trying for four years to unilaterally build the biggest and largest concrete dam in Africa, the Ethiopian government ends up out of cash, out of time and out of luck. Only option left was to succumb to Egypt’s terms and finish the dam or abandon it altogether
By Amanuel Biedemariam,
The recent “Agreement on Declaration of Principles between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project (GERD) ” is yet another example of how the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) sells Ethiopia while establishing a Greater (Abay) Independent Tigray.
The TPLF has been selling the Hidesa/Renaissance Dam as if it is an existential issue and that it is “Ethiopia’s right to develop.” To that end, the TPLF turned the case into a political campaign designed to rally the Ethiopian people, sold shares to ensure funding, and tried to paint Egypt as villain-determined to stop Ethiopian progress by any means.
However, contrary to the rhetoric, the agreement favors Egypt and neutralizes Ethiopia’s sovereign right to the Nile. Any future development project related to the Nile must go through an international panel of experts. That means Ethiopia can no longer unilaterally decide what it can do with the Nile. The agreement, “Principle to Cooperate on the First Filling and Operation of the Dam,” states,
“To implement the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts (IPOE), respect the final outcomes of the Technical National Committee (TNC) Final Report on the joint studies recommended in the IPOE Final Report throughout the different phases of the project. The three countries, in the spirit of cooperation, will utilize the final outcomes of the joint studies, to be conducted as per the recommendations of the IPoE Report and agreed upon by the TNC.”
The question is, what lead to this sudden change? How did the parties come to the framework of an agreement? Most importantly, why did Egypt agree?
The government of Sudan is happy with the TPLF regime. Ethnically divided and weakened Ethiopia serves Sudan’s national interests, and the TPLF is a perfect vehicle to achieve that.
Moreover, the TPLF gave Sudan a vast chunk of Ethiopian land as part of the border agreement. Evidence of the closer relations between the TPLF and Sudan, President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan was among the prominent figures that participated on the 40th Anniversary of the TPLF.
Egypt, on the other hand, has always had acrimonious relations with Ethiopia. Egypt has been of arming various Ethiopian rebels and is actively lobbying against the funds for the dam.
The agreement may have changed the relations finally. If body language and facial expression can tell, the smiles and joyful expression of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt tells it all. The agreement is a significant achievement because, for the first time, Egyptians can secure a deal that can settle the Nile issue finally.
The question remains why the TPLF signed an agreement that places more restrictions on Ethiopia’s ability to exploit the Nile. Why now, after years of grandstanding, did the TPLF cave in and signed an agreement? It is a classic modus-operandi for the TPLF to sell all they can, be it land, resources, etc., for minor-temporary political gain at the expense of Ethiopia’s future.
Key: The TPLF sold off what it calls Ethiopian Right to the Nile is to join the alliance led by Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen, and with a belief, by entering the coalition, it could remain relevant on regional affairs.
True to form, in a recent article on its mouthpiece Aigaforum, TPLF declared Ethiopia “Africa’s Next Hegemon: Behind Ethiopia’s power plays” and placated the agreement as a significant achievement.
However, selling off the rights to the Nile is a sign of the desperate state that the TPLF finds itself. It is evident that no matter how hard Hailemariam Desalegn tries, he cannot maneuver Ethiopian agendas because he is dealing from a position of weakness. Hailemariam does not enjoy his job status because he is not at the level of Meles Zenawi. Hence, the TPLF controls all the decisions.
Tigrayans that support the TPLF regime have been pointing fingers at the average Ethiopian around the world that stood against the regime and tried to stop it from raising funds by selling shares and other coercive measures.
The agreement changes that.
The people of Tigray are growing uneasy about the direction of the TPLF. In fact, for the first time, Aigaforum, the mouthpiece of the TPLF, was exposed showing its concern when it responded to a Reuter’s article, “Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan pick two firms for Nile dam study,” On April 10, Aigaforum responded,
“We hope these two firms have nothing in common with International River or Oakland Institute! It is also good to check if Mr. Leakey and his “Lake Turkana” fiasco against Gibe III has nothing in common with the Dutch company!” The TPLF is leading Ethiopia and particularly the people of Tigray into a deep dark state. The longer the TPLF stays in power, the worse it will get. All the rhetoric about the Nile was a political ploy that TPLF sold for temporary political gain. TPLF is a sham, and if not checked, they will loot and run, leaving Ethiopia in tatters.