Trump adopts an aggressive tone against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
The far stretched land of Ethiopia’s forested northwest is the site of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which is Africa’s biggest hydropower plant and the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the continent. The expectations are rocket flying among the Ethiopians as it is estimated that the hydropower plant will bring the country’s electricity generation to more than triple its current capacity. It is also expected that the completion of this dam will create opportunities for the rising nation of Ethiopia to come out of its previous reputation of famines. The area of the hydropower plant is stretched to 650 square miles and about 8,500 workers are working on the site often without any day off in the week.
Despite the past famine records, Ethiopian officials claim that they will not ask for any foreign assistance for this dam which is a point of national pride. “We lean on the generousness of the rest of the world, so there is a conviction on the part of the public to change this, to regain our lost greatness, to divorce ourselves from the status quo of poverty. And the first thing that we need to do is make use of our natural resources, like water,” said Zadig Abrha, deputy director of the dam’s public mobilization office.
“Ethiopia, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, has poured its resources into a slew of megaprojects in recent years, including dams, factories, roads, and railways across the country.” The New York Times
The Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki visited the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on 13th October, which raised many questions and controversies over the construction of the dam that is to cost about $4 billion till its completion in 2021. The construction of the dam started in 2011 and has cost a lot so far to the nation of Ethiopia in economic and as well as political terms.
Egyptian concerns cannot be ignored in such a situation where the former president of Egypt Mohamed Morsi had stated in 2013 that the ‘Egyptian blood’ would substitute for every drop of lost water. Because the GER Dam is on the Blue Nile which contributes most of the water flowing into the Nile River. The current president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has also made diplomatic moves to meet a common conclusion between the nations but failed miserably, as the relations between Egypt and Ethiopia continue to be in thaw. Though the real concern for Ethiopians, for now, is not Egypt but money, but the American influence has heightened the Ethiopian concerns now.
“US President Donald Trump on Friday voiced anger at Ethiopia over its construction of a huge dam on the Nile River and appeared to suggest that Egypt may destroy It.”, is how ‘France 24’ put it. What makes Trump interested in this issue, as the US elections are on the head and Trump has made efforts to snatch the noble peace prize by creating chances of normalizing ties among Israel and her Arab neighbor countries, is a vital question to be answered. And the answer is simple, ‘Trump is on the road to normalizing ties between Israel and Sudan now, which he announced on Friday, and Sudan, like Egypt, has concerns over the GER Dam.’ Trump, like any other ruler of a powerful state, loves those nations who can add something to his country’s might. Ethiopia being a poorer nation as compared to Egypt has to suffer as she cannot offer much to the superpower.
“They (Egypt)’ll end up blowing up the dam. And I said it and I say it loud and clear — they’ll blow up that dam. And they have to do something,” Trump said
The construction of the dam had started in 2011. Trump regrets that Egypt waited so long to take any action against it. He argued that Egypt should have stopped it long ago. The American president also agreed to mediate over the dam with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leading talks. Which does not seem just or sensical, as Trump has already adopted his fiery style against Ethiopia, making it clearer that he does not like the construction of the GER Dam.
The Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok appreciated American President Donald J. Trump’s mediation in the matter and showed the desire for an amicable solution soon among the three nations as Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
“I had a deal done for them and then unfortunately Ethiopia broke the deal, which they should not have done. That was a big mistake,” Trump said, “They will never see that money unless they adhere to that agreement,” he added. Ethiopian officials claim that the $4 billion project is indispensable for its development, whereas the Egyptians depend on the waters of the Nile for about 97% of its drinking water and irrigation.
Trump further showed concerns that Egypt may not be able to live that way, therefore she may destroy the dam. Which makes it crystal clear that he is in the favor of the Egyptian stance of not letting the Ethiopians complete and exploit the dam.
To conclude, after Trump debates with the American presidential candidate Joe Biden, it was expected that he may adopt a soft tone as he appeared on the losing side on the day of the debate. But soon that assumption was proved wrong as his style was as fiery as before. Further, the construction of the GERD can add more spice in the regions of the Middle East and Africa. Even though all three conflicting nations, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are Muslim majority states, sharing a common faith, no Muslim nation can offer much to them as national interest rules over the ideology and politics in the Islamic world seem in mess. Therefore, it can be stated that Ethiopia might stop the construction of the dam until any common conclusion is reached among the tussling nations because she cannot afford the destruction of it.
Note: Pictures’ courtesy does not belong to the writer.