Last Update 22:8
President Morsi calls for Egyptian 'unity' in face of threats to Nile water
Egyptian president tells Islamist audience that Egypt must 'stand united' before potential threats to country's water resources, while stressing that dialogue with upstream states remains 'best means' of resolving crisis
Ahram Online, Tuesday 11 Jun 2013
Share/Bookmark
Views: 4177
Morsi
President Mohamed Morsi speaking at Cairo Convention Center in conference on Ethiopian Nile Dam impact on Egypt (Photo:Ahram)

In an attempt to show unity against potentially adverse effect of Ethiopia's Grand Nile Dam project on Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi delivered a speech to an all-Islamist audience on Monday evening, at which he urged attendees to stand united in the face of Egypt's latest foreign policy challenge.

"If Egypt is 'the gift of the Nile,' then the Nile is God’s gift to Egypt," were the opening lines of Morsi’s speech at a national conference organised by Egyptian Islamist parties. The event was held to discuss recommended responses to Ethiopia's recent decision to divert the course of the Blue Nile – a move that Egyptian critics fear could diminish Egypt's traditional share of Nile water.

"This is a great show of unity that reveals that we stand together to face threats to the country," the president said before cheering crowds.

"As free revolutionaries, we will continue on our path," large swathes of the audience chanted in unison.

Blaming Egypt's former regime and "those who wish to see [the former regime's] return" for alienating Egypt from fellow African countries, Morsi stressed Egypt's vital role in the region. He went on to blame the current row with Ethiopia on decades of Mubarak-era corruption and lack of transparency.

The president also stressed that Egypt would not be distracted from its mission to protect its borders, water resources and land by post-revolution political turbulence or economic challenges. "We will defend each drop of Nile water with our blood if necessary," he warned.

President Morsi repeatedly stressed that Egyptians would "not tolerate" any threat to their traditional allotment of Nile water, describing the river as the country's "primary source of livelihood, history and civilisation."

"The people of Egypt are patient with anything, unless their borders and lives are put under threat... in which case we will stand united to tear out the threat at the root," he declared. "With our faith in God and the will of the Egyptian people, we will surmount all difficulties."

Calls for 'dialogue'

The president went on to stress, however, that "dialogue" with its fellow riparian states represented Egypt's "best means" of resolving the crisis.

After May 2011, he said, Egypt had joined an international commission tasked with studying the dam's potential impact on downstream states. The commission, he said, had so far held six meetings and conducted four field visits to Ethiopia.

The studies, however, had proven insufficient to assess the dam's impact on Egypt or assess its overall environmental and social impacts, he said. Independent technical studies by foreign specialists, he added, had revealed that the dam would have negative ramifications if it was not built in accordance with certain criteria.

Morsi went on to say Egypt had been exerting efforts to bolster relations with Nile Basin states, especially Ethiopia, citing recent increases in tourist numbers and bilateral trade, along with $2 billion worth of recent Egyptian investments in Ethiopia.

An Egyptian committee, meanwhile, has also been drawn up, he said, to prepare Egypt for the "defence of its security from any possible threat."

The president also said that "all options" were on the table to respond to the current situation and insisted that Egypt would not accept infringements on its water security.

"We have said several times that Egyptians with their revolution carry a message of peace...We do not want war, but we do not accept threats to our security."

Morsi also asked opposing political forces to stand united at a time when Egypt faces hard challenges and to put aside all political rivalries. He went on to call for "national reconciliation," adding that he was certain that political figures would respond positively to his appeals.

"The country demands that we stand united," he said, issuing his call for reconciliation only weeks before planned mass demonstrations on 30 June to demand snap presidential elections.

Finally, the president said that Egypt sought to "strengthen unity" with other African states, especially Ethiopia. "We do not want to create enemies; we want dialogue... and development for Africa," he asserted.

With hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members outside the conference venue and hundreds more inside the auditorium, the president was constantly cheered by supporters.

'Conspiracies, challenges'

Also speaking at the podium were Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya member Safwat Abdel-Ghani, representing the political parties that hosted the event, and Akram El-Ganzouri, representing participating professional syndicates.

Abdel-Ghani expressed concern that Egypt was facing many "conspiracies and challenges," including limited water resources and a steadily mounting population, but also referred to "international forces interfering in Africa [in an effort] to become regional players at the expense of Egypt’s diminishing role."

"We should not forget that these forces are plotting against Egypt and exploiting the region's poverty," he said, hinting that the Ethiopian dam project had been encouraged by foreign interests.

Listing the recommendations of political parties, Abdel-Ghani demanded that Ethiopia halt any further work on the dam until a comprehensive study is finalised by the tripartite committee and Egypt and Sudan had coordinated their positions.

The Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya leader also called on Egypt to "watch the movements of the Zionist enemy operating within the Nile Basin countries."

"We will say this one generation after the other: we will remain Israel's enemy," the crowd chanted in response.

At a 3 June meeting between political forces and the presidency, concern was expressed by some attendees that Ethiopia might use the dam project to export Nile water to Israel, with whom Addis Ababa had long enjoyed good relations.

"All options should remain open to defend Egypt’s right to water, which an issue of national security," Abdel-Ghani concluded.

The conference was called for by Islamist parties at a meeting hosted by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) last week, held to mull possible responses to the Nile dam crisis.

Earlier last week, President Morsi met with a group of political figures to discuss the report issued by the international technical committee tasked with studying the Ethiopian dam's impact.

The meeting triggered a storm of controversy as various figures present made open threats against Ethiopia, unaware that the meeting was being televised live.

Ethiopia set off alarm bells in Cairo two weeks ago when it began diverting a stretch of the Blue Nile to make way for the $4.7 billion hydroelectric Renaissance Dam project.

Ethiopia has faced criticism by downstream Nile countries Egypt and Sudan for going ahead with the project without waiting on the recommendations of the committee tasked with studying the regional impact of the dam.

Nile riparian countries have argued over the division of Nile water for decades. Analysts have repeatedly warned that the dispute could eventually boil over into military conflict.





Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 4000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
17



tedy
12-06-2013 11:50am
1-
0+
why u so crowl
u should undestand what the science says, u wont loose any water , rather a constant flow of water. the most u miss may be sailing on the lake , walk by foot. damn we dont fear u !!!!
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
16



Sodo Malima
11-06-2013 10:14pm
1-
2+
Let's Defend!
Egypt says it shall defend its every drop of water with its corresponding blood drop. But, what do you think about we, Ethiopians? Please do not bully us; 'cus we'll do same to make sure that our right to the use of each drop of our water is kept intact. And I know that God helps those who help themselves.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
15



Extraterrstrial
11-06-2013 09:08pm
0-
2+
PLAYING WITH FIRE
Those politicians who play the Nile Issue as a political card for power both in Egypt and Ethiopia are playing with fire.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
14



Addis
11-06-2013 09:05pm
0-
4+
double standard
The Merowe dam in the Sudan which is the fifth dam built on the river did not stop the flow of the water why do you falsely claim a dam built at the exit of the river from Ethiopia be any different?The double standard is outrageous. The doom and gloom you believe is your choice but the dam will be operational.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
13



Farid
11-06-2013 03:11pm
0-
6+
Deception
It'a a historical fact that common enemy unites divided nation. And this is the card that Mr. Morsi is playing now, unfortunately its a wrong time for such a move.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
12



Bill
11-06-2013 01:22pm
1-
9+
Morsi confuses me with his flip flops
How can the Ethiopia dam be an emergency if Morsi expressed his full support for their dam and told Egypt and the world that the dam poses no danger for Egypt.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
11



eyob
11-06-2013 01:19pm
0-
6+
calm down
Mr Morsi as you tell us your ligtimate right to use the Nile how dare do you thing you are ligitmate to privets us" the source" to drink a sip.Don't you think it would be an irony that we have a deal to sell the water to zoinsis state?who make the project of piping the water to the sinie desert and to israel? better to sit and think what you speaking.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
10



Mulugeta Amsalu
11-06-2013 01:16pm
1-
6+
President Morsi speach on the Blue Nile Dam
President Morsi is aware of that the Ethiopian dam does not affect Egypt. But he is trying to divert enternal problems by creating a crisis that does not exit. For people who does know how a dam to produce electricity works, a river flows and if there is 'obstacle' on its way it just pushes the 'obstacle' and continue to flow as usuall. And the president knows that.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
9



Blue Nile Son
11-06-2013 01:02pm
0-
2+
Egypt better aforest Ethiopian highland
Rainfall in Ethiopian highlands is highly reduced due to extraordinary deforestation and fuel consumption and as the result Nile water and its sources Lake Tana has been tremendously affected. In this case are you going to talk also your ‘historical right' or rhetoric war over Ethiopia?! I don't think. Better co-operate for the Ethiopians’ energy production for alleviating the above man made catastrophic rather. Better avoid sitting idle and over producing your population. Rather help Ethiopians in afforestation and environmental developments. Green Ethiopia means Green Egypt. Please understand Ethiopians / Africans, it is not the last era, it is the 20th century. Let alone the quality of the water is at the hands of Ethiopians. I assure you that at this moment for any threat there will be double reverse threat!!!
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
8



Abewa Admasu
11-06-2013 12:29pm
0-
2+
one and only one without difference in religion ,ethnicity...
ETHIOPIA my country a right to build renaissance dam by only Ethiopians.no need of support.be sure egypt must go with peace unless other wise with infront of international community we ethiopians are one and only one without difference in religion ,ethnicity... remember history of italy
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment

© 2010 Ahram Online. Advertising