A new setback for Egypt

First published on Middle East Monitor
Dr Amira Abo el-Fetouh
March 31, 2015

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

A new setback has hit Egypt at the hands of the coup leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi after he signed the Al-Nahda (Renaissance) Dam agreement with Ethiopia, conceding Egypt’s historical right to water from the Nile. The price of this setback will be paid by future generations in the form of drought hitting agricultural land, with farmers having neither water to irrigate their land nor fruits of their labours to reap. Egypt, claim some experts, will also lose its wealth of fish stocks.

Despite this new disaster that faces Egypt, there is a strange silence from all of the people who yelled, screamed and attacked the notion of the dam during the short term of the legitimate president, Dr Mohamed Morsi. Many of them threatened military intervention in Ethiopia in order to bomb the dam; they accused President Morsi of disappointing the nation, weakness and idleness, and repeated the weasel words of the rotten elite, opportunistic politicians and corrupt journalists, all of whom are biting their tongues now that Al-Sisi has signed the disastrous deal. Hypocritically, some even cheered and applauded the agreement, considering it to be a great achievement by Al-Sisi to be added to the growing list of his other alleged successes.

One of the people who has applauded the deal is the “strategic specialist” who insisted that Egypt had no other choice but to utilise the military option and bomb Al-Nahda Dam in order to preserve Egypt’s historical right to the Nile waters. He also said that if Morsi did not take this step and instead resorted to negotiations he would be a traitor to his land and people and thus not worthy to govern Egypt. That person is not alone in his hypocrisy.

The most dangerous aspect of the dam agreement is that it acknowledges its legitimacy and the Ethiopians’ right to build it, even though international laws is clear that building dams requires the approval of all neighbouring countries who will be affected by the construction. This was why the World Bank did not agree to fund the dam in the past; now, though, Ethiopia can get the loan it needs thanks to Al-Sisi.

The coup leader has also lost Egypt’s rights in the international courts. For example, if, after Egypt is liberated from the coup, it tries to resort to international arbitration, no court would accept its claims because Al-Sisi has waived such rights. The court does not take into consideration whether the ruler of Egypt was a traitor or nationalist; all that matters is international law and it does not distinguish according to the type of leader who signed the agreement.

What many do not know is that the UAE is part-funding this dam and backing it enthusiastically. Along with Israel, the Emirates is a supporter and is buying land near the site for future investment purposes. Since Egypt has become an Emirati colony, the UAE can order its representative in Cairo, Al-Sisi, to carry out its orders; he obeys his masters. This is why he rushed to Ethiopia and signed the agreement with his eyes closed.

The terms of the agreement have not been released. Neither the Egyptian presidency nor the foreign ministry have issued any official statements or press releases. All we have seen is cheering, partying and applause for the agreement on the pro-coup television stations. The details remain under wraps; no one dares to reveal what they are due to the lack of transparency and the absence of a parliament elected by the people and given custodianship over Egypt’s wealth and natural resources which can monitor such agreements and hold accountable those who sign them.

Al-Sisi wanted the agreement to be signed away from the public eye in order to avoid any sort of accountability, or responsibility, even from his own supporters. This tells us why he is delaying the elections, which he really does not want to happen at all. People like Al-Sisi plot their conspiracies and coups in the dark; they are afraid to work in the open, where everyone can see what they do and judge for themselves their honesty and trustworthiness.

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