CAIRO (AP) — Politicians meeting with Egypt’s president on Monday proposed hostile acts against Ethiopia, including backing rebels and carrying out sabotage, to stop it from building a massive dam on the Nile River upstream.
Some of the politicians appeared unaware the meeting with President Mohammed Morsi was being carried live on TV. Morsi did not directly react to the suggestions, but said in concluding remarks that Egypt respects Ethiopia and its people and will not engage in any aggressive acts against the East African nation.
Morsi called the meeting to review the impact of Ethiopia’s $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam, which would be Africa’s largest. Egypt in the past has threatened to go to war over its “historic rights” to Nile River water.
Morsi’s office later said he had directed his foreign and irrigation ministers to maintain contact with the Ethiopian government to obtain more information on the dam and its likely impact on Egypt’s share of the Nile water.
His office’s statement included an ominous-sounding note, saying: “Egypt will never surrender its right to Nile water and all options (to safeguard it) are being considered.”
Ethiopia last week started diverting the flow of the Nile to make way for its hydroelectric plant dubbed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. On completion, it is expected to produce 6,000 megawatts, and its reservoir is scheduled to start filling next year.
Makhyoun said Ethiopia is “fragile” because of rebel movements inside the country. “We can communicate with them and use them as a bargaining chip against the Ethiopian government,” he said.
“If all this fails, then there is no choice left for Egypt but to play the final card, which is using the intelligence service to destroy the dam,” said Makhyoun, whose Nour party won about 25 percent of parliament’s seats in elections in late 2011 and early 2012.
Another politician, liberal Ayman Nour, proposed spreading rumors about Egypt obtaining refueling aircraft to create the impression that it plans an airstrike to destroy the dam.
“This could yield results on the diplomatic track,” Nour said.
Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu has said Egypt should not worry about a diminished water share.
“We don’t have any irrigation projects around the dam. The dam is solely intended for electricity production … So there should not be any concerns about a diminished water flow,” Alemayehu told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Eighty-five percent of Nile waters originate in Ethiopia, yet the nation utilizes very little of them, and the country has become synonymous with famine.
Full article: Egyptian politicians: Sabotage Ethiopia’s new dam (Bloomberg Businessweek)