Sunday, March 10, 2013

Let those on the Arena deal with it, mind your business (by BEWKET ABEBE )

(Mar 10, 2013, (Addis Ababa))--Last Tuesday, Sudan Tribune reported that Khalid Bin Sultan, Saudi Arabian Deputy Defence Minister, accused Ethiopia of 'posing threats to Sudan and Egypt' through building dam on the Blue Nile River which was a blunt remark based only hostility. 

From the very day his accusation has been made, questions related to the intent of the deputy minister has roared, including whether this stand is only his own. The issue has also interested many to hear the reflections of Sudan and Egypt. The irony behind all these is, however, his boorish speech utterly conflicts with the presently sprouting good relations of the two countries.

In an interview with The Ethiopian Herald on the same day Ambassador Dina Mufti, Spokesperson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Ethiopian government convened with the Saudi ambassador to Ethiopia. According to Dina, the ambassador reaffirmed that the Minister's speech would not be the stand of his government. The Ministry has, however, sought a further clarification from its Saudi Arabian counterpart. Being that the case, no clarification is yet given from Saudi Arabian government so far. But, they hopefully will make soon.

“Saudi is one of the strategic partners of Ethiopia. We don't think what the Minister mentioned represents his government. Anyways we are still awaiting the clarification,” said ambassador Dina. It is unclear what has initiated this Minister to meddle into the affairs of other countries. He attempted to add a negative light towards the great project of our nation even though he does not succeed. In one hand Ethiopia has always backs the equitable use of river. Sudan and Egypt have also shown their positive reflections in various ways, in the other. Whatever reason made him brew this awkward remark and whatever intention he has, it is clear that he is not the right person to deal with the issue. 

In fact, such accusations on the grand projects of the nation are not unusual. The country has inevitable right to utilize the Nile water proportionately to its substantial contribution to the river and support the power grid of the nation as well as its neighbouring countries with intent to lift its citizens out of the poverty.

When Ethiopia announced the launching of the project, various bodies tried to oppose fearing their illusionary impact. Some political commentators, environmental experts and hydrologists have all voiced concerns about the dam's ecological impact. As a result, the financial burden of this mega-dam falls only on the government and Ethiopian citizens on account of the international donors less interest to fund the project. The project is a matter of survival for every citizens of the nation. That is why all segment of the society including lower grade kids purchased bonds to finance the dam project, though this man acutely failed to understand it.

With full participation of the public, the project is progressing day-by-day. It is logical to say the construction of the project has got a common position by all the ruling party, oppositions political parties and the people at large. It is the right time for Ethiopians to strive hard for their freedom from the heavy hands of hunger, and citizens are busy to sustain the gained progresses. The Renaissance Dam is, therefore, at the heart of every people. The financial contribution of the people at all levels with their utmost capability is one of the manifestations for that. Everyone has now understood as hunger should in no way be tolerated any more.

With regard to the impact of the project-be it environmental or societal-a twelve-member international panel of experts from Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia as well as other neutral international experts is conducting its studies related to socio-economic and environmental, among others, impacts of the dam. The panel is set to announce its findings in the coming May 2013.

But the confused Minister, meddling into a regional affairs, which he has no authority to comment, would only be blowing unrhythmic trumpet, plainly speaking confusing the calm environment. The sole body that can prove or disprove whether the dam has any impact on the water quotas of the downstream countries is the report of the panel of experts, not a Saudi official. Ethiopia always respect the right of other riparian countries and the country is confident as the dam will not threaten their well being. FDRE Water & Energy State Minister Eng.Wondimu Tekle said in this regard that: “ We have critically informed the panel as well as Egypt and Sudan as our effort would not harm anyone. We are hopeful that the study will come up with positive results.” 

Without a shadow of doubt all the three countries clearly understand that they cannot benefit unless they cooperate. Therefore, working towards building mutual trust is the only option they have. In fact, the countries are exercising this approach in a disciplined manner. And the nonsense intervention of such individuals would not stir anything.

Economic backwardness is affecting a large majority of the population being the prime enemy of the country. Without addressing this antithesis of development, Ethiopia would not stand as a country and its very existence would be in doubt. To this effect, the country has been engaged in efforts to eradicate poverty. To do that, peace is too vital. The Ethiopian Foreign Policy and National Security Strategy in this regard state that friendly relations among neighbouring countries as well as the riparian would have vital importance as fight against poverty can be accelerated with a win-win cooperation.

Ethiopia's relationship with Egypt and Sudan is also crafted in pursuance with this principle. Our country has a long rooted relations with Egypt as a result of the Nile River. The Nile can and indeed should be a source of cooperation and mutually beneficial relations between Ethiopia and Egypt in a whole number of ways. “ The two countries have one history and one destiny.” says Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris.

It is in this situation the Saudi Deputy Defence Minister went saying that Ethiopia is keen on harming Egypt and Sudan. “There are fingers messing with water resources of Sudan and Egypt which are rooted in the mind and body of Ethiopia. They do not forsake an opportunity to harm Arabs without taking advantage of it,” as the deputy defence minister wrongly puts it.

But, the point the Saudi official missed is that this is the 21st century in which sovereign countries such as Ethiopia can decide with their natural resources in a way that impact less on other sovereign countries. There is no reason for African countries to live the way their colonizers wanted them to do. This is applicable in sharing natural resources fairly.

As far as the tripartite countries of the Nile wisely use it, the Nile can feed all. Nile is democratic in spirit unless beneficiaries abuse it. After all it is we Ethiopians, Egyptians and Sudanese as well as other tripartite countries of the Nile that are in the Arena. It is not a Saudi official that matters. What matters is the one who is in the Arena. It is, therefore, advisable for the Saudi official to mind his own business instead of meddling into others' affairs and engendering the long lasting strategic partnership between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia.
Source: The Ethiopian Herald Newspaper

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