Somalilandsun: The Ethiopian defense forces have called on Cairo to change what it described as a failed 400-year strategy to control waters of the Nile River.
“The agenda Egypt set for more than 400 years to control the waters of the Nile has failed” said General Berhanu Gula, deputy chief of staff and head of Ethiopian military operations, while stressing that it cannot be implemented in the twenty-first century.
These sentiments came as the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti denied that Addis Ababa had submitted a new proposal on the Renaissance Dam.
In a statement to Al-Jazeera, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti denied that Addis Ababa had submitted a new proposal in the negotiations on the Renaissance Dam, while an Ethiopian general called on Cairo to change what he described as a 400-year strategy.
Mufti clarified that what was presented was the filling of the dam in its coming stages, and he also expected that negotiations would resume according to the proposal submitted by Egypt and Sudan
Though the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed his country’s desire to continue negotiations on the Renaissance Dam to reach a comprehensive agreement, the Federal Government in Addis Ababa has gone ahead and filled the Dam.
And on the establishment of Egyptian military bases in Somaliland, Dina Mufti explained that this is Egypt’s right, provided that it is not an attack on Ethiopia’s security and the safety of its interests.
The 400-year agenda
In contrast, General Berhanu Gula, deputy chief of staff and head of military operations in the Ethiopian Defense Forces, was categorical about the dangers posed by Egyptian attempts to establish military bases in Somaliland.
Gen Berhanu Julia called on Egypt to change the agenda seeking to control the waters of the Nile, which had passed 400 years ago, ruling out at the same time that the dispute be resolved militarily.
He added that with regard to Somaliland, there were Egyptian attempts, including the visit of Egyptian officials there after the Somali federal government refused to establish military bases.
“We contacted Somaliland and expressed their understanding of the situation, and they refused to establish military bases on their land,” he added, noting that there had been previous attempts with South Sudan as well and other neighboring countries, but they refused to cooperate with Egypt.
He stressed that the agenda Egypt set for more than 400 years to control the waters of the Nile has failed, stressing that it cannot be implemented in the twenty-first century.
“It is impossible for Egypt to control the waters of the Nile by force for many reasons, the most important of which is that the Nile has its owners” said Gen Gula reiterating that “the strategy of the 400 years must be changed, Ethiopia has changed, Egypt has changed, and the dealings must change.”
On the alleged Egyptian base in Berbera the Ethiopian defense forces deputy commander was reacting to recent reports emanating from Cairo which alluded that Somaliland authorities have acquiesced to the establishment of an Egyptian military base following discussions in Hargeisa.
Though a meeting between Egyptian and Somaliland officials took place in Hargeisa the administration if president Muse Bihi is yet to acknowledge the alleged plans to establish an Egyptian base anywhere in the country.
With the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam-GERD having elicited controversy between Ethiopia and Egypt and Sudan to some extend this is not the first time for General Berhanu Gula to public state the position of the Ethiopian defense forces in the dispute
In early June this year the soldier in charge of army operations said his country will strongly defend itself and will not negotiate its sovereignty over the disputed $4.6 billion Nile dam that has caused tensions with Egypt.
“Egyptians and the rest of the world know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes,” Gen. Birhanu Jula said , adding that Egyptian leaders’ “distorted narrative” on Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam is attracting enemies.
As he accused Egypt of using its weapons to “threaten and tell other countries not to touch the shared water” the General said “the way forward should be cooperation in a fair manner.”
Immediately upon this overt warning the Egyptian administration having failed to entice thence secure rights to military base in either Somalia or Sudan hastily dispatched a delegation to Hargeisa with hopes that Somaliland shall acquiesce, seemingly to no vain.
Upon exit of the Egyptian Delegation from Hargeisa, authorities in Addis Ababa dispatched a high level Ethiopian delegation led by Finance minister to Somaliland for talks whose agenda has not been disclosed to date.
The first overt warnings to Egypt by the Ethiopian Defense Forces was in March 2020 when Ethiopia’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Adam Mohamed, revealed that the army is ready to resist any attack on the Renaissance Dam on the River Nile, and carry out counterattacks against any aggressors.
The general’s statement came during a visit with a number of other senior officers to the site of the dam in the west of the country where Brigadier General Yilma Mordesa, the commander of the Ethiopian Air Force, disclosed his command’s readiness to defend the dam and the surrounding area
All in All while the Egyptian quest, for reasons of Ethiopian strike reach in case of war, for a military base in Somaliland is understandable the tested and verified friendship between authorities in Hargeisa and Addis Ababa makes it untenable.
Related read: Egypt plans to set up military base in Somaliland angers Ethiopia