By Berhane Kahsay, Sept 14 2012
Premier Meles is no longer with us but his outstanding and unique legacy will be in the minds of the people for eternity. In just twenty years, this great man transformed Ethiopia way beyond expectations. Millions of people are still in mourning and the deep love and admiration expressed for the African leader who prematurely died while serving his country has astounded friends and foe alike. The late Premier’s burning ambition was to qualitatively improve the lives of the Ethiopian people, and to make this a reality, he stubbornly followed his daily work schedule until the last moments of his life. No doubt Meles has reserved a special place in the history of Ethiopia, and he will be remembered as the one who initiated the process of reversal of the country to its former glory. Ethiopia was literally broke and on its knees when Meles took charge of the country in 1991. What has been accomplished since then is short of a miracle.
Meles has left behind a stable and far more prosperous country than the one he inherited from his predecessors. The new leadership of the EPRDF should continue where Meles left off and propel the country into a higher level. It is pretty obvious that the double digit economic growth registered over the last two decades can only be maintained if the stability of the country is protected. Vigilance is supremely paramount as there are countries that are intent on seeing this great country of ours in turmoil so that they could prosper at its expense.
Egypt is one of those countries that are determined more than ever before to curtail Ethiopia’s economic progress at any cost. The latest Wikileakes release makes it abundantly clear how far Egypt is prepared to go to prevent Ethiopia from using a fraction of the Nile water. The fact that Ethiopia contributes 85% of the Blue Nile is of no significance as far as this unfriendly and inconsiderate country is concerned. An Egyptian commando stationed in the Sudan, a supposedly friendly neighbouring country, to bomb dams in Ethiopia is not surprising at all. The strategy of the past and current Egyptian leaders has always been to use Sudan to launch an attack on Ethiopia if it tampers with the flow of the Nile, hence their presence in the neighbouring country. There is so much Egyptian interference in Sudanese politics as they want to ensure that their immense influence in that troubled and vulnerable country is maintained.
Egypt left no stone unturned to prevent the independence of the South Sudan Republic for fear of the adverse implications it would have on the 1959 Nile Water Treaty. The arch enemy of Ethiopia is also doing its level best to find a peaceful resolution to the Darfur issue as it wants nothing that could undermine its dominant influence in the country. Unstable Sudan could hamper Egypt’s strategy on Ethiopia. Egypt is seriously worried by the continuous economic growth in Ethiopia as this has led to increased demands for food and electricity needed for domestic use and industries .The spectacular economic performance is continuing and shows no sign of abating. Sooner or later, large scale irrigation using the Nile water to produce more food in order to meet the ever growing demands of the people is inevitable.
What the Egyptians must comprehend is that, the huge dam under construction on the edge of the Nile is just the beginning. Many more will be built in the future to generate further electricity, and for irrigation purposes. The days of ‘We Eat, You Starve’ ara no longer acceptable, and the Ethiopian people have made it crystal clear during the mourning of the late Premier that they would do whatever is necessary to ensure the successful completion of the Grand Renaissance Dam.
The Egyptians cannot stop the building of the dam as the project is financed by the Ethiopian people. For years they have been sabotaging Ethiopia’s efforts to raise loans from the international monetary institutions. The late Premier successfully managed to mobilise the resources of the Ethiopian people and completion of the massive project is now a certainty. As a consequence of this, the Egyptian clout that was repeatedly employed to block Ethiopia from obtaining external finances became worthless at a stroke. Many more dams will be built and the threat of military action will not stop the Ethiopian people from going ahead as it is simply a matter of survival.
The new leaders of Egypt are following the traditions of the past and have fixed their sights firmly on ‘Christian’ Ethiopia. It did not take them long to publically make their views known on the illness of the late Premier. Egypt’s Minister of Water and Irrigation commented that his country’s relationship with post Meles Ethiopia would be better and less confrontational than it was under the departed PM. Using a fraction of the Nile water to improve the lives of the Ethiopian people is apparently a confrontation in the eyes of this selfish and myopic creature. The Minister has been made a member of the Egyptian Security Council (the portfolio had no seat on the council previously) for the first time in the country’s history. The Muslim Brotherhood-led government mean business: They set diplomatic niceties aside, and went as far as wishing the death of a sitting democratically elected leader of a sovereign country, just because he had the guts to challenge them on the distribution of the Blue Nile.
It is pretty certain that the new Egyptian administration would use Eritrea and try to destabilise and derail the tremendous economic achievements of the last twenty-one years. The Muslim Brotherhood will very easily cajole Esayass to do their dirty work. The Eritrean dictator is as desperate as Omar Al Basher and all the Egyptians have to do is dangle some dollars in front of him and he will perform the job for them without any hesitation.
In order to pre-empt Egyptian’s grand strategy of preventing Ethiopia from forging ahead, the new leaders of the EPRDF must ensure stability and unity by strengthening democracy, the rule of law, and by maintaining and accelerating the economic growth that has benefited the vast majority of the Ethiopian people. The no-peace, no-war situation with Eritrea had its day and ought to be reviewed as a matter of utmost urgency as Esayass will not rest from conniving against Ethiopia. In order to keep food inflation down and avoid riots, all resources must be pulled together to increase production that could keep up with the economic growth and satisfy the needs of the population. Continuation of the tremendous successes in creating millions of job opportunities for the youth in various fields is absolute necessity. Occupying the youth in employment plays a significant part in tackling social unrest that could have serious repercussions on the stability of the country.
We hear the government is in contact with the remaining members of the ONLF and the same contact should also be established with the OLF. Only by talking to these groups can we stop them from falling into the hands of the Egyptians who want us to go hungry so that their own people can eat. Legal political parties currently functioning in Ethiopia need to be afforded further opportunities so that they could play a constructive role in the affairs of their country leaving them no room to act illegally. Also everything possible must be done to encourage the rank and file members of G-7 to abandon the outfit thereby facilitate its demise. In light of the recent Wiki leaks release, reviewing the relationship with Sudan is necessary, and if at all possible, placing a wedge between the two signatories of the 1959 Nile Water agreement should be seriously considered. Religion also ties the two countries together but an attempt to separate the two is worth trying. Exporting electricity to Sudan, the brain child of Meles, is a good start.
The situation in Somalia is improving and for the first time in the history of the country, a new President has been democratically elected. The current President has accepted defeat and things are obviously looking up for this troubled country indeed. The presence of Ethiopian Defence Force (EDF) in Somalia should continue until the country is reasonably pacified, thereby preventing the Al-Shebab from being used as a tool by the enemies of Ethiopia such as Egypt.
The genius late Premier knew where problems were brewing for Ethiopia and that is why he ordered the EDF into Somalia to eliminate the terrorists before they could launch an attack on a third country’s behalf. The first time the EDF went into Somali, it did not fully achieve the desired result, but the second time around, Al-Shebab is on the verge of extinction. Clearly, Meles’s policy on Somalia that was strongly opposed by the legal opposition has been vindicated. Meles’s decision to enter Somalia was solely based on Ethiopia’s interest and no one else’s. This was publically confirmed on the BBC by the previous US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Ms Jendaye Frazer.
The existence of a united, strong, stable and prosperous Ethiopia would force the Egyptians into the negotiating table as a military solution would not be in their long term interest. The Egyptians and others can see how stable Ethiopia is at this juncture. It is nearly a month since PM Meles passed away and the EPRDF does not seem to be in a hurry to submit a successor to parliament for confirmation. Only a stable and confident country can take its time to choose a new leader, and those who seriously thought that Ethiopia would collapse in the absence of Meles have been proved wrong for the umpteen time.
In the event that the Egyptians opt for bombardment or invasion, 80 million Alulas would rise up to defend their country, and fight for dignity and honour until the last man. Creating millions of small scale diversions along the route of Abay could make Egypt raise the white flag in no time. War with Ethiopia is not an attractive proposition for the Egyptians as they are fully aware of what happened to their army in the battles Gundet and Gura in November 1875 and March 1876 respectively.