Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Egypt at the crossroads

The world’s longest river that flows northwards and has tributaries found in 10 countries has long been a source of tensions and disagreements between Egypt and Ethiopia, and sometimes between Ethiopia and Sudan, especially when it comes to equitable distribution of water resource for economic development.
The 1959 colonial era water agreement between Egypt and Sudan, excluding Ethiopia was signed before all upper riparian countries gained independence from their colonial masters: Tanzania (1961), Uganda (1962), Rwanda (1962), Burundi (1962), and Kenya (1963). The agreement gave Egypt the lion’s share of the Nile waters, 55.5 billion cubic meters annually, while Sudan was allowed to utilize 18.5 billion cubic meters. Combined, this meant 99 percent of the average annual flow of the Nile. Fast forwarding to recent times, the Ethiopian parliament recently ratified the Entebbe agreement that affirms fair distribution and use of the Nile waters among the riparian countries within the context of the Nile Basin Initiative agreements.  Egypt was unhappy about the outcome, which it practically instigated with rhetoric of war, as the agreement gives an equitable share and more power to Ethiopia unlike the 1959 agreement, especially in using the water for construction or other developmental activities. Obviously, from the beginning, Egypt sees the building of the Renaissance Dam with extreme suspicion and paranoia. This was clearly seen recently when Ethiopia started to divert the water a short distance to complete the Grand Renaissance Dam project, which elicited a strong and negative response including discussions of sabotage on live television.
In this case, one might ask why Egypt is afraid of the construction of the Renaissance Dam. Is that because it seriously affects the Electric power they generate from the Aswan Dam, or irrigation projects undertaken using the river, or some other reason?
According to some, the realization of the dam on the Ethiopian side might create a strong Ethiopia which will become the powerhouse of the region, and this might entail Ethiopia having the last word on most issues. Others might ask again why Mursi and other political parties seemed unaware that their discussion of sabotage was televised on live television? Is that because Mursi unconsciously left the TV live, as he was ‘in hurry’ of chairing the meeting, or as many said, he left the TV live so as to gain popularity from the public, and also wants to make the case a ‘public issue’, which will help him divert from addressing the demands of the public internally. 
Due to the existing internal unrest and grievances’, Egypt’s international relations towards the United Nations, European Union, United States, Great Britain, and African countries, and international community are being endangered.
UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon stressed on Monday that the differences should be resolved through peaceful and democratic means, voicing particular concern at reports of deaths, injuries, and sexual assault against woman protesters in recent days. Furthermore, Ban ki-moon stressed the right of the people to demonstrate peacefully and called on all parties in the country to respect this right and to uphold the law, while respecting the right to demonstrate peacefully.
US president Barak Obama also showed great concern about the Egyptian situation and the potential for more violence. In fear of the unrest, US has evacuated nonessential diplomatic personnel and warned citizens traveling to avoid Egypt. Additionally, it has also put 200 marines in Italy and Spain on alert in the event they are needed to protect the US Embassy and its citizens in the country.
Both the internal and international relations of Egypt has got hampered due to the internal unrest fueled by the different factions and political parties. Not answering to the demands of the people causes negative repercussions against President Mursi and its regime in power. The negative impact eventually ended up toppling the Government in power.
An Egyptian economy that was ailing when President Mohammed Mursi took power a year ago, has since tumbled under his leadership. This is at the root of the unrest, according to some analysts. The economy has bleeding on the floor since the revolution commenced. The country’s economic disaster is a result of Mursi’s preoccupations himself with establishing political control rather than fixing the poor and impoverished economy. The political instability drove away investors, according to USA Today. The current government is unwilling to compromise with the different factions and political parties, and this exacerbated the political situation, it said. The government’s debt rising, cash reserves melting away and unemployment and inflation on the rise, the regions solution has been to seek more loans to cover the expenses that include subsidies on food and fuel that help millions of Egyptians.
Debt payments have grown from $5 billion to $8billion a year, while inflation is up from 3% before the revolution to 18% now. The ranks of Egypt’s poorest, those who live on less than $2 a day, have grown from 40% before the revolution to 50% now. Hence, the poor economy has played a crucial role to bring the demonstrations in to the floor.