The Queen of Sheba
2 March 2020
An air of threat and war-mongering against Ethiopia is blowing through the deserts of the Egypt Arab Republic to impose colonial-era agreements on the country in total disregard to a fair and equitable share of the Abay River, which is commonly known as the Blue Nile. Ethiopia, which was never colonized and not party to these agreements, has been openly threatened and explicitly sabotaged by successive governments of the Egypt Arab Republic since time immemorial from harnessing its God-given rights to its water bodies without causing harm to downstream countries. This latest threat is not the first, nor it may be the last.
Anticipated role of South Africa
The head of state of the Egypt Arab Republic just stepped down as the President of the African Union who was supposed to have played a key role in finding an “African solution to an African problem”. And yet, selfishly, deceptively and indecorously insisted on a third party, non-African “mediators” to intervene, in utter contravention of the Cooperative Framework Agreement that the countries have officially agreed in 2015.
The Egypt Arab Republic have shamefully disavowed its continental commitment and responsibility to observe, serve and carry out the key principle of the African Union which embraces “African solution to an African problem” in advancing security, peace and self-confidence of the continent. In fact, it has selfishly insisted on the inequitable colonial era agreements which Ethiopia, the country which contributes more than 85 percent of the water, was arrogantly ignored by the signing parties at the time.
In a blatantly unfair manner that tramples on its sovereignty, the partisan observers, who turned into self-declared facilitators and enforcers, left Ethiopia with a little wiggle room for continuing in the engagement. One would hope that the new Presidency of the African Union, now occupied by South Africa–with a fresh history and first-hand account of such forms of injustices–would play a positive role.
“Hurling some missiles”
This as it may, the Egypt Arab Republic may be feverishly planning to wage an open and blatant war on Ethiopia to recklessly destroy the nearly 70 percent completed Renaissance Dam. Ethiopia may appear a light-weight against the Arab Republic’s ostensible military superiority, thanks to external support. Well, it may be important to note that the Arab Republic also has a massive Aswan Dam—and lives in a glass house. Oh yes, Aswan was built without any consultation with Ethiopia—the mother of Abay!
Needless to say, Ethiopians take immense national pride in building the Dam and thus are hugely eager to its successful completion; and the fallout from this ill-advised and willful threat may be too costly to contemplate, and way too enduring for generations, for sure.
As Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia tacitly conjectured a while back, the Arab Republic may be tempted to “hurl some missiles” possibly on the Dam or vital institutional and infrastructure networks. Yes, Ethiopia may not have the capacity to directly and proportionately respond to this not-so-improbable aggression, but the fortunes of Ethiopians are not as dead-ended as one may wish to think.
Ethiopia possesses an enormous arsenal of endless, terrestrial, virtually “free” and indestructible, but supremely powerful natural missiles which furiously cascade down from the breath-taking Ethiopian highlands, mountains, valleys and gorges. They have continued to empower the mighty “Nile of Egypt” in the form of hundreds of thousands of streams, rivers and tributaries—since time immemorial.
These very natural resources have continued to nourish the thankless nation which has consumed and thrived on the water—without gratitude, let alone, compensation. Regrettably, the Arab Republic has covertly and openly conspired to systematically and strategically weaken and divide Ethiopia—for centuries so that the river flows without any use by its natural owner.
Ethiopia may find it appropriate to refuse to play by the uncharitable, if not uncivilized, warfare book which preaches an eye-for-an-eye should the war between two countries broke out. In reaction to the ever-belligerent position of the Arab Republic, Ethiopia could initiate a sustained campaign to utilize all its waterbodies making up the “Mighty Nile” in a determined, if not retaliatory, manner. An official reaction to resort to such a “passive” national campaign—in retaliation for the aggression—is easy to contemplate given the unflinching national resolve and popular support to build the Dam—oh, yes, on its own.
Building baby dams
Ethiopia may need to consider that the effort to build the Renaissance Dam, the “Mother of All Dams”, is pursued along with building a thousand “baby dams” (BBDs) in the emerging country as a renewed strategy for its development. Ethiopia may have to actively and strategically, formally and informally, officially and unofficially, implicitly and explicitly engage in BBDs in the entire catchment area of Abay, which stretches several hundreds of miles within the country, should the Arab Republic dare attack it.
While Ethiopia has to defend itself resolutely, it may need to refuse to send its natural missiles, by instead building thousands of small-scale, off-the radar “baby dams” at every hamlet conceivable in retaliation for the Arab Republic’s man-made missiles. It should be that BBDs need not be sanctioned by a government or external funding entity but simply built, managed, filled and operated by “poor and illiterate” peasants of Ethiopia—the very victims of the Arab Republic’s explicit and hidden hands of conspiracy and destabilization. Oh, yes, it may be a slightly onerous task for the Arab Republic to hunt down every Ethiopian peasant involved in BBDs.
To be sure, a BBD may be any form of water-containment effort, regardless of size or volume, directed at the country’s development from tourism to agro-industry supported by public and private investments and systematically advanced through a strategic national policy.
A futile attempt?
One may be tempted to call the Egypt Arab Republic to mobilize its citizens to join forces in supporting Ethiopia’s Green Campaign which has an enormous direct benefit to its own insatiable appetite to water as a win-win situation. It would also be an opportune time for the Egypt Arab Republic to reset the diplomatic clock by desisting from threats and sabotages. Alas, this may appear naïve, if not foolish, given the Republic’s well-recorded, enduring and regrettable history of conspiracy to keep Ethiopia weak, divided and under-developed.
In simple terms, a thriving, developed and strong Ethiopia, regardless of the outcome of the current Dam impasse, is not simply palatable to the Egypt Arab Republic. For that matter, one may extend this observation to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, especially those in the respective riparian region with a potential to use their God-given water resources effectively.
It is an outrage—and an insult—to all Africans and African-descendants around the world who bravely defeated colonialism—to witness its ugly head rearing in the Egypt Arab Republic as it dangerously strives to impose it on Ethiopia—and it neighbors.