Ethiopian PM warns Egypt off Nile war

meles Zenawi
November 24, 2010

Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed a new deal to share the waters in May, provoking Egypt to call it a “national security” issue.
Meles said he was not happy with the rhetoric coming from the Egyptians but dismissed the claims of some analysts that war could eventually erupt.

“I am not worried that the Egyptians will suddenly invade Ethiopia,” Meles told Reuters in an interview. “Nobody who has tried that has lived to tell the story. I don’t think the Egyptians will be any different and I think they know that.”

The five signatories of the new deal have given the other Nile Basin countries one year to join the pact before putting it into action. Sudan has backed Egypt while Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi have so far refused to sign.

“The Egyptians have yet to make up their minds as to whether they want to live in the 21st or the 19th century,” Meles told Reuters in an interview, referring to the fact the original treaty was negotiated by colonial administrators.

“So the process appears to be stuck.”


Stretching more than 6,600 km (4,100 miles) from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, the Nile is a vital water and energy source for the nine countries through which it flows.

Egypt, almost totally dependent on the Nile and threatened by climate change, is closely watching hydroelectric dam construction in the upstream countries.

Ethiopia has built five huge dams over the last decade and has begun construction on a new $1.4 billion hydropower facility — the biggest in Africa.

Meles accused Egypt of trying to destabilise his country by supporting several small rebel groups but said it was a tactic that would no longer work.

“If we address the issues around which the rebel groups are mobilised then we can neutralise them and therefore make it impossible for the Egyptians to fish in troubled waters because there won’t be any,” he said.

“Hopefully that should convince the Egyptians that, as direct conflict will not work, and as the indirect approach is not as effective as it used to be, the only sane option will be civil dialogue.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in July called for a scheduled November meeting of the nine countries to be attended by heads of state. Meles said that would not happen now.

The last meeting of all sides ended in stalemate and angry exchanges between water ministers at a news conference in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“Ask the Egyptians to leave their culture and go and live in the desert because you need to take this water and to add it to other countries? No,” Egyptian Water Minister Mohamed Nasreddin Allam told Reuters at that meeting.



13 comments on “Ethiopian PM warns Egypt off Nile war

  1. Like it or not, ethiopia like any country in the world has every right to utilize every resource within it’s territory. No ethiopian has ever asked Egyptians to share their natural gas and I don’t see why they should expect us to continue to starve in order to keep them alive. plus no ethiopian is begging them to change their mischievous nature, They have never and you will never say they have used proxy to destabilize ethiopia anyway, but all we are saying is it may be time they consider a more civilized tactic than before as time has changed and it is changed for good. thanks to 21 century information, a peasant in every corner of ethiopia is not the uninformed separatist groups they have fooled 30 years a go. and ethiopia isn’t the isolated kingdom they have enjoyed exploiting until the end of cold war and so on. but having said that the call is theirs. They have to do what they think is in the best interest of their people, and we will continue to do what is in the best interest of our people. even if that means war, but don’t expect us to sit back and die as we have done it for too many years and enough is enough…

  2. I don’t think Meles’ comment is without a reason. Egypt want to see us divided fight eachother and remain poor as a developed Ethiopia is seen as a threat to Egypt. Becasue of that they keep helping liberation fronts and even create new ones against Ethiopia. As was pointed out dialogue is the only solution for the good of both countries.

  3. Gahiji, You better think twice before you spat! If so, You will not get a drop of water for WUDU to pray Solah. The other thing is, please go and refer to the war of Dogali, Seati, Gindae,… with Pasha’s of Egypt. Bravo Meles!, come to your mind and think as Ethiopian!
    Abba Jihad Muhie

  4. gahiji, Let alone the Nile to belong to Egypt, Egypt doesn’t belong to Egyptians. little you know that Egypt was sold to the US in camp David to prostitute between the west and the Arabs..you only survive for as long as you bend for Israel and the US…as for your threat, we have so far in recent years built 5 dams and the 6th, 7th, and even more is on it’s way, so i wonder what the hell you are waiting, you bushtii arab..

  5. Why always to speaki about Egypet?Leat as do our work or our home work If Egyption wants war that is theyer respons.Egypt know well about ethiopia. so we must work our home work.

  6. Halengay,
    it is not a case of If egyptians want war, but the truth is Egyptians are already behind all the troubles Ethiopia has. what else other than refugees do you think Shabaia exports to earn the money he uses to sponsor all anti-ethiopian elements?..so basically Egypians have always been and still are indirectly fighting Ethiopia. therefore it is acceptable to keep the people of ethiopia aware of who is behind so called liberators.

  7. I am sory about the mind given for person like Gahiji.
    I will pray for him to think like human being.

    If he wont we will treat him as of his ancestor.

  8. I think the Ethiopian PM speech was more of provocative than interest on river Nile! I have no idea if Egypt declared open war on Ethiopia. But, supporting oppositions is what every body is doing, including Ethiopia! If I were the Ethiopian PM, I would focus on constructive projects on Nile river.

  9. Hi Friends.

    Sure we Egyptians should be ready to discuss the water issue. Should be enough for everybody if we use it wisely.
    But dont let the old trick from a regim to start pionting out a forign enemy to avoid attention on domestic issues fool you.

    The fact is if Ethiopia threat Egypt and start buildning dams or what ever to cut out the Nile from Egypt it is act of war. As you surely understand that Egypt needs to survive. And a act to kill all 80 million Egyptians will be of course answered with everything we got. I mean what would you do?
    If it comes that far Egypt will have to eliminate the threat for a long time, and it will be such a tragedy that the starvation years back in the 70 – 80 and 90 would look like a feast.

  10. you Egyptians are so selfish and greedy, don’t try to do as you are foolishing the arab world, but we are Ethiopians.
    ask istory can teach you many things. In the ancient time when visistors come to ethiopia the old government(our anccesitors ordering to wash the visitor’s feet when they left the country and the reason is not to take the dust of the country on their foot imagine how they are tough)that is why Ethiopia is the onlye African country is not colonialized.
    and the first african country in history get victory over organized and modern Army in 1894 By Emperor Menilik teaches all African. The country for PanAfricanism – therefor you stupid Egyptian revise the history we are Ethiopians not Arabs. dont think by your leg or foot think by your mind we Ethiopians are always ready not for Africa even for Europe we dones’t care, we are peaceful people, but something is coming we does’t care who ever !!!!!!!!!!
    use deplomatic way to live only you stupid Arabs takecare !! we can give you unforgotable lesson for the generation !!!

  11. It is very sad to hear such exhanging of tough words on nothing. The water is enough for both countries. War should be the last and the worest option we have. I usedto work on a small project on the Nile some 16 years ago with a Sudanese counterpart. Without sufficient reseason my Sudanese counterpart and his organisation refused to collaborate. Then, myself and an Ethiopian friend started to read and construct he history of the NIleand how their leaders behaved for so many decades regarding the use of the Nile. It is sad an I hope this generation of Egiptian leadership needs to come to their senses. We can help each other and can sharenot only the water bot a lot more things. Let us capitalise on things that we have in common than things the devid us. Let us establish culutral exchnage, educational and development collaboration and we can give hope and peace for the next generation. Hope the current regimes in both countries can appraoch this problme in amicable manner. May Peace to Ethiopia and Egipt and the world!

  12. Dear (Masry)
    In speaking of reality Ethiopians are warrior don’t try to threaten us by your Nuclear weapon. We are dying by hanger yet we not afraid to die for Nuclear. God Bless Ethiopia

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