Selling Ethiopia Down the (Nile) River: The Unraveling Secret Conspiracy of Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin and David Milpass to Wreck the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam

It is not going to be a fair fight when the Gang of Three gang up on Ethiopia. But Ethiopians have one weapon that has kept them free from colonialism, foreign attacks and domination for thousands of years. That weapon is their unity in ONE Ethiopia.

ETHIOPIANS UNITED AROUND THE GERD CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED!

GERD is the ultimate symbol of Ethiopian unity. One GERD for all Ethiopians. All Ethiopians for one GERD!

That is the truth every Ethiopian man, woman and child must carry in their hearts and minds 24/7/365. That is the truth they must breathe awake or asleep. – Alemayehu G. Mariam

The Secret Conspiracy Against the GERD

I am not into conspiracy theories, but I can smell a rat a mile away.

In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

I say something is stinking to high heavens in the conspiracy of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin  and World Bank Group Presdient David Milpass’ (the “Gang of Three”) secret conspiracy to wreck the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

On November 6, 2019, the fix was in!

The trap was set.

The bait attached and the fishing rod cast.

On November 6, 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department announced:

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and their delegations met with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the World Bank and reaffirmed their joint commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and to establish a clear process for fulfilling that commitment in accordance with the 2015 Declaration of Principles.

… The ministers agreed that the World Bank and the United States would support and attend the meetings as observers… (Italics added.)

On November 6, 2019, Sameh Hassan Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin, and David Milpass were ready to snag, drag, roll up, bag, tag and shag Ethiopia with an “agreement” and sell her down the Nile River.

Steven Mnuchin

They were ready hook and reel in Ethiopia for the final coup de grace.

But Ethiopia proved to to be a hard kill.

Last week, the “Gang of Three” struck again.

On June 17, 2020, the White House National Security Council (WHNSC) fired its shot across the bow warning Ethiopia to “get the GERD deal done before filling it with Nile River water”:

That twitter-speak doublespeak is a toned down version of the imperial command  brazenly and shamelessly issued from the U.S. Treasury Department Palace on February  28, 2020: “Final testing and filling [of GERD] should not take place without an agreement.”

To me, the WHNSC tweet sounded like, “Thus shalt not fill the GERD or the wrath of America, Egypt and the World Bank will be visited upon you.”

Propitietur Deus omnium. (May God save us all.)

But hold on!

How does the GERD dam issue come under the jurisdiction of the White House National Security Council in the first place?

Under 50 U.S. Code § 3021 (b), the NSC has four specific “functions”:

(1) advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security; (2) assess and appraise the objectives, commitments, and risks of the United States in relation to the actual and potential military power of the United States; (3) make recommendations to the President concerning policies on matters of common interest to the departments and agencies of the United States Government concerned with the national security; and (4) coordinate, without assuming operational authority, the United States Government response to malign foreign influence operations and campaigns.

How the construction of a hydroelectric dam ten thousand miles from the United States in a “s**t hole” continent fits within the statutory mandates of the NSC is a total mystery to me.

Why the State Department that likely has direct jurisdiction and the resources to deal with the GERD issue is sidelined and completely excluded is a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” for me.

But to paraphrase the Cheshire cat’s answer to Alice (in the Wonderland) in the strange world down the rabbit hole, I guess in the rabbit hole of Trumpworld, “They are all mad there.”

Words are important in diplomacy and the law. They are the essential tools of the law and the stock in trade of the lawyer.

So, I am fascinated by the use of cryptic and opaque language in the communications of the Treasury Department, WHNSC and the World Bank with respect to the GERD.

Were Mnuchin and Malpass offering a general recommendation or giving friendly advice when they said, “Final testing and filling [of GERD] should not take place without an agreement?” Were they commanding Ethiopia to sign the “agreement”?

Were they threatening Ethiopia there will be consequences if she should begin filling the dam without an agreement?

What is the purpose of the passive aggressive posture against Ethiopia over the GERD?

Is the use of the modal verb “should” an optional suggestion as in, “You should eat more vegetable and fruits, but only if you want.”

I am equally intrigued by the WHNSC’s language stating Ethiopia “strike a fair deal” and “to get the GERD deal done before filling it with Nile River waters.”

What did the WHNSC mean by “striking a fair deal”?

Is the WHNSC referring to the February 28, 2020 “deal” concocted by Munchin and Malpass as the “GERD deal”?

If so, that “deal” is so unfair to Ethiopia, it could be described as the “Ripoff of the century.”

David Shinn, who served for 37 years in the United States Foreign Service and U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) noted, “Ethiopia has not yet signaled that it is prepared to accept the [GERD] agreement and, apparently, neither has Sudan. The United States seems to be putting its thumb on the scale in favor of Egypt. Perhaps it is time to make the agreement public so that everyone can see what the United States is proposing.”

Or is the WHNSC referring to a new fair deal to come out of the current talks?

On June 17, 2020, David Malpass tweeted reminding “Ethiopia and its neighbors to sustain constructive dialogue + cooperation on water sharing.”

Malpass makes no mention of an agreement or signing one.

Malpass talks about water sharing not water filling.

Malpass talks about the need to “sustain” dialogue and cooperation, which manifestly admits there is no agreement ready to be signed.

This is totally confusing.

Is Malpass urging the parties to keep talking and discussing and to resolve their issues by themselves?

Specifically, is he intimating to the parties to work out their issues without the World Bank and the U.S.?

Then there is “Silent” Steve Mnuchin.

Not a word about the GERD from Mnuchin since February 28, 2020

Mum is also the word from Mnuchin’s consiglieres Adam Lerrick and David Sullivan, the fearsome twosome, who penned the February 28, 2020 so-called agreement.

Indeed, the last time we heard from Treasury was on February 28 when they cavalierly announced there is a done deal ready for Ethiopia to sign.

Mnuchin’s silence is deafening.

Is Mnuchin silent because he feels he has made a fool of himself by trying and failing to boss around Ethiopia like some distant “s**t hole” African colonial outpost?

Perhaps Mnuchin feels Egypt played him for a patsy.

Perhaps he felt this is not my cup of tea and kicked it back to the White House, which could be the reason the National Security Council chose to tweet its not-so-veiled threat about getting the GERD deal done before starting to fill the dam.

The plot thickens and confusion abounds in the unravelling of the Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin  and David Milpass’ conspiracy to wreck the GERD.

Egypt apparently has said no to dialogue and apparently walked out of the “technical discussions”.

On June 19 Egypt filed a complaint with the U.N. Security Council.

Sameh Shoukry

Then, on June 21, 2020, President Sisi announced, “Egypt is committed to a diplomatic solution to Ethiopia’s dam crisis.”

If that is true, why travel five thousand seven hundred miles to seek a diplomatic solution in N.Y. City? Why not go to the African Union which is only one thousand three hundred nautical miles from Cairo.

I have read Egypt’s 63-page letter and annex to the President of the U.N. Security Council claiming the GERD issue presents an “imminent threat to international peace and security.”

That letter consists of recitation of the standard litany of disinformation and lies Egypt has been disseminating in her global propaganda campaign against Ethiopia for years.

It is a catalog of baseless allegations, innuendos, half-truths and whole lies. Treaties, agreements and declarations are selectively annexed to the letter to support Egypt’s absurd and outrageous claim that the Nile is it birthright and anyone who tries to build a hydroelectric dam upstream be damned.

But Egypt had tried the same tactic on May 1, 2020 by writing a letter to the Security Council.

The answer given in a statement issued on May 19, 2020 by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres was crystal clear:

The Secretary-General underscores the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD, which emphasizes cooperation based on common understanding, mutual benefit, good faith, win-win, and the principles of international law.

I am not sure what Egypt is expecting from the Security Council on the rebound.

In my view, a debate in the Security Council over the GERD would be a great opportunity for Ethiopia to expose to a candid world Egypt’s century-long pattern and practice of pathological lies, disinformation, fake news, deception, duplicity, hypocrisy, mendacity, dishonesty, treachery and sophistry on use of Nile waters.

Ethiopia will get an opportunity in the Security Council to debate each and single issue Egypt has raised and show beyond a shadow of doubt it is Egypt that has long sought to  victimize and criminalize Ethiopia.

I believe such a debate will afford the people of Egypt an opportunity to learn the truth about their government’s program of deception about the GERD.

Sisi jails anyone who speaks truth to power to him not only about the GERD but also COVID-19. A Security Council debate on the GERD could be the first time Egyptians will learn the truth about their government’s lies.

The million-dollar question is: “Can the Egyptians handle the truth, the unvarnished and bold truth about their government’s manipulation and betrayal of their trust?”

The Mickey Mouse diplomatic conspiracy of Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin  and David Milpass

Are the “Gang of Three” tone deaf? Or are they playing possum?

Ethiopia has told the “Gang of Three”, there is no deal!

No agreement!

Nada!

Time and again, Ethiopia has unambiguously and categorically denied the existence of any agreement ready for its signature in Washington or anywhere else.

On February 28, 2020, the day the U.S. announced an agreement has been reached, Ethiopia officially made its position crystal clear:

Ethiopia does not accept the characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD (Guidelines and Rules) is completed. The ‘text’ reportedly initialed by the Arab Republic of Egypt in Washington D.C. is not the outcome of the negotiation or the technical and legal discussion of the three countries. Ethiopia made it clear that the Guidelines and Rules must be prepared by the three countries. The Countries are yet to address outstanding issues pertaining to the finalization of the Guidelines and Rules.

In a twitter message, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew castigated the Treasury Department’s announcement of an agreement:

The statement issued by US Treasury on GERD is unacceptable & highly partisan, Ethiopia believes in continued engagement with Egypt & Sudan to address the outstanding issues and finalize the Guidelines and Rules on a win-win basis for all.

Which part of “there is no agreement to sign” do the “Gang of Three” not understand!?

If it is some sort of gamesmanship, and I mean zero-sum gamesmanship, to ensure Egypt gets everything and Ethiopia nothing, that is a non-starter.

Truth be told, I just don’t understand the Mickey Mouse water diplomacy of  Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin  and David Milpass.

The last time they tried to sell Ethiopia down the (Nile) river…: History will NOT repeat itself!

For well over a century, Britain and Egypt have been working like the devil in hell trying to sell Ethiopia down the Nile River.

In the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1902 (pp. 58-59), the British tried to bamboozle Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II by claiming the English version of that treaty prohibited Ethiopia from initiating any projects on the Nile River without the permission of Britain and Sudan.

That was a lie, damned lie and abominable lie.

In the ignoble tradition of British colonial diplomacy in Africa, they intentionally distorted the English version of the 1902 treaty. But Emperor Menelik II caught them red handed, and that treaty today is not worth the paper it is written on.

It was not only the British but also the Italians who tried to sell Ethiopia down the river. In Article 17 of  the Italian version of the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale, the Italians sneaked in language that proclaimed Ethiopia had agreed to be an Italian protectorate.

The Italians got Ethiopia’s interpretation of that treaty at the 1896 Battle of Adwa where the Italian army with superior arms was completely wiped out in less than one-half day by Ethiopian patriots.

In 2020, Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin  and David Milpass think they can dupe Ethiopia once again into signing away her God-given right to the Nile River.

Indeed, history repeats itself.

Let Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin and David Milpass take notice.

Just as Ethiopia dumped the 1902 Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty and the 1899 Treaty of Wuchale and other similarly concocted agreements, she will not sign and will dump any Mickey Mouse agreement the Gang of Three concoct in the back room to deprive her of her sovereign right to justly and equitably use Nile waters come hell or high water!

Let them heed the lessons of history.

Ethiopians have long been known in the story of Western civilization as “unwarlike people.” They are today known for their peaceful relations with their neighbors. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the 2019 Nobel Peace Laureate. Ethiopians have always had an unbounded desire to acquire the benefits of science, technology and engineering.

When America declared independence in 1776, Edward Gibbon, the great  historian of Western civilization, wrote of the need to defend the Ethiopians, then called “Abyssinians, an unwarlike people from the Barbarians who ravaged the inland country and the Turks and Arabs who advanced from the sea-coast in more formidable array.”

Gibbon wrote, the Abyssinians were interested in a “rational project of importing the arts and ingenuity of Europe; and their ambassadors at Rome and Lisbon were instructed to solicit a colony of smiths, carpenters, tilers, masons, printers, surgeons, and physicians, for the use of their country.”

The GERD is Ethiopia’s 21st century national “rational project”.

Ethiopia only wants to import the ingenuity of America, Europe and and independently generating hydroelectric power like the United States, Egypt and so many other countries.

Ethiopia only wants to make use of Nile waters consistent with international legal principles of reasonable and equitable use, without causing significant harm to downstream countries, cooperate with its neighbors for collective regional development, ensure maximum dam safety, operate with full transparency providing and  exchanging dam information and resolve all disputes peacefully.

It is not going to be a fair fight when the Gang of Three gang up on Ethiopia.

But Ethiopians have one weapon that has kept them free from colonialism, foreign attacks and domination for thousands of years.

That weapon is their unity in ONE Ethiopia.

ETHIOPIANS UNITED AROUND THE GERD CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED!

GERD is the ultimate symbol of Ethiopian unity. One GERD for all Ethiopians. All Ethiopians for one GERD!

That is the truth every Ethiopian man, woman and child must carry in their hearts and minds 24/7/365.

That is the truth they must breathe awake or asleep.

THERE IS ONE UNDENIABLE FACT: Neither Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin  nor David Milpass, jointly or severally, can stop Ethiopia from launching its “rational project” of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

On a personal note:

What Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin  and David Milpass are doing in their secret conspiracy to wreck the GERD reminds me of the children’s story of the big bad wolf and the three little pigs.

In that story, the big bad wolf came around threatening to blow down the house of three little helpless pigs. He succeeded in blowing down two houses made of straws and sticks. But the third house was built of bricks.

The big bad wolf huffed and puffed. He puffed and he huffed some more.

But he could not blow the brick house down. He was out of breath.

The angry big bad wolf decided to come down the down the chimney of the brick house, but there was a surprise waiting for the big bad wolf, a big kettle of boiling water.

That was the end of the big bad wolf – stewed in a kettle of boiling water.

Today, I see three big bad wolves — Sameh Shoukry, Steven Mnuchin  and David Milpass — standing in front of the GERD huffing and puffing:

Little Ethiopia, Little Ethiopia
Don’t fill the GERD without signing the agreement we wrote for you!
Not by the hairs on my chinny (mnu)chin (mnu)chin!
No, no, no Little Ethiopia!
Don’t fill the GERD without signing the agreement we wrote for you!
If you do, then we’ll huff and we’ll puff
and then we’ll puff and huff some more
and we’ll blow your GERD down!

But Little Ethiopia will be ready for the three big bad wolves with a humongous kettle of boiling Nile River water!

That will be the end of them!

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