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My Take on the Arab League Statement in Support of Egypt

My Take on the Arab League Statement in Support of Egypt

 Hedase Ethiopia 03-08-20

  The 153rd Arab League Executive Council (Foreign Ministers) issued a statement crafted by Egypt in support of one of its members, Egypt,  in  regards to the ongoing  negotiation on Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD). Understandably, it attracted an immediate and fierce reaction on social and mainstream in condemning this highly flawed announcement. The Ethiopian government through its MOFA expressed its total rejection of   the blind support of the AL. That was not unexpected. The statement was neither fair nor helpful to the negotiation process. Nor will it have any impact on the fundamental right of Ethiopia to use its natural resource without causing any significant harm to the lower riparian countries. The Nile waters are not the only transboundry resource and there are experiences elsewhere in the world. There are also international principles and laws by UN to use, govern and manage such resources among riparian countries. Nile is one such resource shared by 9 riparian states. Ample experiences are available how others managed and are managing shared resources in a responsible and mutually beneficiary way. Nile waters cannot be different. Tremendous efforts to institutionalise and ensure fair and just use of the water resource of the Nile among the riparian countries faced unreasonable challenges and concerns by Egypt. The current move by Egypt  on the GERD negotiations is just one of the numerous obstacles deliberately designed to frustrate the good will  of other parties in the negotiations. Egypt’s greedy approach to the Nile waters created mistrust and suspicion among the riparian countries. Egypt’s game to Nile hydrology hegemony disregarding the interests of others is unacceptable.  To make matters worse, institutions like the Arab League and Arab Parliamentary Union behaved in an irresponsible and unconstructive manner. The AL reportedly made a statement on the basis of the Egyptian appeal. Sadly, members of the Leagues did not bother to ask themselves the meaning of their statement to other parties and its geopolitical and strategic implications for the region. The Arab League’s statement clearly revealed how   unbalanced, unjust and unreasonable and lacked seriousness. One wonders if the Arab identity was sufficient condition to lend a blind support. It simply exposed   the nature of the

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body and no one in the right mind would give it a serious consideration. As such it will not  go  beyond  public relations gimmick.  Historical records of the League are not different from their current behaviour. It only suffice to know  what the League stands for and what value and principle it follows and that should guide  how Ethiopia should  react to the stand. There is no need to overact. The League is a club of totalitarian, sheikhdoms and undemocratic regimes whose foreign policy is mainly based on transactional diplomacy. In transactional diplomacy, no room for principle and values that govern relations between or among nations.  With petroleum dollar, the wealthy kingdoms seek hegemony and try to punch above their size. Dealing with such a club and its members needs the knowledge about and the structure and nature of the regimes and careful craft your strategy and tactic. These regimes depend on one man and no formal institutions and decision making process are transparent and accountable.  And business is conduct through networks and informal channels.  The statement, however, should not brush aside.  It is important to analyse who is who in the Arab LEAGUE and Ethiopia should strategies its relations with members of the League. The recent shuttle diplomacy to the Gulf countries of UAE and Saudi Arabia and few others needs to be re-evaluated in the light of their position. And what role they played when it came to such strategic issue like use of the transboundary resources? It should be important to seek an explanation from individual members what kind position they have taken and what the implication of it to the relations? What is the rules of engagement they follow and what kind of policy they pursue on matters that involve non Arab countries? How do they see the rights of others, other than their members?  They owe the government and people of Ethiopia   an explanation. From the history of the League, it is not a credible organisation and the way it conducts it business is based on influence and not in a fair and responsible manner. No any regard for shared uses and international principles and laws governing such resources and interests or other peoples.  Sudan’s stand: commendable   the dissociation of Sudan from the statement is the main take away from the Council’s statement. The Sudan proved that it was not party to injustice and also noted very well that the statement did not serve   its national interest and unhelpful to the ongoing negotiations. This is extremely important and Ethiopia should make good use of this opportunity to work very closely with the Sudan. Sudan’s rejection of the statement on the grounds that it will lead to confrontation between the Arabs and Ethiopia is very valid and fully concurs that no one wills benefit from confrontations. The approach must be cooperation, equality, reasonable and just to all. A non inclusive approach is doomed to fail from the beginning. Sudan’s very principled stand on the matter is highly commendable. It is very important to note that Sudan took such a position at a time when the country is in transition, during which   it needs the support of Arab League and its members. It, however, weighed its long term strategy over the short term benefit and opted for the long and lasting solution. Where do the Other Ethiopia’s Neighbours stand?

After hearing the Sudan’s position, it is quite obvious to be curious about the other neighbours of Ethiopia!  What was the position of Djibout, Somalia?  These two are non Arabs but were coopted to be members the Arab League because of the Egyptian influence. Even if not immediate neighbours, similar question extend to UAE and Saudi with whom Ethiopia currently enjoying warmth of relations. Responses to this question should be another take away, in my view.  In light of the above, it appears that Ethiopia is not struggling with Egypt alone. There are forces like AL out there and Ethiopia needs to explain its position so that both sides of the stories are told and known. The current pose for consultation should give Ethiopia some time to intensify its engagements domestically and abroad. It is important that Ethiopia involves AUC, Upper Riparian countries and fellow Africans. It should also reach out to other major global players and international institutions of significant influence.

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