Is war between Egypt and Ethiopia inevitable?


What should be the stand of Eritrea & Eritreans should war break-out between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Nile waters?


An Analysis

Drs Tsegezab Gebregergis

Some Basic facts

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project is located approximately 500 km northwest of the capital Addis Ababa, in the region of Benishangul – Gumaz, along the Blue Nile. At the end of the works, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be the largest dam in Africa: 1,800 m long, 155 m high and with a total volume of 74,000 million m³.

The project involves the construction of the main dam in Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC), with 2 power stations installed at the foot of the dam. The power stations are positioned on the right and left banks of the river and comprise 16 Francis turbines with a total installed power of 6,000 MW and an estimated production of 15,000 GWh per year. The project is completed by a 15,000 m3/s capacity concrete spillway and a rockfill saddle dam 5 km long and 50 m high, both located on the left bank.

What Will Be the Position of Eritrea If War Breaks out Between Egypt and Ethiopia?
As you may have read elsewhere on this website, in the article “Egypt Faces Insecurity as Ethiopian Mega-Dam starts is filling”, the situation between Egypt and Ethiopia is worsening with each passing day. Indeed, if one is to believe the jingoistic remarks and threats that the Egyptian mass media, successive Egyptian presidents and other parliamentary politicians have been making against Ethiopia, once the newly built mega-dam in Ethiopia is operational and the effects of the ensuing water shortage is felt in Egypt, as is feared, then a war between Egypt and Ethiopia to control the source of the Nile River, or to render the mega-dam useless, is likely to be imminent.

Understandably, the Egyptian government and its people view the water flowing from the highlands of Ethiopia to Egypt as the source of life in Egypt.

Seen from a purely humanitarian viewpoint, the international community must find an appropriate solution to the water needs of Egypt and its people, but this should not and cannot be met at the expense of Ethiopia’s development projects. Ethiopia has every right to use its resources in the manner it sees fit in order to accelerate its own development, just as Egypt does so with its own resources.

Besides, Egypt must understand that war is a double-edged sword; it hurts when others wield it against you and it hurts equally when you wield it against others. What is more, once a war starts, it does not always follow the plan of its generals. Rather, it follows its own laws. As a result, there are times when those who initiate war become losers and their adversaries become the winners. In addition, the Egyptians must calculate that initiating war against Ethiopia is unlikely to be a picnic. In other words, when thinking of going to war against Ethiopia, the Egyptians need to remember what happened to their army in Gura in 1876.

What is more, after all is said and done, it is obvious that, in order for Egypt to be able to conduct a successful war against Ethiopia, it will require the full support of the Eritrean government as well in order to obtain military bases for its air and ground forces in Eritrea. For, without these, its efforts will be doomed to failure.

The question, therefore, is what will be the position of Eritrea, under the rule of the totalitarian PFDJ, should war break out between Egypt and Ethiopia for control of the source of the Nile River?

The totalitarian PFDJ-led Eritrean regime views the TPLF/EPRDF-led Ethiopian regime as its prime enemy in the Horn of Africa. Likewise, the Ethiopian regime considers the regime in Eritrea as its strategic enemy. Inevitably, therefore, the PFDJ regime is prepared to do anything and everything in order to defeat the TPLF/EPRDF regime, including collaborating directly and indirectly with the Arabs led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia; that is with the potential enemies of Eritrea and its people.

Nevertheless, Eritreans must understand that, should war break out between Egypt and Ethiopia, and should the irresponsible PFDJ regime take sides with the expansionist Arabs against Ethiopia, then seen from the view of realpolitik and both immediate and long-term Eritrean national and security interests, it will be suicidal for Eritrea and its people. The Eritrean people and their armed forces must, therefore, oppose ferociously any military alliance against Ethiopia between Eritrea’s PFDJ government and the Arabs.

Eritreans must be absolutely aware that the oppressed Ethiopian people in general, and the people of Tigrai in particular, are the natural strategic partners of the oppressed people of Eritrea. Consequently, the actual and potential strategic enemies of Ethiopia and its people are also the enemies of Eritrea and its people. Historically, the Arabs, led by Egypt, have been the enemies of Ethiopia. Indeed, the Egyptians, having entered through what is today Eritrea, attempted in 1875 and 1876 to overrun Ethiopia in order to control the source of the Nile but their efforts were in vain. Therefore the Arabs, led by the reactionary Saudi Arabian regime with its expansionist Wahabist ideology, are a direct threat to the unity and sovereignty of Eritrea and its people, just as they are to Ethiopia and its people. Subsequently, as far as Eritreans are concerned, the weakening and the defeat of Ethiopia, in its confrontation with the expansionist Arab countries, is inevitably the weakening and the defeat of Eritrea and its people as well.

It is therefore of cardinal importance that Eritreans and Ethiopians clearly understand what history, realpolitik and the geography of the region teaches us, that the immediate and long-term interests, and indeed the survival, of both Eritrea and Ethiopia, are intimately intertwined. Hence, the leaders of the two countries must come to their senses and make peace with honour. The sooner they do so, the better for the fraternal people of their two countries and for peace and security in the Horn of Africa.