Will The U.S. Support Egypt’s Violation Of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right to Operate The GERD?

Countries of the Nile River Basin-World Bank (Courtesy of researchgate.net)

Will The U.S. Support Egypt’s Violation Of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right to Operate The GERD?

Lawrence Freeman

June 5, 2021

Is the United States’ continued escalation of hostile policy towards Ethiopia preparing the groundwork to support Egypt’s “colonial rights” over the Nile River? As the White House and Congress threaten more sanctions against Ethiopia, their sovereign right to generate electricity for its people through the operation of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being linked to the conflict in Tigray. Is the Biden administration and the Democrat controlled Congress ominously following in the footsteps of President Trump, who shockingly gave a “green light” for Egypt to bomb the GERD? This would be a grave mistake, with more disastrous consequences than the Obama’s administration’s bombing of Libya and overthrowing President Kaddafi. While U.S. foreign policy in the region is aligning itself more closely to Egypt, it continues to undermine Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s sovereign authority to prevent the Balkanization of his nation.

Sanctions Are Not For Allies

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s still unproven, but often repeated March 30th allegation of ethnic cleansing by the Ethiopia government in Tigray, has provided the impetus for the crescendo of group-think Congressional voices to attack Ethiopia, America’s foremost ally in the Horn of Africa. On May 23rd, Blinken intensified U.S. aggression towards Ethiopia by:

  • Issuing sanctions.
  • Cutting off funds for security and economic growth.
  • Pressuring multi-lateral institutions to cease funding programs in Ethiopia.
  • altering U.S.-Ethiopia defense accords, which have been essential in the war against terrorism and providing security for East Africa.

(Read: New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa)

Addis Ababa February 5/2021 (ENA) Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held phone conversation with United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Thursday.

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives support Secretary Blinken’s sanctions against Ethiopia. Sanctions are a very poor and crude tool for conducting foreign policy, and I have opposed their implementation except in the most unique cases. However, it is unheard of to apply sanctions against a long-standing ally, and it is utterly counterproductive. The government of Prime Minister Abiy should be supported in defeating the insurrectionists, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This is contrary to calls from the U.S and United Kingdom for a cease fire and reconciliation between the Ethiopian National defense Forces (ENDF) and the TPLF.

TPLF, not the Tigrayan community, is intent on tearing apart Ethiopia, and weakening the government of Prime Minister Abiy.  Ethiopia’s future existence as a sovereign nation-state depends on quelling this insurrection.

Pause for a moment, think, then ask yourself; how did President Lincoln personally conduct the war against the southern rebels? He summarily shunned all calls for peace and reconciliation, until the anti-Union, insurrectionist movement was defeated.

The Biden administration and the U.S. Congress are contributing to the potential dismemberment of the most vital nation in East Africa by sanctioning, threatening, and punishing the government of Prime Minister Abiy.  If these officials, actually had any knowledge of the dynamic of ethno-nationalism in Ethiopia, they might come to realize that their actions could encourage more ethnic regions to attempt separation from the nation of Ethiopia.

Senate Recklessness Led by Bob Menendez

A new level of belligerence towards Ethiopia was on display at the May 26th,  Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the conflict in Tigray.  It is interesting to note that all but one of the speeches and accusations against Ethiopia were uttered by liberal Democrats. Ranking Member, Frank Risch, was the only Republican to join the anti-Ethiopian crusade.

Chairmen Bob Menendez referenced Secretary Blinken’s allegations of ethnic cleansing and other alleged crimes by the Ethiopian government. He demanded that Ambassador Godec, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who was testifying, provide the proof that Ethiopia has “committed war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Tigray. Appallingly, the other Democrats on the committee followed Menendez in lock-step, demanding “action now” against Ethiopia.

Senator Bob Menendez (D. NJ) Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Courtesy foreign.senate.gov)

Sarah Charles, testifying from USAID Humanitarian Assistance, further inflamed the hearings by projecting that Ethiopia will experience another “man-made famine,” reminiscent of 1985, if actions are not taken immediately. The potential for a new famine became the mantra of the senators at the hearing.

Allegations of hunger, and atrocities committed during the conflict must be fully investigated.  However, to compare the current situation in Tigray to the famine of 1983-1985 that caused over one million deaths in Ethiopia, is contemptible. That famine was exacerbated by the destructive policies of Mengistu Halle Mariam, leader of the fascist-Marxist Derg. Likely unbeknownst to the uninformed senators, Mengistu, from 1976-1978  launched the “Red Terror,” murdering over half a million Ethiopians, in a genocide against his own people. To equate the famine of 1983-1985 and Mengistu’s policies to Ethiopia today and Prime Minister Abiy, is beyond reprehensible.

Senator Menendez opened the hearing by claiming that the conflict in Tigray echoes what happened in Darfur, Sudan. I travelled to Sudan many times from 1996 to 2012, including two tours of Darfur. Between that and my own extensive research, I am very familiar with Sudan and its history.  I can assert unequivocally that there is no resemblance between Darfur, Sudan, and Tigray, Ethiopia.

Tragically, the behavior by the U.S. Congress, is shameful and reflects an acute superficiality in understanding the complex history of Ethiopia.

Overturn Geo-Political Thinking

While the U.S., led by Secretary Blinken, is reversing decades of friendship between Ethiopia and America, and endangering the Horn of Africa, the Biden administration is enhancing its rapport with Egypt.

On May 26th, while the Senate was ratcheting up the pressure on Ethiopia, Secretary Blinken was in Cairo conveying:

“President Biden’s appreciation to President Sisi for Egypt’s critical mediation efforts in support of a cease fire between Israel and Hamas…”

“The Secretary affirmed the strong strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and President Biden’s commitment to this relationship.  He reiterated the United States’ commitment to Egypt’s water security and to the urgent resumption of substantive and results oriented negotiations under the leadership of the African Union to resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).”

The sovereign right of Ethiopia to fill and operate the GERD for the general welfare of its citizens has become linked to the conditions in Tigray.

Democrat Senator Mendez, at the hearing ostensibly on Tigray, made the same veiled threat on the GERD as President Trump, who infamously suggested that Egypt might try to blow-up the GERD. Mendez blurted out, that Egypt has told him more than once, “if the GERD issue is not dealt with in a way that assures their water needs…they will do what is necessary…They have red lines…”

Ethiopia and its seven neighboring countries

On May 27, Egyptian President Sisi, traveled to Djibouti, whose port provides access to the Gulf of Eden and Indian Ocean for its neighbor and major trading partner, Ethiopia. This was the first visit ever of an Egyptian head of state to Djibouti. According to African Intelligence, the two leaders discussed new security relations between their nations. African Intelligence further reports that Egypt’s defense minister and army chief of staff, who also visited Djibouti, “would like to see the creation of an Egyptian base in Djibouti not far from the Ethiopian border.”

At his news conference in Djibouti, President Sisi said:

“I stressed Egypt’s rejection of any attempt to impose a fait accompli through unilateral measures that disregard the interests and rights of the two downstream countries.”  

Egypt has made repeated military threats against Ethiopia, has formed a military alliance with Sudan, and last month, carried out joint military exercises with Sudan labeled “Guardians of the Nile”.

Since Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid next to Israel,  it would not be difficult for the U.S. to convince Egypt to stand down.

According to a knowledgeable expert on the region, the Biden administration is preparing to relocate the hub of its anti-terrorism  deployment in the Horn of Africa, from Ethiopia to Kenya.  The U.S. is trying to persuade Gulf nations, who support Ethiopia, to leverage their relationship in an effort to pressure Ethiopia to abandon its commitment to the GERD.

President Biden may or may not be aware of the implications of his decision to undermine Prime Minister Abiy’s government and support Egypt in their brinkmanship with Ethiopia regarding the GERD. His administration, filled with personnel from the Obama and Clinton presidencies, is following the same warped geo-political doctrine of his predecessors. Rather than responding to the fixed contours of the contentiousness surrounding the GERD, a true statesman would desire to shift the discussion to a higher level of potential resolution. Instead, the U.S., dominated by geo-politics, is fixated on seeking partners, who serve their narrow immediate interests, such as Egypt’s role in mitigating the Israel-Palestine crisis.

In fact, there is no danger of Ethiopia depriving downstream nations (Egypt and Sudan) of water for their people.  This was admitted by Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry himself: Egypt Foreign Minister Says Water Safe Despite Ethiopian Dam Threat.

The GERD will actually help both Egypt and Sudan by regulating the Nile, preventing deadly floods, reducing evaporation, and providing a water bank to draw on in emergencies. However, the GERD is not even the fundamental cause of Egypt’s water problem, as Yaniv Cohen explains: Egypt has a water problem and it’s not only the GERD

 

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station today turned on its temporary mobile groundwater desalination plant, which will ease the pressure on the City of Cape Town’s water supply. Courtesy esi-africa.com)

The real issue concerning the Nile River is strategic; the Nile does not have enough water to provide for the hundreds of millions of Africans living in the nations of the Nile Basin.

For the economic growth and well being of the nations of the Nile Basin, more water is needed than the Nile can deliver. The equivalent of a second Nile has to be created by human beings. This is the discussion that should take place among the Nile Basin nations and the larger international communities. It requires creative and visionary  thinking, outside of the box, not confined to geo-politics. To alleviate nations from quarreling over a limited supply of Nile water, let us be bold in our imagination. Instead, conceive of the New Nile Project by constructing nuclear powered desalination plants along the Mediterranean and Red Sea to create large amounts of new potable water. These nuclear plants in additional to efficient desalination, and supplying abundant energy, would become nuplexes– manufacturing hubs for industrial and agricultural development.

Some addicted to the narrow thinking of geo-politics today, will object and say it cannot be done, it will take too long and cost too much. To those naysayers, I would respond by asking, is it better to have water wars among emerging nations that are struggling to feed their people laden by poverty? As populations expand, and economies grow, more water will be required. Why not use the urgency of resolving today’s combative dispute over the filling of the GERD, to prod our lazy minds to create a solution for the future of the Nile Basin?  Overcoming all the many engineering and scientific impediments to achieve our New Nile Project will be challenging, but this is the very reason we human beings were put here on earth.

President Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Address March 4, 1865. (courtesy hisotyplace.com)

A Just End To A New Beginning

The fighting in Tigray, the ancient birthplace of Ethiopia, must come to end as soon as possible to prevent the loss of more lives and further suffering. This laceration in the fabric of Ethiopian society should be healed, and not allowed  to propagate. Following the government’s safeguarding of the Tigray region, an all-out mobilization must be launched, with vigorous international support, to rebuild the province, upgrading economic conditions to guarantee that every person living in Tigray, a productive and dignified life.

When the conflict in Tigray is concluded, it would be appropriate for Prime Minister Abiy to emulate the spirit of President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. It was delivered  on March 4, 1865, almost four years after the war began, which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and six weeks before his enemies assassinated him. After President Lincoln affirms his commitment to defeat the southern rebels at all costs, he compassionately pleads for peace.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Let Prime Minister Abiy use this overture as a prelude to lead a healthy dialogue with the Ethiopian people; to unite the nation around the preeminence of an Ethiopian identity, one that supersedes ethnicity.  Reformulation of the Ethiopian Constitution of 1995 to emphasize Ethiopian citizenship, which transcends ethno-regionalism, should follow.

It is in the shared, common, and self-interest of all Ethiopians to participate in the development of their society and increase the wealth of their economy for the benefit of themselves and their posterity. With the near future generation of 6,200 megawatts of electricity from the GERD, Ethiopia will bring light and prosperity to all its citizens. This is cause for all Ethiopians to join together in joyous celebration.

Read my earlier posts:

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Prime Logue/Media Interviews Lawrence Freeman in Addis Ababa: “Without the Elimination of Poverty, There Will Be No Democracy in Africa”

U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election Is Foolish & Very Dangerous

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Photo by Getty Images

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman

May 24, 2021

On May 23, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced visa restrictions “for any current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security  forces or other individuals …responsible for or complicit in undermining the resolution of the crisis in Tigray.” According to the State Department press statement, the Biden administration has “imposed wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia and will bring our defense trade control policy in line with them.” Although not explicitly stated by Blinken, the U.S. will suspend $130 million of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia, originally paused by the Trump administration. Multiple government sources report that the Biden administration is in the process of taking additional punitive measures against Ethiopia, including pressuring the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to hold back funds already designated for programs in Ethiopia. Additional U.S. sanctions have not been ruled out.

With the announcement of  these bilateral and possible multilateral assaults against Ethiopia, the U.S. will not only reverse decades of cooperation between the two nations, but potentially could endanger the entire Horn of Africa, and beyond. Ethiopia has played an indispensable role in providing security and stability in East Africa. This new U.S. posture towards Ethiopia, meant to appease the international liberal establishment, is reckless and perilous.

These types of measures, usually reserved for enemies of the U.S., are being implemented against a longtime trusted ally. A nation that has vigorously collaborated with the U.S. under both Republican and Democratic Presidents in fighting terrorism and violent extremism in the region.

Expressing the gravity of this abrupt policy shift by President Biden, Cameroon Hudson, of the Atlantic Council said to Foreign Policy: “This is a major strategic shift in the Horn of Africa, to go from an anchor state for U.S. interests to become a potential adversary to U.S. interests.”

courtesy of aa.com.tr

This foolishness and lack of judgment by President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and the U.S. Congress, can potentially lead to a calamity for Africa, not seen since the disastrous decision by the Obama administration to overthrow the Libyan government in October 2011. Nations in the Sahel and millions of Africans living in that region are still suffering today from the misadventure by President Obama and his zealot regime change advisors, who removed President Kaddafi from office. Look at Libya today, and the affects almost a decade later on North Africa. Attempts to weaken Ethiopia through economic strangulation and political isolation, in this turbulent period of Ethiopian society, are downright dangerous and could cause severe harm for millions of Africans.

This draconian assault against Ethiopia by the U.S. can potentially lead to a weakening of the Ethiopian nation by encouraging more ethno-nationalist attacks on the government. Were that to happen, be forewarned, that like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, who lamented, “what, will these hands ne’er be clean,”–the blood stain of millions of Africans may never be removed from the hands of the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress.

There are evil forces, who would like to see Ethiopia devolve into a balkanized territory of hostile competing ethnic fiefdoms. This would be a disaster for Africa and the world, and is not in the self-interest of the U.S.

Changing the Narrative

Woefully, war is always ugly and always leads to atrocities, but let us remember the cause of the conflict in Tigray. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) conducted a surprise attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) in Mekele in the early hours of November 4, 2020. They attacked the armed forces of the Federal government i.e., the nation state of Ethiopia. Like President Lincoln, who responded to the confederate attack on the Union’s Fort Sumpter, by declaring war, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had no other choice, but to respond militarily. Otherwise, the nation of Ethiopia could have been dismembered by emboldened ethno-nationalist forces declaring their independence from the central government.

There have been attempts by numerous individuals and organizations in and outside of Ethiopia to falsely claim an equivalence between the TPLF, an ethno-regional organization, and the national government of Ethiopia located in Addis Ababa. Some even try to equate the ENDF with the TPLF militia.

Various news organizations have now intentionally resorted to blurring the actual cause of the war. A recent article by Associated Press referred to the TPLF attack in Mekele as an “allegation” even though TPLF leaders have proudly admitted their action. The New York Times claims that Prime Minister Abiy’s armed response was in reaction to TPLF “defiance” rather than the truth, which was the slaughter of ENDF troops by the TPLF.

Does the U.S. Congress Possess Intelligence?

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 97 (S.Res.97) on May 19, following multiple requests by the Foreign Relation Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives for sanctions to be imposed on Ethiopia.

There has been no official report of evidence by the U.S State Department or intelligence services verifying allegations of “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” by the Ethiopian government. It is pathetic, yet valuable to know that accusations against Ethiopia by the State Department, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, have in large part come from news organizations. Whatever happened to U.S. intelligence capabilities? Has U.S. intel gathering been so corroded that it has to rely on private organizations, who have their own agenda? Should the U.S. be making foreign policy decisions without independent knowledge of events? CNN brags in its own May 21st article that it was their news (sic) organization and a pro TPLF lobbying firm ,Von Batten-Montague-York, that was responsible for convincing U.S. Senators to support S.Res.97. The U.S. Senate, sometimes called, the world’s greatest deliberative body, was in fact led like lemmings, by CNN and a DC lobbying firm to condemn Ethiopia’s government. Is that what the founding fathers of this great republic contemplated when they created the Senate? I think not.

No Respect for Ethiopia’s Sovereignty

Despite the fact that very few, if any U.S. Senators have a deep-seated knowledge of the complexities of Ethiopian culture and society, they did not refrain from encroaching on Ethiopian sovereignty, which obligates the central government to act in the interest of safeguarding the nation.

S.Res.97, ignores the responsibility of Prime Minister Abiy to defend his nation, demanding instead: an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Tigray Region; strongly disapproving of the escalation of political tensions between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) into armed conflict; and most egregiously urges the government of Ethiopia to engage in a full cessation of hostilities.  In essence, S.Res.97, rebukes the Ethiopian government for defending its nation from an insurrection, and demands reconciliation with the insurgents.

Breaking up the Union, only weeks after President Lincoln took office, was the explicit intent of the southern states, who insisted that the U.S. government, no longer represented them. President Lincoln would not allow the republic to be divided. He waged a relentless war that ultimately led to the deaths of upwards of 750,000 Americans. He ignored all pleas to come to the peace table and negotiate with the enemy of the Union, who he would only refer to as “rebels.” The only negotiation President Lincoln would accept from the “rebels” was unconditional surrender. Under no condition would he allow some other country to dictate to him, the President of the United States of America, how to conduct the war to save the Union.

Read my earlier posts:

U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election Is Foolish & Very Dangerous

Horn of Africa Endangered by Untrue Media Attacks on Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Conflict: A War Won to Preserve the Nation-State

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton