Egyptian Politicians’ proposal on GERD being approved?
It is now almost a year since Egyptian
politicians were inadvertently caught on live TV proposing military action to
sabotage the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) at a meeting called by the
then Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi. During this meeting which was
triggered by Ethiopia‟s diversion of Blue Nile, participants suggested
hostile acts against Ethiopia to stop it from building the dam. Their
suggestions were all centered on military actions to curb what they claim is a
threat to Egyptian national security. To pick some of the suggestions, Ayman
Nour, head of Ghad Party, suggested spreading rumors that Egypt is buying
military planes in order to create the impression that it is planning an
airstrike to destroy the dam. Yunis Makhyun, who heads Islamist Nur party, on
his part, said the dam constitutes a strategic danger for Egypt, requiring it
to support Ethiopian rebels which would put pressure on Ethiopian government.
Others raised the possibility of sending Special Forces to destroy the dam.
These suggestions have no power to change anything considering the stance of
Ethiopia on GERD, but needs to be vigilant enough towards these suggestions.
After these embarrassing statements on
live TV transmission, several commentators including Egyptians themselves
forwarded severe criticism against these politicians. But, here I have doubt
whether the majority of the critics from Egyptian side were against the
suggestions or against the intention of the live transmission of such a
meeting. On the other hand, the Ethiopian Government did not perceive it as
something new than as the usual bullying style by Egypt when it comes to the
Nile issue. The spokesperson of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Ato Getachew Reda
went to the extent of saying the suggestions are “a day dreaming!”
Nevertheless, the government has not undermined what were being suggested by
the politicians rather summoned the resident ambassador of Egypt to Ethiopia
and seek explanation about the hostile remarks. Whatever the reactions were,
there were two possibilities, either the incident was just a customary bullying
style of Egyptians, so that the government will not dare to go beyond
suggestions or the Egyptian government will consider what were suggested.
Considering some recent developments in the region [The Horn] which are
initiated by Egypt, I am obliged to accept the latter that the Egyptian
government is approving what were proposed by the politicians.
time President Mohammed Mursi did not directly react to the suggestions, but
said in concluding remarks that Egypt respects Ethiopia and its people and will
not engage in any aggressive acts against it. However, during Mursi‟s
Presidency or after, several incidents can be raised to illustrate that the
Egyptian government is following the blueprint of the angry politicians. The
first incident that needs to be raised is the frequent Egyptian high level
officials travel to Eritrea. For instance, in January 2014, Deputy Foreign
Minister and Special Envoy of interim President Adly Mansour, Ambassador Hamdi
Sanad Loza paid a visit to Eritrea and talked regional and bilateral issues. In
addition, in March 2014 a senior Egyptian intelligence team visited Eritrea and
talked on regional security issues with probable special focus on Ethiopia.
These visits might meant for finding ways to destabilize Ethiopia by assisting
Ethiopian rebels headquartered in Eritrea. Eritrea is suitable for this mission
as it is already playing destabilizing role in the region for which it is
already sanctioned by UN, AU and IGAD. As mentioned above, this strategy was
suggested by the angry politicians although it had not been strange to Egypt.
One can clearly understand from the timing of the visits [soon after Ethiopia
diverted Nile] that Egyptians have no other urgent agenda than the GERD issue
to talk with Eritrea at the time. Had it not been the issue of the GERD, there
is no need for such frequent travels especially for high level security officials.
I don‟t think Eritrea risks its national security by providing military
base to Egypt for Eritrea remembers the consequence of the last war with
Ethiopia. Hopefully, Eritrea also understands the current situation in Ethiopia
i.e. improving democratic system, stability, economic development, military
strength and so forth in which Eritrea lags far behind Ethiopia. Therefore, the
only thing that Egypt may consult with Eritrea is the way to assist Ethiopian
armed groups in order to destabilize the country and by doing that divert its
attention from building the dam.
The second incident is the news of Egypt‟s
plan to purchase fighter jets and other military armaments from Russia. On that
provocative meeting, Ayman Nour, head of Ghad Party, suggested spreading rumors
that Egypt is buying military planes in order to create the impression that it
is planning an airstrike to destroy the dam. Although we can not be sure that
Egypt is really set to buy fighter jets or the news is just to spread a rumor
as Mr. Nour suggested, we cannot deny the connection between the proposal and
the news. Some media even reported as the arms deal was concluded, which makes
the dream of Mr. Nour come true.
incident is the attempt of Egypt to exploit the current demonstrations over the
„Addis Ababa & the Surrounding Oromia Region Master Plan‟. Egypt
tried to exploit the demonstration held in Cairo on May 7, 2014 by some members
of Oromo Diaspora Community. In alliance with their plan of destabilizing
Ethiopia by assisting opposition, the Egypt security forces supported the
protest in Cairo. As certain regional security expert commented, protest law in
Egypt was not applied, but facilitated Oromo community protest in Cairo.” As we
know the recent protest law of Egypt has been sparking anger among political
activists, who considered it a means to limit the freedom of expression.
Surprisingly, this law was not considered when the some members of Oromo
Diaspora community took their case to Tahrir Square.
Finally, the recent arrest of three
Egyptians in Gambella Region can be mentioned even as a more solid incident
that shows the fact that the Government of Egypt is working on the proposals of
the politicians. The politicians suggested the possibility of sending special
force to sabotage the dam. Amazingly, those arrested are believed to be spies
who might be sent to investigate any possible way of sabotaging the dam.
Fortunately, they could not go further; they were arrested near the border,
thanks to our active security force! Of course, when Spokesperson Getachew said
the proposals were like “day dreaming,” it seems like Ethiopia ignored what the
politicians were talking about. But, what we witnessed in the case of these
three Egyptians does not imply that Ethiopia has ignored the possible threat
that may emanate from the suggestions of the politicians
After all, Ethiopia has to give further
emphasis to each and every assumption from the circle of those influential
politicians as Egyptian government is always ready to take into account their
ideas, however crazy their ideas are. Out of desperation, there is nothing that
Egyptian politicians would not suggest. In the same token, although the
Egyptian Government is believed to act in a bit responsible way than the
politicians, there is no guarantee to assume the Egyptian Government as
independent from the emotion that comes from the circle of those politicians.
By Lamessa Hata‟u