Ethiopia’s parliament ratified their new Nile sharing agreement, and Egypt is not happy about it

posted at 4:41 pm on June 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Water rights are no joke in the arid regions of Africa and the Mideast, and Ethiopia has recently been working on an infrastructure project that will divert some of the waters of the Nile for a new hydroelectric plant. Egypt, as you might imagine, is not at all pleased; the two countries have been having some fierce words, and Morsi has warned that “all options are open” to dealing with any threats the dam might pose to Egypt’s water supply — and the Egyptian government is going to be even more incensed after today’s proceedings, via the Guardian:

Ethiopia‘s parliament has unanimously ratified a treaty that strips Egypt of its right to the lion’s share of the Nile river waters, raising the political temperature in a dispute between Cairo and Addis Ababa over the construction of a dam.

The parliament’s move follows days of irate exchanges between two of Africa‘s most populous nations over Ethiopia’s new hydroelectric plant, which Egypt fears will reduce a water supply vital for its 84 million people.

Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi said on Monday he did not want “war” but would keep “all options open”, prompting Ethiopia to say it was ready to defend its $4.7bn Great Renaissance Dam near the border with Sudan.

Six Nile-basin countries including Ethiopia have signed a deal effectively stripping Cairo of its veto, which is based in colonial-era treaties, over dam projects on the Nile, the source of nearly all Egypt’s water.

Last week, Morsi and his fellow Egyptian politicians had a rather unfortunate hot-mic moment in which they pretty much described the project as an aggressive act of war by Ethiopia, probably backed by none other than the United States and Israel, obviously. (Also last week, funnily enough, President Obama waived the prerequisite human-rights requirement usually attached to the $1.3 billion that Egypt is accepting in U.S. military support for 2013. Ahem.) Via the NYT:

Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, had some important information to share with a room full of politicians who, believing they were in a secret meeting, had just laid out all the covert ways that their country could stop a Nile River dam project in nearby Ethiopia: they were on live television. …

“O.K. Fine. It’s good that you told me,” he said. “The principles behind what I’m saying are not really secret. Our battle is with America and Israel, not with Ethiopia. Therefore, engaging in battle, this is my opinion … ”

Mr. Morsi then interrupted him, “This meeting is being aired live on TV.” …

Younis Makhyon, a senior member of the ultraconservative Salafi Nour Party, said he believed that the United States and Israel were secretly behind the dam project and “would use it as a lethal bargaining chip to pressure Egypt.” But not everyone at the meeting was opposed to the idea of foreign countries intervening in the domestic affairs of others.

By all means, guys, tell us how you really feel.


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Our battle is with America and Israel, not with Ethiopia.

He is of course speaking for 98% of the Middle East.

nobar on June 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

I side with Ethiopia…… Unless they`re crazed muzzies too.

ThePrez on June 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Obama’s brothers

Schadenfreude on June 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM

let them all kill themselves, religion of peace.

phatfawzi on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?

Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Obama’s brothers

Schadenfreude on June 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM

barky will never be able to come out of the closet.

VegasRick on June 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?

Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

muhammed mccain – “build the damn dam”.

VegasRick on June 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Throw em’ another billion or two you jackA$$.

BigWyo on June 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

I expect Olightbringer to come out on behalf of both nations, committing ground forces and piles and piles of aid.

We’ll be paying them to have our soldiers shoot at each other.

And it will be Bush’s fault.

Squirrel!

turfmann on June 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Let them be without water.

Sherman1864 on June 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

the Nile, the source of nearly all Egypt’s water.

You know, it’s a damn shame Egypt doesn’t have miles of coastline, they’d have all sorts of water for the price of a little desalinization.

Odysseus on June 13, 2013 at 5:03 PM

So I’m guessing McShameless wants to send more arms to Morsi ?

burrata on June 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

ot: mccain and graham on the senate floor speaking on Syria crossing us red line re: chemical weapons use…

boots on the ground?

cmsinaz on June 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

1. Flow downstream will be slowed while the dam fills. The damn could hold back all the water for a year and still not be full.

2. The downstream dams will last longer since they will not have to contend with floodwaters.

3. Lives downstream will be saved due to controlling the flow of water.

SpudmanWP on June 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Ethiopia: Hey, after those great things Obama said in Egypt, we just thought we’d go ahead and DO those great things.

Nethicus on June 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Jihad!!!

MikeHu on June 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

I side with Ethiopia…… Unless they`re crazed muzzies too.

ThePrez on June 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM
Obama’s brothers

Schadenfreude on June 13, 2013 at 4:50 PM
let them all kill themselves, religion of peace.

phatfawzi on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

The most popular religion is Christianity, thanks to more than a century of missionary activity. Do have Muslims, Jews and pagans, too.

Wethal on June 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Water rights are no joke in the arid regions of Africa and the Mideast

Also true in the western US. Keep in mind much of California is a desert where civilization has been established with borrowed resources. Years ago an Oregon conservative politican made headlines by telling the legislature they needed to cave to California’s demands for water rights. Otherwise, he said, the Californians would start heading North.

They should have listened to him.

Happy Nomad on June 13, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Also last week, funnily enough, President Obama waived the prerequisite human-rights requirement usually attached to the $1.3 billion that Egypt is accepting in U.S. military support for 2013.

What?

Oh I forgot, we’re not dealing with humans.

Carry on Muzzies.

fogw on June 13, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Screw the Egyptians. I’m with the Ethiopians on this one.

Salahuddin on June 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

ot: dear leader will probably begin arming syrian rebels (al quaeda?)

cmsinaz on June 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?

Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Yes it will, but at a much lower rate. Think Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Water flow has been sorely decreased past that dam since constructed.

HiJack on June 13, 2013 at 5:13 PM

The most popular religion is Christianity, thanks to more than a century of missionary activity. Do have Muslims, Jews and pagans, too

Wethal on June 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

.

Mostly Ethiopian Orthodox, a little over 60%, introduced, in legend, by the eunuch, whose conversion to Christianity was written in the Bible. Islam accounts for about 30%, the largest group of non-Christians.

hawkeye54 on June 13, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Where can I get some dam bait?

jake49 on June 13, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Screw the Egyptians. I’m with the Ethiopians on this one.

Me too. And since the Ethiopians are upriver, they have the upper hand.

hawkeye54 on June 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Tough call, deciding whose coat to hold in this fight.

2ndMAW68 on June 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Maybe Morsi could introduce the Delta Smelt to the Nile. Then, Øbama would make sure nothing happened to the little guy.

Odysseus on June 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

(Also last week, funnily enough, President Obama waived the prerequisite human-rights requirement usually attached to the $1.3 billion that Egypt is accepting in U.S. military support for 2013. Ahem.)

Yeah, funny that. It’s as if Team SCOAMT is daring the Egyptians to make a military move to the east.

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2013 at 5:23 PM

I am on Ethiopia’s side on this one…have you seen what Ethiopia has been doing for the past several years?

Their “Make Poverty History” campaign is working.

Foreign investment is up, the old Bole airport in Addis is now a world class airfield, construction is going on all over the country, roads being built, infrastructure repaired or built new, and the place looks nothing like it did just a decade ago. Lot of private enterprise being encouraged.

And, yes, they still have a problem with graft anf corruption, but not on the scale their one-time partner, Eritrea is experiencing, still.

Eritrea is pretty much the what one would expect under a dictatorship of the people and all that.

State control over everything, and still languishing pretty much as it was when Mengestu was deposed.

State control or private enterprise?

Hmmm…maybe our own Glorious Leader needs to take a good look at what a difference private investment can make instead of this “government investment” garbage.

coldwarrior on June 13, 2013 at 5:32 PM

let them all kill themselves, religion of peace.

phatfawzi on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Ethiopia is not a Muslim country. There are Muslims there but most are Coptic Christians. I’ll stand with Ethiopia, unfortunately Obama will side with the people who consider that they have a “battle” with us.

simkeith on June 13, 2013 at 5:33 PM

I side with the Ethiopian Christians…

Lets see Obama (and many in congress) is supporting Arab Muslim aggression against Black Africans attempting to build their own country, improve their lives, plus gain much needed electricity.

Stop supporting the Egyptians….no more money and no more weapons. It is going to make me sick to see Egyptian F-16s, that we gave them, to slaughter Black Christians. Let this be a lesson to those who want to help Sunni jihadist in Syria…

William Eaton on June 13, 2013 at 5:36 PM

I side with Ethiopia…… Unless they`re crazed muzzies too.

ThePrez on June 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Ethiopia, unsurprisingly given its location, does have plenty of Muslims.

However the Ethiopian Church is very much alive and traces its history right back to the “Ethiopian Eunuch” who conversed with Peter, as described in the book of “Acts of the Apostles”, in the New Testament.

The development of the Ethiopian Church was independent of those developing in Byzantium and Rome, and is possibly the oldest (just) of the three; in any case, unlike other African churches, it was not planted by European missionaries. However there was some missionary activity in the 1900s, and after the purges of Mengestu in the late 1900s (and the consequent famines) lots of Ethiopians fled abroad where they mixed with Christians of other flavours.

As a nation, Ethiopia sent its army into neighbouring parts of the horn of Africa a few years ago, to fight the Muslims warlords who were building-up there. As I recall, it was a swift victory for Ethiopia — some people speculated that their rules of engagement might have leant less towards winning hearts and minds and more towards killing enemies.

YiZhangZhe on June 13, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Tell me again. Why do we send these a-holes billions of dollars a year?

novaculus on June 13, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?
Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Yes it will eventually. The problem is that even when the water flows, Ethiopia will have a stranglehold on Egypt’s water supply giving them a de facto veto on Egypt’s policies. Perhaps that’s not a problem now, but who knows what the future holds. Of course everything is our fault, especially in the minds of all the worlds bad actors. I’m kind of enjoying watching Morsi squirm.

yesiamapirate on June 13, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Might not want to get rough, Morsi. YOUR dam is full.

mojo on June 13, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Isn’t Ethiopia a semi-competent country? Since, like liberalism, radical Islam turns everything it touches into junk, is Egypt?

Or, considering Morsi’s goal of purging the Egyptian military, has he decapitated it Stalin style?

I’d be signing a treaty of friendship with Israel, though, if I were Ethiopia. A nice pincer movement makes anyone see rationally.

Vanceone on June 13, 2013 at 6:05 PM

So I’m guessing McShameless wants to send more arms to Morsi ?

burrata on June 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Don’t worry – he knows who the good guys are.

Ward Cleaver on June 13, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?

Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

No. First, this will be the first of several such major projects. Second, the diversion of water to fill the reservoirs created will decrease the flow of water by 20% or more for a period of 10-20 years. And third, even once the reservoirs are filled, irrigation projects upstream will permanently divert a lot of the water from its former path. So I can see why the Egyptians are upset.

On the other hand, I still side with the other six nations in the Nile watershed. The colonial-era agreement is highly obsolete, and based on the insane proposition that water falling in and flowing through a country does not belong to it while it is there. To seriously argue that point would, for example, give Mexico the right to demand that the US dismantle the Hoover Dam.

Egypt can figure out a way to deal with the new situation if they try. They already had to do so when they built the Aswan Dam and filled Lake Nasser, and frankly the disruption of the soil deposits from upstream that used to occur during the annual floods was a far bigger blow to Egyptian agriculture than this will ever be.

All bets are off, however, if Egypt discovers the Nile Delta Smelt is endangered.

HTL on June 13, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?

Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I have read a while back that the Nile flows south to north. So Ethiopia will effectively control how much water Egypt will get.

Tasha on June 13, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Ethiopia is not Muslim. There are Muslims who live in Ethiopia, and claim to be persecuted. So, kinda like here.

Ethiopia has had multiple clashes with Muslims, including recently with Somalia, where Muslims in the south of Somalia want to take over the north of Somalia. Somalia appears to be a real basket case of a state.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 13, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Ethiopia is not Muslim. There are Muslims who live in Ethiopia, and claim to be persecuted. So, kinda like here.

Meh, muslims persecute each other.

hawkeye54 on June 13, 2013 at 7:02 PM

The situation is as clear as mud:

- In 1902, Britain, acting on Sudan’s behalf, forced Ethiopia to subordinate its claims on the Nile basin to itself and Sudan. I believe Britain gave up its rights when Sudan gained independence, and I further note that Egypt was not a party to this treaty.

- In 1906, a similar deal was signed between Britain and Belgium subordinating the Congo Free State’s claims on the Nile basin to Britain and Sudan.

- In 1929, Britain, again acting on Sudan’s behalf and also involving its other eastern African colonies, gave full control of the Nile’s flow in the dry season to Egypt, guaranteed flows of (approximately) 66 million cubic yards per year to Egypt and 5.5 million cubic yards per year to Sudan, and Egypt veto power over any upstream project (legally enforcable only in Sudan and the other British colonies, and arguably only until the other colonies became independent).

- In a bilateral 1959 treaty, Egypt and a freshly-independent Sudan upped its claims on the Nile to cover the entirety of the estimated 100 million (or so) cubic yards per year flow at the Aswan High Dam – 76 million cubic yards and 25 million cubic yards per year to Sudan, with a proportional reduction if any other upstream country convinced both Egypt and Sudan that it deserved some Nile water it wasn’t taking in 1959.

- In 1993, Ethiopia and Egypt agreed to hash out their differences on the use of Nile water.

- In 1999, the then-9 countries set up the Nile Basin Initiative to handle, among other things, usage rights.

- In 2010, Ethiopia and 4 other Nile watershed countries (including 3 ex-British colonies), working in the framework of the Nile Basin Initiative, signed the Cooperative Framework Agreement in order to get a greater share of the water from the Nile without having to kiss Egypt’s ring. That’s the one strongly opposed by both Egypt and Sudan.

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2013 at 7:06 PM

That should read, in the 1959 treaty section, “76 million cubic yards per year to Egypt”.

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Dividing a watershed up into different nations is really just asking for trouble. On the other hand, it’s not like the Egyptians and Ethiopians have anything else in common, and putting them in the same country would be asking for double trouble.
So, trouble.

Count to 10 on June 13, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Also, change “million” to “billion” above. I’ll blame my keyboard for that series of errors.

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2013 at 7:23 PM

let them all kill themselves, religion of peace.

phatfawzi on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Ahem. Next time, do a little research. With the exception of Egypt and the Sudan, every other one of the countries in the Nile watershed is majority Christian.

HTL on June 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Is Barky Sunni or Shiite?

Drill and Fill on June 13, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Our battle is with America and Israel, not with Ethiopia.

He is of course speaking for 98% of the Middle East.

nobar on June 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

The other 2% wants to kill just Israel.

Alberta_Patriot on June 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Also last week, funnily enough, President Obama waived the prerequisite human-rights requirement usually attached to the $1.3 billion that Egypt is accepting in U.S. military support for 2013.

What?

Oh I forgot, we’re not dealing with humans.

Carry on Muzzies.

fogw on June 13, 2013 at 5:12 PM

The Humans whose rights the Morsi regime is violating are Coptic Christians.

Alberta_Patriot on June 13, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Is Barky Sunni or Shiite?

Drill and Fill on June 13, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Considering the only Muslim Communists were Sunni, I’d lean that direction.

Plugs, OTOH, is Shiite all the way.

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?

Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I have read a while back that the Nile flows south to north. So Ethiopia will effectively control how much water Egypt will get.

Tasha on June 13, 2013 at 6:20 PM

This may make things a little clearer;

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTAFRNILEBASINI/Images/map_full_size.jpg

The Nile system is one of the few major river systems on Earth that flows from the south to the north; most of the rest flow north to south (ex; Missouri/Ohio/Mississippi River System), west to east (Amazon,Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway), or east to west (Congo, although it wold be more accurate to say it flows from north-east to south-west).

The White Nile begins in Lake Victoria, in Burundi, and flows north into Sudan. There, just by Khartoum, it joins the Blue Nile, which flows down from a series of tributaries on the Ethiopian plateau. The united rivers become the “true” Nile at that point.

Just to confuse matters totally, The ancient Egyptian kingdoms before the unification of Egypt around 3150 BC, were known as “Upper’ and “Lower” Egypt. Upper Egypt was the southern part of the country, nearer the Nile headwaters, while Lower Egypt was the northern part, with the division roughly at Thebes (modern Luxor), where they put the capital when they finally united the two;

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Ancient_Egypt_map-en.svg

Yes, Egyptologists use a lot of aspirin.

cheers

eon

eon on June 13, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Let’s buy and have our military ship all of the their water to California, while Frisco protests them. Consistency and all that.

trl on June 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM

The most popular religion is Christianity, thanks to more than a century of missionary activity. Do have Muslims, Jews and pagans, too

Wethal on June 13, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Looks like a good excuse for a jihad – as if Egypt needed one.
Will Obama’s magnanimity extend to fleeing Christians, Jews, and pagans, or is it reserved for Syrian Muslims?

AesopFan on June 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Why the hell are we giving these guys billions? Seriously. This is insane.

Theophile on June 14, 2013 at 3:22 AM

Hang on–even if they build the dam, won’t the water still flow downstream to Egypt? What am I missing here?

Mohonri on June 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I would expect that some of the water would be diverted for irrigation/agriculture use and/or industrial use. As such, the downstream flow would be affected. The diversion could become quite substantial which is one reason why Eygpt is concerned.

Russ808 on June 14, 2013 at 6:58 AM

I wonder what Ethiopia does with the water after it passes through the turbine? Perhaps it goes back into the Nile. Perhaps it goes into ice cubes and branch water for the cozmos visiting Addis Ababa hotels. (HA spell checker don’t know about them exotic places.)

Old Country Boy on June 14, 2013 at 12:49 PM