By Dilwenberu Nega, Sept. 26, 2012
MoFA’s “A Week in the Horn” – Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ e-briefing – is the purveyor of reliable news and detailed analysis to Addis Ababa’s diplomatic community and, through various reputable Ethiopian websites, to the sizeable Ethiopian Diaspora on issues of interest in the Horn of Africa. There is no question in my mind, therefore, that one of its recent briefing items, under the title of “Cooperation over the Nile remains Ethiopia’s firm policy,” (Friday 21st September 2012) will come to be remembered as an insightful analysis that raised to a higher level the sense of patriotism in Ethiopians, especially in those living abroad.
The Nile Question, or more specifically Ethiopia’s inalienable right to harness the river for renewable energy, has today become the single most important issue around which Ethiopians are willing and able to unite. The rush to buy GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) Treasury Bonds was testimony to the public’s dogged determination to succeed where past generation of Ethiopians had failed. The unexpected and untimely death of the initiator of GERD, Meles the Great, has if anything, fortified and not devitalized public support to Ethiopia’s stand vis a vis Egypt in general, and GERD in particular. Here in London, for instance, arrangements by the a community of Ethiopians are underway to create an enabling occasion for Ethiopians to purchase GERD bonds in memory of Meles Zenawi on Sunday 30th September 2012 to coincide with Meles’ 40th Day Requiem Mass.
Nothing, however, is mind boggling to the Ethiopian public as is Egyptian politicians’ ill disposition to come to terms with the undeniable fact that Ethiopia today is a galaxy away from the days when Al Ahram commentators used to quip “when Cairo takes the snuff, Addis Ababa sneezes.” By surgically removing the root causes of prolonged internecine war, by adapting pluralistic democracy and by celebrating, rather than suffocating, its differences, Ethiopia is today not only at peace with itself, but it has transformed into a power to be reckoned with.
MoFA’s rebuttal to the claim made by a senior Egyptian cabinet member, former General Reda Hafez, that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was to blame for the confrontation between Ethiopia and Egypt, not only constitutes a calibrated response to a nonsensical claim, but it also is an accurate reading of the hearts and minds of the general public. Though the primary job of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had been to stand for the country and people he represents, he still managed to go that extra mile to address to Egyptian concerns. GERD’s win-win advantage to all parties is one fine example of Meles’ good heart for Egyptians. He did this in the spirit of good-will to “the fraternal people of Egypt.” What we, instead, got are sporadic series of confrontational utterances by high-ranking Egyptian officials. It is imperative for Egypt to change from its current confrontational mode into a co operational mode if it wishes to get dividend from the relaxation of tension brought about by Meles.
Only then can Ethiopia be confident of the presence of mutual ties which are vital to enhancing bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Egypt.
Mohammed Morsi’s government has so far not condemned former General Reda Hafez’s irresponsible rendition of course of events, nor has it distanced itself from the General’s hostile views. It leaves one to conclude, therefore, that the General is either acting in cahoots with the Government of Egypt or has the tacit agreement of President Morsi. Whatever Egyptian reasons happen to be, it is vital for Ethiopia to keep its powder dry, diplomatically and militarily, and continue translating into deeds the vision of the Great Leader without hesitation or deviation. Ethiopia will not give in to sabre-rattling!