By Godofai Tgiorgis
Tigrai Online, July 18, 2013
The Grand Renaissance Dam has been a hot bed for many arguments, pro and against, not only among countries who are directly affected but also among Ethiopians since the beginning of its construction. Understandably, one would not feel insulted if countries that claim to have entitlement, however de facto, argue against the dam because their privilege is now contested. What is insulting is however when one hears the very same tone from people who identify themselves as Ethiopians. One would even be accommodating if such concern and opposition came from a visible problem the dam poses, a drastic environmental damage for example. But it does not. Why are the opposition groups crying foul then? Crocodile tears aside, it is not for Ethiopia’s advantages, definitely not for the people. They are only after their power, after their interests and their “buy us” ad Ethiopian Review posted, on June 6th, 2013, on behalf of Ethiopian extremists indicates, that is all there is:
“Egypt doesn’t need to launch a military strike against the Woyanne junta, although from an Ethiopian point of view, that would be great. The fastest way to bring the Woyanne junta that is ruling Ethiopia to its knees is for Egypt to start a dialogue with Ethiopian opposition groups (the pro-Ethiopian unity ones; not the secessionists) with the goal of reaching an agreement on Nile river that is mutually beneficial to both Ethiopia and Egypt. After reaching an agreement, Egypt doesn’t have to lift a finger, other than providing assistance to Ethiopian opposition groups who will be happy to dismantle Woyanne and replace it with the a government that works to bring peace to the entire region.”
If the extremists have it right, what is stated in the above paragraph suggests this: The diaspora opposition parties are willing to wage war siding with the Egyptians against the dam’s construction. Once they ascend to power too Egypt will have no problem because they will ensure building a dam on Nile will not go beyond micro levels. Hence, they insist on Egypt to act fast, to use them before the sun sets. In a world that is always in a state of war, finding cheap soldiers such as our extremists is rare. They therefore insist Egypt seize this opportunity and hire them up, for money of course, so they bring EPRDF and the dam down. And with the money happy shall be the Egyptians, because the dam will halt, and happy will be the recruits because they will have money to spend in DC bars. That is at least the tentative scheme.
The extremists are persistent on their demands. They go back in times and lecture history so that the Egyptians do no repeat mistakes they made with past Ethiopian rulers. And say: “During Emperor Haile Selassie’s reign Egypt made a mistake of supporting anti-Ethiopia forces such as Woyanne/TPLF (that came to power in 1991). Genuine Ethiopian leaders were always accommodated Egypt’s needs, but Egyptian governments were not content with that. They wanted to destabilize and keep Ethiopia weak by supporting secessionist groups. Meles Zenawi, who launched the Nile dam project to save himself from popular uprising by diverting the people’s attention, was a leader of one of the many anti-Ethiopia groups that Egypt funded. Meles was a regular visitor to Egypt and when his group, Woyanne, came to power with the help of Egypt, one of his first foreign trips was to Cairo.”
Genuine Ethiopian leaders never accommodated Egypt and Egypt’s interests. They always have been at odds when it comes to Nile and Nile related issues. They had to let things go only because they were short of resources, because Egypt kept the leaders busy by instigating conflicts and waging proxy wars. This was evident even during the reign of Emperor Hailesilasie. Emperor Haileslasie failed to construct the dam not because he was afraid of Egyptians but because he did not have the financial and diplomatic clout Egyptians had as a result of the peace deal brokered with the Israelis. If there is any value past Ethiopian leaders shared in common damming the Nile is one. Invoking past rulers as if they were sympathizers of Egypt is therefore a ploy the opposition invented to recruit new masters, to fill in their coffer.
The Extremists’ Counseling Co. is not short of recommendation: “Now Egypt has an opportunity to fix the grave mistake it made by dealing with anti-Ethiopia forces. Instead of signing secret agreements with such forces, Egypt must work in a transparent way with pro-Ethiopian unity forces who have been at war with Woyanne. This is the most effective and much less costly way of stopping the Woyanne grand dam. With the help of Egypt, Sudan and other countries, Ethiopia can build micro dams over Nile if necessary. The dam as it is advertised now is not beneficial to Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt.”
Mr. Zewge Fenta is even more candid about this. He says NO to the dam (in an article he wrote in response to Captain Ayalsew Desie‘s) and insists Ethiopia halt the construction.
“በዚች አጭር ጽሑፍ በቅድሚያ ለመግለጽ የምሻው፣ የአባይ-በለስ ወንዝ ግድብን ሁለቱም መንግሥቶች ከወደቁበት አዘቅት ውስጥ ለመነሳት ጊዜ መግዣ የፖለቲካ-ግድብ መሆኑን ነው። ሕዝቦቻቸው የጠየቋቸውን ዲሞክራሳዊ አስተዳደር ስለነፈጉ፣ ከገጠማቸው የፖለቲካ ችግር ለመሸሻ የፈጠሩት ውዝግብ እንጂ የወያኔው መንግሥት እንደሚቀላብደው ድህነትን ለማጥፋት አለመሆኑን አያሌ ማስረጃዎች ያረጋግጣሉ።”
Roughly translated, it reads like this: In this short article what I want to highlight most is the construction of the Dam on Nile is a means the two governments created to hang on their rule. Hence it is a political ploy both devised to lift themselves up from the political crisis they are assailed with. Contrary to EPRDF’s make believe propaganda that the dam will eradicate poverty many studies suggest that it is otherwise. The Nile controversy is, therefore, a scenario meant to suppress questions people raise against the governments to respect their political freedoms (Zewge).
If the dam, according to Mr. Zewge’s claim, has dangers, other than the dissatisfaction of the extremists and Egypt, the world would have known it by now. Given the external and internal enemies Ethiopia has, we would have been peppered with lots of protest and condemnations. Even Sudan, which Mr. Zewge asserts as victim, did not stand against it. How is it not beneficial then? And where is its danger? Let us however accord with Mr. Zewge and conclude that poverty and the dam have nothing in common. What is wrong with Ethiopia exercising its right as a nation? What about the other dams EPRDF built and is building? What about the railways? What purpose would that be for? Ethiopia’s problem was not having bad rulers but rulers, despite being bad, who strengthen their rule by doing good things. The Big brothers could not even figure this out because all they see and think is what is for them on the table.
Vision is not the only problem of the Extremists. Their survival, as politicians, too is at stake. They are bankrupt and have hit rock bottom, both politically and financially, with no prospect of return. They need salvation. But for deliverance to become reality, the rain makers of the Middle East have to come in. God of the Pharaohs has to intervene. EPLF, an organization they declared arch-angel of the devils following Eritrea’s cessation, has to be courted in. They have to declare Asmara a sanctuary where the engineers and doctors flock for repentance and consultation and plot and launch attacks against Ethiopia in all possible fronts. Issayas, who they claimed inherited trait of the traitors, too has to be hailed chief protector, patron saint, savior of Ethiopians:
“The person who is selected by Ethiopian Review’s publisher, in consultation with associates and readers of the journal, is believed to have contributed the most to the betterment of Ethiopia in the past 12 months.
Surprised? Not really. For the extremists nothing, as I indicated earlier, is sacred if it has market values. They have no integrity, they have no moral rules. On every occasion, they have to put themselves up for sale provided it pays. All they cannot afford is empty pockets. And they were not disappointed this time by the bargain. In exchange for their servitude and promise to sabotage the dam, they have fetched five hundred thousand dollars.
“The Eritrean government has offered $500,000 to Ginbot 7, an exiled Ethiopian opposition political organisation designated by Ethiopia as terrorist entity, according to a report on a US-based Ethiopia opposition media outlet.
In an audio recording of an interview with the group’s chairman, leaked to Awrambatimes.com, Berhanu Nega admits that he received the funds. Nega has since accused the ruling party the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) of trying divert the attention of the public from the problems facing the country.”
What did they receive the money for? They do not explain. Instead we see them repeat the same blame game again. They point fingers at others, mainly EPRDF for conspiracy, merit regardless, for diversion. That is not the only flaw they have when it comes to character. They are always self -righteous and vindictive against anyone who diverges from their views. They castigate and alienate whoever they feel is out of reach of their extremist ideas. They sanction businesses. They sanction individuals. They sanction everything: do not fly Ethiopian, do not help Ethiopia, you name it. They are always counterproductive. Even Enjera too became their latest victim. All they were short was declaring Pita to be a substitute. And that tells everything how unprincipled they are and dirty their politics is. I can grant doing so is their right. But what is troubling is the pressure they, having become a hiring and hired agent of anyone foreign, put on us to follow suit.
The dam is not EPRDF’s; it is and will remain Ethiopia’s. At stake is, therefore, not EPRDF’s political survival but the future survival of Ethiopians as people. Ethiopians need the dam more than ever because it is one of the solutions to the hunger they get struck by now and then. Siding with EPRDF in this endeavor should, therefore, be any Ethiopian’s, not the extremists’, of course, duty and has nothing to do with whether or not one is against. For it is the people who benefit from this for centuries to come, we have to join hands and stand as one, till the construction of the dam finishes. In fact we have to support anything that benefits Ethiopia whether or not EPRDF is the initiator. Only then will make sense to fight for whatever cause we stand for peaceful or none peaceful regardless. We have, therefore, to wise up and figure out our priorities.
Egypt has not right to run Ethiopia’s affairs. Egypt and its surrogates’ centuries old practice of exporting terror and conflict to Ethiopia should stop. Egypt has to stop playing Godfather; it has to stop meddling on Ethiopia’s internal affairs. It has to stop obstructing the construction of the dam. The extremists too have to stop hiding in sheep’s skin. They have to stop trading in the name of Ethiopia while running wild to sell its interests. Whether or not to throw government should be the choice of Ethiopians and not Egypt. Both therefore need to stop tier sinister move. Attacks against Ethiopia whether alone or in union never fared better. Why opt for another knowing it will end up in failure? Why even try while similar blunders by same actors in the past have only paid off defeat in the battlefields?
“On 14 November, Alula crossed the Mereb River and immediately engaged forward Egyptian posts. The main Ethiopian army under the emperor (Yohannis IV) crossed the river on the night of 15-16 November. Meanwhile, Shalaqa Alula had disengaged his forces; he had completed a flanking action from the west against troops advancing from Addi Quala; and had appeared in the Egyptian rear, blocking their line of retreat. “
“On the morning of 16 November 1875, the Egyptians found themselves surrounded in a steep valley, and the battle soon turned into a massacre from which only a few of the 3,000 Egyptians managed to escape. Two thousand two hundred Remington rifles and sixteen cannons were captured by the Ethiopians, who lost some 550 dead and 400 wounded. Among the latter of whom was Alula’s brother Basha Tessema, whose wound remained unhealed for a long period” (Hagai Elrich).
Ethiopians have differences along political lines with but not limited to EPRDF but this has nothing to do with denying their, unlike the extremists, identities. Most of the differences Ethiopians have emanate not from hate they have for Ethiopia but from concern they have about its direction. However divided they might look, they are therefore one and united. EPRP-D’s stand on Nile can serve as good example for this:
“ የዓባይ ምንጩ ከኢትዮጵያና ከዩጋንዳ እንጂ ከግብፅ እንዳልሆነ፤ የትልቁ ዓባይ ውኃ ሰማኒያ አምስት በመቶ የሚመነጨው ከኢትዮጵያ እንደሆነ በውል መረዳት አለባቸው። ይህንን ሃቅ መረዳት አቅቷቸው የሀገራችንን ዳር ድንበር ከደፈሩ፤ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ወንድ ሴት፤ ሕፃን ሽማግሌ ሳይል በነቂስ ወጥቶ፤ ከአባቶቹና ከእናቶቹ በወረሰው የጀግንነት ወኔ ጉንደትንና ጉራዕን እንደሚደግም ልናረጋግጥላቸው እንወዳለን። በርግጥ ዛሬ ጠላቶቻችንን የተዳከምን ሊመስላቸው ይችላል። ማንነቱ ሲነካና ዳር ድንበሩ ሲደፈር ግን ምንም ኃይል ሊመልሰው እንደማይችል ሊያውቁ ይገባል።
Translated (roughly again): “Egyptians have to understand that the source of Nile is Uganda and Ethiopia not Egypt. They have to understand Ethiopia is the contributor of 80% of the Nile water. If the Egyptians, ignoring this fact, dared to attack Ethiopia, we have to let the Egyptians know that Ethiopians of all walks of life, armed with their ancestors’ heroic spirit, will repeat the victory scored at Gura and Gundet. Our enemies might think we are weak (and divided) but they have to understand that Ethiopians will rise in defense and emerge victorious against whoever dared to attack the sovereign” (EPRP-D).
Egypt is in turmoil. But this does not mean that it will give up its dream on Nile. Regardless of who comes to power in Egypt, the option of war is still possible. War is not a solution and I believe every sane person understands this. But arrogant people have it wrong all the times and Egypt may not be an exception. In case folly, God forbid, becomes reality, however, Ethiopians should rally behind their people and defend their national interests. Ethiopia’s failure to build the dam means failure to preserve what has been achieved and handed down from ancestors. Not only that, in its negative form, it means handing over defeat to the coming ones. We must therefore support the dam even, at least in principle, out of concern of its historical implication. No ifs no buts. Ghion(Nile) is not only Ethiopia’s past but also its future, its history, Ethiopians therefore should unite and make it happen and make it stand tall so that it towers, adorned with curlicue of flowers, alongside the churches of Lalibela and obelisks of Axum.