Ethiopian Herald Op-Ed tells Saudi Prince what “everyone with half a brain knows”
“The argument “because the dam is being built near Sudan” wouldn’t hold water unless you have a little knowledge about Ethiopia. As everyone with half a brain knows, there has never been any time in history Ethiopia had caused harm to nations of the world, let alone to countries neighbouring her.”
Open Letter to Prince Khalid Bin Sultan, Deputy Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia
I am writing this letter in response to your misleading and vague statements you made about Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, at the Third Arab Water Council meeting held in Cairo on February 27, 2013. As outrageous it may be, we would like to express our heartfelt sadness over your remarks. Your comments and hostile remarks came at a time when the countries of the Nile water basin have started to reach on more agreements of cooperation. That is why it is a surprise for us Ethiopians and the whole countries of the Nile basin as well.
Dear Prince Khalid,
Your accusation of Ethiopia “posing a threat” not only is false but also creates a dangerous climate of hate, suspicion and distrust among the Nile Basin countries. The points you made “The establishment of the dam 12Km from the Sudanese border is for political plotting rather than for economic gain and constitutes a threat to Egyptian and Sudanese national security,” shows your ill-intention and under-cover motive to bring the riparian states into confrontation and the already signed agreements to come to a halt.
Your accusation against Ethiopia could be taken as an attempt to drumming up war and intervening in our regional and continental affairs. As Saudi is not in Africa, nor in the Nile basin, you should have kept your hands off from meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.
The argument “because the dam is being built near Sudan” wouldn’t hold water unless you have a little knowledge about Ethiopia. As everyone with half a brain knows, there has never been any time in history Ethiopia had caused harm to nations of the world, let alone to countries neighbouring her.
Moreover, I want to be clear to you that we Ethiopians have a policy of green growth, and our GTP is designed based on developing a green economy. For further details you may have a look at our foreign policies and Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) documents endorsed and being implemented since two and half years on.
We have been deprived of using our water resources for so long, and our country Ethiopia and its people have suffered more in famine and drought than any of other riparian states. Your country Saudi Arabia and the countries mentioned-Egypt and Sudan- we hope, do not allow us to remain poor and suffer with famine and drought for more and more years. Accordingly, we had to opt to use our water resources. That is why as our government stated repeatedly the entire cost of building the dam is fully funded by us thereby showing the world that we can extricate ourselves from poverty. Dear Prince Khalid, you raised interesting but controversial issues such as about fairness and justice on Nile waters. If that was the case, we would like to challenge your views of fairness and justice asking a lot more questions.
1. Why do you think the Nile basin countries have, more than ever, started to demand fair water share allocations among the basin countries?
2. How long can Ethiopia allow sitting on her hands while Egypt and Sudan developed the water and become at least self-reliant in food security? You want Ethiopia to allow the 1959 agreement of Egypt and Sudan to go on?
3. What would be your response if I tell you your government’s mistreatment and human rights violations of Ethiopians living in your country? If you are serious about fairness and justice on Nile waters, why don’t you start with your own country, Saudi Arabia, and turn it into a land of justice and fairness.
I would like to let you know something about Ethiopia’s flag project being constructed near Ethiopia-Sudan border. It is not, as you have said it, to harm Egypt and the Sudan but to fight poverty throughout the basin. Furthermore, there is a panel of experts which assess the impacts of the project. I don’t think anyone knows the impacts the dam might have at this point. As a matter of fact, we believed there wouldn’t be any harm to the environment, water and the regions as a whole. But that should also be expressed by the panel of experts drawn from the three countries (Ethiopia-Sudan and Egypt) and another four neutral international experts, who are assessing the impacts of the dam, if any, and to be announced in May this year, which we believe their findings will produce good result.
Dear Prince Khalid, I feel the remarks you made is of very detriment of the relations your country Saudi-Arabia has with Ethiopia. It would exacerbate tension and regional instability, and race for water resources control.
As Nile is a serious concern for Egypt, so is poverty for Ethiopia. To eradicate poverty, Ethiopia, as any other nation does, would make concerted efforts to utilize all its resources provided that it inflicts no harm. Again, it is crystal clear for everybody that no single law, no set of laws can deny Ethiopia’s legitimate right of using its water resources for development purposes. Therefore, I affirm you that, no matter whoever says what, we will continue building the dam without causing any harm to any country, be Egypt or Sudan.
The distorted notion you forwarded must be rectified soon and we hope you come up with fresh insights and far reaching solutions to address this Nile issue.
Dear Prince Khalid,
I firmly believe that you will have a significant role in bringing more peace and stability for the region in general and in the Nile basin countries in particular. Therefore, I would appreciate if you play a positive role in easing tension that are looming over the region in different occasions.
Ethiopia will not forever be a threat for the region whatsoever and nor be objecting any Nile basin country to use the water fairly and legally. The countries of the Nile basin would rather be better advised to focus on early conflict prevention and detection mechanisms. And we would also be advised to work on issues that could make the water resources more productive and sustainable.
Thank you very much for taking my concerns.
*Originally published on the Ethiopian Herald, editorial view point section, on March 14, 2013, titled “Open Letter to Prince Khalid Bin Sultan, Deputy Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia”.
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