By Dilwenberu Nega
Tigrai Online, November 23, 2013
If Turkish Anadolu News Agency’s headline claim of “Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s request to “Build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam [(GERD)” is true, it then means that H.E. Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalgn has added a feather to his leadership cap, for Egypt’s Interim President, Adli Mansour’s overture is a subtle ploy to bulldoze Ethiopia’s sovereignty over the dam, and to arm-lock Ethiopia into transferring ownership of GERD to Egypt - something no Ethiopian leader can afford to give away.
In as far as the aching desire of Ethiopians to get out of a vicious cycle of poverty quickly, as well as the realisation of the lofty goals of EPRDF’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) are concerned, the timely and successful completion of the GERD remains the be-all and end-all of EPRDF’s hopes, dreams, programs and ideals.
No one really needs to be reminded here of the irrefragable evidence at hand to highlight Egypt has always nurtured and fostered policies inimical to the national interest of Ethiopia. Who would ever forget how our people got enraged, incensed, infuriated and exasperated by Egyptian politicians’ “Destabilise Ethiopia” fulminations on a live Egyptian TV broadcast?
Egypt’s offer is a poisoned chalice
Building mega projects jointly, the benefits of which would go a long way towards the enhancement of the standard of living of the people of two friendly nations, is not a new-fangled idea. Today’s globalised village is example galore. A case in point is the 50.5 km “Eurotunnel” linking the United Kingdom with France. And closer to home, not if but when, the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET), rail-linking the Kenyan Port of Lamu with South Sudan and Ethiopia is realised, it would showcase the finest intra-state state cooperation among states with shared vision and trust in the Horn of Africa. But the current state of Ethiopia-Egypt relation is a whole new ball game. Where for instance are the friendly, amiable and sincere atmosphere? Where is the scintilla of trust? How is it then that Egypt has found it imperative to come up with yet another sinister plan? I am of the opinion that Egypt is in the midst of applying Fabian tactics (to wear out one’s opponent by delay and evasion, rather than confrontation in the style of the ancient Roman General Fabius) in its dealings with Ethiopia. It wants more time for the dust in Egypt to settle, before it flexes its military muscle on Ethiopia with intent to safe guard what the Greek historian Herodotus called “The gift of Egypt.”
When one goes through the various Egyptian proposals with a fine-tooth comb, one realises Egypt’s urge to join Ethiopia on the ongoing construction of the GERD. I just wonder if this Egyptian bubble is driven by the age-old saying, “If you can’t beat them join them, and then beat them.”
That is why it is imperative for Addis Ababa to stop its bout of navel-gazing and move on without Egypt. If Prime Minister means what he says: “I want to be leader of a listening Government,” then it behoves him right to address public clamour:
“Stop mollycoddling the Egyptians!”