Ethiopia dismisses Egypt’s ‘psychological warfare’ on dam

June 12, 2013

Dina Mufti
“Ethiopia is not intimidated by Egypt’s psychological warfare and won’t halt the dam’s construction, even for seconds.”, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Dina Mufti

(Reuters) – Ethiopia dismissed Egyptian talk of military action against a giant dam it is building on the Nile as “psychological warfare”, and said on Tuesday it would defend itself and carry on with the work regardless.

Bellicose rhetoric between two of Africa’s most populous and fastest-growing nations has raised fears of conflict over water, though both sides are also pursuing diplomatic compromise over what would be the biggest hydro electric plant on the continent.

Responding to a speech on Monday by President Mohamed Mursi, in which he said Egypt did not want “war” but would keep “all options open” to avoid losing any water, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “This sort of bragging won’t divert our attention.”

The spokesman, Dina Mufti, added: “Ethiopia is not intimidated by Egypt’s psychological warfare and won’t halt the dam’s construction, even for seconds.”

Egypt’s previous military rulers had contingency plans to attack Ethiopian dams that might disrupt the flow of the Nile.

Some politicians were caught on camera last week talking of air strikes or backing Ethiopian rebels after the start of major new work on the project took Cairo by surprise late last month.

Asked if Addis Ababa was looking at measures to defend the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, Dina said: “No country operates without precautions, let alone Ethiopia, which has a track record of defending its independence from all forces of evil.”

Mainly Christian Ethiopia and Muslim Arab Egypt share a long history of suspicion and friction, including over the Nile.

Egypt’s foreign minister, who has said he will give up “not a single drop of water”, is to visit Addis Ababa. Mursi hoped for a political solution with Ethiopia, a “friendly state”, whose demands for economic development he said he understood.


One bone of contention is a technical analysis of the impact of the $4.7-billion dam being built by an Italian firm on the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan, which supports the plan.

Ethiopia says a joint report, still kept under wraps by both governments, supports its assurances it will do “no appreciable harm” to Sudan and Egypt downstream. It has no plan to use water for irrigation and says that once the reservoir is filled, all the river’s water will be free to flow through its turbines.

Mursi, however, said Egypt had carried out studies that showed “negative consequences”. Less water would flow while the reservoir is filling. Once full, more water may evaporate.

Egypt, whose 84 million people use almost all of the Nile’s supply that reaches them to meet their needs, cites colonial-era treaties guaranteeing it the lion’s share of the water. Ethiopia and other upstream neighbors say those claims are outdated.

“Ethiopia cannot remain poor,” Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said in a statement. “It must utilize its resources to lift its people out of poverty.”

Despite its lack of means, Ethiopia insists it can fund the project itself without help from international lenders wary of the diplomatic dispute. It has been aided by a $1-billion loan from China to build power transmission lines.

It says the project, on which work to divert the river temporarily began in May, is 21 percent complete. With a target generating capacity of 6,000 megawatts, it is part of a plan to make Ethiopia the biggest electricity exporter in Africa.


One comment on “Ethiopia dismisses Egypt’s ‘psychological warfare’ on dam

  1. For the visit to be successful,
    1. Egypt must understand and accept AU’s recommendation and forget about the so-called colonial time treaties (which Ethiopia didnt even signed).
    2. Ethiopia must not accept any form of prior conditions from Egypt on the water flow or technicality of the dam.
    3. Insist for Egypt to sign the Entebee agreement (Nile Basin Initiative), which is already signed by 6 states. Not the other way round. It should be Ethiopia’s precondition for any binding negotiation.
    4. ETHIOPIA MUST NOT SIGN ANY AGREEMENT or whatsoever kind of MoU WITH EGYPT on the issue of the Nile water, without the consensuses and common agreement by the members of Nile Basin Initiative
    5. No talk on the deferral, holdback, slowdown, or suspension of construction of the dam.
    6. Egypt has not yet officially asked for apologies or provided explanation to Ethiopian People and the Government of Ethiopia on their embarrassing live show to sabotage Ethiopia’s economical, social and political environment – which is a typical TERRORIST activity against a sovereign country . Any official discussion/talk should be limited and facilitated by low ranking government officials – they should know we lost our respect, care and trust to leadership of Egypt.
    7. I wish the Ethiopian delegation must include representatives from opposition parties as well as qualified Ethiopian/African individual Experts.
    8. It is to our utmost benefit, if Ethiopia invites active members from countries that have already ratified the Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement.
    9. Last but not least, Ethiopia must timely lodge a complaint to the African Union and United Nations Security Council on the staged sabotage, terrorist intention and damage against to the public image of Ethiopia and Ethiopian. ETHIOPIA can’t be silent on this outrageous, off the limit, blunt, calculated threat to humanity and society by the Egyptian politicians – it must be officially recorded as evidence of Egypt’s decades old counter-productive, bullish and selfish agenda against Ethiopia, East Africa and the whole black African States .

    Personally, given the arrogance and denial of realities by the Egyptian, I dont expect much from the FM visit.

    Anyway, Good luck! Africa Unite!

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