By Alemayehu G. Mariam
Egypt has discovered a new word to demonize Ethiopia and wreck the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the U.N. Security Council. UNILATERALISM.
The term unilateralism refers to the single-minded pursuit of foreign policy and national interest by magnifying one’s objectives and subordinating or disregarding the aims and interests of other nations. Learned scholars of international relations explain:
Unilateralism is the term to describe a situation where the powerful state disrespects multilateral norms and adopts a self-centered foreign policy. Power levels determine how unilateral a state can be. As such, unilateralism is the preferred course of action for the major powers and is more likely to be used by the hegemonic state. A powerful state that can achieve its policy goals using its own resources without the need of international support can pursue a foreign policy that would not follow accepted international norms.
Could Ethiopia be fairly described under any circumstances as a “unilateralist”, a “powerful state”, a “major power”, a “hegemonic state” capable of exerting its will, whim and fancy on Nile river waters?
Make no mistake. That is exactly how Egypt’s Foreign Minister “Shameless” Sameh Shoukry described Ethiopia to the U.N. Security Council in his June 19, 2020 letter.
Shoukry’s letter paints Ethiopia as a reckless, arrogant and haughty unilateralist hell bent on denying Egypt the right to use Nile river waters.
Shameless Shoukry called Ethiopia “intransigent”, a “threat to international peace”, perpetrator of “distortion and facts”, “obstructionist” and “prevaricator” (liar).
Though I am outraged by the way Shameless Shoukry has traduced and scandalized Ethiopia’s good name, I shall not respond to him because I choose not to do word-for-word, hand-to-hand combat with him in the diplomatic sewer!
Suffice it to say, in the words of Shakespeare in Cymbeline, Shameless Shoukry’s “tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile” in his defamation of Ethiopia!
But Shameless Shoukry’s damned lie about Ethiopia as a “unilateralist” in its dealings with Egypt on the GERD will get my steadfast response.
In his harum-scarum letter, Shameless Shoukry claims Ethiopia’s “unilateralism” has brought the two countries, and presumably the entire region, on the verge of an apocalypse:
“… As evidenced by public pronouncements, including H.E. the Prime Minster [Abiy Ahmed] of Ethiopia on June 8, 2020, [will] unilaterally commence the filling of the GERD during the… month of July in contravention of its international obligations…”
“Egypt has engaged, in a spirit of good faith, for almost a decade, in innumerable rounds of negotiations on the GERD. These efforts have not led to fruition due to Ethiopia’s unilateralism…”
“Ethiopia [has] undermined efforts to reach a mutually beneficial agreement on the GERD by continuing to insist on unilaterally commencing impoundment of waters in the GERD reservoir.”
“The Ethiopian position reflects its desire to fill and operate the GERD without any meaningful protections… and to unilaterally utilize the waters of the Blue Nile, even to the detriment of the of the rights of downstream riparian states.”
“The use of resources of the Nile ought to be governed by the applicable rules of international law… and must not be subjected to the unilateral control of Ethiopia.”
“It is incumbent on the U.N. Security Council… to urge Ethiopia to act as a responsible stakeholder, by concluding a fair and balanced agreement on the GERD and not by undertaking unilateral measures in relation to this dam…”
Ethiopia’s unilateral “decision to commence filling the dam represents a threat to international peace and security.”
Ethiopia’s unilateral “attempt to exercise unfettered control over a vital transboundary river” is in violation of international law.
Therefore, “Ethiopia’s continued intransigence and unilateralism is a threat to international peace and security and the U.N. Security Council must address this matter urgently.”
Lo and behold!
As Shameless Shoukry wags an accusatory finger at Ethiopia, he forgets three fingers are pointing at Egypt, the hegemon of the Nile River for thousands of years.
Let the facts speak for themselves:
In the Anglo-Italian Protocol of 1891, Britain unilaterally and without consulting Ethiopia, guaranteed Egypt “undisturbed flow of the Nile by restricting Italy’s endeavour to control a water project over the Atbara River”, one of the tributaries of the Nile.
In the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1902, the British unilaterally and fraudulently prohibited Ethiopia for any developmental use of the Nile waters and guaranteed Egypt complete veto power on any projects upstream in the Nile river.
In the 1906 Tripartite Agreement Between Britain, France and Italy, the three colonial powers unilaterally, and without consulting Ethiopia, guaranteed protection of the “interests of Great Britain and Egypt in the Nile Basin, more especially as regards the regulation of the waters of that river and tributaries.”
In the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1929, super-special rights were unilaterally, and without consulting Ethiopia, guaranteed to Egypt in the amount of 48 billion cubic meters of water flow per year, the right to undertake any project on the Nile in its territory, the right to monitor the Nile flow in the upstream countries and the right to veto any construction projects that would affect Egypt’s interests.
In the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and the Sudan, Egypt unilaterally, and without consulting Ethiopia, guaranteed itself 84 billion cubic meters of water and the right to construct the Aswan High Dam that can store the entire annual Nile River flow of a year.
Pray tell, what is more unilateral than Egypt’s insistence on unilateral and exclusive use of all Nile river waters for herself under the fraudulent 1902 agreement?
Let us look at few other facts about Egyptian unilateralism.
Egypt built the Aswan Dam, the world’s largest embankment dam on the Nile unilaterally and without consulting Ethiopia, to better control flooding, provide increased water storage for irrigation and generate hydroelectricity and accelerate Egypt’s industrialization.
In 1979, Egypt unilaterally and without consulting Ethiopia began digging a canal dug to carry water from the Damietta branch of the Nile, near Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, into Sinai. Water flowed into the canal and then into Sinai in 2001.
Today, Egypt is building a new administrative capital to replace Cairo “on a flat stretch of desert between the Nile River and the Suez Canal” unilaterally and without consulting Ethiopia.
Egypt unilaterally and without consulting Ethiopia uses water from a massive underground water supply known as the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System which “in relation to the current extraction rates has a lifespan of approximately one thousand years.”
Egypt constructed the Ismailia and Ibrahimia Canals, unilaterally and without consulting Ethiopia.
Let a candid world judge!
Who is and has ALWAYS been the die hard, dyed-in-the-wool, adamant and inflexible unilateralist hegemon on Nile River waters?
Who is the intransigent unilateralist victimizer and victim in the Nile water dispute?
What is good for the geese is good for the gander?: “America First”, “Egypt First” but NOT “Ethiopia First”?
Is there a double-standard on unilateralism? That is some countries can openly practice unilateralism with impunity and other are demonized and condemned for allegedly practicing it?
Unilateralism seems to be the glue that binds the U.S.-Egypt Global/Regional Hegemon Tag Team against Ethiopia.
Donald Trump has made unilateralism the cornerstone of his foreign, defense and national security policy.
Every day, Trump talks about his “America First”-based foreign policy structured on unilateralism, militarism and the pursuit of national interest without regard to international cooperation, integration and trade.
In December 2017, Trump declared, “With every decision and every action, we are now putting America first.” He then outlined the “four pillars” of his unilateralist foreign and domestic policy agenda.
In September 2019, Donald Trump lectured the U.N. General Assembly on his “America First” unilateralist foreign policy, “The future doesn’t belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots.”
In April 2016, Trump explained his unilateralist creed to NATO demanding they pay up or break up. Bye, bye NATO!
In April 2017, Trump threatened to dump NAFTA and go unilateral “if I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States.”
In 2015, the U.S. France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran but Trump unilaterally withdrew and is now trying to reimpose sanctions which is being resisted by France, Britain, Germany.
Trump has adopted a unilateralist negotiating strategy with North Korea on its nuclear program opening doors for China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan do their own unilateral deals as well.
A few weeks ago, Trump unilaterally “terminated our relationship with the World Health Organization because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.”
In November 2019, Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord on climate change negotiated and approved by nearly 200 nations around the world.
Trump has unilaterally declared a trade war on China and imposed hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs.
The U.S. has unilaterally withdrawn from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In January 2017, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership deal covering 40 percent of world’s economy.
Last week, Trump unilaterally authorized sanctions and additional visa restrictions against the International Criminal Court in an attempt to prevent an investigation into potential war crimes by US military and intelligence officials.
In September 2018, Trump unilaterally cut off funds to the UN’s Relief and Work Agency which provides relief and assistance to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.
In June 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In May 2018, Trump unilaterally terminated U.S. participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and re-imposed sanctions lifted under the deal.
Ethiopia’s entire foreign policy has ALWAYS been based on bilateralism and multilateralism
Ethiopia has NEVER been a unilateralist!
Ethiopia has ALWAYS been a bilateralist and multilaterlist.
Ethiopia was a founding member of the League of Nations in 1920. The League was the first multilateral international organization with the core mission of maintaining world peace.
H.I.M. Haile Selassie addressed the League, the only head of state to do so, in 1936 when Ethiopia was invaded by Italy. In the face of Italian colonial aggression and claims of Italy’s supporters Ethiopia is in chaos and disarray, H.I.M. Haile Selassie declared, “On the contrary, the country is more united and the central power is better obeyed.”
Let Shameless Shoukry and his invading army take note: Ethiopia today is more united than ever. Ethiopians united can never be defeated!
In 1945, the League was replaced by the United Nations, of which Ethiopia was a founding member, organized to maintain international peace and security and develop friendly relations among nations. In 1963, Ethiopia was one of the key founders of the Organization of African Unity.
Ethiopia has declared to the world she will abide by the 2015 GERD Declaration of Principles signed by Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan.
Shame on Shameless Shoukry for his deceitful smear of Ethiopia as a “unilateralist” country that does not care about its neighbors.
Let the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam be Africa’s Horn of Plenty
In June 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged to the Egyptian people in Cairo, “I swear to Allah that Ethiopia will not do any harm to Egypt’s water.”
To date, there is not a shred of evidence the GERD has caused an ounce of harm on Egypt.
In his Nobel Peace Prize speech, Prime Minister Abiy declared to the entire world his aim for Ethiopia, the Horn region and beyond is peace, peace and more peace.
The Horn of Africa is a region of strategic significance.
The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorists and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold.
We do not want the Horn to be a battle ground for the superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants or terror and brokers of despair and misery.
We want Africa to become a treasury of peace and progress.
Indeed, we want the Horn of Africa to become the Horn of Plenty for the rest of the continent.
Let Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan work together to make the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam a Horn of Plenty (cornucopia) not only for themselves but the whole of Africa.
Let the GERD be the Horn of Africa’s Horn of Plenty.
Let the GERD be Africa’s GERDucopia!
To be continued…