AFRICANGLOBE – There is no value judgment more imperative to the Ethiopian man–no feature more decisive in his emotional development and motivation–than the pride of the Blue Nile (Abay.)
This is customarily experienced by all Ethiopians no matter their ethnicity or political ideology, such passion does not only exist in the form of a conscious, verbalized judgment, but in the form of a true allegiance to patriotism and nationalism, a sentiment that can be hardly cut off and identified, its scope and content plus the level in which it is continually experienced in the hearts of all Ethiopians.
Every Ethiopian, no matter what their differences are, unite on the nomenclature of the Blue Nile locally known us “Abay.” A lot of poetic expression, native proverbs and cultural songs revolve around the Abay – this means the Blue Nile is truly a national identity synonymous with Ethiopian existence. This being the reality of the matter, lately, Egypt started chasing an almost casual and seemingly immodest approach on upstream utilization – in fact it is an ancient justification for the present-day that does not work at all.
There were more than several attempts of negotiation, re-negotiation and increasingly re-re-negotiation (if any of the sort) between Ethiopia and Egypt concerning the circumstantial use of Abay headwaters which moreover did not yield any applauded outcome.
The surprising reality is that the Abay water seemingly has become the touch of the raw nerve of Egyptians. In view of the fact that the Ethiopian government is working on the mega project dubbed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the headwaters of the Blue Nile, Cairo has developed endless worries, wielding always a pair of colonial-era treaties in which Egypt argues that the Nile water barely belongs to them and accordingly maintains the power of veto over dams and other upstream projects in the Nile basin regions.
This ostensibly sounds like an “accidental right” in this 21st century. Because, Ethiopia has an unalienable right to use the opportunity and fully take advantage of the greatest and the longest river on her soil, thus the logic of the recent mega project engagement is nothing other than to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity which will of course prompt up and maintain Africa’s uppermost economic growth rate, not only that, but also growth for energy-starved neighboring countries such as Kenya and Djibouti to mention but a few, thus Ethiopia felt that they have no time to worry about any form of challenges now or in the future.
However, during last May and June 2013 there was escalating public disorder and instability in Egypt, which paved the way for the public to articulate supreme contentment and advanced dissatisfaction on the economic and social policies of the Ikhwani (Brotherhood) Government led by President Mohammed Morsi.
In order to find a scapegoat, the Ikhwani government started to rummage around and look for a major foreign commotion, that is — an apparent danger for Egypt that would cause diversion of the increasingly rude crowd, thus the Morsi government started launching a campaign of “Media conspiracy theory” in this campaign, the Ikhwani government took account of a major media offensive at the alleged threat and also built-in the pledge of major political, intelligence, and military resources commitment for any form of political movement that can pose a threat to Ethiopia; however, this primitive move did not shake Ethiopia, and further it reminded them of the old proverb which goes, “The dogs bark but the caravan moves on.”
Ethiopia will never halt the mega project it has fully embarked on since 2011, whether this circumstance would make Egypt happy or unhappy it remains Egypt’s political altitude and their pacific approach in this matter, consequently any form of military threats towards Ethiopia at the present situation will be none other than plain paradoxical myth and primitive sense, if you will. As the philosopher William James wrote, accepting what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequence of any internal crises.
Perhaps Mother Goose put it more eloquently when she stated, “For every ailment under the sun there is a remedy or there is none. If there be one, try to find it out. If there be none, never mind it.” So Egypt’s colonial era-treaty has worked for them for nearly a century and now it has become out of fashion and should look for other acceptable solutions both for their Nile psychology and the interest of their brothers upstream of the Blue Nile instead of opting for unworkable venues.
History is beautiful, not only that, it repeats itself. In 1973, the Egyptian strongest third army in the Arab world engaged in an all out war with Israel with the Israeli army counterattacking and succeeded in crossing to the west bank of the Suez canal and surrounding the Egyptian Third Army. The strongest third army of Egypt was defeated among others, by “thirst” because they could not access the Suez canal water for drinking, and they were surrounded and capitulated by the Israel army.
After the defeat, the war brought two advantages for Egypt and one advantage for the world. Egypt’s advantage; deep water boreholes drilled in the Sinai as well as the petroleum wells founded by the Israel powerful technology and was left for Egypt, now Egyptian national property.
The same war brought one advantage for the world, that is the invention of “drip irrigation” the comparative advantage of the Renaissance Dam of Ethiopia in upstream, will have one advantage for Africa, that is 6,000 megawatts electricity will be produce which will prompt up and sustain Africa’s highest economic growth rate.
Egypt will have one advantage, that is, the Blue Nile water will not be stopped, and the flow will continue and will realize the African Nile basin countries with booming economy that will provide a suitable market for Egypt’s goods and services.
Egypt should not think of sending troops to South Sudan because the mandate to send troops belongs to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries, which South Sudan is part of. Without the approval of IGAD it will be seen as a move to provoke war.
The historical attempt of Egyptians to invade Ethiopia in order to control the Blue Nile never showed applauded rest, and no leader of Egypt who led war against Ethiopia in the past has lived to tell the history. It always ended in a paradoxical myth. Whether South Sudan President, Salva Kiir requested peacekeeping troops from Egypt or not, any attempt of it will be seen as a proxy war.
By Ali Sheikh