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Will we be going to war with Egypt over the Great Renaissance Dam? This is the ultimate question most people have been asking.
Ethiopia started to divert the flow of the Blue Nile River in late May to make way for the construction of the Great Renaissance Dam. This development stirred up strong emotions and feelings of insecurity in Egypt as it, in a way, confirmed that the dam will actually be built; it was not some far-away reality that countries like Egypt could worry about later.
Another question that can be raised is that, do the Egyptians really have anything to worry about? Or is their opposition to the construction of the dam out of a sense of entitlement, because of the so-called colonial-era agreement, which unfairly apportioned a majority share of the Nile River waters to them?
Ethiopia has been saying that the dam will not affect Egypt or any other downstream country as it has no plans to use the water for irrigation; on the contrary, it will be able to benefit East African nations through its production of electric power.
According to the Ethiopian government, the technical analysis report carried out jointly by Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian experts assigned by their respective governments to study the impact of the 4.2 billion USD dam project on Egypt and Sudan have concluded unequivocally that the dam will not bring about significant harm to the stated nations. On the other hand, Egypt stated that it had carried out studies that have showed “negative consequences”. They say that less water would flow while the reservoir is filling up, and once full, a great amount of water will evaporate.
84 million Egyptians use the Nile’s water to supply them with all their needs, as there is precious little rainfall or other water sources at their disposal. The whole country has a population of 90 million. If this statistics is correct and if the construction of the dam in anyway affects the needs of the millions that depend on the Nile, it would not be unimaginable for Egypt to go to war over the issue.
Some say that Egypt’s recent strong reaction to the dam project is politically motivated and the authorities are trying to divert the attention of the Egyptian people from the current domestic problems they are engulfed in. This claim may prove credible when the analysis report made by the experts on the dam’s impact is released for all to look at and discuss.
If Egyptian politicians are in a rage because of entitlement issues and think that by issuing threats of sabotage and direct attacks that the construction of the dam will stop, then they are in denial.
“We are not calling for war, but we will not allow, at all, threats against our water security. The great Nile is to which all our lives are connected to. The lives of Egyptians depend on it, as one great people,” Egypt said.
In a live televised speech before hundreds of largely Islamist supporters on Monday, June 11, President Mohammed Morsi said: “If it (the Nile River) loses one drop, our blood is the alternative.” And, apparently, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
If Ethiopian history has shown anything, it is the steadfast resolution of its leaders and its people when it comes to foreign threats and aggressions; the country and its people may be relatively poor by many standards, but there definitely is no shortage of pride and courage. Greater wars have been fought for lesser reasons and have been triggered by even lesser or seemingly innocuous causes. But trying to prevent a poor country from exercising its rights to develop and improve, not only the lives of its own people, but the region as a whole including the aggressor? Well, that’s just plain ridiculous, to say the least. Around 85 percent of the water for the Nile River comes from Ethiopia, and if we are talking about fair apportionment, common sense would dictate that Ethiopia should benefit the most from it; but it is still willing to forgo all that for the sake of benefitting the region, and indeed the whole of Africa. Unfortunately, it seems as though this fact is lost on some in Egypt, a country that wants to maintain its lion share of the Nile waters against all reason.