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World How Trump 'betrayed' Ethiopia over Nile dam

03:16  27 october  2020
03:16  27 october  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a massive hydroelectric power plant being constructed on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia . In mid-January, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reached a preliminary agreement aimed at clearing the way for the filling operation of the billion project on the

image captionDonald Trump has backed Egypt's President Sisi over the River Nile dam . For critics of US President Donald Trump , escalating tensions between two long-standing American allies, Egypt and Ethiopia , over a mega dam on a tributary of the River Nile marks the biggest diplomatic failure of

For critics of US President Donald Trump, escalating tensions between two long-standing American allies, Egypt and Ethiopia, over a mega dam on a tributary of the River Nile marks the biggest diplomatic failure of his administration in Africa.

Donald Trump, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are posing for a picture: Donald Trump has backed Egypt's President Sisi over the River Nile dam © Getty Images Donald Trump has backed Egypt's President Sisi over the River Nile dam

Mr Trump said last week that Egypt might "blow up" the Ethiopian-built dam, despite boasting in January that he deserved a Nobel Peace Prize because he had "made a deal".

"I saved a big war. I've saved a couple of them," he said, shortly after Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abi Ahmed was awarded the prize.

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© - Ethiopia sees the massive dam on the Nile as essential for its electrification and development, but Egypt sees it as an existential threat. Ethiopia on Saturday accused Donald Trump of inciting "war" over a massive Nile River mega- dam after the US president spoke out against the project and

The U.S. suspended aid to Ethiopia over its decision to fill a hydropower dam on a tributary of the Nile River before agreeing with Egypt and Sudan on how African Union-brokered talks have so far failed to resolve the impasse and the Trump administration is increasingly concerned about their lack of

Mr Trump's comments were vague, but seemed to be a reference to his intervention - at the request of Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whom he once reportedly called his "favourite dictator" - to resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd).

Egypt sees the dam as an "existential threat" to its survival, a concern shared, albeit to a lesser extent, by Sudan. Ethiopia, on the other hand, regards the dam as vital for its energy needs.

Trump a 'hate figure for Ethiopians'

Kenya-based Horn of Africa security analyst Rashid Abdi said US mediation over the dam had worsened tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia.

"Ethiopia is stepping up security around the dam," Mr Abdi said.

"Its defensive measures include declaring the Benishangul-Gumuz region, where the dam is located, a restricted airspace, and there are also reports that Ethiopia is putting up anti-aircraft batteries around the dam. It probably fears reconnaissance flights by Egypt."

Trump suggests Egypt may 'blow up' Ethiopia dam

  Trump suggests Egypt may 'blow up' Ethiopia dam US President Donald Trump on Friday voiced anger at Ethiopia over its construction of a huge dam on the Nile River and appeared to suggest that Egypt may destroy it. Trump made the remarks as he announced a breakthrough normalization deal between US ally Israel and Sudan, which like Egypt fears that Ethiopia will use up scarce water resources. "It's a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way," Trump toldTrump made the remarks as he announced a breakthrough normalization deal between US ally Israel and Sudan, which like Egypt fears that Ethiopia will use up scarce water resources.

Talks on Ethiopia ’s Mega- Dam Resume After Trump Weighs in. The U.S. last month suspended aid to Ethiopia over its plans to fill the giant Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on a Nile River tributary before agreeing with Egypt and Sudan on how the reservoir will be managed.

Ethiopia 's GERD dam project, shown in a 2019 file photo, is nearly complete nine years after construction began. He added that Ethiopia is committed to talks led by the African Union on resolving disputes over the allocation of the Nile ’s waters, and he has seen “significant progress” in

a building with a mountain in the background: Once complete, the $4bn (£3bn), structure on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia will be Africa's largest hydro-electric project © Getty Images Once complete, the $4bn (£3bn), structure on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia will be Africa's largest hydro-electric project

He said this showed Mr Trump's failure to understand how global diplomacy worked.

"He has this misconceived notion that you can cut a deal like in business. So he left the US Treasury to play the lead role in negotiations, when foreign policy is supposed to be conducted by the State Department. The consequences have been to aggravate an already bad situation," Mr Abdi added.

Accusing Ethiopia of negotiating in bad faith following its decision to press ahead with filling the dam before addressing Egypt's and Sudan's concerns about the flow of water to their countries, the US has decided to cut a reported $100m ($$77m) in aid to Ethiopia - Africa's second most-populous state, and a key US ally in the fight against militant Islamists in the volatile Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia accuses Trump of inciting 'war' over Nile dam

  Ethiopia accuses Trump of inciting 'war' over Nile dam Ethiopia on Saturday accused Donald Trump of inciting "war" over a massive Nile River mega-dam after the US president spoke out against the project and suggested Egypt might destroy it. Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew summoned US ambassador Michael Raynor to clarify Trump's comments, which mark the US president's latest foray into a delicate, long-running dispute between Ethiopia and downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt fumes as Ethiopia celebrates over Nile dam . How the Nile 's mega dam will be filled. Sudan, farther upstream than Egypt, is also concerned The subject of the dam came up and Mr Trump and Mr Hamdok expressed hopes for a peaceful resolution to the dispute. But Mr Trump also said "it's a

Ethiopia slammed international pressure regarding its long-running dispute with Egypt and Sudan over a hydropower dam on the Nile River, after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested Cairo could destroy the dam . “ Ethiopia will not cave in to aggressions of any kind,” the office of Ethiopian Prime

"Ethiopia feels betrayed by America, and Trump is now a hate-figure for many Ethiopians," Mr Abdi said, adding that they would be hoping for a Joe Biden victory in the 3 November presidential election.

Explore the Nile with 360 video

Alastair Leithead and his team travelled in 2018 from the Blue Nile's source to the sea - through Ethiopia and Sudan into Egypt.

W Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow at the US-based Center for Global Development, said the Trump's administration decision to side with Egypt was not surprising as its most prized international goal was rapprochement between Israel and Arab League nations.

Trump's diplomatic coup

As Egypt had long-standing diplomatic relations with Israel, the Trump administration was not going to antagonise it at a time when it needed Mr Sisi's help to lobby other Arab states to recognise Israel, Mr Moore said.

"So, the administration became a party in the dispute over the dam, on the side of Egypt," he added.

Its focus on achieving Arab-Israeli rapprochement also shaped its policy towards Sudan, which gave Mr Trump a major diplomatic coup by agreeing, less than two weeks before the US election, to the normalisation of relations with Israel.

Nile dam dispute: Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt set to resume talks

  Nile dam dispute: Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt set to resume talks Ministers from the three countries to hold videoconference brokered by the African Union on Tuesday, Khartoum says.Foreign and irrigation ministers from the three countries are to hold a videoconference brokered by the African Union (AU), the Sudanese irrigation ministry said on Monday, three months after the suspension of dialogue between the neighbouring countries over the construction of the $4.6bn mega-dam by Ethiopia.

Ethiopia later banned flights over the dam amid concerns over possible military action by Egypt. >>The Debate: Tension on the Nile – Could Egypt and Ethiopia Negotiators have said key questions remain about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia on Saturday denounced “belligerent threats” over the huge dam it has nearly completed on the Blue Nile River, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said downstream Egypt will “blow up” the project it has called an existential threat.

a man that is on fire: Sudanese people have continued to against the high cost of living, and to demand justice for victims of the ousted regime © Getty Images Sudanese people have continued to against the high cost of living, and to demand justice for victims of the ousted regime

Although Sudan's acting foreign minister later said that the decision was subject to ratification by a still-to-be-formed legislative body, the announcement was particularly significant as the East African state had hosted an Arab League meeting in 1967 which famously declared that there will be "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it".

In exchange, Mr Trump, if he wins a second term, is expected to keep pushing Ethiopia to address Egypt's and Sudan's concerns over the dam, while also ensuring that Sudan is removed from the US list of "sponsors of terrorism", opening the way for the country to get badly needed economic aid.

Mr Moore said that while the Trump administration would deserve credit if the US Congress removed Sudan from the terror list, its decision to link this to the recognition of Israel was risky for Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's government, which took power last year following the overthrow of long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir.

"The issue of regularising relations with Israel has deeply divided Sudanese society. It could be a destabilising factor at a time when the government already has its own security challenges, and the peace is fragile," Mr Moore added.

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Tensions with China

For Mr Abdi, a further concern about the effects of Mr Trump's policies on Africa was "the new Cold War" between the US and China.

One example was the fact that China has put up its first foreign military base in Djibouti, near the American base used for air strikes against militant Islamists in Somalia, the focal point of its counter-terrorism operations in Africa, and Yemen.

a man holding a kite: China built its first foreign military base in Djibouti © AFP China built its first foreign military base in Djibouti

"Recently, American fighter jets were coming to land. The Chinese beamed experimental laser weapons that temporarily blinded the American pilots. It was what you'd expect in a James Bond movies," Mr Abdi said.

"Under Trump, the US has pursued an aggressive anti-China policy while China is increasingly becoming an assertive power. It has created a dangerous situation in the Horn of Africa," Mr Abdi added.

As part of its efforts to counter China's growing economic influence on the continent, the Trump administration unveiled Prosperity Africa in 2018 as the centrepiece of its policy for the continent.

"They want to double the amount of trade between the US and Africa, both ways. So it is a very notable objective and could be of huge benefit to Africa, more than what any other administration did, but they are still trying to figure out among themselves how it is going to work," Mr Moore said.

chart, line chart © BBC

He added that US investments in Africa used to be primarily in Africa's oil and gas sector, but this has fallen sharply because of the growth of fracking in America.

How the Nile dam might fix Sudan's floods

  How the Nile dam might fix Sudan's floods Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the mega dam, with Sudan literally stuck in the middle.Unprecedented flooding in Sudan this year led to the deaths of more than 100 people and affected 875,000 others.

The Trump administration set up a state-funded Development Finance Corporation in 2019 to help American companies gain a foothold in Africa.

"They want to provide financing to US firms. They have been complaining that they can't compete because Chinese firms come with financing. If you just look at the IT sector, almost 70% of Africa's IT backbone is built on Chinese components," Mr Moore said.

'Undermining' the African Union

The Trump administration has also decided to scrap the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) when it expires in 2025. It was the signature Africa policy of US Democratic President Bill Clinton, and gives African states preferential access to the US market.

Mr Moore said the administration's focus was on bilateral trade deals, and it is already in talks with Kenya - the economic powerhouse of East Africa which is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative that the US believes is aimed at building a series of trade routes that will link the Asian giant with Africa, thereby strengthening its global dominance.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: China has built roads, railways and football stadia across Africa © AFP China has built roads, railways and football stadia across Africa

"The Trump administration wants a deal with Kenya, which it will then use a template for a plethora of deals with other African states," Mr Moore said.

"Kenya has agreed to it because it has exploited Agoa to its advantage, and does not want to lose out on trade with the US," Mr Moore said.

This is despite the fact that African Union (AU) Trade and Industry Commissioner Albert Muchanga has expressed a preference to negotiate with "one voice" an "agreement between the whole of Africa and the US".

Mr Moore said the US' decision could undermine AU efforts to integrate the economies of African states with the aim of turning the continent into the world's largest free trade area.

"It's an extension of the Trump administration's policy of not working within multilateral framework agreements."

Sudan says latest Nile dam talks failed

  Sudan says latest Nile dam talks failed Sudan said Wednesday the latest round of talks with Egypt and Ethiopia over Addis Ababa's controversial dam on the Blue Nile ended after they failed to make headway. The negotiations, held over videoconference, kicked off Sunday and were meant to last a week in a renewed bid to end the long-running stalemate over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which broke ground in 2011. Multiple rounds of talks have over the years failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter (475-foot) tall hydropower barrage.

Kenya's decision to enter into bilateral talks was not a surprise either, Mr Moore said, adding: "The US holds the cards here because it is the market that African states want to access. No matter who is in power [after the 3 November election], Kenya will push its case for a bilateral deal unless its current access to the US market is guaranteed."

He added that Mr Biden, who served as Mr Obama's vice-president, had not yet spelled out his policy towards Africa if he won.

"A Biden administration might revert to what existed under Obama. But compared to China, whose foreign minister has started each year since 2000 with a visit to Africa, there are few high-level exchanges between the US and Africa.

"The Trump administration is not new in giving this low priority to Africa. It has just been worse," Mr Moore said.

a drawing of a face © BBC
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  How Trump 'betrayed' Ethiopia over Nile dam © BBC

Sudan says latest Nile dam talks failed .
Sudan said Wednesday the latest round of talks with Egypt and Ethiopia over Addis Ababa's controversial dam on the Blue Nile ended after they failed to make headway. The negotiations, held over videoconference, kicked off Sunday and were meant to last a week in a renewed bid to end the long-running stalemate over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which broke ground in 2011. Multiple rounds of talks have over the years failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter (475-foot) tall hydropower barrage.

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