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Egypt presidency, opposition figures discuss Ethiopia dam 'crisis'
President Mohamed Morsi meets with host of Egyptian opposition figures to discuss 'crisis' posed by Ethiopia's controversial Renaissance Dam project
Nada Hussein Rashwan, Monday 3 Jun 2013
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Egypt politicians meeting
President Morsi met with different political figures to discuss the 'crisis' of the controversial dam project in Ethiopia (Photo: Facebook page of Egypt's presidency)

Opposition figures from across Egypt's political spectrum on Monday asserted that Ethiopia's controversial Renaissance Dam project constituted a potential "crisis" for Egypt.

The assertions were made at a meeting between President Mohamed Morsi and a group of Egyptian political figures.

The meeting was convened to discuss the findings of an eagerly-awaited report by a tripartite commission – including Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian representatives – tasked with studying the dam's potential impact on downstream states.

During the meeting, the presidency contended that the potential impact of Ethiopia's dam project on downstream states – namely Egypt and Sudan – had not been taken into account when the dam was designed.

"It appears that Ethiopia did not deeply study the social and environmental impact of the dam on the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan, such as possible effects on…crops and the fishing industry," Morsi told meeting attendees.

Khalid El-Qazaz, presidential secretary for foreign affairs, said that, according to the report, a change in quality of Nile water as a result of the dam would likely harm soil fertility in both downstream states but would affect Sudan more gravely.

The president also said the report did not contain information concerning the impact of the planned Saddle Dam, a part of the project which diverts water back to the Blue Nile to allow the hydroelectric turbines to operate – an element of the project he described as "equally important" as the main dam.

"Ethiopia has to commit to a certain deadline for providing more substantial information on the impact of the dam. It also has to sign a written, internationally accountable document that guarantees the dam will not harm Egypt and Sudan," the presidency declared.

"There is also a need for a technical committee to supervise the project."

'Putting differences aside'

President Morsi called on all political forces to "unite" and put differences aside for the good of Egypt. He was speaking before more than a dozen political and religious figures who had responded to an invitation to a national dialogue meeting concerning Egypt's stance on the Renaissance Dam.

"The water issue is a matter of national security. All options must be available in dealing with the Renaissance Dam crisis," Mohamed El-Katatni, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said at the meeting.

Salafist Nour Party head Younis Makhioun said at the meeting that Egypt still needed to communicate at a presidential level with Sudan. He also called on Ethiopia to "immediately halt" construction of the dam until a conclusive report was produced.

Makhioun added that Ethiopia had chosen the timing to begin the construction process "because they know there is political tension in Egypt," stressing the importance of political unity.

In comments made via Twitter following the meeting, head of the liberal Ghad El-Thawra Party Ayman Nour expressed his "surprise" that the meeting was televised, adding that attendees were not informed of this prior to the meeting "despite the sensitivity of the situation."

Prominent liberal political commentator Amr Hamzawy, however, commended the president for providing a "transparent" account of the situation, recommending that Egypt form a "crisis management committee" to deal with the issue diplomatically.

Hamzawy also stressed that the presidency needed to maintain transparency with the public on the issue. Makhioun echoed this opinion, describing transparency as "crucial" in mobilising popular support for any move Egypt makes in response to the issue.

A number of political figures, including some leaders of opposition coalition the National Salvation Front, meanwhile, rejected the president's invitation to Monday's meeting, expressing concerns over the transparency and efficacy of the talks.

The last time the president called for a meeting with a diverse group of Egyptian leaders was last month, when seven Egyptian security officials were kidnapped in Sinai.

Most representatives of liberal parties declined the invitation at the time, amid an ongoing political dispute with the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which President Morsi hails.

'Battle not only with Ethiopia'

Some of those who spoke at the meeting brought up wider concerns about the dam project.

Al-Azhar representative Sheikh Hassan El-Shafei said that the situation was a result of the neglect of Nile Basin issues by former presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.

"I remember an Ethiopian foreign minister once said during a visit to Egypt that 'the Nile does not have wings in the air to fly to Israel, but it might have underground ones'," El-Shafei said, hinting that Ethiopia might use the project to export Nile water to Israel, with whom it has long enjoyed good relations.

Makhioun, for his part, said that it would be "strategically dangerous" for Egypt to allow the dam's construction, as it would provide the US and Ethiopia with a bargaining chip against Egypt and Sudan.

Magdy Hussein, head of Egypt's Labour Party, agreed with both El-Shafei and Makhioun.

"The real battle isn't only with Ethiopia," Hussein said. "It is with the US and Israel.”

Morsi announced that a summary of all the recommendations to come out of Monday's meeting would be presented to the cabinet later the same day.

The international committee looking into the effects of the dam is made up of Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian representatives, as well as international experts. Since May of last year, it has been studying the impact of the planned dam project.

Last Wednesday, Egypt summoned Ethiopian Ambassador Mahmoud Dardir to express its displeasure with Ethiopia's diversion of part of the Blue Nile as part of the preparations for the dam's construction.

The dressing down came amid harsh Egyptian criticisms of Ethiopia's decision to go ahead with the project without taking the technical committee's recommendations into account.

The move to divert part of the Blue Nile, called "historic" by Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon, was censured by downstream Egypt, since the step could negatively affect the latter's annual share of Nile water.

The Blue Nile provides Egypt with the lion's share of its annual allotment of 55 billion cubic metres of river water.

Ethiopian officials, meanwhile, have attempted to dispel fears regarding the dam's potential impact, stressing the project would ultimately benefit all the riparian states.



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Medhin
11-06-2013 03:18pm
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Peace must prevail in every corner of the world
No war option is required! Egypt! pls keep on handling peace,b/c we are living in civilized world.Our bullet is peaseful coexistance and share the natural resources delivered by our Almighty God.We never shoot bullets,we do not have time to shoot; if done by you unmeasurable consequence will be rsulted.Be carefull!OK!
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9



Eyob
05-06-2013 05:59am
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Nile
Most Ethiopian have already know that Egypt is their number one enemy many years ago. Egypt wants Ethiopia to live in poverty and conflict so that the country can not use its water natural resource. I will happy to hear that Ethiopia Air force be able to hit Aswan Dam in EGYPT if Egypt hit Ethiopia Dam.
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8



Tirusew
04-06-2013 10:59pm
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We have the right to use the Blue Nile for every purpose .
Ethiopia have a right to use the blue Nile for every purpose not only for generating electric power even if to use for irrigation that is our right We will not ask the permission of the other look at our history ,we are not colonized by any foreigner and once you now my grand fathers hand and we are the son and the daughter of our for fathers finally We will said Ethiopia produce 85%of the Nile water ,then we want fairly use of the water we are not selfish and no one can stop to build our grand renascence dam that is it.
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7



Saif
04-06-2013 01:38pm
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Egypt Should Use Millitary Force
Even if the Ethiopians don't use the water for irrigation which I think they are lying about, merely constructing the dam will increase the surface area of the Nile water significantly thus allot of water will be lost by evaporation. Egypt may lose up 20% of the Nile water if not more
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Exstraterrstrial
04-06-2013 09:05pm
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WHAT LOSS?
What loss you are talking about, you got no water until it cross your border. By the way we will love the military brag of Egypt so that we teach you a lesson ones for all, Come on bring it.
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Tsegaye Mebrahtu
04-06-2013 01:33pm
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Conspiracy
Who conspire with Israel? Egypt or Ethiopia. We never make bad deal with Israel but Egypt denied Arab cause and signed Camp David agreement to get US donations. That is a real history until now. Please leave us alone. We are proud black people with ancient civilization that were never colonized. If we have to utilize blue nile, "we call it ABAY", we will simply use it. No one protects us from doing so. Live with fact and adjust your mentality.
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5



Son of Abay
04-06-2013 11:05am
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Egypt concern fall to the fertile soil
When you read thoroughly this article, It's simple easily to understand the Egyptian fear on the Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam construction. In my view the Egyptian knows very well that the dam would not bring any negative impact to the riparian downstream states due to the construction of dam for only hydroelectric generation, I think they are worrying about the fertile soil which is eroding & transporting from Ethiopia for centuries through Abay (Blue Nile)and as per they expectation which might be loosing in the future due to the regulated and well filtered water flow from the dam, any ways I would like to advice them to concentrate more and accept the win-win proposal forwarded by the upstream states.
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minama
04-06-2013 09:30am
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21st century way of seeing things
On the story I learned how some junior politicians of Egypt spoke. Demanding Ethiopia to stop the dam means is not easy in itself- it may spur unwanted tension and goes to extent of destruction- I even do not like to mention the word humble reader may infer what i am saying. so, the win win face of the chapter should be opened. Ethiopia is already open but claiming 55 billion cubic meter is toooooooo unfair (sorry for using word not in British dictionaries. moreover, can outsiders stop Ethiopia to use its river. By the way Abbay means many many things to Ethiopians. We did not exploit it as the Egyptians-Thanks for then political plotting them Egyptian leaders.
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3



kasfaw
04-06-2013 04:16am
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selam
Thanks the God of Israel, The Almighty God of Abraham who brought to light their secret plot to the whole world against Africans and Ethiopians in particular. Are u Islamists trying to divert the real and exploding political,social and economic problems in your country? '' Eighty-five percent of Nile waters originate in Ethiopia, yet the nation utilizes very little of them, and the country has become synonymous with famine.'' What do you feel when you read this our dear Egyptian brothers and sisters? As for the bravado of the current Egyptian Islamist politicians, Ethiopians will only get more united in the face of this threat. Also, be mindful that the 87% of the water of the Nile will continue to flow from Ethiopia. As to their plots to destabilize Ethiopia,nothing is new. They have been playing this dirty game forever. But now we know what additional plots you have in your hearts. Therefore, any future relationships with Egypt, be it economic, social,or political must be approached with maximum caution.Thank you Dr. Morsi for not revealing to them your discussions were being aired. It is sad that Egypt kept on biting the very hand(Africa) that is feeding her.'' Ethiopia Shall stretch her hands unto God" God Bless Africa!!.God Bless the World!!!
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2



be mature
03-06-2013 11:59pm
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party "leaders"
Some of the party "leaders" at the meeting are immature. They speak irresponsibly. They don't think reasonably. Ethiopia has the right to built Dam on Nile. If they don't like Ethiopia using the water, nothing they can do. Every country has the right to use its resource whether other countries like it or not. The reality is: What this immature leaders suggested will hurt Egypt permanently and severely. They need to accept the reality.
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1



zeray
03-06-2013 10:10pm
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Accept the win-win proposal
As you know Abay (Nile) is originated from Ethiopia but we never used it for centuries for the production to feed our people, other than the tourism staff. But now the new generation becomes aware of Nile. So we have to use it together. We don't want to circulate the water in to Ethiopia just we said to generate a electric power and the rest to flow to the downstream path. This is a win-win proposal if you have a good mind. If you want to be smart, there is no foolish generation. Think positively and let’s use the natural water together, unless it would be a crime for you when you see it later. We already start the construction because we are logical and reasonable on what we are doing. Now we don't care about your past, present and future government talking about our Abay (Nile). We need to share from the water. We never jump to Egypt or Sudan just we said in our country and we Ethiopian never dare a Sovereign country. Here is the message for those who are shouting without convincing reason.
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Shinn
23-12-2013 02:58am
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Hi! I've been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!

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