopia. Such come-back for discussion and talks over the GERD would not be taken for granted as a change of heart from Egypt in its Nile policy. It is too early to conclude as the pillars of Egypt`s heart is not yet changed and roped by its position on the unfair, partial, unjust, colonial and bilateral pseudo-agreements. In fact, one should not forget the current constitution of Egypt and its Article 44 which hinders the government of Egypt from solving the Nile dispute as it obliges the government to protect the so-called Egypt`s `historic right` on the Nile. As repeatedly said, though, the only solution for the Nile problem is dialogue and genuine cooperation which needs the true change of heart from Egypt not a tactical change to preserve a dying and obsolete zero-sum ‘regime’ on the Nile. Till that, what we have seeing and listening is no more than a mere change of tactic to buy time and appear cooperative while continuing the divide and rule policy.

UN Watercourse Convention will come into force on 17 August 2014

By Hydropoletikakademi

May 31 2014

On 19 May 2014, Vietnam became the 35th party to the 1997 UN Convention on the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses. This means that on 17 August 2014, 90 days after that 35th ratification was deposited, the Convention will come into force.

Long in coming, the Convention’s success was never guaranteed. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997, the Convention appeared set for ratification as 103 of the UN’s Member States voted in favor of it. Only three countries voted against – Burundi, China, and Turkey – while 27 nations abstained and 33 were absent from the vote. That vote, however, masked long-standing disagreements over how transboundary fresh water resources should be allocated and managed. In particular, upper and lower riparians disagreed between the primacy of the Convention’s cornerstone principles of equitable and reasonable use – favored by most upper riparians – and the doctrine of no significant harm – preferred by most lower riparians (for a more detailed analysis of the UNGA vote on the Convention, as well as the disparate interests, see my article).

Lackluster support in the years following the Convention’s inception suggested to some that the treaty was doomed to failure. More recently, though, the rate of ratifications more than doubled (18 in the first 12 years in comparison to 17 over the past five years). While that resurgence may have been due, in part, to the efforts of World Wildlife Fund (which in around 2009, added implementation of the Convention to its advocacy agenda), it also suggests a broadening recognition that nations have an obligation to cooperate over transboundary freshwater resources. Maybe it’s the threat of climate change, or concerns over dwindling domestic water resources. But, the fact that states are willing to bind themselves to the procedural and substantive norms of the Convention is a promising sign.


Map of State Parties to the UN Watercourses Convention

Entry into force of the Convention, though, is not the last word on the matter. In fact, this milestone raises as many new questions as existed leading to its implementation. For example, what does the geographic distribution of member states indicate for the global success of the treaty? Of the 35 ratifications, the vast majority are from either Africa (12) or Europe (16); only two ratifying parties are found in Asia and none come from the American hemisphere; five others are from the non-African Middle East region, albeit a total of eight MENA nations are now a party to the Convention. At the very least, this distribution suggests a certain geographic bias toward (and against) the Convention.

In addition, what will implementation of the Convention mean in practice? How will nations implement its mandates within their borders and in relation to riparian neighbors? Why have nations in the Americas and Asia eschewed ratification? What does the entry into force of the Convention mean for the UNECE Water Convention, which is already in force in much of Europe and on 6 February 2013, opened its membership to the rest of the world? And, what will the Convention’s implementation mean for existing regional and local transboundary freshwater agreements?

In the coming weeks, the IWLP Blog will host a series of essays addressing many of these intriguing questions. We have invited some of the most knowledgeable scholars and practitioners to offer their perspectives on the Convention’s imminent entry into force as well as on its future. As part of this series, we invite you to participate in the conversation by submitting comments at the bottom of each essay and add your own perspectives and opinions to the discussion. As you formulate your thoughts, you might want to review a prior series hosted by the IWLP Blog and prepared by Dr. Alistair Rieu-Clarke and Ms. Flavia Loures (see here and here).

The entry into force of the Convention is a significant landmark development in the international community’s efforts to better and peacefully manage transboundary fresh water resources. Whether this achievement translates into improved and more peaceful cooperation is a future that has yet to be written.


Available at: http://www.hidropolitikakademi.org/en/un-watercourse-convention-will-come-into-force-on-17-august-2014.html


A Proxy Campaign against Ethiopia? A Response by GERD National Panel of Experts (NPoE)

Ethiopia National Panel of Experts (NPoE) on GERDP responded to the the biased news release of the hydropower extremist International  Rivers Network (IRN) which tried hard to mislead readers and the general public in a way that favored Egypt which is unexpected from an institutions which portrayed itself professional. In fact IRN has been remained in the forefront in accusing Ethiopia`s efforts for development and transformation with its unscientific, baseless and unscientific as well as biased news releases and unfounded “reports.” The full article of the response by GERDP is posted below.


International River Network (IRN): GERD Panel of Experts Report: Big Questions Remain, Monday, March 31, 2014”

A Proxy Campaign against Ethiopia? A Response by GERD National Panel of Experts (NPoE)


For so many years now the IRN, International River Network, this self-appointed “guardian” of all rivers of the world, has been leaving no stone unturned in its effort to subvert Ethiopia’s efforts to develop its water resources and lift its vast and growing population out of poverty. This is manifested most glaringly in its incessant negative campaign against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), initiated from the very first days when the idea of water resources development on the Abbay was floated, including even through the Nile Basin Initiative.


Apart from being amused, the NPOE so far had chosen to ignore IRN’s anti-Ethiopia lobbying which is driven by an ideological, if not fanatical-messianic mission to “protect [the world’s] rivers and … to stop destructive dams”. IRN is accuser, police, judge and jury all rolled into one. IRN determines for countries, particularly for developing and poor countries like Ethiopia, how to do water resources development projects the “right” way. For these “backward” countries, IRN is the high priest that communes with God the Almighty and determines what is the most environmentally appropriate, most efficient and economical, and most beneficial for local, national and regional not only flora and fauna but also human communities too. What paternalism!!


Until now we did not find it worthwhile to get into polemics with what we thought were basically misinformed and misguided IRN activists. That is, until now. But now we are compelled to revise our stance toward these people. The straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, happened on March 31, 2014 when IRN posted on its website a piece entitled “ GERD panel of Experts Report: Big Questions Remain” in which IRN explicitly called on Ethiopia to halt the construction of GERD!!


It would be unconscionable for us as professional Ethiopians well versed with and advising on GERD related issues to keep on looking at these people with bemusement and indifference when they peddle, clearly siding with Egypt, distorted, unsubstantiated and hostile mercenary propaganda against GERD and the Ethiopian people. It would take pages and pages to show the intense partisan nature of IRN in its entirety. However, the next few paragraphs suffice to illustrate our concern and to show a clear pattern of IRN’s growing hostility toward Ethiopia. IRN’s campaign against GERD and Ethiopia happened in four overlapping but discernable distinct stages:

Stage 1: Dissuade them!

True to its anti-dam creed, IRN did its best to discourage the idea of dam building in Ethiopia in the first place. IRN put forth whatever argument to dissuade decision makers. Arguments included those dams of a GERD scale would drain the national budget, would distort priorities, would be difficult to fund, etc. Here is one quote from their website:

“The US$5 billion scheme [GERD] is out of scale for such a poor country; the current cost estimate equals the country’s entire annual budget. The costly project is monopolizing government funding for the energy sector, leaving many worthy projects that would directly address the nation’s high energy poverty underfunded.”


IRN, in a piece titled “A Tale of Two Dams: Comparing Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance to Hoover” and “drawing lessons” from ‘follies’ of the Hoover Dam, offered advice to Ethiopia: do not repeat USA’s mistakes! We will not go into the contentious and invalid arguments, to say the least, put forward and better ignore IRN’s unsolicited advice. What is interesting is the poison that is wrapped in the package of IRN’s advice. Read on:


“Ethiopian engineers recently compared the Grand Renaissance Dam to Hoover as a project that can lift a struggling nation out of poverty, and a project whose accomplishments will go down in history.  Yet the darker lessons from Hoover’s long history might be equally relevant for Ethiopia to review. Consider: The mega dam model is a dinosaur. Ethiopia would be better off leapfrogging over it to a more modern and efficient system, and find less provocative ways to assert its interests over the Nile waters” (emphasis added)


IRN’s message is not only that Ethiopia should not build big dams. The message is also that Ethiopia should stop being “provocative”. IRN advises Ethiopia to assert its right other than through being provocative i.e. other than through deciding to build GERD.   To IRN, Ethiopia’s decision to build GERD is provocation!! So much, for IRN’s “advice”!


When the above tactics fail, IRN, referring to an expert (which it conveniently pluralizes), sheds crocodile tears by stating that Ethiopia is wasting its scarce resources on oversized projects like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Here is another quote from their website:


“Ethiopia’s Biggest Dam Oversized, Experts Say Date: Thursday, September 5, 2013.

In May, Ethiopia diverted the Blue Nile to begin building its largest dam project to date, the 6,000 MW Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) – a move that angered Egypt, which fears its water supply will shrink over the many years it will take to fill the huge reservoir. Besides the tensions this huge project is causing politically, there is growing concern that the dam will not produce nearly as much power as it has been designed to.” (Emphasis added)

Again, IRN never loses opportunity to lobby for its Egyptian paymasters. Not only does IRN talk about the “oversize” of GERD, but also about the Egyptians’ negative emotions over GERD: anger and fear!


In yet another alarmist piece related to GERD, IRN bemoaning “Ethiopia’s Dam Boom”, fabricates outrageous white lies:


“International Rivers is monitoring dam planning in Ethiopia, working to keep international donors from investing in the worst projects on the drawing boards, and sharing knowledge about better alternatives and the legacy of Ethiopia’s past dams with international civil society.

Water for irrigation from large reservoirs is mostly earmarked for large-scale agricultural producers – and increasingly, for foreign agricultural developments taking advantage of a government-sponsored land leasing program. (Emphasis added)


Alas, IRN has nothing factual to show, in any of the GERD plans, to substantiate its claim that GERD is an irrigation project!! We should not dwell on this any longer for the facts speak for themselves.



Stage 2: Smear campaign

When its dissuasion tactic failed and GERD implementation proceeded on with earnest, IRN had to embark on what we may term its Stage 2 tactics: a smear campaign. Here IRN does all it can to find any fault – big or small, real or imagined- with GERD in a bid to discredit it in the eyes of the world, particularly funders. Here is one quote from an IRN piece of 06/07/2013 with an eye catching alarmist title “Why has the Nile become a Battleground?:


“This week, Ethiopia announced it was diverting the flow of the Blue Nile to begin building the huge Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Within days, water-stressed Egypt – a downstream Nile Basin nation – called for Ethiopia to halt its work on the giant new dam. Why is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam causing such strife? In addition to Egypt’s fears that it will reduce its lifeline of Nile waters, the tensions have been fanned by the project’s “SAD” planning process:
• Secretive: Although it is Africa’s biggest dam project and will have lasting impacts on its longest river, it has been
developed under a veil of secrecy.
• Autocratic: The dam will impact Ethiopians and downstream neighbors, yet its planning process has been top-down and unilateral. The public and dam-affected people
have not been given a meaningful opportunity to critique the project or process.
• Dismissive: Ethiopian government officials have flatly stated they will not make changes to the project, and
have asserted that the project will not have impacts on downstream countries


The dam poses a number of risks to these downstream neighbors; one reason for the growing tension is that these risks have not been properly analyzed. Egypt has virtually no other sources of water for its people, and is already making do with less water per person than the international average. By at least one estimate, the Grand Renaissance reservoir could evaporate 3bn cubic meters of water a year – three times Egypt’s annual rainfall, and enough to meet the basic needs of up to half a million people. The reservoir could take 3-5 years to fill, reducing Egypt’s water supply by up to 25%.


However, damming off a shared river in a secretive and unilateral fashion is a provocative approach to resolving conflict in a water-stressed basin such as the Nile. Says Mohamed Allam, former minister of irrigation and water resources in Egypt: “This is not just about Egypt and Sudan. International rivers are governed by laws and conventions, in accordance with which any action that affects water quotas requires advanced notice and guarantees against possible harm.”

The Nile situation is not an isolated incident. Ethiopia is being similarly aggressive over the development of the shared Omo River, where it is building the controversial
Gibe III Dam and developing large-scale plantations. These developments threaten Kenya’s Lake Turkana”. (Emphasis added)


IRN, the all-knowing God of water resources development, is angry that Ethiopia did not observe its commandment of good water resources planning.


Oh, GERD planning is too “secretive” concludes IRN. As if Egypt shared hers with us! IRN can dream all it wants. But we deal in and with the real world.


GERD planning is autocratic says IRN – it was not discussed with its neighbors!


GERD planning is dismissive judges IRN – since Ethiopia will not change the parameters of the project!


Oh GERD is wasteful condemns IRN – It will evaporate 3 BMC of water annually, equivalent to a non-existent Egyptian rainfall! IRN is making this fabricated statement, while keeping mum on the 10-15 BMC annual evaporation loss the Egyptian High Aswan Dam is causing in the middle of the Sahara Desert! How “fair” of IRN!!

Oh yes, GERD is provocative, says IRN, referring to Mohamed Allam, of all people, a former Egyptian Minister hostile to Ethiopia and eternal defender of the self claimed Egyptian quota.


Oh yes, GERD is harmful bemoans IRN, because it is going to affect Egypt, which has no other source of water, which is making do with less water per person.


Oh, dear IRN folks, need we tell you that of all African Countries, surely of all Nile Basin countries, it is only Egypt that has over 98% of its population with access to potable water, while an Ethiopian girl of sixteen has to go on average 6 kilometers each day back and forth to fetch a gallon of water from a river or a dug hole!! How “fair” of IRN! IRN, as usual, never missed this opportunity to work on and provoke friendly and neighboring Kenya! As far back as Mach 2004, IRN, in a cynical piece on the Nile Basin Initiative titled “Can the Nile States Dam Their Way to Cooperation?” in the part which discussed the Tekeze Dam had “warned”:

Ethiopia has reportedly neglected to formally consult with downstream Sudan and Egypt on the scheme, a decision which could further strain relations between the countries”

Oh IRN folks. What do you say to the appreciation Sudan is heaping on Ethiopia for the positive impact of that dam!!


Stage 3: Create Alarm!

IRN, noticing that its dissuasion and smear campaigns did not achieve its goals of stopping GERD at its inception or planning stages, embarked desperately to create alarm among the international community and downstream countries the fervor of which the Egyptians might envy.


IRN first attempted spinning or otherwise amplifying a conspiracy theory about GERD thus:

“The project’s launch came in the midst of the Egyptian revolution, which some observers believe was intended to take advantage of the more powerful nation’s confused political state at a time when the issue of who controls the Nile is heating up.”

IRN also “psychologized” Ethiopia’s decision to build the GERD thus:

“Egypt has long held the majority rights to the Nile – a situation that especially angers Ethiopia, which is the source of 85% of the river’s waters.”


Be that as it may, the worst is that IRN seems to wish any conflict, violent or otherwise, between Egypt and Ethiopia is better than seeing the GERD completed. Here is another one:


“While there are no known studies about the dam’s impacts on the river’s flow, filling such a huge reservoir (it will hold up to 67 billion cubic meters of water, and could take up to seven years to reach capacity) will certainly impact Egypt, which relies almost totally on the Nile for its water supply. Development Today magazine reports that the Nile flow into Egypt could be cut by 25% during the filling period. Many fear the project could set off a water war in the region, and indeed, in mid-2013, tensions flared dramatically. Climate change could increase the project’s many risks. The potential for conflict is probably the main reason international funders have shown no interest in supporting the project.”


Again IRN’s concern is Egypt’s water security, not Ethiopia’s poverty, water, energy and food insecurity! And then the allusion to conflict, referring to Many” (whoever they are!) who fear the almost inevitable conflict and war that would follow if Ethiopia proceeds with GERD. Oh, international financiers beware! Do not put your money there. What shameless partisanship of IRN. Should we be accused if we suspect payment under the table?


Stage 4: Conduct a Stop Them Campaign!

IRN, realizing its preceding three maneuvers did not yield any meaningful result, had to come to the open, reveal itself and launch its outright and blatant campaign against the GERD.


In a June 2013 piece titled “Why has the Nile River Become a Battleground?” the IRNspeculated:

“But what if Ethiopia refuses to engage? Some believe the International Court of Justice should be called in. – a move that Ethiopia rejects. Others hope Ethiopia’s major donors will use their diplomatic leverage to intervene. . . .” The article further urged that “Western donors have thus far mostly stayed out of the debate on Ethiopia’s dam building. Yet Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign aid. The US has been the largest donor to the country, through a range of programs. Ethiopia has been receiving $3.5 billion on average from international donors in recent years – a critical portion of its national budget. This assistance explains how such a poor nation can afford to build costly dams and irrigation infrastructure without dedicated funding. Western donors such as the United States have a responsibility to step up diplomatic pressure on Ethiopia …”


IRN’s maneuverings and multifaceted campaigns notwithstanding, the GERD progress has continued unabated, almost a third complete, thanks to the whole hearted and unequivocal support for and rally of the Ethiopian people behind their project! IRN seems to have gotten desperate. There is nothing more telling of this than its latest piece, dated March 31, 2014, apparently based on a “leaked” IPOE report, full of lies and distortions, entitled “GERD Panel of Experts Report: Big Questions Remain.” Here is an extensive quote from that piece:

“The mega dam is being built on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, near the Sudan border, and has created conflict with Egypt over its downstream impacts; the experts’ study confirms Egypt’s concerns that the project’s impacts could be significant and are not well understood. Egypt has called for mediation if further studies are not allowed; at this writing, Ethiopia had refused, and was continuing with dam construction.

…. It is also clear that there is precious little oversight on Africa’s largest dam project to date. While the international panel has brought a type of oversight, it may be too little, too late – and with too little teeth; it seems the panel does not have a continuing role in ensuring best practices as construction proceeds. The panel’s report is almost a year old at this writing, yet its members have been mostly silent since their report was completed (as far as we know, none of the panelists have made public statements about the project). The Egyptian and Ethiopian governments continue the war of words, while at the same time construction on the mega dam proceeds, and questions raised by the panel remain unanswered. Going forward, International Rivers recommends construction on the project be halted until all necessary studies recommended by the panel are completed, and a process is in place for ensuring public accountability on the project. Given the panel’s findings, Egypt’s call for mediation in the process is reasonable, and donor governments and international bodies should support such a process” (emphasis added)


In the first place the IPoE did not have an “oversight” role as erroneously stated by IRN. The IPoE’s role as defined by the three Ministers of water affairs of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan is “ mainly facilitative, focused on promoting dialogue and understanding around GERD related issues of interest to the three countries so as to build trust and confidence among all parties.”

We appreciate the response to the biased IRN article posted on hornaffairs.com by Mr Danieil Berhane entitled, “ Anti=dam group doctors report, joins Egypt to stop Ethiopia’s dam” (April 6, 2014 hornaffairs.com). We invite readers to read this article for a line by line rebuttal to the IRN unsubstantiated and distorted writing entitled,GERD Panel of Experts Report: Big Questions Remain, Monday, March 31, 2014”


We would however like to pose our own BIG QUESTIONS to IRN:


Where in the IPoE report do the IRN experts find recommendation of the IPoE that states to stop or delay the GERD until the recommended additional studies are conducted??!

Where in the report do the IRN experts find a statement that statesthe experts’ study confirms Egypt’s concerns that the project’s impacts could be significant and are not well understood.” ??!

What is peculiar with the panel’s recommendation to conduct “a full transboundary environmental and social impact assessment … conducted jointly by the three countries.”, since theTransboundary Environmental and Socioeconomic Impact study conducted through the initiative of Ethiopia and based on desk study requires more data and information from the downstream countries??!

The desk study has clearly shown that all expected downstream impacts can be mitigated and thus the more detailed recommended studies will not change the major findings of the desk study. Other studies done by the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office of the NBI have also confirmed that changes in hydrological conditions due to GERD are all manageable. Thus these additional studies do not necessitate the delay or stopping of the construction of the GERDP .


Instead of sowing seeds of mistrust with your unsubstantiated writings among the people of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, we offer our humble advice to appreciate the most obvious benefits of the GERDP for the downstream countries that may assist you to be rational and refrain from propagating irresponsible and biased information.


  1. The energy generation from the GERD will enhance regional and economic integration such as through power interconnectedness, regional cooperation, trust and confidence building
  2. Due to regulated and increased flows a longer period of navigation on the Nile River downstream High Aswan Dam (HAD) will be possible. This will have important benefits for the tourism sector by extending the present touristic period
  3. The HAD reservoir capacity loss due to sedimentation will be reduced since the GERD Reservoir will store substantial quantity of sediments.
  4. With GERD operating upstream, average annual HAD losses will be 9.5 BCM/year instead of 10.8 BCM/year in case of HAD alone. Losses by evaporation, decrease by 12% comparing to HAD alone situations
  5. With GERD there will be increased flood control and due to its routing capacity there will be better flood control downstream of HAD and Risk of HAD overtopping will be eliminated.
  6. With GERD, the total storage capacity along the Nile River will significantly increase in the long term. This will reduce the risk due to hydrological variability with sequences of dry and wet years.
  7. The GERD will regulate the flows of the Blue Nile and this will support flows arriving at HAD.
  8. The GERD will reduce negative impacts on population and infrastructures in Sudan caused by recurrent floods.
  9. The GERD will capture sediment, protecting irrigation canals and equipment from damages caused by sedimentation both in Sudan and Egypt.
  10. The GERD will improve Sudanese dams efficiency and water use optimization and energy generation will be increased by more than 2,657 GWh/year due to the GERD regulation of flow.



It is obvious that in its desperation the IRN has been forced to come out and show its true color: a proxy for Egypt masquerading as an international environmental group fighting for the health of rivers!!


In all its ranting does IRN feel obliged, even if to feign decency, neutrality and disinterest, to mention Ethiopia’s need and desperation. By the way, is not Sudan a downstream country? Why does IRN shut up about Sudan’s identification with and support for GERD?!!!!!!!!!


Why does IRN dwell and fight exclusively for Egyptian interests, harps on their real or imagined and fabricated fears, while not uttering a single word about the waste incurred via the High Aswan Dam (HAD), via the Toshka project, etc?


By contrast, IRN never feels obliged to mention a single merit of GERD. It is a taboo!


IRN has no boundaries of shame. It accuses the IPOE members of ‘keeping silent”! Should every sensible human being on the face of the earth turn into a corrupt IRN partisan activist?


The IRN! The IRN that resides in California, USA, whose activists never have endured or experienced what it means to go thirsty or hungry for days; the IRN, if it had all the power to do so would have halted all water resources development projects all over the developing world.


Or, is it only in Ethiopia?


Consider this: Prior to1950 large scale dams worldwide did not number more than 5000. By 2000 large scale dams were more than 40,000. As of 2006, they stood at over 50,000. IRN’s campaigns notwithstanding, big dams are there to grow, especially in the developing world. So, given these trends what is IRN talking about, except to single out a single country, Ethiopia, and treat it as pariah and discourage its progress? Ethiopia never forgets the pains it had to bear due to its geography. Ethiopia has endured centuries of invasions and subversions by powers from far and close that aspired to control the headwaters of the Nile. Ethiopia has been prevented physically from accessing its water resources by keeping it busy with wars, direct or proxy wars. IRN’s anti Ethiopia campaign is but a continuation of that history – by another means, that is.

Be that as it may, we condemn IRN’s unfair and biased support for Egypt in its disagreements with Ethiopia contrary to its own mission statement. We categorically reject IRN’s advice to Ethiopia to accept its proposal and halt construction of GERD. What more do we need to prove our contention that IRN is doing ethically dubious job and propagating proxy campaigns against Ethiopia on behalf of Egypt.


We would like IRN, all friends and foes to know that the Ethiopian people are determined to develop their water resources and the construction of GERDP will not stop or delayed for a second.


Open Letter to Egypt: A Response to The Spokesman of Egypt`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Regarding GERDP from An Ethiopian Perspective

Open Letter:
To the People of Egypt,
To the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt
By: Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw
The Spokesman Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt released what it calls “Egypt’s Perspective towards the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam Project (GERDP)” on 17 March 2014 in the Country`s Ministry`s website and also reported by one of Egypt`s newspapers Daily News Egypt under the heading “Foreign ministry announces official stance on GERD.” Despite nothing new is said in the statement of the Ministry`s statement there are issues included to deceive and confuse its reader mainly the people of Egypt and the international community. This open letter is prepared to unpack the confusions created by that statement-if any, and also to make issues clear regarding the GERDP of Ethiopia and what follows after the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) on GERDP submitted its final report to the governments of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. In line with this, this open letter attempts to clarify issues in relation to two documents mentioned by the statement-namely: the 1902 Border Treaty between Ethiopia and Britain and the 1993 Agreement on Framework Cooperation between the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) and the Arab Republic of Egypt.
GERD: The Luckiest Dam
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Project is the most luckiest dam on earth-I claim. It is a dam where its studies goes back to the 1950s and 1960s where the eventual site was identified and feasibility studies were conducted. The dam site was identified in 1964 following the five year studies by the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) which identifies four mega dam sites namely-Karadobi, Mabil, Mendaia and Border. The GERDP is now under construction on a site which was formerly named as Border dam which is 21 kilometers away from Ethio-Sudanese Border. As I mentioned the USBR which studied the hydrology of the dam further developed preliminary designs of the dams for irrigation and hydropower which includes a total of 32 projects. Letter on the dam site was subject to the study of the Ministry of Water of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia which undertook Abbay River Basin Integrated Development Master Plan Project where the final report was published in August 1997.
Moreover, as the Egyptian Spokesman stated the Dam was also identified as one of the projects for the regional power trade for Easter Nile Basin countries that includes Egypt, Ethiopia and the Sudan. Through the years though the NBI was not moving as expected regarding the implementation of the identified projects including Mendaia another hydropower dam which is in the pipeline to be constructed sooner. Despite the Nile Basin Initiative-NBI was not moving Ethiopia as a sovereign and independent state was undertaking its own revisions and studies on the dam sites identified to increase their efficiency and productivity. Out of such studies and revisions the biggest dam site is born where the now the GERD is under construction. This is one reason by which the GERD is the luckiest dam. In fact, GERD is also luckiest because the designer of the final dam design was prepared in Studio Pietrangeli which prepared some 200 dam designs all over the world. Thus, the design change to the height and length of the dam is a result of continuous scientific studies aimed at making the dam efficient and productive to meet the energy needs of the country which is growing at 32% which would only be meet if projects such as the GERD are constructed.
Regarding Implementing the IPoE Recommendations
The Nile Basin had been unfortunate as there was no any basin wide agreement that binds all the riparian states in the management and utilization of its waters. The only multilateral treaty introduced to the basin as a result of more than 10 years of negotiations is the Agreement on the River Basin Cooperative Framework (CFA) which was signed on 14 May 2010. So far six upstream states have signed and two gave ratified it as the rest of the sates are in the process of ratification. While South Sudan is in the process of accession where the process is in its Ministry of Justice, D R Congo is for the CFA despite not signed. Downstream states Egypt and Sudan despite they were part of the negotiations have opposed the CFA. Hence it can be concluded that there is no agreement between upstream and downstream states regarding the utilization of the Nile waters nor a customary rule that governs the actions of the riparian states.
It is in this situation that Ethiopia-where it is not obliged-indeed do invite Egypt and the Sudan to establish together with Ethiopia, an international panel of experts (IPoE) to assess the impacts of GERD to downstream states-if any and to the benefits. The IPoE was composed of six experts from the three Easter Nile riparians-Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan each represented by two experts and four international experts from Germany, Republic of South Africa, Britain and FranceEthiopia provided the IPoE 110 maps and design documents and 43 research documents a total of 153 research and design documents. The IPoE has selected what it considers as basic and most important and deliver its final report to the governments of Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan at the end of March 2013 after a total of 49 meetings in six rounds. Apart from the main IPoE experts another geotechnical panel of experts was established and assessed documents and conducted field visits on the site regarding the geotechnical issues of GERD.
According to the final report document of the IPoE, the GERD will have benefits to downstream states in many ways. In line with this the IPoE declared that the dam will not cause significant harm to the two downstream states-Egypt and the Sudan. Apart from this, though, two sets of recommendations were made by the IPoE. The first sets of recommendations were for Ethiopia which in fact the country has been undertaking as GERDP is awarded based on Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) which is based on state of the art technology and which requires updating of technology and revisions if necessary. The second sets of recommendations were made for the three Eastern Nile Countries to undertake together the study of eastern Nile Basin hydropower model study and Transboundary Environmental and Socio Economic Impact Assessment study to boost confidence and enhance trust.
Nevertheless, the discussions for the implementation of the recommendations made were not successful mainly due to the uncooperative appearance and rigidity of Egypt. In the three rounds of talks held in Khartoum on the first weeks of November, December and January were fated to fail due to Egypt`s unnecessary proposal of establishing another parallel international panel of experts which Ethiopia and Sudan opposed claiming that there is no necessity to establish the panel as the tripartite committee to be established by 12 experts from the three countries each contributing four experts equally would be enough of undertaking the activities that Egypt needed to be undertaken by the new international panel of experts that it wished to establish. Besides this Egypt especially at the third round of the talk on January tabled an agenda which is out of the scope of the IPoE recommendations disguise under the title Confidence Building Measures. Those so-called confidence building measures are cooked to undermine the CFA. If Egypt needs any confidence building measures it should look back to the delaying of ratifying the CFA, the activities of the Nile basin states in the NBI and as well the establishment of the IPoE on the GERD where Ethiopia initiated with the aim of boosting confidence and developing trust in a basin where there is no a binding agreement between Egypt and Ethiopia which forces Ethiopia to do so. Thus the accusation against Ethiopia by the Ministry of Foreign affairs of Egypt is baseless and in fact an attempt of blaming others for its own faults-which is a dead strategy in the Nile Basin.
Ethiopia has undertaken environmental and hydrological impact assessment using secondary data. Here it should be noted that the IPoE recommended the conduct of such studies to better understand the impacts by involving the three countries for their benefit and to enhance confidence. But again the process is undermined by Egypt`s insistence and rigidity by tabling unnecessary issues in discussions which were meant to implement the recommendations of the IPoE as discussed above.
Regarding the International Law Principles
As stated above upstream and downstream states of the Nile have no common and binding agreement which regulates their activities in managing and utilizing the Nile waters. But Egypt is accusing Ethiopia of violating different principles of international law. The following are some of the principles that the Spokesman on of Egypt`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised which in my view requires responses. By doing so I will show why Ethiopia did not violate any international law principle regarding the GERDP.
The Obligation to Prevent [Significant] Harm:- According to international law the obligation not to cause significant harm is one principle in the management and utilization of transboundary watercourses. Here it should be noted that the statement of the Egyptian Ministry dare to omit the basic concept in this principle ‘Significant’ which is included here. Nonetheless, the Obligation not to cause significant harm should be seen in line with the most relevant and a basic principle of customary international law-equitable and reasonable utilization. The 1997 Un Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Use of International Water course under article 7 (2) declares that the no significant harm principle should be seen in due regard to Article 5 which is about equitable and reasonable utilization and article 6 which discuss the different factors to be used in determining what constitutes equitable and reasonable utilization. In the same token Article 5 of the CFA declares that the obligation not to cause significant harm should be seen in due regard to Article 4 which declares about equitable and reasonable utilization. Ethiopia is undertaking the construction of GERD in line with the basic principle of equitable and reasonable utilization which gives every riparian state a right to utilize a watercourse in its territory without causing significant harm to other users. Be that as it may, it is astonishing to see the Spokesman statement deliberately omit the conclusion of the IPoE on the GREDO which declares the GERD will not create significant harm to downstream states.
The Duty to Cooperate:- The Spokesman statement also stated that Ethiopia is constructing the GERDP in violation of the obligation to cooperate. But the truth is the other way. The violator is the accuser-Egypt which is against any form of cooperation based on equitable and reasonable utilization Who is leaving the forum of cooperation on the Nile? Is not it Egypt which freezes its activities in the NBI in general and in Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP)? Is not it Egypt which hinders discussions on the implementation of the IPoE recommendations in the three round of talks and declare not to cooperate and discuss with Ethiopia [and Sudan] unless the rigidly tabled conditions of Egypt accepted by the two countries mainly Ethiopia?
The obligation of prior notification and exchange of information:- There are some issues to be discussed here. Firstly, Ethiopia would be obliged to notify Egypt on its planned projects had there been any legal obligation on the former to do so but there is no one. Secondly, Egypt would be notified had it been a member of the NBI and party to the CFA where planned measures issues are clearly discussed in the provisions of the agreement under articles 7, 8 and 9. Thirdly, Egypt is asking Ethiopia to do what the former did not do while undertaking mega hydraulic projects that has effects to the later and other co-basin states in the upstream. Ethiopia was never notified and consulted when Egypt undertakes the construction of the High Aswan Dam and the ongoing construction of the catastrophic Toshka project in the Western Dessert of Egypt and the Al Salam Canal. It is worth noting here that the Nile is diverted out of its natural course by Egypt to the western dessert and to Sinai. In fact the diversion to Sinai through the Al Salam canal under the Suez Canal is an Inter-continental Water transfer which takes the Nile waters from Africa to Asia. So, is Egypt`s question a legitimate one both legally and morally? Egypt would appreciate and thank Ethiopia for establishing the tripartite committee which culminated with the establishment of the IPoE on GERDP that even involves two Egyptian experts.
Regarding the 1902 Boundary Treaty Between Ethiopia and Britain
It is surprising to read that Egypt argue that the GERDP is in violation with this boundary treaty between Ethiopia and Britain regarding the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. Despite, the 1902 Treaty was a boundary treaty, under Article III it discussed matters pertaining to the Nile waters in Ethiopia. A lot has been said and debated regarding state succession to the treaty-particularly about Article III and the meaning of the most important phrase in this article-‘not to arrest.’ I will argue in brief why the 1902 Boundary treaty has nothing to do with the GERDP and the following are the most important notes that the Egyptian policy makers should take note out of. Firstly, Egypt is not eligible to be a successor of the treaty as they were never involved in it in any form. When the treaty was signed Egypt was under the yoke of British`s colonial rule and that does not mean that Egypt is successor to the ex-colonial power in the Sudan-which is a free and independent sovereign state. Secondly, the treaty is a boundary treaty not a water treaty. Water treaties are not like boundary treaties to be transferred to successor states.
Thirdly, it should be clear that the Amhraic and the English versions have different meanings regarding the scope that the treaty is applicable to and even the content. While the Amharic version states that Ethiopia has agreed to the government of Britain, the English version declares Ethiopia agreed to the government of Britain and the Government of Sudan-which never existed at the time. Fourthly, the meaning of “not to arrest the flows” of the mentioned waters of “Lake Tana, the Blue Nile or the Sobat [Baro]”does not mean that Ethiopia should not take any activity to utilize its waters on the mentioned water courses. To be clearer, Article III of the 1902 agreement has no any clause to oblige Ethiopia not to construct any hydraulic infrastructure that would enable her to utilize its water resources. In fact, Emperor Menilek II at the time had sent a letter to the government of Britain in London that Article III of the 1902 agreement should not be understood that Ethiopia will not utilize any water from the Nile now or in the future. I mentioned the above four basic issues not to mention fundamental change of circumstances in the region as colonialism is ended in the region and there is no any power called Britain in Sudan which would claim Ethiopia to be abide by the provision and in fact, Ethiopia would also raise the issue of unequal treaties as well as the way the treaty was written in a mood that creates one sided obligation to Ethiopia only. Moreover, there is this principle called principle of sovereignty of a state over its natural resources which can also be seen as part of the principle of self-determination in international law and achieved a status of customary international law of a jus cogens nature. Ethiopia time and again has declared that it is utilizing the Nile waters to alleviate poverty and not to choke the Nile waters to harm Egypt. And as clearly stated in the Amharic version of Article III, the GERD is not being built to totally arrest the flow of the Nile waters. Ethiopia is building the dam to utilize the Nile waters which originates in its territory in equitable and reasonable manner.
Regarding the 1993 Agreement on the Framework for Cooperation between Ethiopia and Egypt
The 1993 “agreement on the framework for cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia” signed between President Meles Zenawi as president of the TGE and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was not an agreement or treaty in the true meanings of the terms. Nor it was signed with the intention of scaling up in to a treaty. It was a document more or less signed as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as a framework for future cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia. At the center of the MoU was the principle that refrained states from creating appreciable harm to a co-basin state while utilizing a watercourse that is share between the states concerned-here the Nile.
Unfortunately the ink was rarely dry when Egypt stood against it by undertaking a project activity that would create appreciable harm to all upstream states on the Nile. In international water law, the understanding is that downstream states would also create significant harm to upstream states despite not physically tangible. In this regard undertaking massive hydraulic projects without involving upstream states is considered as harm to upstream states as the intention of downstream states is to create facts on the ground which would preclude upstream states from utilizing the water resources in the future. Hence the 1997 Egypt`s commencement of constructing the Toshka and Al Salam as the New Valely Projects are part of such commotion. Besides this Ethiopia has no any reason to be bind by the mentioned MoU for two main reasons. Firstly as it was not mean any agreement or treaty in the true sense of the term it has not been ratified in the parliament nor initiated for such a process. Secondly, there is a basin wide agreement that Egypt itself took part in the negotiation for more than 10 years which later signed as the CFA. Egypt has signed on every provision that it agreed on in the CFA except Article 14(b) during the years of negotiations for the CFA.
Besides as stated above the no appreciable harm principle can only be seen in due regard to the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization. The idea is that, a state would create significant/appreciable harm to another state if water is not utilized equitably and reasonably. Contemporary international law has given precedence to the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization which is a customary law in international relations.
Regarding Water Security
The final word of the document from the MFA of Egypt is the issue of water security which is linked with national security. In the last paragraph of the statement of the Spokesman it is written that “It is important to note as well, that Egypt stands ready to engage in a transparent and serious negotiation process with the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan to ensure the agreement on a win-win scenario that would ensure the fulfillment of Ethiopia’s developmental needs, as well as the interests of Sudan, while preserving Egypt’s water security.” The irony is the stated statement is a paradox and self-conflicting. Egypt stated that it is not a problem if upstream states-such as Ethiopia undertake activities to meet its developmental needs but at the same time it denied them by declaring these activities should be done “while preserving Egypt`s water security.” Egypt`s security from the Egyptian perspective is defined as the self-claimed 55.5 billion cubic meters of water which is neither known nor recognized by upstream states as the definition of “Egypt`s water security” from the Egyptian perspective will not leave a single drop of water to them as the entire water flow is divided between Egypt, Sudan and evaporation from Lake Nasser behind the High Aswan Dam in Egypt and Sudan.
Here it should clearly understood that Egypt like any other Nile Basin state can make sure that its water security-as defined in the CFA-is maintained when it is part of the CFA which is a solution in the Nile Basin and capable of accommodating the interest of all the riparian states. Water security in the CFA is defined as “the right of all Nile Basin States to reliable access to and use of the Nile River system for health, agriculture, livelihoods, production and environment.” If Egypt accepts this, there is a way out and a win-win situation can be achieved. The only way, therefore, to solve any problem on the Nile is when those states that are not accepting equitable and reasonable utilization review their stance and make up their minds to the reality rather than living in day dreams of attempting to maintain a zero-sum-game of win-lose situation in the Nile Basin which is a dead-end.

አሉላ አባ ነጋ፡ የጉራዕው አንበሳ ከ138 ዓመታት በኋላ

ዘሪሁን አበበ ይግዛው


hidaseእንደ አውሮፓውያኑ አቆጣጠር በመጋቢት 7 ቀን 2014 የአቢሲኒያ ፍላይት ባለቤት ካፒቴን ሶሎሞን በሚያበሯት ሚጢጢ የሰማይ ታክሲ-አስር ሰው የምትይዝ ትንሽ አውሮፕላን ውስጥ የውሃ፣ መስኖ እና ኢነርጅ ሚኒስቴር የተከበሩ አቶ አለማየሁ ተገኑን፣ አመብሳደሮችን እና የኢትዮጵያ ብሔራዊ የባለሙያዎች ቡድን እና ጋዜጠኞችን ይዛ አቅጣጫዋን ወደ ምዕራብ ኢትዮጵያ በማድረግ ወደ ጉባ ወረዳ ቤንሻንጉል-ጉሙዝ ክልል አቀናች፡፡ የጉዞው ዓላማም የታላቁ የኢትዮጵያ ህዳሴ ግድብ የደረሰበትን ሁኔታ ለማየት ነው፡፡ እንደ ዕድል ሆኖ ምስጋና ለክቡር ሚኒስትር አቶ አለማየሁ ተገኑ እና ለአቶ ፈቅአህመድ ነጋሽ (በውሃ፣ መስኖ እና ኢነርጅ ሚኒስቴር የወሰን እና ወሰን ተሸጋሪ ወንዞች ዳይሬክቶሬት ዳይሬክተር) ይሁን እና በዚች ትንሽ አውሮፕላን ውስጥ ሆኜ ቁልቁል አባይ ደንበር ሊሻገር ሲጣደፍ ሳየው ንዴት ውስጤን አቃጠለው፡፡ ተመልሼ ደግሞ የታላቁ ህዳሴ ግድብን ሳስብ ይህ ወንዝ ለሀገሩ ሊቆም ነው ብዮ ተጽናናሁ፡፡ ወዲያውም የበውቀቱ ስዩምን

ከተመኙ ላይቀር ወንዝነት መመኘት

አገርን ሳይለቁ ሌላ ሀገር መገኘት፡፡

የምትል ስንኝ ለራሴው አስተውሼ ፈገግ አልኩኝ በውስጤ፡፡ ግን አሁንም አሁንም ውስጤን ቁጭት አልለቀቀውም ነበር፡፡ አንዳች ስሜትም ውስጤን ይኮረኩረው ነበር፡፡ በመሐል ግን እንደ ድንገት ዶ/ር ጌታቸው አሰፋ በአዲስ ጉዳይ መጽሐት “የ ‘ጉ’ ቤት ለግብፆች” ብሎ የከተበው መጣጥፍ ትዝ አለኝ፡፡ ጉንደት—- ጉራዕ— ጉባ—- አልኩ በለሆሳስ ቃላቱ እና ድርጊቶቹ ተከታትለው በዓይነ ህሊናየ እየተመላለሱ፡፡ ያለ ነገር አልነበረም ትዝ ያሉኝ፡፡ አንዳች የቀን መገጣጠም ስላላቸው እንጅ፡፡ ልክ በዚህች ቀን የዛሬ 138 ዓመት ነበር ራስ አሉላ አባ ነጋ በጉራዕ ታሪክ የሰራው፡፡ ለዛች ታሪካዊ ቀን መታሰቢያ ትሆን ዘንድ እና እንዲሁም ከመጋቢት 7 ቀን እስከ መጋቢት 9 ቀን 1876 የተደረገውን የጉራዕ ጦርነት ለመዘከር የሚከተለውን ለማለት ወደድኩ፡፡ “በጉባ ሰማይ ስር፡ አጭር የጉዞ ማስታወሻ” የምትል አጭር ማስታወሻ በቅርቡ አስነብባለሁ፡፡ እስከዛ ግን እንሆ በረከት… አሉላ አባ ነጋ ወዲ ቁቢ….

ሞሐመድ ዓሊ፣ ኬዲቭ እስማኤል ፓሻ እና ኢትዮጵያ

በ1805 (ሁሉም ዓመቶች እንደ አውሮፓውያን አቆጣጠር ናቸው) የኦቶማን ቱርክ የግብፅ አስተዳዳሪ ሆኖ የተሾመው አልባኒያዊው ሙሐመድ ዓሊ ወደ አፍሪካ መምጣት ለብዙ ክስተቶች ምክንያት ሆኗል፡፡ በወቅቱ የኦቶማን ቱረክ ኢምፓየርን መዳከም ያስተዋለው ሙሀመድ ዓሊ ፓሻ የራሱን ኢምፓየር ከግብፅ ወደ ደቡብ አና ወደ ሰሜን እስከ መካከለኛው ምስራቅ ለመዘርጋት ዕቅድ ነበረው፡፡ ይሁን እንጅ ወደ መካከለኛው ምስራቅ ሊያደርግ ያሰበው ዘመቻ የተገታው በወቅቱ አካባቢውን ይቃኙ በነበሩት በእንግሊዝ እና በፈረንሳይ ኃይሎች ነበር፡፡ ሆኖም በደቡብ በኩል ከልካይ ያላገኘው አልባኒያዊ በ1821 ሰሜን ሱዳንን ተቆጣጠር፡፡ ሲቀጥልም ዓይኑን ኢትዮጵያ ላይ ጣለ፡፡ ከ1805 እስከ 1849 ስልጣን ላይ የቆየው ሙሐመድ ዓሊ በዋናነት የተሳካለት ግብፅ ራሷን የቻለች እና ከኦቶማን ቱርኮች ነፃ የሆነች ሀገር መመስረቱ ነው፡፡ ከዚህም ጋር ተያይዞ ቀደም ሲል የኦቶማን ግዛቶች የነበሩ የቀይ ባህር እና የህንድ ውቅያኖስ አዋሳኝ ጠረፎችንም በግብፅ ስር ለማድረግ ጥሯል፡፡ የግብፅ ሱዳንን መያዝ ተከትሎም ከኢትዮጵያ ጋር በዋድ ካልታቡ፣ በዋልቃይት እና በጠገዴ አካባቢ ከተደረጉ ጦርነቶች ነበሩ፡፡ ዋና እና የከረሩ ጦርነቶች የተካሄዱት ግን የሙሐመድ ዓሊ የልጅ ልጅ ኬዲቭ እስማኤል ፓሻ (1863-1879) ወደ ስልጣን መምጣትን ተከትሎ ነበር፡፡

የአያቱን የመስፋፋት ሃሳብ ለማሳካት ደፋ ቀና ብሎ፤ ብዙ ደክሞ እና በአሜሪካውያን እና በአውሮፓውያን በአማካሪዎች እና በቅጥረኛ ወታደሮች ታጅቦ ኢትዮጵያን ለመውረር ቆርጦ የነበረው ኬዲቭ ኢስማኤል ፓሻ ዓላማው ከግዛት ማስፋፋት ባለፈ ነበር፡፡ ወንድምነህ ጥላሁን በ1979 ባሳተሙት መጽሐፍ እንዳሉት ወረራው በዋናነት በጣና ሐይቅ እና በጥቁር አባይ ያነጣጠረው የግብፅ ኢምፔሪያሊስታዊ ፍላጎት ውጤት ነበር፡፡ እንዲሁም በተመሳሳይ መልኩ እንዲሁ የኬዲቭ እስማኤል ታሪክ ጸኃፊ እንደገለጸው እና በስቨን ሩቢንሰን (1976) እንደተጠቀሰው “የኬዲቩን ቅኝ ግዛት ስራ በአንድ አገላለጽ ማጠቃለል ይቻላል፤ ሁሉንም የናይል ተፋሰስ መሬት በሀገሩ ቁጥጥር ስር በማድረግ የናይልን ወንዝ ግብፃዊ ወንዝ ማድረግ ይፈልግ ነበር፡፡” ይህንን ለማሳካትም ተደጋጋሚ እና ያላቋረጡ የወረራ ሙከራዎችን አድርጓል፡፡ ነገር ግን ሁሉም ሙከራዎች ከሙከራት አልዘለሉም፡፡ በዋናነት የሚጠቀሱት ሁለት ዓበይት ጦርነቶች ደግሞ የ1875 የጉንደት እና የ1876 የጉራዕ ጦርነቶች ናቸው፡፡ በሁለቱም ጦርነቶች ወራሪዎቹ ግብፆች እና አጋዥ ቅጥረኛ ወታደሮች እና አማካሪ ጄኔራሎች ሽንፈትን ተጎንጭተው ተመልሰዋል፡፡ ድልም ለኢትዮጵያ እና ለኢትዮጵያውያን ሆነ፡፡ ከአነዚህ ሁሉ ድሎች በስተጀርባ ደግሞ የአንድ ሰው ስም ሁሌም በጉልህ ይነሳል፡፡ አሉላ አባ ነጋ!!

የአሉላ ወዲ ቁቢ አነሳስ

ራስ አሉላ በ1847 በተምቤን ዙቁሊ ሚካኤል እንደተወለዱ ማሞ ውድነህ በ1987 የዶጋሊ ጦርነትን 100ኛ ዓመት በማስመልከት በተዘጋጀው ልዩ የመታሰቢያ ታሪካዊ ጉባዔ ላይ ባቀረቡት ጽሁፍ ይገልፃሉ፡፡ ደራሲ ማሞ ውድነህ እንደሚሉት የራስ አሉላ አባት እንግዳ ቁቢ አራት ልጆቻቸውን ራስን እና ሀገርን መከላከል እንዴት መማር እንደሚቻል ያስተምሩ ነበር፡፡ አሉላ ግን ከሁሉም ይልቁ ነበር፡፡ በዙቂሊ ሚካኤልም ከመምህር ወልደጊዮርጊስ ይማሩ እንደነበረ ማሞ ውድነህ አብራርተዋል፡፡ አሉላ ወዲ ቁቢ የጉልምስና ስራውን በአጼ ዮሐንስ አጎት በራ አርአያ ደምሱ ቤት አሽከር በመሆን እንደጀመሩ ፕሮፌሰር ንጉሴ አየለ “Ras Alula and Ethiopia`s Struggle Against Expansionism and Colonialism: 1872-1897” በተሰኘ መጣጥፋቸው ገልጸዋል፡፡ እንደ ፕሮፌሰረ ንጉሴ ገለፃ ራስ አሉላ በስተኋላ ወደ ደጃዝማች በዝብዝ ካሳ (ኋላ አፄ ዮሐንስ 4ተኛ) ቤት ከተዛወሩ በኋላ ሹመትን በሹመት በመደረብ ወደፊት ገሰገሱ፡፡ በመጀመሪያ እልፍኝ አስከልካይ ቀጥሎም አጋፋሪነትን ተሾሙ፡፡ በ1873 ደጃዝማች ካሳ ንጉሰ ነገስት አጼ ዮሐንስ አራተኛ ሲባሉ አሉላ የሻለቅነትን ማዕረግ የንጉሱ ሊጋባነት ማዕረግን ደርበው ያዙ፡፡

አሉላ ወዲ ቁቢ ሁለንተናቸው ስሁል፣ ንቁ እና አርቆ አሳቢ እንደነበሩ ብዙ ጸሐፊዎች፣በጦር ሜዳ ውሎ የሚያውቋቸው፣ በዲፕሎማሲያዊ ግንኙነት የሚውቋቸው ሁሉ ይመሰክራሉ፡፡ ዛሬ ላይ ሆነው ነገን የሚመረምሩ ከራስ በላይ ሀገርን የሚስቀድሙ የኢትዮጵያ የቁርጥ ቀን ልጅ ነበሩ አሉላ ወዲ ቁቢ፡፡ ፕሮፌሰር መርዕድ ወልደ አረጋይ “Alula, Dogali and Ethiopian Unity” በሚል ጽሁፋቸው ከአሳዛኙ የአፄ ቴውድሮስ የመቅድላ ፍፃሜ በፊትም ሆነ በኋላ አፄ ቴውድሮስን የመሰለ አንድ ሰው ቢኖር አሉላ አባ ነጋ ብቻ ናቸው፡፡ እንደ ፕሮፌሰር መርዕድ ገላፃ ከሆነ ራ አሉላ ከአጼ ቴውድሮስ ጋር በተክለ ሰውነት መመሳሰል ባለፈ በሰብዕና እና በአመለካከት እንዲሁም በአርቆ አሰተዋይነት እና በመንፈሳዊ ልዕልና ይመሳሰላሉ፡፡ ግብርን ለሀገር ጥንካሬ ከማዋል ባለፈ አንድ የጦር መሪከተራው ወታደር የተለየ መብላት እና መልበስ እንደሌለበትም ሁሉቱ የኢትዮጵያ ጅግኖች ተመሳስሎ እንደሆነ ፕሮፌሰር መርዕድ ያስረዳሉ፡፡ ከዚሁ ጋር በተያያዘ ማሞ ውድነህ “The Life and Works of Alula Aba Nega” በሚለው መጣጥፋቸው እንደሚያስረዱት አሉላ ወዲ ቁቢ በ1847 እንደመወለዳቸው ስለ አፄ ቴውድሮስ ጀግንነት እና ትልቅነት እየሰሙ ማደጋቸውን ያብራራሉ፡፡

አሉላ ወዲ ቁቢ ከነበራቸው የቶር ብልሀት እና እንዲሁም ደግሞ የተዋጣለት ዲፕሎማት መሆን የተነሳ በአፄ ዮሐንስ ፊት ሞገስ እና ክብር ነበራቸው፡፡ ለዛም ነው ከአሽከርነት እስከ ራስነት ሹመት የደረሱት፡፡ በታሪክ ዘመናቸው በዋናነት ለአፄ ዮሐንስ የቀኝ እጅ በመሆን በወቅቱ ንጉሱን ከገጠማቸው የስልጣን ሽኩቻ በተለይ ከጎጃም እና ከሸዋ ከማደላደል ባሻገር ከሶስት ዋና ዋና የኢትዮጵያ የወቅቱ ጠላቶች ጋር ተዋግተዋል፡፡ በዋናነትም ከህዳር 16 ቀን 1875 ከተደረገው የጉንደት ጦርነት እስከ መጋት 1 ቀን 1896 እስከተደረገው የአድዋ ጦርነት ድረስ ራስ አሉላ አባ ነጋ አስራ ሁለት ጦርነቶችን ከውጭ ወራሪ ኃይሎች ጋር የተዋጉ ሲሆን በዋናነትም ከኦቶማን ግብጽ ተስፋፊዎች፣ ከማህዲስት የድርቡሽ ወራሪዎች እና ከጣሊያን ቅኝ ገዥዎች ጋር ያደረጓቸው ናቸው፡፡

ራስ አሉላ አባ ነጋ (የጉራዕው አንበሳ) እና የጉራዕ ጦርነት

Alula Aba Negaከላይ ለማየት እንደሞከርነው ግብፅ ኢትዮጵያን ለመያዝ በወቅቱ የተነሳችበት አበይት ምክንያት አባይን ከነ ምንጩ የግብፅ ወንዝ ለማድረግ ከነበራት ቅዠት የመነጨ ነበር፡፡ ግብፅ ኢትዮጵያን ለመውረር ስታስብ በዋናነት ከሶስት አቅጣጫዎች በመቦትረፍ ነበር፡፡ አንደኛው በሐረር በኩል፣ ሁለተኛው በሰሜን በምፅዋ በኩል ወደ ደጋው በመዝለቅ ሲሆን ሶስተኛው ደግሞ በአዳል ወይም አፋር በኩል በመግባት ነበር፡፡ ሆኖም ግን ቀዠታቸው ቅዠት ሆነ ነበር የቀረው፡፡ ከሁሉም እጅግ ወሳኝ የሚባሉት ጢርነቶች በተከታታይ ዓመታት የተደረጉት የ1875ቱ ጉንደት እና የ1876 ጉራዕ ጦርነቶች ናቸው፡፡ በ1875 ህዳር ወር በ ጄኔራል አሬንድሩፕ የሚመራው የግብፅ ጦር እነ አራኬል ቤይ፣ ሩስተም ቤይ እና በመሳሰሉት ቅጥረኞች የተመራው ከ3000 በላይ የሆነ የግብፅ ጦር ጉንደት ላይ ለማጥቃትም ለመከላከልም እንዲመቸው ሆኖ  መሸገ፡፡ በኢትዮጵያ በኩል አፄ ዮሐንስ አራተኛ በሁለት ሳንት ውስጥ ከ20000 እስከ 30000 የሚጠጋ ሰራዊታቸውን በማሰባሰብ በእነ ራስ አራያ፣ ራስ ባርያ ገብር፣ ባሻ ገብረማርያም፣ ደጃዝማች ሀጎስ፣ ደጃዝማች ወልደ ሚካኤል፣ ደጃዝማች ተሰማን እንዲሁም ሻለቃ አሉላን አስከትለው ወደ ጉንደት አቀኑ፡፡ ራስ አሉላ በዚህ ወቅት ነበር ጅግንነታቸው የታየው እና ከሌሎቹም ልቀው መውጣታቸው የተስተዋለው፡፡ በድንገተኛ የማጥቃት ስልት በመከተል ኢትዮጵያውያን አርበኞች 30 ደቂቃ ባልሞላ ጊዜ ውስጥ በአሬንድሩፕ የሚመራው ወደ 800 የሚጠጋ ሰው እንደ ቅጠል ረገፈ፡፡ “The Survival of Ethiopian Independence” በተሰኘ ድንቅ መፅሐፋቸው ስቨን ሩቢንሰን እንደከተቡት ይህ ሲሆን በኢትዮጵያ በኩል 31 አርበኞች ሲሰው 51 ብቻ ነበር የቆሰሉት፡፡ ከጥቂት ሰዓተት በኋላም የተቀሩትን 1300 የግብፅ ወታደሮች በመክበብ ከአንድ ሰዓት ተኩል ባልበለጠ ከበድ ያለ ውጊያ ኢትዮጵያውያን አረበኞች ዶግ አመድ አደረጓቸው፡፡ በኢትዮጵያ በኩልም 521 ሰው ሲሞት ወደ 355 ቆሰለ፡፡ በእነ ሻለቃ ዴኒሰን ይመራ የነበረው እና ለጉንደት ተዋጊ ወታደሮች ደጀን ለመሆን አዲ ቋላ መሽጎ የነበረው የግብፅ ሰራዊትም ፈረጠጠ፡፡ በአንፃሩ ከምፅዋ በኩል ወደ ስድስት መቶ የሚጠጉ ወታደሮችን አስከትሎ በአዳል/አፋር በኩል ወደ ኢትዮጵያ የዘለቀው እና በስዊዛዊው ቅጥረኛ ጆሀን አልበርት ወርነር ሙንዚንገር ፓሻ የሚመራው ሰራዊት በሞሐመድ አንፍሬ የተዘጋጀለትን ድግስ አጣጣመ፡፡ መሪውን ወርነር ሙንዚንገር ፓሻን ጨምሮ አንድም ወሬ ነጋሪ ሳይተርፍ የግብፅ ወራሪ ኃይል በአፋር አርበኞች ተረፈረፈ፡፡

ሽንፈትን እንደ ውሃ ደጋግሞ የተጎነጨው የግብፅ የኬዲቭ እስማኤል ፓሻ አስተዳደር ግን ሽንፈቱ ሊዋጥለት አልተቻለውም፡፡ እናም ሌላ መሰናዶ እና ጉዞ፤ ሌላ ጦርነት እና ፍልሚያ አሰኘው፡፡ የሚቀጥለውን ፍልሚያም ለማሸነፍ ቆርጦ ተነሳ፡፡ ከጉንደት ከነበረው አሰላለፍ በበለጠ በአዲስ አደረጃጀት እና ብዙ ቁጥር ያለው ወታደራዊ ኃይል በማነቃነቅ፣ አዳዲስ ቅጥረኞችን በማስመጣት (በተለይ ከአሜሪካ የርስ በርስ ጦርነት መሪ ተሰላፊ የነበሩ ቅጥረኞችን) እንዲሁም አዳዲስ የቶር መሣሪያዎችን በመታጠቅ ኢትዮጵያን ለመውጋት እና ለማንበርከክ ቆርጦ ተነሳ፡፡ ይህን በማድረግም አያቱ ሙሐመድ ዓሊ የተመኘውን አባይን ከእነ ምንጩ የመያዝ ቅዠት እውን ለማድረግ ቆረጠ፡፡

የወቅቱ 500 000 ፓውንድ ሰተርሊንግ የተመደበለት እና ወደ 20000 የሚጠጉ ግብፃውያንን እና ቅጥረኞችን የያዘው የግብፅ ጦር ከአስመራ 40 ኪሎ ሜትር በስተደቡብ በምተገኘው ጉራዕ ሁለት ምሽጎችን መስርቶ ለ,እንደ ጉንደት ሁሉ ለማጥቃትም ለመከላከልም እንዲመቸው ሆኖ መሸገ፡፡ በወቅቱ የግብፅ ጦር የወቅቱን ዘመናዊ የሚባል የጦር መሣሪያ የታጠቀ ሲሆን በዋናነትም ረሚንገቶን እና ክሩፕ የተሰኙ ጠብመንጃዎችን፣ አርባ መድፎችን እና 10 ሮኬት ማስወንጨፊያዎችን የያዘ ነበር፡፡ ሊጋባ አሉላ መረብን እንደተሸገረ የኢትዮጵያን ሰራዊት በአምስት በመክፈል እና ግብፆቹን በማጨነቅ ሜዳ ላይ ወጥተው እንዲዋጉ አስገደዳቸው ይላሉ ማሞ ውድነህ በመጣጥፋቸው፡፡ የጉራዕ ጦርነት የተጀመረው ልክ የዛሬ 138 ዓመት በመጋቢት 7 ቀን 1876 ነበር፡፡ በዚህ ዕለት ወደ ሰባት ባታሊዮን የሆነው የግብፅ ጦር ውስጥ ከ5000 እስከ 6000 የሚጠጋ ሰራዊት መካከል ምንም ሳይሆን የተረፈው ከ400 እስከ 600 የሚጠጋ ሰው ብቻ እንደነበረ ስቨን ሩቢንሰን በመጽሐፋቸው ይገልፃሉ፡፡

ምስጋና ለአሉላ አባ ነጋ እንግዳ ይሁን እና በተከተሉት የቶር ስልት መሰረት ከ3600 በላይ ግብፃውያን ሲሞቱ ይዘዋቸው የነበሩ መድፎች እና እጅግ ቁጥራቸው የበዛ በሺዎች የሚቆጠሩ ጠብመንጃ የጦር መሣሪዎች በኢትዮጵያውያን እጅ ወደቁ፡፡ ጦርነቱ በመጋቢት 8 እና 9 ቀጥሎ የዋለ ሲሆን በዋናነት በሁለቱ ቀናት ግብፃውያን ከምሽጋቸው ሆነው ባደረሱት ጥቃት ከመጀመሪያው ቀን ጋር ሲነፃፃር በኢትዮጵያ በኩል ከፍ ያለ ሞት ተመዘገበ፡፡ በጥቅሉ ግን  ወደ 4000 የሚጠጉ ኢትዮጵያውያን በሶስቱ ቀናት ውጊያዎች አጥታለች፡፡

የጉራዕ ውጊያ ለግብፃውያን እጅጉን አስተማሪ የሆነ ጦርነት ነበር፡፡ ደጋግመው ከጉራዕ በፊት የሞከሯቸው ጦርነቶች በሰው ቁጥር ማነሰ የመጣ የመሰላቸው ግብፃውያን መሪዎች እጅግ ብዙ የሚባል ቁጥር የነበረው እና በአውሮፓውያን፣ አሜሪካውያን እና ቱርካውያን ምክር እየተደገፈ ከዘመናዊ የጦር መሣሪያ ጋር የዘመተ ጦራቸው ድባቅ እንደተመታ አስተውለዋል፡፡ ኢትዮጵያን የመያዝ ጉራቸውም የጉራዕ ጦርነት ላይ አሉላ በመራው ጦር ጉራ ሆኖ ቀርቷል፡፡ የኢትዮጵያም ሉአላዊነት በቆራጥ ጀግኖች ልጆቿ ተከበረ፡፡ ይህን ሁሉ እያብሰለሰልኩ ነበር ዓበይን ቁልቁል ወደ ደንበር በጉባ ሲጣደፍ እያየሁ ጉራዕንም እያስታወስኩ የታላቁ ህዳሴ ግድብ ፕሮጀክት አውረፕላን ማረፊያ ሚጢጢዋ የካፒቴን ሶሎሞን አውሮፕላን መሬት ነካች፡፡ እኔም መሬት ያያዘውን እና በጥድፊያ ቁመቱ እየተመነደገ ያለውን ታላቁን ግድብ በዓይኔ በብረቱ ለማየት እየተጣደፍኩ ወደ ተዘጋጀልኝ መኪና አመራሁ…  ስለ አሉላ አባ ነጋ ብዙ የምለውና የምጽፈው አለ… በሌላ ጽሁፍ እንገናኝ… ክብር ሞገስ በጉንደት፣ በጉራዕ ለተሰው የኢትዮጵያ የቁርጥ ቀን አርበኞች…