The African Union Matters: Why is Egypt Knocking on the U.N. Security Council’s Door When the Africa Union Hall is Wide Open?

By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam

Today, June 29, 2020, the U.N. Security Council has scheduled an open session on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

As I shall demonstrate below, the open session is a strategic move coordinated and pre-planned by the U.S. and Egypt to break the back of Ethiopia and force her to abandon her natural rights to use Nile River waters.

But why did Egypt prefer to the Security Council before even giving the African Union a chance to address the GERD issues?

Is Egypt part of Africa of not?

Obviously, Egypt is in the African continent.

But do Egyptians, and specifically the Egyptian Government, believe they are Africans?

Do Egyptians truly believe their fate and destiny is eternally tied to the rest of Africa or with others?

Is the Nile River the umbilical cord that ties Egypt to Africa or simply a misfortune of nature?

Do Egyptians believe African problems should be solved by Africans?

I do not know the answers to these questions. But from the behavior and pronouncements of the Egyptian Government, it does not appear Egypt is any way organically part of Africa.

That is a curious state of affairs.

Egypt, along with Ethiopia, is a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the current African Union (AU), in 1963. The two key objectives of the OAU were “promotion of unity and solidarity of the African States” and facilitation of “cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa.”

Egypt is also a member of the African Union and last year completed the rotational one-year presidency of that organization. Among the 17 objectives of the AU are “acceleration of the political and socio-economic integration of the continent” and “promotion of peace, security, and stability on the continent.”

Ethiopia and Egypt are founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement established to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism,  interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics.”

So, why has Egypt ignored and actively avoided home grown continental institutions, and specifically the African Union, to find solutions to the disputes in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)?

On June 26, 2020, Egypt for the first time agreed to be part of GERD discussions under the auspices of the African Union.

I am pleased Egypt finally decided the African Union matters in resolving conflict and maintaining peace among African countries.

But I will bet my bottom dollar Egypt will not stay the African Union course. She will bolt out of any African Union sponsored negotiations in a New York minute because Egypt will never engage Ethiopia on a level playing field.

Egypt dragged Ethiopia to the “Washington talks” in November 2019 because she had stacked the deck in her favor. Egypt had connived with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank Group President David Malpass and pre-written an agreement before Ethiopia even showed up in Washington.

Abdel Fattah al Sisi did a number on Trump. Sisi duped Trump into believing he would certainly get the Nobel Peace Prize if he can get Ethiopia to sign a deal with Egypt on Nile River waters.

Trump the Chump fell for Al Sisi’s trick hook, line and sinker.

On January 10, 2020, Trump trumpeted:

I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize, I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said: ‘What, did I have something to do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters… I saved a big war, I’ve saved a couple of them.

The fix was in.

Ethiopia was supposed to show up in Washington, watch the U.S., World Bank and Egypt do a dog and pony show, sign the agreement and go home. Trump would then trumpet to the World he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 because he brought peace to Egypt and Ethiopia.

On February 28, Ethiopia told the U.S. and Egypt to use their agreement as toilet paper and moved on.

In the poetic words of Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes of mice and men/ Often go wrong,/ And leave us nothing but grief and pain/ For promised joy!”

The best laid plans of Trump, Mnuchin, Malpass and Shoukry went awry and now they have joined forces again to inflict grief and pain on Ethiopia in the Security Council.

Today, Egypt believes the U.S. will rig the Security Council in her favor and she can finally pull the wool over Ethiopia’s eyes.

That is vintage Egypt. Get a big power to do her dirty work. In the past, it was Britain; today it is the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council. Ho hum!

The fact of the matter is that for nearly a decade, Egypt has sailed the seven seas trying to find a solution to GERD disputes.

Just in the past year, Egypt has knocked on diplomatic gates all over Europe, rousted the Arab League to condemn Ethiopia and connived with the U.S. to set up a  diplomatic trap for Ethiopia called the “Washington talks”.

Today, Egypt pounds the doors at the U.N. Security Council in an attempt to ensure her perpetual hegemony over Nile river waters.

But why has Egypt avoided using the African Union to deal with GERD issues but chosen to scour the U.S., Europe and the Arab League for solutions?

Could it be that Egyptian leaders have contempt for the African Union and African leaders?

Could it be that Egypt feels black Africans will stick together and not give her a fair shake?

Could it be vestigial colonial mentality among Egyptian leaders that only their former white colonial masters can solve problems for them?

Could it be that Egyptian leaders consider themselves white and look down on black Africans?

Could it be that Egyptian leaders believe black African leaders are pushovers or so weak they could be bought by a few pieces of Western silver to sell their souls and throw in their grandmothers to boot?

The warmonger accusing the peacemaker of breach of international peace in the Security Council

Is it not ironic the criminal should report the victim to the police as the perpetrator?

Ethiopia has NEVER declared or threatened to declare war on Egypt or for that matter anyone else. Yet, she is now dragged into the Security Council by Egypt as a “threat to international peace and security”.

Egypt has jacked up Ethiopia in the Security Council as a warmongering unilateralist, a bogus charge I have thoroughly refuted.

In his letter to Nicolas de Rivière, President of the Security Council Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry wrote:

… I must emphasize that the U.N. Charter entitles U.N. Member States to protect their vital national interests and ensure their survival. Filling and operating such a mega project as the GERD without an agreement and in the absence of any mutually agreed safeguards that protect downstream riparians against the potentially significant harm that may be inflicted upon them constitutes a clear and present danger to Egypt, which could have serious repercussions that threaten international peace and security.” (Italics added.)

Shoukry’s letter to the Security Council, stripped of the diplomatic mumbo jumbo about Ethiopia’s decision to begin filling the GERD posing “a threat to international peace and security” and “the U.N. Charter authorizing member states to protect their vital national interests and ensure their survival” is this: “Egypt will declare war on Ethiopia if she proceeds to fill the GERD without an agreement pre-approved by Egypt.”

Make no mistake: Shoukry is not threatening war, he is promising it.

Shoukry is not spreading rumors of war, he is drum beating and bugling his troops to get ready for war with Ethiopia.

Shoukry is not blustering.

Shoukry says in his letter Egypt “has explored and exhausted every avenue of reaching an amicable solution” with Ethiopia.

So, what is left after all amicable solutions to deal with Ethiopia have been exhausted?

War.

War on land.

War in the air.

War in the water.

Shoukry is not giving a warning to Ethiopia. He feels that warning has been given for decades.

In 1979, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat threatened to go to war with Ethiopia .

In 2013, Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi declared “if the Nile is diminished by one drop, then our blood is the alternative.”

Sisi told the U.N. General Assembly last September, “The Nile is a question of life, a matter of existence to Egypt” and has recently directed  his forces to be on the “highest state of alert”. Even Egyptian billionaire Naguid Sawiris was drumbeating the tweets of war. “If Ethiopia doesn’t come to reason, we the Egyptian people will be the first to call for war.”

Now, Egypt is wagging its fingers at Ethiopia in the Security Council for becoming a threat to international peace and security.

Egypt gives new meaning to the phrase “blaming the victim”.

The Security Council is one of the 6 major organs of the United Nations. Its primary responsibilities include maintaining international peace and security and promoting friendly relations among nations.

The Security Council “takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression” and bring “parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement.” It may “impose sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

It is a supreme irony that Egypt should go the U.N. Security Council to accuse Ethiopia of breaching international peace by beginning to fill the GERD in July 2020.

War mongering and brinksmanship are favorite past times of Egyptian leaders. Today, Egypt is preparing for war on the Ethiopian and Libyan fronts.

Yet, Egypt seeks to haul Ethiopia in the Security Council and have it convicted as a “threat to international peace and security.”

The secret U.S.-Egypt 10-point game plan to break Ethiopia’s back in the Security Council

Perhaps what is not self-evident is the fact that Egypt’s letter to the Security Council is  part of a well-coordinated and calculated strategic move between Egypt and the U.S., masterminded by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s clueless son in law, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank Group President David Malpass to bring Ethiopia to her knees and breaking her back with sanctions or threat of sanctions and preventing her from completing the GERD.

It is no secret that U.S. representatives at the U.N. for the past week have been arm twisting, jawboning, badgering and browbeating Council members to support Egypt’s position.

As the old saying goes, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.”

Mnuchin, Malpass and Shoukry tried to skin the Ethiopian cat alive in the “Washington talks”.

They found out the Ethiopian cat is no meerkat but actually a lion in tiger’s clothing.

The strong arm tactics of the “Washington talks” did not bring Ethiopia to its knees nor get her sobbing and begging, “Uncle Sam, massah, have pity on us. Please massah, I can’t breathe with your knees on my neck, just like Floyd George!”

When Egypt, the U.S. and World Bank learned they could not choke Ethiopia into submission, they decided to pull out the last trick hidden up their sleeves:

Dupe the U.N. Security Council into having a fake debate over Egypt’s baseless allegations and hijack the debates to get a resolution favorable to Egypt.

Mnuchin, Malpass and Shoukry’s game plan at the Security Council is simple, TRAP AND CLAP Ethiopia just like they tried to do in the Washington talks:

1) The U.S. will insist the Security Council take a pro forma look at the Egyptian letter.

2) The U.S. will call the three parties to make presentations to the Council.

3) The U.S. will then stage a make-believe debate on Egypt’s allegations against Ethiopia.

4) The U.S. will present a draft a resolution, already prepared by the U.S. and Egypt just like in the Washington agreement, and present it to the Council.

5) The U.S. resolution will be one-sided just like the Washington agreement. It will be in the form of a warning to Ethiopia in the same exact language of the Washington agreement: “Ethiopia shall not begin filling the GERD without an agreement.”

6) Given Ethiopia’s rejection of the Washington agreement, the U.S. will have an alternative resolution that will condemn Ethiopia for its intransigence, unreasonableness, disregard for international law, decision to proceed with filling the dam with an agreement (read approval of Egypt), etc., and threaten sanctions or other punitive measures if it proceeds with its plans to fill the GERD.

7) The U.S. will sweet talk, coax, lobby, hoodwink and/or threaten the non-permanent members of the Council (Belgium, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia, Viet Nam) into supporting the resolution.

8) The U.S. will fail in its efforts in the Security Council. The U.S. will then pull its “nuclear option” on Ethiopia. Just like Trump’s Ukraine quid pro quo, the U.S. will put the squeeze on Ethiopia and give her an ultimatum. Sign up or the U.S. will cut off all aid, block trade and prevent multilateral bank loans.

9) Egypt will declare moral victory over Ethiopia by having the issue heard in the Security Council and continue with its global campaign of victimization by Ethiopia.

10) The U.S. and Egypt believe once Ethiopia submits to Security Council jurisdiction, the trap will be shut, and Ethiopia will forever be yoked to and jerked by the Council on GERD issues.

Let the Security Council learn from Ethiopian history

The U.S-Egypt conspiracy to deprive Ethiopia of its right to use the Nile waters reasonably and equitably is not the first time she has been abused, mistreated, victimized, preyed, hoodwinked and screwed over.

The League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations, ignored Ethiopia’s plea when she was invaded by fascist Italy in 1936.

When Ethiopia “struggled to maintain its age-old independence” from Italian colonialism, faced “systematic extermination by barbarous means”, barrels of poison and mustard gas rained on its people and hundreds of thousands died, the League of Nation stood on the sidelines and turned a blind eye and deaf ears to Italy.

In the last sentence of his speech at the League of Nations, H.I.M. Haile Selassie posed one question to the League: “Representatives of the World I have come to Geneva to discharge in your midst the most painful of the duties of the head of a State. What reply shall I have to take back to my people?”

The League was silent, and H.I.M. Haile Selassie left in despair of what will happen to his beloved Ethiopia.

The Ethiopians did not need an answer from the League which was working hand in glove with fascist Italy.

The Ethiopians had their own answers.

Fight the fascist invader in the valley, in the mountains, in the forest, on the trails, on the rivers, on foot, in hand to hand combat, with bows and arrows, muskets and swords, stick and stones.

In 1941, the Ethiopians sent the Italian colonial invaders packing home.

Today, Egypt wants to use the United Nations Security Council to make Ethiopia its water colony, just like fascist Italy in 1936 wanted to fully colonize Ethiopia, by hogtying Ethiopia from using its Nile river waters.

The same fate awaits Egypt and all who dare to infringe on Ethiopia’s sovereignty or make her a vassal state or water colony.

History shows many European colonial powers have not tried to screw over Ethiopia.

Like the so-called Washington agreement, in the 1889 Treaty of Wucahle, the Italians tried to pull a fast one by doctoring their version of their treaty and claimed Ethiopia was an Italian protectorate.

They got their answer in the Battle of Adwa in 1896 where they were wiped out in a battle that barely last one-half day.

There is no question Egypt and the U.S. are working like the devil in hell behind the scenes to manipulate the Security Council and make Ethiopia a water colonial protectorate of Egypt.

Ethiopia will be Egypt’s water protectorate when the Nile River freezes over the devil goes ice skating. And with God on our side, we will fight the devils on the ice tooth and nail! 

The solution rests with the African Union

The fact remains: Ethiopia will begin filling the GERD in July 2020.

Egypt’s best chance of reaching a fair agreement rests with the African Union.

Egypt could sail the seven seas   in search of answers and solutions to GERD disputes, but she will find the right answers only in the African Union.

Egypt needs to realize there are 10 other Nile riparian African countries watching Ethiopia in its dealings. If the U.S and Egypt succeeds in steamrolling Ethiopia, Africa’s ultimate symbol of independence and sovereignty, or if Ethiopia buckles and breaks under the pressure of the two hegemons, that will be the end of them as well. They too will become water colonies of Egypt.

Egypt needs to understand the wisdom of an old African saying, “If you can’t resolve your problems in peace, you can’t solve them in war.”

Regardless of what the U.S., the U.N. Security Council, the Arab League or the Arab Republic of Egypt do or do not, there is no power on earth that can stop Ethiopia from building its GERD and reasonably, equitably and lawfully use its Nile Waters.

Egypt goes to the Security Council with unclean hands. She threatens war on Ethiopia and yet seeks the Council to intervene on her behalf and exact punishment on Ethiopia for threatening international peace and security.

The Security Council should throw out Egypt’s complaint.

Those who seek justice must practice justice themselves. Those who preach the gospel of war on their neighbors should not be heard in the Security Council.

It will not be easy to fight a tag team of two U.S-Egypt Goliaths and Hegemons in the Security Council at the same time.

But history in the past few decades has shown the little guys with guts and determination have successfully beaten the big guys.

The Trump administration may believe Ethiopia is just another “s**t hole African country” and they can screw he over as they like.

Let them remember Ethiopians have always kicked the s**t out of those who have dared to disrespect or invade them.   

Let them remember Ethiopia beat back, for the first time in African history, a mighty European colonial army in a battle that lasted one-half day in the Battle of Adwa in 1896. Let Egypt remember its mighty invading army that got wiped out in the Battles of Gundet and Gura in 1875-76.

Ethiopia has been able to defeat its enemies with one and only one weapon. Ethiopian Unity!

ETHIOPIANS UNITED AROUND THE GERD CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED!

My motto and rallying cry: “One GERD for all Ethiopians. All Ethiopians for one GERD!”

AFRICAN UNION SOLUTIONS FOR AFRICA’S PROBLEMS. GET THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL OUT OF AFRICA!

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Dear prof Mariam,

    I will not discuss the fully “hatred” and “conspiracy” language you used in your article. I will not also discuss the well-known international principles of the international rivers rights. I would rather ask you two simple questions:

    The first question is what do you and our respected Ethiopian brothers think about the “equitable” and “reasonable” use of the Blue Nile (BN) water among the three riparian countries of Egypt (where BN is contributing 85% of its annual water resources), Ethiopia (where its annual water from different resources is 20 times of Egypt share of BN water), and Sudan?

    The second question is: what in your opinion and our respected Ethiopian brothers, are the most “technical” reasons for you to reject the US mediated proposal that have been developed through extended negotiations between the three main countries of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan with US as mediator? Please tell us what are the most technical issues in that mediated proposal those may harm Ethiopia the most. Please be specific to the technical harms taking into account the “Equitable” and “Reasonable” use of the BN water between the three riparian countries.

    Waiting for your answers.

    Best regards

    Prof Ahmed Elgeushey, PhD
    Prof of Mechanical Engineering
    Egypt

  2. From the beginning the process should have stayed within the African Union and other regional organizations. And who cares  which door Cairo bangs on as long as our door remains open? It’s part of our cultural fabric to speak softly and carry a big stick. Ethiopia’s model of diplomacy remains the standard set by the father of the African Union Emperor Haile Selassie, whose hospitality and personal skill of managing international relations on behalf of Ethiopia remains unmatched. That confidence and elegance thanks to the Derg  and the subsequent degradation of Ethiopian exceptionalism has now been permanently replaced by this kind of  rancorous internet shouting match akin to showing up to a meeting with a gun in one hand and a stick in the other and asking which you’d prefer. In retrospect, politics aside, even Meles Zenawi, the politician credited for initiating this project, was correct to insist that Ethiopia keep GERD as a strictly an African affair as possible. Now the question for the pundits especially in the diaspora is that will they show the same unity without trampling on Ethiopia’s storied and hard-won legacy of pan-African diplomacy? When will they wake up from their current state of unconsciousness (coma) about the need to practice basic universal mannerism  if GERD is to be  the social and economic infrastructure for Africa as it’s billed to be?  In the long-term what’s the goal  to go beyond this narrow point of view? We Ethiopians are pro-GERD because we love our country Ethiopia not because we hate  our neighbor Egypt. Continually antagonizing your real or perceived rivals impairs your judgment. But wisdom, subtlety and diplomacy is the genius of passing a message without making an enemy. Trying to ask Ethiopians to do otherwise is to insult our intelligence.

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