').insertAfter('.article-content p:nth-child(2) '); $('
').insertAfter('.article-content p:nth-child(6) ');
Friday, August 21, 2020

Ethiopia's Proposed Dam on the Nile: Will it bring shared benefits or cause war among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan?

This article is by

Share this article

Nile River View Cairo, Egypt | Source: Sherif Moharram via Unsplash

The longest river in the world, the Nile,  spans a distance of over 4000 miles, passing through large parts of Africa including Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, to name a few, and finally emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Nile is a lifeline for Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, whose mutual relation took a beating when Ethiopia proposed to build the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD). The proposed dam would make Ethiopia the biggest exporter of electricity in Africa and give a boost to its growing economy.

However, this project invited furious responses from Egypt as Nile is deeply connected to the history of the country since ancient times. Also about 95% of Egyptian population resides along the banks of the Nile and are heavily dependent on the river for sustaining their livelihood. Building the large reservoir will deplete the water resources of Egypt which will threaten their livelihood.

The Nile is experiencing pernicious effects of escalating population and climate change and the United Nations has projected that it is expected to cause immense water scarcity by 2025. “We’re worried. Egypt wouldn’t exist without the Nile. Our livelihood is being destroyed. God help us” says Hamed Jarallah, an Egyptian farmer.

This 5 billion-dollar project was initiated in 2011, is capable of producing a whopping 6000 megawatts of hydro power and has a reservoir capacity of 74 billion cubic metres. This dam is projected to annually contribute over a billion dollars to the Ethiopian economy. It is alleged that Ethiopia has already started filling the reservoir despite the protests from other countries.

In 2015, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan signed a ‘Declaration of Principles’ which called for the equal water distribution. Despite more than five years of negotiations, these countries are still not able to reach mutually acceptable agreements. Earlier, Sudan supported Ethiopia’s dam proposal as it was promised adequate electricity at a cheaper cost. However, the failure to reach a conclusive agreement led it to oppose Ethiopian dam. Sudan has already gone ahead and notified the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the dangers its people will face via a letter advocating them to step in.

Al-Sisi meeting President Trump | Source: The White House via Wikimedia

When Egypt made a demand for GERD to release around 40 billion cubic metres of water every year, Ethiopia denied this suggestion while Sileshi Bekele, minister for water, irrigation and energy, called the volume of water ‘inappropriate’. Finally, in 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi turned towards U.S President Donald Trump to settle this long dispute. “The Ethiopian side does not want an agreement and has not offered an alternative” says Egyptian minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati as Ethiopia retracted from the US-led conciliation over GERD.

Secretary Pompeo Meets with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu | Source: U.S. Department of State via Wikimedia

Ethiopia further provoked Egypt when Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew tweeted that Ethiopia will have “all the development it wants” from the river and that the Nile is theirs. This was a strong posturing which sparked whispers of an apparent war between Egypt and Ethiopia. If it escalates into a war involving the military then Ethiopia might succumb to the powers of the Egyptian army. However, according to Sisi, military intervention is unlikely to take place as he believes negotiation is the best way to arrive at a viable agreement.

As these three countries march ahead in their task to find a middle ground, they should focus on ideas which would include potential for a ‘shared economic advantage’ and also include organizations like the World Bank which can provide financial backing for improvement purposes in such regions.

Support us to bring the world closer

To keep our content accessible we don't charge anything from our readers and rely on donations to continue working. Your support is critical in keeping Global Views 360 independent and helps us to present a well-rounded world view on different international issues for you. Every contribution, however big or small, is valuable for us to keep on delivering in future as well.

Support Us

Share this article

Read More

October 18, 2020 6:46 PM

Bhagat Singh: The Man, The Life, And The Beliefs

Bhagat Singh is one of the ‘big names’ immortalised in the history of India’s freedom struggle and eternally cherished even after almost ninety years of his martyrdom. What makes him stand out is his popularity among the masses being almost on par with the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, despite his beliefs and actions being diametrically opposite to theirs.

Of the freedom fighters who remain mainstream in today’s India— a crowd predominantly made up of politicians with center or right of centre leanings, Bhagat Singh occupies a relatively lonely spot as a young, staunchly left-wing revolutionary who outrightly rejected Gandhi’s philosophy, and preferred direct action over politics.

Newspaper headline after Central Legislative Assembly non-lethal bombing

Bhagat Singh is most commonly and widely remembered in association with an incident where he, along with his friend and comrade B.K. Dutt dropped non-lethal smoke bombs into the Central Legislative Assembly from its balcony in 1929. They also scattered leaflets by the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), which he was a major part of and was aided by in orchestrating the bombings. He is said to have been inspired by French anarchist Auguste Vaillant, who had bombed the Chamber of Deputies in Paris in 1893.

The bombing gathered widespread negative reaction due to the use of violence, especially from those who supported the Gandhian method. While Bhagat Singh and the HSRA wanted to protest exploitative legislatures such as the Public Safety Act and the Trades Disputes Bill, it is also widely accepted that they additionally intended to use the drama and public attention of the ensuing trial to garner attention to socialist and communist causes. Bhagat Singh and Dutt did not escape under the cover of panic and smoke despite the former carrying a pistol, and waited for the police to find and arrest them. During the trial Bhagat Singh frequently chanted a variety of slogans, such as ‘Inquilab Zindabad,’ which is even today often raised in protests across India.  

March 25th Newspaper carrying the news about execution of Bhagat Singh | Source: Tribune India

However, this was not the trial that ended in Bhagat Singh receiving his execution sentence. Before the Assembly bombings, Bhagat Singh had been involved in the shooting of police officer John Saunders, in connection to the death of freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai. At that time he and his associates had escaped, but after Bhagat Singh was awarded a life sentence for the Assembly bombing, a series of investigations led to his rearrest as part of the Saunders murder case. It was this trial— generally regarded as unjust— that led to his much protested execution sentence.

Bhagat Singh was hanged to death on the eve of March 23rd, 1931 and he was just twenty-three years old.

Despite the criticism he received for his actions, his execution sentence was widely opposed and many attempts were made to challenge it. In fact, his execution came on the eve of the Congress party’s annual convention, as protests against it worsened. He was memorialised nationwide as a martyr, and is often addressed with the honorific Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh.

Apart from being a socialist, Bhagat Singh was attracted to communist and anarchist causes as well. In ‘To Young Political Workers,’ his last testament before his death, he called for a “socialist order” and a reconstruction of society on a “new, i.e, Marxist basis.” He considered the government “a weapon in the hand of the ruling class”, which is reflected in his belief that Gandhian philosophy only meant the “replacement of one set of exploiters for another.” Additionally, he wrote a series of articles on anarchism, wanting to fight against mainstream miscontrusions of the word and explain his interest in anarchist ideology.

Bipin Chandra, who wrote the introduction to Why I am an Atheist by Bhagat Singh | Source: Wikimedia

While writing the introduction to Bhagat Singh’s remarkable essay Why I am an Atheist in 1979, Late Bipan Chandra described the Marxist leaning of Bhagat Singh and his associates in the following way;

Bhagat Singh was not only one of India’s greatest freedom fighters and revolutionary socialists, but also one of its early Marxist thinkers and ideologues. Unfortunately, this last aspect is relatively unknown with the result that all sorts of reactionaries, obscurantists and communalists have been wrongly and dishonestly trying to utilise for their own politics and ideologies the name and fame of Bhagat Singh and his comrades such as Chandra Shekhar Azad.”

Bhagat Singh is often admired and celebrated for his dedication to the cause of liberation. However his socialist, communist and anarchist beliefs were suppressed by the successive governments in Independent India. This in a way is the suppression of a revolutionary who has the potential to inspire, unite and motivate the growing population of a spectrum of activists all over India, in direct response to the fast-spreading divisiveness and intolerance in the country, often patronised by the groups and organizations professing the right-wing fascist ideology.

Bhagat Singh’s dreams of a new social order live on, not just in his writings, but also reflected in the hearts of every activist, protester, and dissenting citizen. The fight for freedom, revolution, Inquilab, may have changed in meaning, but it is far from over.

Read More