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Political Game over GERD - A Means to Stay in Power?

Political Game over GERD - A Means to Stay in Power?


Faato 21 May 2020


I was trying to connect the dots in Cairo, Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Asmara, UAE, Riyadh and Washington DC on the suddenly evolving deadlocked negotiation over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that is now boiling the situation. Originally the though was that Egypt is trying to take advantage of the political crisis in Ethiopia that looks like tit-for-tat for the Egypt revolution that President Abdel Fettah el-Sisi believe Ethiopia took an advantage to silently start construction of the dam. On the other hand, but closely related, considerable analysts and political figures argued, Egypt is taking advantage of the naïve position of the PM Abiy Ahmed Ali following his oath-like promise that he will not take “Egypt’s water” and will not hurt Egypt in anyway and his immature rhetoric that the dam happens only for political purposes as if it were not arguably the only national project that brought all Ethiopians of all walks of life together. The intervention made by the Trump regime over the dam with ill intention to use the dam for a bargain to get Egypt’s support on the ill-fated Middle East peace deal between Israel and Palestine dubbed “Deal of the Century”. Others were also considering that the new regional security dynamics in the Greater Horn of Africa and across the Red Sea has motivated Egypt to see possible areas of manipulation to keep its dominance on the Nile basin and continue to enjoy the monopoly over it.

Very few unsubstantiated speculationswere coming informally to surface over the social media domain that the threatening rattling by Egypt and blunt accusations and counter-accusations between Cairo and Addis Ababa about the dam could be a new political game staged by the two parties. However, it remained as a wild speculation below allegation. Now, thanks to a brief but critical information by Ted Wondeaferash (May 20, 2020) posted on Aiga Forum takes the speculation to allegation bringing the dots closer. This allegation cannot be ignored rather require further investigation. Ethiopians who love their country and see the danger against the future of their beloved country and people should expose any piece of information before it is too late.

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This political game could not be unlikely for many reasons.

1.    It is a mutual interest to El Sisi and Ahmed to win upcoming elections. El Sisi is sending rhetoric of use of threat to stop GERD and bragging that no one under any circumstances will take Egypt’s historical share of Nile water is serving him to win next election. In the same manner, Abiy Ahmed Ali’s unprecedented ‘love’ of the GERD supported by non-stop media campaign to complete the dam and start filling it this July is thought to bridge his growing and widening legitimacy gap that he foolishly lost it for lack of political skill but above all for his hunger for power that exposed him to commit grave mistakes (perhaps it may be because Jawar, the owner, took his calculator). News are now coming from government affiliated social media that Ethiopia bought and/or deployed missiles to protect the dam from Egypt’s attack as if there was no such protection before. Both authoritarian ‘dictators’realize their diminishing legitimacy and particularly Ahmed Ali’s term in power coming to end on October 2020 (according to the constitution) amidst a constitutional and political crisis looming in front of him need some miracle or political drama to stay in power. GERD and the much exaggerated and manufactured national security threat are good excuses along with COVID-19 crisis to stay in power.


2.    It will serve as a scapegoat to compromise national interests. Egyptians are not ready to accept any compromise to share the Nile water and even see the completion of the GERD as defeating by Ethiopia above the share of the water. Majority of Egyptians have a perception that the dam will significantly cause a water shortage putting tens of millions in hunger. Some fanatics also perceive as if Nile belongs by God/Allah and naturally to Egypt only and fear that there is no life without Nile. This is highly exaggerated politically induced ideal.  That means governments who agree to the new dealthat Ethiopia is campaigning and negotiating for equitable use will lose popular vote. In the same token, Ethiopians are not ready to compromise their right to use and develop the Blue Nile to their national cause of averting poverty and electrifying the country. Further, Ethiopians see GERD as a national flagship project and sense of national pride. That means political parties and government leaders who compromise the rights of Ethiopians to Egypt will be cursed. Therefore, both leaders need a scapegoat that can convince their respective people a justifiable excuse for compromise. It is fair here to remind the reader that Ahmed Ali warned that Ethiopia is under threat of aggression without giving any details which was taken by many as a mere manufactured danger or a possible threat by design.  This warning is strikingly in contradiction to his old rhetoric that all countries are made to be friends and the country has no enemy including those “made to be enemy by the Woyane” are turned to be friends through his pseudo-philosophy called Medemer. The question is that is the warning part of the game to frustrate people or is there a country collaborating to stage a real or false aggression? Time will tell but hopefully in good time for Ethiopians before it is too late.


3.    Global and regional powers may take a hostage exercise. The Trump regime (gangsters in the White House, to borrow Noam Chomsky’s word) have tried to intervene to their benefit for a short-term purpose of gaining Egypt’s support to the Trump’s middle east peace deal. Gulf countries particularly the Emirates can use this rift to promote their interest in the region and exercise their influence on some countries particularly Sudan and Ethiopia and to keep Egypt in the Gulf alliance network. The same is True for the Royals in Riyadh, though influence is from different perspective. The Emirates are allegedly increasing their influence and advisory role, along with Eritrea’s Isaias Afeworki, over the Ethiopian government in all domains of governance – financial, economic and political. Sudan may also capitalize on the GERD crisis to take advantage on the ongoing border dispute.

The above allegation and presuppositions are the result of analysis of contemporary political developments, historical predicaments and the growing political culture in the region as well as role of global powers and their partners in the region and the Gulf countries. The allegations require further analysis and investigation to connect the loosely linked dots, or otherwise, the government has to give a compelling and convincing statement beyond the usual politically contaminated/depleted rhetoric. Why and how the negotiation was reversed by Egypt? Why the total power to be generated decreased? Why the government accepted the US mediation (no need to argue that America was only taking an observer position)? What are the details of Ethiopia’s response submitted to the UN Security Council? Why Ahmed Ali gave his oath to Egypt against Ethiopia’s interest? What was the disagreement between Ethiopia’s negotiating team members? Why the mobilization for the dam was halted for about two years? Why and how Sudan reverse its position in favor of Egypt?

In conclusion, Ethiopians in general and the elite and particularly the professionals in the area and politicians have to closely scrutinize the allegation of political staging manufactured to misguide public attention. Ethiopians should not be fooled by such dangerous political games. If this drama is right and the government tries to play it, Ethiopia did not only loose its natural and legal right on the development and use of the Blue Nile but also it is a historical defeat of all Ethiopians that no leader nor generation was ready to accept. Ethiopia cannot and shall not accommodate such a ploy. Remain alert, expose and fight any illegal means for power and secure the GERD to the mutual benefit of all Ethiopians together.≈*≈

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