Egypt, Playing The Wrong Chords And Producing A Discordant Tone

By Tsehaye Debalkew
Jan. 07 2011

The seemingly insurmountable hurdle affecting cooperation on the sharing of the resources of the River Nile has been the glaring lack of a binding agreement between all the Nile based countries pertaining to the optimum utilization, fair and just distribution of the Nile waters. As it currently stands, division of the Nile water is determined by the lopsided and exclusionary colonial treaty of 1929 whose signatories were Britain, the then colonial master and its tutelage, Egypt, representing other colonial satellite states then under British hegemony. Later on, this concord found its expression by putting the last nail on the coffin, by an accord entered between Egypt and the Sudan,

Although the latter treaty was undertaken between the two club members of the British colonial empire, namely Egypt and the Sudan, the former was embossed with the insignia of taking the lion's share of the Nile water in an alarmingly unjust and unfair paradoxical conundrum.

As a consequence of this riddle the answer contains a pun that favored Egypt. No sooner did the accord held sway, than Egypt was granted an exclusive right to undertake Nile River related projects without the need to consult or seek the consent of the upper riparian countries.

What is more, Egypt has ripped from this agreement a wholesale veto power to block ipso facto, any water project undertaken in upstream countries without its express permission and perforce, reserved the right to monitor the Nile flow in the upper riparian countries.

This being the objectively inescapable scenario, one would rightly expect from Egypt, in contemporary twenty first century, a change of mind and attitude propelling the urge to dismantle and discard such unjust legacy from the colonial era to nothingness and be ready to be governed by the dictates of the present time realities that obtain in the Nile basin countries.

Unfortunately, Egypt as late as today, January 6, 2011 is still slumbering in the old colonial era, by tirelessly repeating the same old story and playing nothing but the outmoded discordant music by wielding the gavel as handed over to it by its sole colonial master.

In a bizarre piece of story-line that appeared on Ahram, an online Egyptian newsletter, Egypt still opts to cover its eyes and fails to decipher the truth as opposed to the mirage. It portends to claim in the words of its top official, "Someone is whispering in the ear of the Nile basin countries that the 21st century is the century of water". It was Mustafa El-Fiqi the Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Relations committee of Egypt who entertains such hallucination and continues that "While the 20th century was the era of oil and the Arabs benefited greatly from that, it is now their turn to reap the rewards and put a price on water and sell it as the Arabs did oil".

This contention not only unmistakably demonstrates the thinking pattern and belief of the Egyptian authorities, and their poverty of philosophy when they compare water with oil, while they failed to see even the rudimentary intrinsically intertwined and interwoven relationship that remained between humanity and water since the emergence of life, and will uninterruptedly continue for eternity, while that of oil is a transient phenomenon.
Still alarming is their unwavering desire to cling to the unjust treaty which unjustly allowed their sacrosanct prerogative even at the demise of other nations, who only are echoing for fair and just distribution of the Nile water.

Funny enough, the Egyptian authorities unashamed of their utter clinging to unfair and unjust colonial treaties, all the more err, by their provision of unlocking the current status-quo, by assigning a false blame on Ethiopia, who they unabashedly accuse in the same online article as a country that "resents Egypt's presence among the Nile basin States".

For this wild claim to hold water, they argue that the Nile crises are primarily political and allege that in the words of Mustafa El-Fiqi, "Ethiopia's role in the continent has historically been in direct conflict with Egypt's because it views Cairo as a colonizer".

Small wonder Ethiopia, knows better who the colonizers and their surrogates are in no uncertain terms. Primarily because, in its long standing history of anti-colonial struggle that occupies a shining and startling chapter in the annals of world history, it has unfailingly demonstrated its undisputed valor and steeled patriotism by demolishing and vanquishing a grotesque European colonial power single handedly. By the same token, Egypt knows better, when its marauding gendarmes of an armada of invading forces trying to execute the mission of its colonialists led by the "Mahdists, during the reign of Ibrahim Kalifa, suffered an ignominious defeat in the hands of the gallant sons and daughters of Ethiopia led by the heroic Emperor Yohannes IV and the courageous General namely, Alula Aba Nega, in prior battle fields in Northern Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, by no means mistakes the role of a colonizer that Egypt ascribes to itself, as it clearly knows and history succinctly testifies and corroborates, it was the Egyptian aggrandizers and aggressors who were reduced to smithereens in the hands of the valiant Ethiopian patriots in the 19th century, a short span of time, vis--vis, the memory of history.

So, why is Egypt trying to play the devil's game by placating the blame on Ethiopia? The answer is plain and simple. Ethiopia has continued its valiant tradition of standing aloft to dispel the knot of evil machinations to tie its hands, and remain under perpetual poverty as a passive on- looker while Egypt continues to reap the unjust and unfair advantage emanating from its de facto monopoly of the use of the Nile waters, as assigned to it by the powers that be.

Hence the way forward is, for Egypt to invest its effort on cooperation rather than wasting time and energy on phony "diplomatic wars" or on concocted stories that are to no avail. Ethiopia's quest to-day is to put poverty in the backburner and enlist itself in the ranks of middle -income countries of the globe by using its natural resources, the Nile included, in an optimum, fair and just way and to realize the current Growth and Transformation Vision and beyond thereafter.