Dr. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid
Founder and President of the Arab Water Council (AWC)
9 Al-Mokhayam Al-Da’em St., Al-Hay Al-Sades
Nasr City, 11471, Cairo, Egypt
Dear Dr. Mohamoud Abu-Zeid,
Ref: Remark /Concern on June 05, 2020 misleading letter of Arab Water Council to the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)
We are writing to share with you our concerns and remark for your misleading letter to the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson regarding GERD.
We Ethiopian Nationals, Consultant in Water Resources Development in Ethiopia, have gone -through your letter and found out that it misleads the facts on the ground and requires response of all concerned citizens.
As a former Egypt Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation during 1997 to 2009; all the Nile 2002 Conference Series (1993-2004) played a significant role in bringing together both political and academic representatives from the Nile riparian to debate hydropolitical cooperation. During the establishment of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) 1999 that led to Negotiations for the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) (1997-2010) you were one of the representatives of Egypt. We are not expected to give you briefing about the major role players and the background; however, the letter you wrote tried to hide all the efforts of the riparian countries, and thus, we are obliged to respond to your deceiving letter.
Even if it is universally known, we will briefly highlight the socioeconomic situation of the two countries for your judgment as follows:
- According to the World Bank, in 2018, “100 percent of the urban and rural population in Egypt has electricity.”
- In contrast, the World Bank in 2018 reported, “About 70 percent of the population in Ethiopia lives without electricity. The lack of power also impacts basic services – only 24 percent of primary schools and 30 percent of health clinics have access to electricity.”
- The World Bank reported GDP per capita for Ethiopia in 2018 at USD 772. For Egypt, it was USD 2,550, a more than threefold increase.
- Ethiopia’s current population is 115 million people.
- Egypt’s current population is 102 million.
- Ethiopia has the sovereign right to use its Nile waters to supply electricity to 70 percent of the population (or 80.5 million) now living without electricity.
- Electricity is the backbone of any nation’s progress. Industries need electricity to operate and businesses will not flourish without it.
In June 2018 the Ethiopian Prime Minister (PM) Abiy Ahmed said that Ethiopians have “no desire or idea to harm the Egyptian people. We believe that we should benefit from this river, the Nile, but when we benefit we should not do harm to the Egyptian people.” It is clear that Ethiopians have no desire of
harming Egyptian people, our sisters and brothers. However, unlike Ethiopian position, Egyptian politicians are using Nile River water as escape-goat for their political deadlock. That is what reflected in the AWC letter.
The Greek historian Herodotus is said to have called Egypt the “Gift of the Nile”. Egypt must try to wipe out such way of thinking “historical right” in 21st century from all Egyptian minds. You should
know that no one has authorized you for a Historical right. If you try to high light a wrong perception of Historical Right, you need also to understand that Ethiopia has both Historical as well the right as origin of the Nile water. All Egyptians have to be aware that Ethiopia is the origin and the Gift of the Nile and has more historical right than Egypt and have a full right to utilize the Nile River as per the international rule of law.
Your letter of June 05, 2020 tried to mislead the international community unlike the Ethiopian PM good will mentioned above and forgetting our ancestors’ historical relationship.
Therefore, we would like to address the following comments:
- Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region and Africa
Disappointingly your AWC letter addressed to the prestigious civil rights activist Reverend Jesse L.
Jackson stated that “Your articles and your recent letter to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) suggest that the facts regarding the GERD and the negotiations on this dam have not been adequately
and accurately presented to you”. The AWC letter quoted as a reference to race and tried to conclude the identity of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are Africans.
It is true that the location of Egypt is in North Africa but the heart and mind of people like you in general is with Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and not with the other part of Africa. That is why Egypt failed to officially bring the matter before the African Union (AU) before it required help from the United States and World Bank.
Egypt is not only deceiving the international community, but it is also using the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, to put a new pressure on Ethiopia. Out of the MENA countries only two (Egypt and Sudan) are the Nile basin countries, the other MENA counties have no stake and/or liability on Nile basin. However, Egypt has further taken the Nile Issue to the Arab league. The way the Arab League has handled the issue shows that, the leaders of MENA countries are maneuvered by Egypt’s leaders.
Unlike the fact on the ground, in the AWC letter you have also tried to show your disappointment on the issue. Therefore, we advise you to change the misleading letter for a better commitment in good
faith and good will for the community of interest and human right of all riparian countries irrespective of color/ race, religion, boundary and others as a human being.
- Colonial Unbinding Agreements
In the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; the convention Article 34 General rule regarding third States confirms that “A treaty does not create either obligations or rights for a third State without its consent.”
Unlike the fact in the convention, the AWC letter stated that “Contrary to your assertions in articles and in your letter to the CBC, Egypt has not sought to bind Ethiopia to agreements to which it is not a party. The repeated references to so-called colonial agreements are both untrue and inconsistent with international law, and only serve to emote unnecessary negative sentiments. Egypt has consistently called upon Ethiopia to uphold the principles of customary international law that are binding on all riparian states.”
Furthermore, your country departed away without signing and reaching agreement the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) that was negotiated for thirteen years and which is in line with the principles of customary law and signed by six riparian countries. But your deceiving AWC letter again opposed the above point without respecting the community of interest and human rights in the neighboring countries of Africa and the UN Convention on non-navigation water course.
The AWC letter lies not only on the above points it extends that Ethiopia is bound by several agreement that include 1902 treaty and the 1993 framework for the General Cooperation to refrain from engaging in any activity related to the Nile waters that may cause appreciable harm. In addition, the GERD 2015 agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DoP) on the rules of the filling and operation of the GERD in a manner that is equitable and reasonable and that avoids the infliction of significant harm on downstream riparian states. The AWC letter again tries to mislead the innocent people by deceiving all the above mentioned unbinding treaties, frameworks and principles as per the international rule of law.
First of all Nile basin water allocation for all riparian states not yet concluded under the objective of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) due to the downstream riparian states unwilling for cooperation. In such condition you are trying to mislead the international community with the issue of equitable and reasonable use of the water resources without any agreed water allocation and use framework.
As clearly stated in Vienna Convention Article 34, Ethiopian has no legal obligation, but your AWC letter lies to deceive the international community that Ethiopia has violated the agreement and tries to mention the declaration as binding treaty.
It is well known that GERD negotiations is only for the filling and operation of the dam but again you are pretending as such the negotiations is on the use of a shared water course.
History provides incontrovertible proof that Egypt has victimized Ethiopia for over a century and sought to deprive Ethiopia its sovereign right to use the Nile waters, while more than eighty-five percent of which originates in Ethiopia.
- Ethiopia Is Endowed With Abundant Water Resources
The AWC letter states that “Ethiopia is endowed with abundant water resources within and outside the Nile basin”. This is a past history tales about water resources of Ethiopia, and it does not reflect the current reality on the ground. Unlike what you have said out of the total river basin in Ethiopia three basins are dry basins. Not only this, more than 90% of almost all the Ethiopian waters migrate to the neighboring countries and the remaining water resource makes Ethiopia water scarce country. For Ethiopia Nile water use is vital for its survival. The AWC letter also tried to mention about adverse impact of the mega-dam without any facts. Why do you try to hide that the GERD (74 billion m3) is more than half lower than the High Aswan Dam which has a total storage capacity of 162 billion m3. Apart from this the GERD is non- water consumptive use which has no impact. You are well aware that the capacity of High Aswan Dam is more than all the water resources of Ethiopia (more than 90% is trans-boundary). Your deceitful letter is like trying to hide the sun from the eye of the people as if it does not exist.
It is very sad that you have not shown any courage to mention that the GERD is an additional storage dam for Egypt. Including your Aswan high dam your storage potential have significantly increased to 236 billion m3 (162 Aswan High Dam + 74 from GERD). If you are genuine enough this was the source of cooperation that leads to mutual benefit and economic integration. However, greed and selfish mentality cannot see beyond its cage.
The AWC letter elaborates that “due to GERD the effects on socio-economic and environment and the project makes vulnerable to water shortages”. In this connection, we would like to manifest to you some facts on the ground that you do not want to mention. Currently the Blue Nile and its main source Lake Tana are under serious threats from an infestation by a very dangerous water weeds called Water Hyacinth. If you are really genuine, instead of your old ‘historical right’ squawk, as a public figure you and your country would have shown up to contribute in resolving such socio-economic and environment threats to the Nile.
The AWC letter as usual tries to show that the people of Egypt depend entirely on the Nile River. You and your country are well aware that in addition to the Nile water Egypt has huge groundwater resources in the Nile Valley and Delta, the western desert and Sinai. The largest groundwater deposit is found in the giant Nubian Sandstone aquifer underneath the eastern part of the African Sahara, which is shared between Egypt and four other countries. It contains over 200,000 billion m3 of non-renewable water in total that can serve Egypt for thousands of years. Moreover, Egypt because of its unique location has sea outlet both on Mediterranean and the Red-Sea that makes desalinated water available both from the east and north of Egypt for various purposes. Egypt is well aware of the recent technological advances that have significantly reduced the production costs of desalinated water.
Trans-boundary water cooperation has the potential to generate many significant benefits for cooperating countries such as accelerated economic growth, increased human well-being, enhanced environmental sustainability and increased political stability. In general, the higher the level of trans-boundary water cooperation, the greater the benefits. But while trans-boundary water cooperation has been increasing, some countries, especially the Nile Basin countries, are still facing difficulties in cooperating due to the interest of Egypt to control the Nile water in spite of the water rights of the other countries.
That is why GERD project is constructed fully financed by its citizens and those who are willing to support us. Egypt’s policy unlike cooperation it based on debilitative activity such as block access of finance and send extremists to affect the development and the socioeconomic wellbeing of more than 100 million Ethiopian people. Please honorable read your history and try to understand that Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have common history and tied up with common water. About which historical right are you trying to quote? Don’t you know that the pyramids are built by the people of Egypt, Sudan and
Ethiopia? In Ethiopia there is a saying that “you cannot wake up a person the slept purposefully”. Since you are doing it purposely from greed motive and hatred towards your African sisters and brothers; whatever facts are on the broad light, it is not possible for you to see them.
The expressed sentiment by Egypt’s President for laying foundations for a better future for our children
and grandchildren should not have to be only a lip service for political purpose. Because, in practice Egypt is always against Ethiopia’s entitlement of for using the Nile water. Egypt wants Ethiopia to remain with zero water share, while Egypt is enjoying 100% electricity and water supply coverage.
- Egypt’s Hidden Agenda/ Who Violated the International Legal Obligations?
Egypt’s involvement and meddling in Ethiopian affairs has longstanding roots. Egyptian intelligence has funneled money to extremist groups in Ethiopia for decades. For more than one-half century, Egypt has provided financial support and weapons to rebel groups in northern, western and eastern Ethiopia. That effort continues today as Egypt provides safe haven for criminals and terrorists who have fled from Ethiopia after committing crimes against humanity. Starting from 1940’s Egyptian government has been recruiting, training and creating extremists and ethnically radicalized Social Darwinists to breakup Ethiopia into different small ungovernable states that has no capacity to develop their resources. Until now you are playing this card and during the late President Morsi government it was clearly broadcasted to play this card by helping the extremists recruited, trained and indoctrinated by your government.
Egypt Government has been using the World Bank and the other developed nations not to provide loans or grants towards development of the water from the Nile basin. As a result of this, the upstream countries obliged to live under poverty and famine. In addition, Egypt has been and is supporting political opponents, religious radicals and ethnic radicals to destabilize upstream countries in order not to have peace in their countries to develop their nation, which inevitably consider using of their water.
Ethiopia has the right to build without consulting particularly Egypt. That is because Egypt has breached the international trans-boundary law by diverting the Nile water outside the basin and building Toshka and Elselam mega project without consulting or informing any riparian countries.
Moreover, Sudan & Egypt signed the 1959 agreement to share the whole of Nile water flow among themselves without consulting the riparian countries and especially excluded Ethiopia, the main contributor of the resource. Then, why do you try to challenge us with what your country has breached it before? However, irrespective of your treacherous practice, Ethiopia showed good will in good faith and invited the downstream countries for cooperation. But because of Egypt’s hidden agenda to control the whole of the Nile water and its aim to destruct that Ethiopia not to achieve its development objective, the negotiations have taken a decade without reaching to an agreement. Your exposure of high rank of international figure looks high profile but the way how you think is not as a normal person who thinks fairly for all human beings uniformly irrespective of color, race, religion or social profile.
In spite of the fact that Egypt has breached the international legal obligation of equitable and reasonable utilization of the basin resources, the AWC letter tried to extend the lies that “Ethiopia is in violation of its international legal obligations and commenced construction without conducting studies of environmental impact and socio-economic effects of the dam on downstream African countries.” One can only lie one time, and it is not possible to cheat others with the same lie for a second time. With the aim of destructing Ethiopia’s development agenda, your government through the so called environmentalists had tried to stop financial sources for Gibe III hydroelectric project with the same issue of environmental impact and socio-economic effects. You know that it is the same internationally recognized company EPC (Engineering Procurement & Construction) contractor that did Gibe III hydroelectric project is working on the GERD project. In addition, the international panel of Expert (IPoE) which comprised 10 members have reviewed the project and appreciated the performance. This IPoE review result has also been reflected in the Deceleration of Principle (DoP) clause 8.
Egypt’s behavior forced Ethiopia to take unilateral action, because after thirteen years of negotiation for the Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA), at the last minute Egypt has run away not to sign the CFA. Egypt’s behavior will certainly force all the riparian countries to take unilateral action. Because if Egypt does not show any cooperation to sign the CFA, the riparian countries have all the legal rights to develop their own water resource without any consultation of Egypt in line with the principle of not causing significant harms.
Unlike the Declaration of Principles (DoP) clause 10 that clearly states the procedure how to involve third party, the observers, U.S. and World Bank prepared an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD without the common consent of the concerned countries in the trilateral negotiations by violating and undermining the principles.
Egypt has wanted the intervention of the Arab League, World Bank, US and the U.N. Security Council to arm-twist Ethiopia to submit to Egypt’s greedy demand at one time or another. Egypt has not required the aid or intervention of the African Union that shows its discriminating colonialist view and undermining of African Institution regarding the filling and operation of GERD.
We advise and/or recommend “African solutions to African problems.” The basic idea is that African countries should first and foremost seek to resolve their problems by utilizing resources, institutions and organizations within the continent before seeking intervention from non-African actors.
- The Aim of GERD Project
The aim of the GERD project financed by Ethiopian Citizens is not for serving Egypt during drought and prolonged drought as a standby storage reservoir. The AWC letter further extends its lies that “the agreement is not an American text and ravages of droughts or prolonged droughts that might occur during the filling or operation of the GERD”. The AWC letter wishes that GERD to serve Egypt as a reservoir during drought or prolonged drought showing its selfish motive as previous trends. In addition the AWC letter tries to mislead that Declarations of Principles (DoP) to be seen as a treaty. But we would like to make clear that it is a principle that is not legally binding any of the states signed it.
It should be clear that Egypt has no right to regulate the Ethiopian resources; if Egypt is seeking a mutually beneficial agreement that is based on international law, it has to sign Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA) and show its cooperation with the riparian countries otherwise it is better to avoid the lying and the lip service.
We would like to honestly tell you that prestigious civil rights activist Reverend Jackson is not echo Ethiopian misinformation; it is a fact that the US is seeking to impose neo-colonial treaty on Ethiopia based on your treacherous diplomacy which is publically recorded. Although it is known fact that Egypt seeks to prejudice Ethiopia’s right to development, but you are trying to deceive shamefully and without regret.
It is very well known that Egypt deliberately does not want to underscore for a win-win solution, it always wants win-lose solution. In 21st century it is impossible to continue with the previous century way of thinking and selfish motives.
It is true that Ethiopia will never and ever sign an agreement that affects the interest of its own citizens but also it does not have any intention to affect the downstream states. The GERD project is owned and financed by the Ethiopian public so that it is not possible to twist hands by means of international lie, misinformation, political and diplomatic tools to mislead the international community.
The foundation of the agreement must be based upon the principles agreed between the three nations in the 2015 DoP, in particular the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization, of not causing significant harm and of cooperation.
During long term operation, the GERD will operate according to a mechanism that determines release based upon the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the level of the GERD that provides electricity. It is not the responsibility of Ethiopia for Gods Act regarding drought and prolonged drought. It has to be clear that Ethiopia cannot sign any agreement for Gods Act.
Any agreement must respect the sovereign right of Ethiopia to develop its water resources without significant harm to Sudan and Egypt. Based on this principle an effective coordination mechanism and provisions for the settlement of disputes can be established.
- Is DoP or CFA a Turning Point in the History of the Nile?
The AWC letter states that “reaching an agreement on the GERD promises to mark a turning point in the history of the Nile Basin”. This is not true; the Declaration of Principle (DoP) is not a treaty used for long term solution and it is not a binding, but it is intended for reaching to a consensus for filling and operation of the dam. Unlike what is stated in the letter we believe that the long lasting solution is signing of the CFA and it would be a turning point in the history of the Nile Basin. The only way to strengthen the unbreakable bonds of kinship among all riparian country citizens is signing CFA.
Egypt’s politicians have to know that its rigid position not to cooperate and sign the CFA and its shameless request, and to try other Nile basin state countries to agree with 0% Nile Water share, would ultimately lead riparian states to take their own action without consulting Egypt or Sudan. It has to be clear that Ethiopia will never and ever agree on 0% share while it is contributing more than 85 % of the Nile flow.
The former Emperor, Haile-Selassie who proclaimed in 1957, “Ethiopia has the right and the obligation to exploit its water resources of the Empire, for the benefit of the present and future generations of its citizens, in anticipation of the growth in population and its expanding needs. Therefore, reassert and reserve now and for the future, the right to take all such measures in respect of its water resources, namely those waters providing so nearly the entirely of the volume of the Nile.”
In this connection, we would like to inform you that all Ethiopians stand together for the right of Ethiopia to develop its water resources for the well-being of its citizens and to focus in fulfilling its national interest till the fact on the ground bring Egypt back to the win-win negotiation table in order to finalize the dispute and sign the May 14, 2010 CFA of Entebbe Agreement.
Please, in the contrary to your profile i.e. as a well-known high ranked personality do not try to mislead and deceive respected prestigious civil rights activist Reverend Jackson who by far knows the reality on the ground. There is no need of influencing Ethiopia through delusionary diplomacy. The only requirement for the way forward is to try genuinely to cooperate by signing CFA and establishing the Basin Commission in order to unlock the limitless opportunities for cooperation and enjoy mutual benefits. Otherwise, boasting of having life time international/global experience with high profile, reputation and rank is meaningless as you are filled with greed and hatred. Your act is like naturally uncivilized confined person; all the mentioned high global positions in your letter does not show your respect to the international human right norms irrespective of territorial boundary, race and religion.
Finally, we would like to wind up our remark for giving advice/recommendation to tell the truth to your citizens and all concerned. Tell to your people that the source of Nile is not from Aswan, it is from the mountains somewhere in the south; tell them not only Egypt is the gift of Nile; tell them Ethiopia is
also the gift of Nile and the major source of Nile water; tell to the people’s representatives of Egypt to amend Article (44) of the Egypt’s constitution that states; “Every citizen is guaranteed the right to enjoy the River Nile; and Egypt has historical right that should be preserved”.
Dr. Mohamoud, please tell Egyptian people that Ethiopian citizens have historical right as that of Egypt and have a full right to enjoy and to utilize the Nile River as per the international rule of law; tell to the Ministry of Education of Egypt to review their curriculum to stop deceiving the Egyptian citizens of the present and the future; tell them that it is a tale that Ethiopia is not the water tower of Africa and compare the Nile water flow 2700m3/s with Congo river average flow of 41,000 m3/s , tell the truth to the world and ask for apology the prestigious civil rights activist Reverend Jackson for your deceiving letter. Stand for the truth, keep the interest of all riparian countries and make history by advising your president Abdul Fettah Al-Sissi to sign the CFA the Entebbe Agreement like the Camp David Accords signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
- Honorable Representative Karen Bass
Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Congress of the United States
- Honorable Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Founder & President
Rainbow PUSH Coalition
930 East 50th Street Chicago, IL 60615
- E. Mr. Gedu Andargachew – Minister
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- E. Engineer Sileshi Bekele (PhD) – Minister Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy
- E. Yasir Mohamed (PhD) – Minister
Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources in the Republic of Sudan
- Honorable Ambassador Fitsum Arega
Ethiopian Embassy, Washington D.C
- Ato Fekahmed Negash
The Executive Director of the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO)
- Professor Getachew Begashaw, PhD President of Vision Ethiopia William Rainey Harper College Palatine, IL 60067
Washington, D.C. EIN 81-0729204.
- Belachew Tesfa, PhD, CEng Director
Ethiopian International Professional Support for Abay (EiPSA)
- FDRE Office of the Prime Minister