Up front, let me start this article by paraphrasing the old saying: “He who lives in a Glass House should not throw stone at his neighbors”. Egyptians seem to forget that no matter how powerful the aggressor may be or how many stones they have thrown at her, Ethiopia throughout history have responded by standing her ground and defeating the aggressors. If, Egypt backed by Arab League members, including her new Western ally, think she will destroy the Renaissance Dam, I would like to remind Egypt to think again and not to forget your Aswan Dam. To that end, I strongly suggest that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his supporters, who have been running all over the world with no stone unturned to convince the international community Egypt’s unjust claim to read. “Mutually Assured Destruction” doctrine of military strategy advanced by Dr. Henry Kiesinger the former Secretary of States of the United States. It has been said that the “mutual assured destruction strategy kept the two Cold War superpowers in check”.
At this point, I would like to remind the Egyptians few facts about Ethio-Egyptian historical and unhealthy relationship. Egypt, throughout her history has been and continue to behave like a greedy and spoiled child—child who claims that everything belongs to him/her and when asked to share with his or her siblings who responds no “no it is mine”. A child who goes into temper tantrum when told it is not yours and you have to learn to share with others. Egypt reminds me of such child who demands things which is not his or hers.
Driven by her greed and unjustifiable fear, Egypt has been telling Ethiopia not to have a cup of water from the Abby River without Egypt’s consent. As everyone know, Egypt built the Aswan Dam using Nile River to ensure her people’s food security, accesses to electricity to industrialize and modernize Egyptian economy providing her people all the comforts of our century, while Ethiopians dying of starvation due to reoccurring drought, and famine as well as over 70 percent of Ethiopians live in total darkness. When Egypt built the Aswan Dam, Ethiopia remained quiet. Egypt must be told, once and for all, enough is enough and that she has no right to tell Ethiopia what to do or what not to do with Blue Nile River. Ethiopia should not and must not compromise with her right to use her natural and national resources free of any external interference. As long as the Nile River starts in and flows from Ethiopia and resides within Ethiopian territory, Ethiopians have every right to use Nile River for the purpose of improving the social and economic life of Ethiopians without seeking anyone’s consent, especially, Egyptian consent. Ethiopia doesn’t need Egyptian consent to improve and provide Ethiopian people with the essentials of life.
From days of Axsumite Empire to the end of Solomonic Dynasty, Egypt continued threating and invaded Ethiopia year after year, destroying property and killing thousands and thousands of Ethiopians, not to mention the numbers of Egyptians killed and wounded. For example, between 1832 and 1865 the Ottoman-Egypt invaded Ethiopia 8 times from the west, while in 1874 Egypt occupied Keren. From the East, in 1824, 1847, 1826, and 1875, and twice in 1876, Egypt invaded Ethiopia and ones again defeated by ill-armed Ethiopians at the battle of Gundet and Gura. After fifteen or more invasion, the Egyptians failed to accomplish their stated objectives of conquering Ethiopia and controlling the source of Nile River. However, series of Egyptian invasions left Ethiopia weak and venerable first to the Mahdist Army from Sudan, and then to Napier Expeditionary Force sponsored by Great Britain as well as the series of Italian invasion. Nevertheless, Ethiopians collectively stood their ground and defended their freedom time after time. While Ethiopians were able to defend their national sovereignty from external enemies, they have been unable to cleanse themselves, ones and for all, from homegrown enemies.
For almost 3o years, Meles Zenawi and his gangs of bandits combined with various so-called political activists, who having anchored one foot in Europe the other in Addis Ababa, have been bent on waging ethnic and religious war to destroy Ethiopia. These “fly by night” bandits and war merchants, financially backed by anti-Ethiopian elements from outside, including Egypt, have been doing everything they could to stop Ethiopia from moving towards establishing lasting peace and national security. This writer will not be surprised, if these homegrown bandits call for the establishment of National Court System designed to breaking up interethnic marriages and to deal with the children of mixed marriages. I wonder if these self- identified political activists are aware of the outcome of Adolf Hitler’s efforts to promote Aryan Race or the result of ethnic cleansing that took place in Rwanda as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Returning to the subject at hand, what would it take, to convince Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, that no matter how weak Ethiopians appear to be, they are known to put their differences aside and stand united behind their leader when their country is attacked by foreign armed forces? Let me remind you again, El-Sisi, of the Roman army defeat the Battle of Adwa and Maychew, Somali invading forces at the battle of Karamara as well as your own Egyptian armies defeat at battle of Gundet and Gura. Don’t think for a moment, that Ethiopians will not gather their forces to defend their collective honor, dignity and their national sovereignty.
I would like ask Egyptians and the Arab League members who are on the record supporting Egypt’s unjustifiable and baseless claim over the Nile River, to examine closely the African Union charter signed by all 31 African states include Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. One of the article reads: “Re-affirming further that States are responsible for protecting and conserving their environment and natural resources and for using them in a sustainable manner with the aim to satisfy human needs according to the carrying capacity of the environment”. The United Nations resolution 626 (VII) of 21 December 1952, on the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources reads: “that the right of peoples freely to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources is inherent in their sovereignty and is in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. Paragraph 2 of the Article cite above reads also: “All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. Furthermore the law states: “In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence”. Therefore, as a sovereign nation Ethiopia has the inherent right over her natural resources. Egyptian claim has no legs to stand on in any court of Law.
Population wise, Egypt is third largest country in Africa. Geographically speaking Egypt is one of African state. Egypt is also member of African Union and member of Arab League. In the opinion of this writer, Egyptian leaders never openly identified with African people as they do with the Arabs. On various occasion, Egypt stood with the Middle East than with Africa. To that end, let me ask members of African Union few questions about Egyptian case over the Nile River and how El-Sisi is trying to win his case. First, why did Egypt elected to seek the support of Arab League member’s instead of African Union? After all, Egypt is one of founding members of AU and Renaissances Dam is an African issues. Second, why did Egypt went to a country whose leader is known to have a very low opinion of Africa and Africans seeking support? See the article: “in defense of Africa and Africans” published by the Reporter on 02/17/2018. And finally, why did El-Sisi turn to African Union as the last resort to seek the support for his illegal claim over the Nile River? Egyptian leaders are known to have low pinion of Africa and Africans.
Ethiopia, to quote Sekou Toure, the first President of Guinea who in his opening remark at the 1963 Addis Ababa Summit said: “Ethiopia is a great people, an African people that has fought bravely for the independence of Africa, for the preservation of freedom and the normal exercise of the right of our peoples to guide their destiny with no foreign control or interference and to manage their own affairs in full sovereignty”. As the only independent and a sovereign member of League of Nations and the United Nations, Ethiopia confronted Colonial Powers and their allies on halls of the United Nation calling for African independence from colonial rule. Africans who fought for their independence know that Ethiopia stood at their side providing them not only material support but also political supports. Today, Ethiopia needs African states support?
The heading of this reads: “Will Egypt stop Threating Ethiopia?” There are two answers to the question. Given her demonstrated disrespect and dislike for Ethiopian people as well as her repeated military invasions in violation of International Law, and given Egypt’s unreasonable claim that she has “Historical Right” over the of use of Nile River and a “veto power” to object any project proposed by Ethiopian government using Nile River, one may come to the conclusion that Egypt will not stop threating Ethiopia. However, Egypt will stop ones for all, if Ethiopians put aside their political, ethnic and religious differences and stand united behind Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his dedicated team of negotiators, saying “no to Egyptian clam”, and to resist the pressure from any corner of the world forcing Ethiopia to enter any treaties compromising her sovereign right over the use of Nile River, then and only then the answer will be in affirmative. Egypt will stop when all Ethiopians stand united and tell Egypt that she has no right over Nile River based on previous treaty or treaties.
If the current Egypt driven crisis, over the use of Abay River, is to be concluded peacefully, Egypt must be told in a clear and unambiguous language, that as long as the river starts in and flows within Ethiopian territory, Egypt will have no right over the Nile River. The Blue Nile belongs to the Ethiopians and only Ethiopia has 100 percent right over the use of the River within her boundary. Moreover, since Ethiopia was not British subject, all the treaties entered between Egypt and Great Britain is null and void.
Ed.’s Note: Alem Asres (PhD), (former Alemayehu Wondemagegnehu), earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Social Foundations of Education with emphasis on Comparative and Multicultural Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].