Last Update 1:41
Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Ethiopian Prime Minister Zenawi's recent visit to Egypt receives mixed reviews

Some experts see a thawing in Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, strained over Ethiopia's plan to build a massive dam over the Nile; others remain concerned

Ahmed Eleiba , Wednesday 21 Sep 2011
Ethiopia
Egypt's Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Hesham Mohamed Qandil (R) shakes hands with Ethiopia's Minister of Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu (2nd L), as Egypt's Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi clap, Cairo, September 17, (Reuters).
Share/Bookmark
Views: 8903
Share/Bookmark
Views: 8903

At the end of his second trip to Cairo to meet with government and military officials on Saturday, Cairo’s response to Ethiopian Prime minister Meles Zenawi’s visit muddled more issues regarding relationships among the Nile Basin states.

Ethiopia is planning to build a dam on the Nile that would affect the water flow to other countries that use the waters of the Nile, including Egypt.

A partnership agreement, signed a few days ago between Egypt and Ethiopia, used more flexible language in order that security envoys would have fewer diplomatic battles than they had in the past. It eventually resulted in the signing of a framework agreement to construct dams in Ethiopia – the main Nile water source country from which Egypt receives most of its water quota.

“The evaluation of the Foreign Ministry and the government is that Zenawi’s visit was overall positive,” Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ambassador Amr Roshdy, told Ahram Online. “It appears that disputed issues are moving in the right direction. We agreed to create a trilateral committee to manage the Nile water crisis, including Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. This will serve Egypt, since the committee will evaluate reviving the centennial dam project and its effect. This is a critical breakthrough on the issue.”

But experts caution against too much optimism. Akram Hossam, an expert at the National Centre for Middle East Studies, agrees that the visit appears to be a move towards improving bilateral relations on the official level to turning away from the animosity of the past. “There is an obvious positive side to sedate the language of dialogue with Egypt,” Hossam said. “Former President Hosni Mubarak dealt with the issue as a personal vendetta with Ethiopia because of the failed assassination attempt on his life there in the 1990s. Some even suggested that we were on the verge of war.”

Responding to Roshdy’s statements, Hossam said that “certainly everyone is confirming it was a positive visit, but it is important to realise that the actual breakthrough is a halt in Ethiopia’s intense campaign to reduce Egypt’s water share among other source countries, after it spearheaded the battle for the framework agreement.” He argues that “what is needed now is more than a diplomatic truce, protocol measures and calm words. There must be parallel steps with the trilateral committee that go beyond evaluating the centennial dam.”

Hossam suggests that joint bilateral action should be coordinated and implemented through a bilateral Egyptian-Ethiopian committee the follows a clear, well-informed plan in order not to be blindsided by unexpected diplomatic surprises. For Hossam, the post-Mubarak era in Egypt and the Egyptian-Ethiopian rapproachment measures are not sufficient guarantees for Cairo. “We don’t want to be surprised by another coup,” he advised.

Sudan is also apprehensive about developments on this issue and its level of anxiety rose after South Sudan seceded. Sudan, a mainly Muslim country, is on edge also when talk of South Sudan normalising relations with Israel surfaced, followed by reports of Israeli presence in Ethiopia (which many ambassadors say was exaggerated during the Mubarak era).

“Meles Zenawi did not come to Egypt to negotiate,” asserts Abdo Hammad, a Sudanese expert on African issues, “but came to re-introduce himself; not only as a statesman but an international figure. He played a key role in calming tensions between North and South Sudan and deployed his troops in Abyei under the UN banner, not Ethiopia’s. This indicates that work on the Centennial Dam did not - and will not stop.”

Hammad added, however, that “since there is now dialogue on the issue, there is a different posture. We sense he is composed when talking about exporting water to Israel – an issue that had compounded tensions.”

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 1000 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.
15



YM
22-09-2011 02:25pm
0-
0+
Nile water to be exported to Israeil
The nile water will continue to flow as it has for millions of years. In fact, Sudan and Egypt might get a better regulated and stable flow in all seasons once the Dam is built. The Ethiopian government has repeatedly stated that there is no intent of holding the water back. We have the right to use our own water to look after our people. The flow of water then will continue on its path. Anyone, Egyptian or otherwise who cannot buy into the idea that Ethiopians have the right to use the water is out of his or her mind. We value our people's well being as much as any nation and government. We will do no harm to others and it has been said that building the dam will create a win/win situation. If Egypt/Egyptians are interested in such a win/win scenario then our time is here and in due time, it will be realized. If on the other hand, the intent of Egypt and the Egyptian people is that they want it all to themselves irrespective of those who are at the source of nile waters this
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
14



Tedros
22-09-2011 01:40am
0-
0+
Water to Israel
"Ethiopia exporting water to Israel..." ???? What are qualifications to be Egyptian reporter?
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
13



be ewnetu
21-09-2011 08:18pm
0-
0+
aware
In mysind any resource is belongs to the region, this is commencense low, whoevver made an umfair rule and low can overthrow by new fair low, aware! now it's already started the project of dam and negotation, if it's going fair well,that's owesome, if not, this time is already we are on the way!!!
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
12



yohannes
21-09-2011 08:13pm
0-
0+
they are brothers
indeed it is true, ethiopian and Egyptians are brothers, and any problem will risolve accordingly. the Nile water is of all, that is the gift of God, Allah. and we have to rispct the law of God. Il dialgue will prevale between them, and thy will share equally. No ethiopian would like to harm Egiptian brothers.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
11



Teweldebrhan K.
21-09-2011 07:53pm
0-
0+
Nile
The potential of the hydropower in Ethiopia is so huge that anything can be thought including exporting to Europe. But nothing has been insinuated in the bilateral talks between the leaders nor is necessary as it is impractical at least in the short term. So why is the talk of exporting power to Israel? The Nile water will be utilized for just generating power, hitting the turbines and follow its course. How on earth can this affect the flow of water? Besides someone was talking non-sense as Ethiopia is half Muslim country. What has the utilization of own resources got to do with religion? Is it to imply that these problems would not have existed if Ethiopia were a Muslim country? It is utterly misplaced argument. And Mr. Adel please revise your book or else it would be irrelevant in the 21st century. There would not be any war on the Nile waters.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
10



moa
21-09-2011 07:46pm
0-
0+
Abay is Ethiopian
Egypt should know, the River Abay is Ethiopian. Egypt is getting this water in Ethiopia's good gesture. Egypt cannot continue to rely on this water, as Ethiopia's population grows and it moves itself out of the current devastating poverty the water share of Egypt will come down. Use cheap methods to flash the salt out of sea water and use that. Ethiopia is land locked.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
9



bika
21-09-2011 07:11pm
0-
0+
some experts
....the battle for the framework of agreement is not Ethiopia's only.There are other five or six African countries eager to have the right to use their share of the Nile water lawfully.I regard what Mr.Hossam said as a cheap move to divide members of the Nile basin countries.P M Meles's visit has nothing to do with the framework agreement.you said "calm words" are needed but I don't think you believe in what you said....
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
8



Alula Yohanes
21-09-2011 06:40pm
0-
0+
Better to Benefit together
Now is the right time that the two countries should work for the mutual benefit of their people from the natural resource. In this century, the idea of monoplizing natural resources should come to an end. Ethiopians have been denied to utilize their own resource and were suffering from deep rooted poverty for many centuries. Now they have started to develop their nation by constructing the reneisance dam which is also useful for both the Sudan and Egypt in varous ways from their own budget. The construction of the dam will neither stop nor delayed for a moment. The government of Egypt has to show its support to the Ethiopian people by encouraging the Ethiopian government towards the accomplishment of the dam in its scheduled time
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
7



chala
21-09-2011 02:50pm
0-
0+
Nile-Egypt-Ethiopia
Let us all use our head not our stomach,There is no need for here say let us be realistic. We have water which is beneficiary to both people. Both can and will use it on equitable manner with no conflict of interest. Neither Ethiopians nor Egyptians will not like to be sole beneficiary at the expense of the other,They will do it on mutually agreed principles that will benefit both. "Ethiopia exporting water to Israel" This is ridicules I am sure any one with good knowledge of geography and economy knowledge won't say this unless he want to use it for political purpose, indeed Egypt can and it has shown intention even before and this is not a great deal, but let us thing with our head be realistic.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
6



bantayehu
21-09-2011 02:45pm
0-
0+
thinking globally
in this era of globalization..states and peoples of the glob are cooperating or tend to cooperate.exemplified by states reach each other at the time of disaster and any other problem which a state cant deal with individually.the state and people of Egypt should not be indifferent while z people of Ethiopia are dying of starvation being z native of 85% of z source of z Nile.each and every citizen of Egypt have to care for z dying people of their brothers and sisters in Ethiopia not only to be a global citizen but based on the sense of humanity.because people at the source strongly believe that Egypt is the creation of z Nile.so the new rapprochement of the two states is something to appreciated and a step forward for the relation of these sisterly nations.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.