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Home » News » In Ethiopia, LA Times article over Nile water sparks anger

By Mohammad Awad


ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia is a proud country. A country that doesn’t like foreign, especially colonial interference in its local affairs. The Nile River is one of those areas that across the board late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was successful at bringing the country together.

When the Los Angeles Times wrote a lengthy article on the Nile River, it sparked massive anger in Ethiopia over what many called the “orientalist” support for the Arab world.

“I think this just shows that the so-called media has no idea how things really work in the world and just are getting behind countries and places where people want to read about,” said one government official who told Bikyamasr.com that the best thing the Zenawi regime did over the past two decades was to begin the process of building the Renaissance Dam.

He said that “the future of Ethiopia and Africa depends on not standing by and allowing foreign treaties by occupiers to control our destiny,” noting the continued claims by Egypt to the lion’s share of Nile River water comes from a British-brokered treaty in the 1920s and 1950s.

The LA Times article, which puts more weight and argues that if Egypt were to lose their allotment of water, the country could head to widespread shortages and agricultural detriment.

But Egypt has already reported water shortages and has failed to use desalination and other means to secure water a priority, said Ethiopian researcher Mohamed Jabar, who urged both sides to think reasonably.

“The Times article does not give any weight to the Ethiopia cause and this is unfortunate and angering,” he began, “but at the same time, the LA Times is not going to make policy or change how Ethiopia and Egypt deal with water issues.

“Cairo should not be flouting itself as anti-West and independent and at the same time hide behind a treaty that was created on their behalf when the British were in control of the country,” he added.

That treaty is a contentious issue here in Ethiopia. The British Water Nile Agreement of 1929 – brokered by the British when they were the colonial power – delivered Egypt as the sole recipient of Nile River water, at least the vast majority.

Egypt was guaranteed 48 billion cubic meters of water. Following a further 1959 deal, which did little more than reaffirm Egypt and Sudan’s right to a majority of the Nile, this was increased to 55.5 billion cubic meters, while Sudan is allotted 14.5 billion cubic meters.

“It is not Ethiopia’s problem that Egypt’s sole source of water is Nile. Sure, our country is blessed with several rivers but it is absurd to suggest that we should spare Nile for foreigners. No international law prevents Ethiopia from utilizing its natural resources, no amount of war mongering from Egypt will stop the building of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The author even mentions that Ethiopia uses just 3% of the water despite it supplies more than 75% of the water to Nile,” wrote an editorial by Nazret.com, an Ethiopian news portal, on the topic of Nile water.

Top Ethiopia government officials have told Bikyamasr.com that they are looking at jumpstarting the massive Renaissance Dam project along the Nile River in an effort to increase water resources and energy for the East African country.

The moves could threaten the regional stability after the Egyptian government said it remained “concerned” over Ethiopia’s actions along the Nile River.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also called on Addis Ababa to push the dam project to the backburner in order to focus on other economic initiatives.

While Cairo has denied any intention of attacking the dam, as reported by whistleblower website Wikileaks, the country’s Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa el-Din said last month that his country was maintaining its concerns about the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia.

He did say that officials at the Ethiopia foreign ministry “assured Egypt and Sudan that in case there was any impact on their water quota to the dam, other projects will be carried out to collect lost water and cover shortages.”

It is the latest in the ongoing battle for the world’s largest river’s water, with Egypt and Sudan continuing to remain obstinate in amending any of the colonial treaties that guarantee their countries with a lion’s share of water from the Nile.

Wikileaks released documents this fall that revealed Egypt and Sudan had been planning to attack an Ethiopian dam project to “protect” their rights over Nile water based on colonial era treaties.

In documents revealed by Wikileaks, the Egyptian and Sudanese government appeared ready to develop a launching pad for an attack by Egypt against the dam.

Wikileaks has leaked files allegedly from the Texas-based global intelligence company, Stratfor, which quote an anonymous “high-level Egyptian source,” which reported that the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon said in 2010 that Egypt “would do anything to prevent the secession of South Sudan because of the political implications it will have for Egypt’s access to the Nile.”

Ethiopia’s massive dam project has seen much concern from Cairo and Khartoum, who fear the establishment of Africa’s largest dam would affect previous colonial deals on Nile water-sharing.

It is to be built some 40 kilometers upstream from Sudan on the Blue Nile.

14 Responses to “In Ethiopia, LA Times article over Nile water sparks anger”

  1. It is poor analaysis. They shall refer meles’s response for Alijezira Tv.

    • If there was one colonial treaty, let the colonized and the colonialists worry about it. Because those who went through colonialism are still under the influence of sub-conscious colonialism, sadly, thinking it might still work. Our (Ethiopians) message for them is “it’s 21st century”. With regards to the LA Times assumption, they too were under colonialism and writing as if it’s working today. They should know or understand better why the US celebrates 4th of July. Regardless, the GRAND RENAISSANCE DAM will go on as planned and started, no looking back and all should know that, including LA Times poor writers who are illiterate about history.

  2. Asre Smile November 15, 2012

    We’ve already started the long journey and still keep going and no one gonna stop us from building the grand renaissance dam, just no one! Not Egypt, not Sudan. We have the right and the ability to utilize our own resources and not supposed to ask any one’s permission. We the people of Ethiopia are so eager to see the Dam finished and proud to be part of the shift. We’ll make history and amaze the world because it is the time to do so. I am proud to be part of the shift.

  3. Nothing can stop us to use our God gift, NILE.

  4. Dear Egyptians, our current brothers and sisters the likelihood to be our near future enemies,

    Engaging a war with Ethiopia is not like as gathering in Teheran Square and make slogan, it is a matter of changing Cairo from existent to nonexistent. It is not simple as that some of your expert thinks. Think about it.

  5. zey will not even think to attack the dam coz zey dont forget what aswan dam is for egypt.

  6. nothing stop us

  7. We have no intention to do bad to both countries • but we do for our enemy poverty . Infact as every researchs show its better for them and for environment to build the dam in ethiopia. We love egypt and sudan.

  8. v
    Ethiopia never been tied for colonialists, & will never confined to colonialist’s unfair treaty to which our colonized neighbours are proud, I belive in fair share of resources, and peace but it is our right to develop with our own river sources. Ethiopans are giving out what they have to see this dame done, & and 100 percent sure they will give their life if any attempt against their dreams about to come. My last mssg is Dont underestimate Ethiopian Military power!!!

  9. wossen The Tunder ! November 18, 2012

    TTomy DearestEgypt andSudanees Nations ! my message as un Ethiopian aswellas unAfrican ! Think about G.Nile posetivily donot follow The Former Colonialist bade idea instead bee Ready to do good thing for Mother Ethiopia How to make it ever green and all her Mountains Gorges and plain Lands to cover by Forests Green plants to produce Thise G. Nile Living Water tokeep it fllow and fiything Global Woarm My African Nathions do not focus The Earlytimes bad idea Treaty thatdoes not work Forever andEver you have too know Etniopians are fullof Wizdome ! God bless Ethiopia ! God bless Africa !

  10. It is realy our right to use our river.

  11. It is the rights of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, DRC, …. even that of Eritrea t use the Nile water as much as possible fairly. I don’t understand where the hell this selfish, stubborn and outdated claim of Egypt to take more than 90% of the Nile water comes from. If there will be a any logical critera to divide the nile water shares among these countries, it will definitiely provide Ethiopia the lion share as it sources over 85% of the Nile water. If Egypt will try to bring the law of the jungle in to this, it will only take a lasting lesson that it wil never have the chnace to apply. Don’t ever try to mess up with the Lions of Africa, just a bit of advice good boys!

  12. |The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

    biuro rachunkowe opole


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