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.

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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.

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.

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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.

 

Conclusion

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.

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

Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw

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

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

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

Article 44 of Egypt’s constitution: codifying historic wrongs on the Nile

By Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw

Since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has been seen some three governments either as transitional ones appointed by the military or popularly elected in a free election.

Tis Issat Fall Ethiopia
Tis Issat Fall Ethiopia

The first transitional government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was progressive and seemed to turn Egypt`s face to Africa where its origin and life relies on. Nonetheless, because it was a transitional government and had no any constitutional ground. It was a handicapped one and its efforts were not fruitful. But this does not mean that Sharaf’s government was unique in its orientation but its attempts to solve the Nile issue in a peaceful and civilized way that will establish a win-win situation was a good start.

Following a popular election in June 2012 Egypt’s old organized Islamist group-Muslim Brotherhood`s political wing Freedom and Justice Party`s representative Dr. Mohammed Morsi won the presidential election from Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik in a narrow vote difference (51.7 percent to 48 percent). The new president established his government and appointed a water expert Hisham Qandil as his prime minister-

which shows the priority he gave to the Nile issue. In a parliamentary election Muslim Brotherhood with the conservative Salafists won the election and drafted a more Islamist and criticized constitution. This indeed led to the ousting of Mohammed Morsi in a military coup supported by a popular riot organized by young political activists called the Tamarod in July 2013.

The military chief of Egypt and Defense Minister appointed by Morsi himself, General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi announced that Morsi was ousted and the 2012 constitution suspended. Al Sisi further declared Adly Mansour, who was the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as the president of the transitional government. Mansour a lawyer by profession appointed Ahmed Beblawi as prime minister and there was hope that the Nile discord would be solved as one of the criticisms against Morsi was that he could not handle the Nile problem well as he was busy of remarking war mongering speeches following Ethiopia’s successful retouring of Abbay (Blue Nile) to make clear of the river bed from water to undertake the civil works of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The new government under Mansour will been in power till a new government is established following the promulgation of a new constitution. President Mansour was authorized to form the constitutional drafting committee which he actually did.

Egypt’s new constitution drafting body was composed of 50 people from different political groups and sectors and chaired by Amr Moussa, ex-minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and ex-secretary general of the Arab League. The committee was entrusted initially to amend the constitution introduced by Mohamed Morsi’s government and was believed that it would only take sixty days. Yet, the constitution drafting committee which almost took three months came up with a new constitution. The new constitution is endorsed by the people of Egypt with a 97 percent vote in the January 14 and 15, 2014 referendum. Yet the problem is despite the Egyptian people has the right to say whatever they want in their constitution, their politicians led them in to a free fall and codified a historical wrong that their grandfathers done in the early and mid-20th century regarding the Nile. Let us compare the provisions of Egypt`s 2012 and 2014 constitutions on the Nile and say a few words on how it is again a historical wrong than right.

Egypt`s 2012 constitution under Article 19 declared that “The Nile River and water resources are a national wealth. The State is committed to maintaining and developing them, and preventing abuse. The use of such resources shall be regulated by law.” Hence there is no problem and no indication is made the transboundary nature of the river. When the constitution declares that it is ‘national wealth’ it refers to the water that flows to Egypt. And as any other Nile Basin country Egypt is entitled to say the Nile is its

national wealth. The provision of the 2012 constitution on the Nile is purely of domestic nature and one can say that had no any complications. Nonetheless, it is a constitution suspended with the ousting of Mohammed Morsi.

Article 44 of the 2014 constitution on the other hand reads as that “The state [of Egypt] commits to protecting the Nile River, maintaining Egypt’s historic rights thereto, rationalizing and maximizing its benefits, not wasting its water or polluting it…” Now the problem is on the inclusion of the phrases “maintaining Egypt’s historic rights” which clearly shows and carries a message to the Nile Basin states. This made the provision under this article more controversial and despite a national constitution which has no legal effect outside the Egyptian territory, the implicit meaning attached to it is worth of scrutinizing, as it has a transboundary message to the Nile Basin states. Before analyzing the issue from the perspective of international law and the politics of the Nile waters in relation to other Nile Basin states it is worth zooming in on the meaning of “maintaining Egypt’s historic rights” from the Egyptian perspective.

Claim of “Historic Rights” on the Nile and International Water Law

For Egypt the so-called “historic rights” on the Nile are defined based on colonial or partial treaties of the 20th century. As repeatedly discussed Egypt considers the 1929 colonial “treaty” between Britain (on behalf of Sudan and its other colonies in East Africa) and Egypt as the base of its “right” on the Nile. In fact, it is difficult to call the 1929 “Agreement” as a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Britain as the former was still under tight political and economic control of the later. It can better be said that the 1929 “Agreement” was between Britain and Britain for Britain as concluded to make sure that its textile factories in Manchester had secured uninterrupted cotton from Egypt produced by the Nile waters. This “agreement” gave Egypt the lion’s share of the Nile waters and veto power on upstream water projects which has been a ludicrous and irrational attempt of controlling the Nile. In fact, the idea was that the British administrators in upstream Nile British colonies would not do anything without consulting the British administrators in downstream of the Nile in Egypt. But Britain had left the Nile Basin long ago and Egypt’s today’s call of claiming a “right” based on an obsolete colonial “treaty” is a self tomfoolery.

Following Sudan’s independence from British colonial rule and issues precipitated following Egypt’s decision to construct the High Aswan Dam in the 1950s the Nile issue was again raised and the 1959 Agreement between Egypt and Sudan was signed. In fact, the process of negotiation for the 1959 Agreement was full of Egyptian trickery supported by Sudan’s pro-Nasser president Ibrahim Abboud who came to power in a coup in 1958. Nonetheless, Egypt considers the 1959 Agreement as a consolidation of a self-claimed “historic right” on the Nile. The 1959 Agreement divided the entire flow of the Nile for Egypt, Sudan and evaporation at the Sahara from Lake Nasser behind the Aswan High Dam (55.5, 18.5 and more than 10 billion cubic meters of water respectively). Furthermore, the veto power of Egypt was still maintained in this agreement. It is worth noting here that many Sudanese are not happy with the way the 1959 Agreement is negotiated and signed. In addition, the recent policy shift of the Sudanese should be seen from such a perspective of latent opposition to the unfair 1959 Agreement.

Hence for Egypt, it is those partial, unfair and irrational “agreements” which are regarded as the basis of the self-claimed “historic right” on the Nile. No water is left for upstream states and their national pride was in fact insulted and they were considered as non-existent. Their water rights were neglected, undermined and ignored. This is what Egypt is claiming as its “historic right” which is a total absurdity, hydropolitical arrogance and vindictive stance which will not solve the Nile problems but throw it in a vicious-circle of mutual suspicion and mistrust.

From upstream point of view the so-called “historic rights”, a recurring fanfare by Egypt, are rather historic wrongs on the Nile. Ex-British and other European colonies on the Nile, immediately after their independence in the 1960s, declared that agreements entered by colonial powers are null and void on newly independent states. This is famously known as the Nyerere Doctrine after Julius Nyerere of Tanzania who for the first time declared that Tanganyika will not abide by a treaty entered by Britain on the Nile. As for the 1959 Agreement it is a bilateral agreement entered between “two independent” states where the legal effect is only on the signatory states and as clearly declared in Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 “a treaty does not create obligations or rights for a third party without its consent.”

As for Ethiopia, which was the only state on the Nile Basin that was not colonized, both “agreements” are of no concerns. In fact, Ethiopia has made its position clear in 1957 knowing that negotiation between Egypt and Sudan was taking place. Ethiopia asserted that it has the right to utilize the Nile waters for the benefit of its current and future generation. Furthermore, it has unequivocally declared that any attempt of making treaties on the Nile without involving Ethiopia has no legal effect on its utilization of its Nile waters.

From the above explanations one can note that the position of Nile riparian states are at odds and Egypt is standing alone upholding an obsolete doctrine in the utilization of transboundary watercourses. In fact, other Nile riparian states have the support of international water law which has tremendously evolved in the 20th century. In the eyes of international law “historic right” with its other names such as “ancient right, prior use, established right” and so on had been nominal ‘doctrines’ in the utilization of transboundary watercourses. A doctrine in this sense is defined as more of a theory and personal opinion of a few individuals with no legal base. As far as international water law is concerned the basic principle, which has the acceptance of leading scholars and is accepted as a basic rule in international courts, is the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization. This principle is capable of answering the water questions of any state in transboundary watercourses as evidenced, for example, in the decision of the International Court of Justice in Gabcíkovo-Nagymaros Project Case on the Danube between Hungary and Slovakia. This principle is therefore the most popular and widely accepted one and is developed into a status of principle of customary international law. As clearly stated in the works of leading international law experts there is nothing called “historic right, established right, ancient right” in international water law (For details, one can refer to A. H. Garretson, R. D. Hayton, & C. J. Olmstead (Eds.). 1967. The law of international drainage basins. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana.).

Why is the phrase in the constitution?

Knowing what Egypt is claiming as “historic rights” have no international legal ground and knowing that upstream states on the Nile are against this nominal doctrine, why the politicians are adamant to include it in the constitution? There is no perfect answer for this but we can infer from experiences and current situations in the Nile Basin. Firstly, the current constitution of Egypt is drafted in a time where the Nile Basin is undergoing a dramatic shift from a one-country show of unfairness and monopoly into a basin which embraces all riparian states under the umbrella of a fundamental principle of international water law called equitable and reasonable utilization. The Cooperative Framework Agreement on the Nile (CFA) signed on May 14, 2010 is such a reflection and a historic moment. Furthermore, Ethiopia’s undergoing construction of the GERD, which eventually will become Africa’s biggest hydropower dam, is part of such a dramatic change on the Nile basin. Hence, the inclusion of the so-called “historic rights” is a mere reaction of attempting to maintain the unfair past. In my view, the Egyptian’s seem frustrated and unnecessarily fear the developments on the Nile and are in state of unstable mind. Hence, they seemingly include the phrase having in mind that this might help them despite the truth the truth being the exact opposite.

Secondly, the inclusion of the “historic rights” phrase in the constitution might have to do with the ongoing domestic instability in the country following the ousting of President Mubarak and later Morsi. The Nile issue had been used by Egyptian leaders as a playing card to divert attention from their internal crisis to an international agenda. This was what Mubarak and Morsi tried to do but failed and what the current regime is doing will be doomed to fail as their narration is a groundless accusation of upstream states.

Thirdly, it could be due to the personalities of members of the constitution drafting committee and their attitude. In this regard, highlighting the perception and attitude of the chair of the committee, Amr Moussa, regarding the Nile and its riparians is important. In 1997 in his interview with the now defunct Amharic magazine Ifoyita Moussa as the minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt stated that “his country has a good attitude for Ethiopia as far as the later do not encroach upon the former’s right.” His definition of Egypt`s right on the Nile is nothing but those based on the 1929 and 1959 “Agreements” discussed above. For obvious reasons, foreign relation matters in the constitution and the inclusion of the “historic rights” phrase are the works of this man. Among the committee members, it is also worth mentioning the Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawky Allam from Al-Azahar and other members from the Salafist Nour Party whose perception of upstream water development on the Nile is linked with Israel and America`s involvement and conspiracy. Furthermore, people from the Al-Aharam Center for Political and Strategic Studies have been viewing upstream water developments as a violation of international law despite their baseless claim. These people are daring to say that the colonial and partial bilateral “agreements” on the Nile and their declaration of the so-called “historic rights” of Egypt “are binding on the non-signatory upstream states.” All the members of the committee I can say are children of the same mother who have grown victimized hearing and learning the historic wrongs of colonial powers and emotional military generals since the 1950s as “historic rights.” And it is not a surprise that they have included the phrase in the constitution. So the question is; What are its effects?

The effect of Article 44 on the Nile Basin

Despite being debatable one can argue that ‘the foreign policy of a state is the continuation and/or extension of its domestic politics and policy.’ In this regard, the number one effect of the inclusion of the so called “historic rights” in Egypt’s constitution is, it will make discussions on the Nile tougher. Egyptian negotiators possibly will appear more rigid and unyielding than before in discussions regarding the Nile either pertaining to the CFA or the GERD. But it must be clear also that the reactions of upstream states for sure is what they have been saying and they will never accept any imposition of such arrogance which would have deprived them of their natural rights of utilizing the Nile waters for the benefit of their current and future generation. The result of such a situation will be nothing but a hydropolitical deadlock which could further fatten the norm than exception in the Nile Basin which is suspicion and mistrust. This will, however, not stop upstream states from utilizing the Nile waters as evidenced in their mega hydropower projects.

Article 44 of the constitution of Egypt is in fact – especially the phrase “maintaining Egypt’s historic rights” – tantamount to insulting the upstream states of the Nile and their people. It is equivalent to saying “you have no Nile waters and the Nile is a property of Egypt.” In addition it is meant to say that those countries that are the sources of the Nile are a bunch of colonies that live with and accept the scars of the colonial powers manifested in the form of the 1929 “Agreement” that deprived them of their interest from their own waters and could do nothing. What should this countries therefore respond to such an insult? It is plain clear that the ball is in their court. Upstream states have gone further in calling Egypt and Sudan to come on board to join them and sign the CFA which can answer the question of all riparian states. It is time for the signatory states to ratify the CFA and those which do not ink their signatures follow their African brothers and maintain their rights on the Nile River. The CFA is the best instrument that the Nile Basin have to solve problems associated with the Nile waters. It is based on basic and accepted principles of international water law mainly equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile waters for the benefit of all riparian states and enhance win-win situation in the Basin.

Furthermore, from the perspective of international law, Article 44 is nothing but a provision of one state’s national law. Its legal effect is within the boundary of the concerned state and it has no international legal effect. In the same token it should be clear that international laws have supremacy over domestic laws. In this context, as clearly stated in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and analyzed by Malcolm N. Shaw (2008), “A particular provision within the internal legal structure of a state, including its constitution if there is one, cannot be applied to evade an international obligation.” This obligation includes among others principles of customary international law. By no means can the doctrine of “historic right” be invoked to escape the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary waters. In addition to this, the upstream Nile riparian states which are signatories of the CFA have international obligations of this agreement which has a binding effect on them. Besides, as seen in the Cameroon vs Nigeria case and viewed by the International Court of Justice, “There is no general legal obligation for States to keep themselves informed of legislative and constitutional developments in other States which are or may become important for the international relations of these States.”

To sum up, Moussa, in his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, stated that the new constitution of Egypt “was written in the context of the 21st century.” The truth is though this constitution of Egypt regarding the Nile issue is still in the early 20th century and not yet brings itself to the developments of the 21st century it has repeated the then colonial power Britain and Egypt`s own historic wrongs of the 19th and early and mid-20th centuries to say the least. In fact the new constitution is a codification of these historic wrongs with no solution for the Nile controversy but fueling suspicion and mistrust. Again as the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi plainly said in November 2010 during his interview with Reuters, “The Egyptians have yet to make up their minds as to whether they want to live in the 21st or the 19th century.”

Originally Published at: http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/index.php/opinion/commentary/item/1528-article-44-of-egypts-constitution-codifying-historic-wrongs-on-the-nile

Ethiopian Reporter 25 January 2014

Nader Fails to See Reason Over Ethiopia`s Claim on the River Nile

Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw

Since 2010 the Nile is a front page of weekly or daily newspapers and online news sources. This is due to the developments that the Nile Basin has been experiencing following the signing of the Cooperative Framework of the Nile (CFA) in Entebbe-Uganda on 14 May 2010 which declares the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile waters for all riparian states as the corner stone of the New Nile Basin. This was welcomed by upstream states yet objected by Egypt followed by Sudan despite these states were part of the ten years plus negotiation (1997-2010). A year after such development though a new departure in the history of the Nile Basin happened following the commencement of the construction of a mega hydraulic infrastructure called the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Once again the Nile becomes a day to day story of both the print and the broadcast media. The main reasons for such developments are the following. Firstly, Ethiopia is building this huge infrastructure by its own finance despite the scale of the dam needs external finance which would be unthinkable for a poor country like Ethiopia. Secondly, the dam is under construction in a transboundary watercourse where there has never been a multilateral treaty or customary law that governs the utilization and the management of the water shared but showed a one state show which is reversed by the signing of the above mentioned treaty-CFA. Thirdly, it is due to the acute opposition from the most downstream state in the Nile-Egypt claiming that the dam will affect water flow downstream and many other constructed and reconstructed reasons. On the other side also, the joy and the hope regarding the dam from the Ethiopian and also from the Sudanese side is another important factor. Nonetheless, all the news, all the articles, all the pieces are not as balanced as they have to be. An assessment of the articles from downstream signals that there are gaps to fill, confusions to clear and it necessitates to clean the misunderstandings and misperceptions about Ethiopia`s claim of the Nile waters and its intension of constructing the GERD. This author has tried to answer to some of the news and opinion articles from Egypt regarding the GERD and the CFA in previous times. Recently a new confused and confusing personal opinion by Nader Noureddine on the Al Ahram Weekly of Egypt entitled Tough Talk: Ethiopia fails to see reason over the River Nile-” is published with a destructive impact on the truth about the Nile issue in general and the GERD in particular.

Nader and His Piece: What He really misses?

Nader Nour Eddin 1The writer tried to portray that Ethiopia has no any reason for its claims on the Nile and in its construction of the GERD. Despite the writer is a professor of water resources and soil from Cairo University his piece lacks intellectual test and just focused on politicization of the science as what the self-claimed Group of the Nile did a few months ago. In fact, he is one of the members of the group and one can guess where the politicization of the issue comes from. Despite the fact that Egypt should ask Ethiopia an apology for a number of reasons Nader reversed the request to come from Ethiopia-which is nonsensical and unscrupulous. Be that as it may, Nader as a professional could work towards bringing the riparian states together to build confidence and enhance trust despite he goes against it. As member of the epistemic community using science to create epistemic consensus-which indeed has tremendous effect on decision making and influence public opinion, should be the objective so as to enhance peace and achieve sustainable development and prosperity among peoples in the Nile Basin-whose bone and flesh is made of the Nile. Now is time for Nader and people with the same stance with him to reexamine their position as to what they hold is nothing other than vicious and unconstructive. In this article I show how and why the writer-Nader Noureddine fails to see reason over Ethiopia`s claim on the Nile in general and the GERD in particular. As a response this piece is also an attempt to clear the confusion, blurredly perceived and misunderstood Nile claim of Ethiopia and the GERD by the Egyptian elite and their victim-the misinformed general public of Egypt.

One

Nader cited the fact that Ethiopia`s surface water is estimated to be 122 billion cubic meters. No wrong is said here. Despite such a fact, it is only one river-Awash which remains in the country. Almost all except Awash are transboundary watercourses. Numbers tell us that it is only 3 percent of the mentioned 122 billion cubic meters (only 3.67 billion cubic meters) which remains in the country. The rest flows to neighboring countries to Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt through Genale-Dawa-Wabishebele, Gibe-Omo and the Blue Nile (including Abbay, Baro-Akobo and Tekeze rivers) respectively. The Nile Basin alone covers more than 70 percent of Ethiopia`s surface water resource which is not yet touched. I hope Dr. Nader now get the real information regarding the 14 rivers he wrote about. Dr. Nader and others most of the time run to talk about the erratic rainfall in Ethiopia which is neither sustainable nor sufficient to meet the demand of the fast growing population unless dammed or harvested through the rivers which would otherwise left the country during the short lived rainy season as flood. Global warming and related climatic problems are adding problems to this. But let me ask Dr. Nader and his likes that why are Egyptian scholars afraid to talk about ground water which makes Egypt the most watery country on earth with countries such as Libya and Sudan? For readers information Egypt`s untouched ground water is estimated to be 150, 000 billion cubic meters with a maximum groundwater table up to maximum 1500 meters which in the contemporary technological advancement is easy to utilize in a huge amount.

Two

Dr. Nader wrote about a very interesting issue regarding the Sinai and the Toshka projects which are costly, environmentally unfriendly and legally unacceptable projects from the international law perspective. No state can take a transboundary watercourse outside its natural course for any purpose. But Egypt did that to Sinai through the Al Salam Canal and to Toshka through the huge water pump from Lake Nasser named after ousted president Mubarak which feeds a spillway to the western desert of Egypt. Dr. Nader tried to deceive readers claiming that Sinai was part of the Nile centuries back. Let me ask Dr. Nader how many centuries before was Sinai part of the Nile? The silt deposit he talked about is a fabricated data to deceive the whole world and is a jam-packed politicization of science. Historically at least in the Holly Bible we had no such evidence which we would have if Sinai was part of the Nile at least before 4000 years during the Exodus of the Israelites that they would not be thirsty and God through St. Michael would not rock the rock to quench their thirst. Alas, the Dr. tried to add Toshka as if it was also part of the Nile-another white lie. The two projects-Sinai and Toshka were aimed at controlling every drop of the Nile and to impede upstream states from utilizing the Nile waters by creating facts on the ground and are criticized as the ‘Pharaohnic Monuments of Mubarak’ by both logical Egyptians and non-Egyptian professionals. The truth in general is that there is no any historical as well as scientific evidence to justify that both Sinai and Toshka were part of the Nile Basin system.

Three

Nader also asked about the necessity of increasing the size of the dam and its capacity of storing 74 billion m3 of water in the reservoir that will be created by the GERD. This question was asked by the Group of the Nile of Cairo University where he is a member and answers were given by then. I need to say two things, though. First the 14 billion m3 what Nader talked about is what people like Nader in Cairo needed it to be not Ethiopia needs it. Secondly, the construction of this mega hydraulic infrastructure is also to increase its capacity of generating huge amount of hydroelectricity which would be limited to not more than 2400MW of electricity which is not enough taking Ethiopia`s development objectives and growing demand for energy. For readers` information Ethiopia`s demand for energy is increasing by 32% each year which is difficult to meet unless the country embarks on huge hydraulic infrastructures such as the GERD, Omo III,  and the foreseen Omo IV and V, Mabil, Kara Dobi, Beko Abo and Mendaia projects.

Four

Another concern of Dr. Nader seems the problem of siltation that the GERD would face. Is Dr. Nader showing his circumspection for Ethiopia that it would lose the dam because of huge sedimentation and siltation? Building such expensive mega structure needs care and it must indeed be sustainable and durable. In order to maintain its health environmental conservation must be undertaken by all concerned stakeholders at all levels especially in the upper stream. Thit is one most important reason that the other four (Mabil, Kara Dobi, Beko Abo and Mendaia) dams on the Blue Nile are on the pipeline as they also precipitate the need for environmental conservation and taking serious measures of watershed management which will enhance the health of the environment, avoid erosion and sedimentation and increasing the quality and quantity of water not only for Ethiopia but also for Sudan and Egypt.

Five

Nader seems to blame Ethiopia regarding studying the environmental impact of the dam on downstream countries. It should be clear for readers that Egypt had denied some information that would be added as an input during the study process that Ethiopia conducted. But what is denied did not preclude Ethiopia from going ahead in the process. Besides it is clear that the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) that comprises two experts each from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and one each from UK, France, Germany and Republic South Africa was established due to Ethiopia`s request and Ethiopia has accepted what the Panel of Experts said and has been working for its implementation. Ethiopia was confident enough about the outcome of the report of the IPoE and that is what indeed come about.  Is not it Egypt which tried to undermine the report of the Panel of Experts by trying to bring a new unnecessary proposal in Khartoum on November? For Egypt it would be nice if lessons learned from Sudan and its position regarding the GERD.

Six

Another concern of Dr. Nader Noureddine is what he and the group that he belongs to from Cairo University repeatedly asked: “What if the dam collapsed?” Let me ask: Why is the dam would collapse? For a huge dam like GERD to be collapsed there should be some fundamental problems and reasons both either manmade or natural. Let us consider the natural problems that would led for a dam to collapse. Endogenic forces such as earthquake and volcanic movements would be reasons. Nonetheless, when we look at Guba-where the dam is under construction in Benshangul Gumuz near Sudanese border, such forces are not threats as scientifically collected and analyzed data proves. Let us also consider manmade factors if any. For a dam to collapse due to manmade problems is when either there is a problem in the design and construction or due to other problems such as deliberate destruction. Let us consider the first and we can find that the International Panel of Experts has unambiguously declared that the dam is based on international standards. Secondly the deliberate destruction could be any kind of bombardment or sabotage from enemies which is unthinkable taking the consequences and as each and every Ethiopian are the watchdogs of this mega national pride. And do not forget the made in Ethiopia drones, and the flag carrier armed forces which are always on alert watching who is flying and moving over the skies of Guba.

Seven

Nader tried to defend that Egypt had never been a security threat to Ethiopia. Ethiopia has well registered the scars of the Nile politics which have been manifested in civil wars, inter-states wars in the Horn of Africa as proxy wars sponsored by Egypt and the bloodless wars being fought in the international financial institutions and donor agencies which have been denying loans to Ethiopia due to objections from the watchdogs of Egypt. There are four reasons why Egypt should apologize Ethiopia regarding the Nile. Firstly, for the unnecessary and destructive interventions in civil wars and proxy wars that it betrothed against Ethiopia; secondly for its relentless efforts of objecting Ethiopia`s access to finance from international financial institutions; thirdly for using the Nile lavishly and its construction of the unnecessary Aswan High Dam in an open dessert from where more than 10 billion cubic meters of the Nile waters evaporates; and fourthly for the infamous drama at the presidential palace in Cairo where the ousted president Morsi and opposition leaders ridiculed in a live televised discussion which exposes what the elite in Egypt thinks.

A Message to the People of Egypt

As reasoned out above Ethiopia`s water resource is more or less confined on the Ethiopian part of the Nile Basin which accounts more than 70 percent of its total surface water. At the same time it is this area which have been plagued by drought and famine and made headlines of portraying Ethiopia as a land of the ‘green famine.’ Hence utilizing the waters of the Nile to meet development needs in accordance with internationally accepted principles in a way that also protects the needs of its neighbors is its only solution. Ethiopia and Ethiopians believe that as a people of the Nile the bones and flesh of all peoples in the Nile Basin is made up of the mighty Nile. This shows us that we are one. That is why Ethiopia sings the song of peace and development which is based on mutual benefit. That is why Ethiopia has been singing the song of ‘One River, One Nile, One People’ (Nehar wahid, Al nil wahid, sheab wahid). Hence what is important is to develop trust and confidence which will enhance peace, togetherness, and brotherhood which is the only way out of any problem. In this regard, the role of the epistemic community as professionals in providing researched inputs to the general public and governments has effects. It is only when professionals engage honestly and being loyal to the truth that peace can be achieved. The Nile was there and will always be as a belt that binds all the riparian states and its people, what is important is cherishing its fruits mutually and for a common peace and development agenda for a brighter future.