ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – Ethiopia on Saturday condemned “military threats” over the giant dam it nearly completed on the Blue Nile, the day after US President Donald Trump said that downstream Egypt would do the project he called ” Blow up “becomes an existential threat.
Without naming Trump or the U.S., Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office statement came amid an outcry in Ethiopia over Trump’s latest threat to the dam. The $ 4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a source of national pride aimed at lifting millions of people out of poverty.
“The man has no idea what he is talking about,” tweeted former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, calling Trump’s remark inconsiderate and irresponsible.
Trump made the comment when he announced that Sudan would begin normalizing relations with Israel. Downstream Sudan is involved in talks with Ethiopia and Egypt over the controversial dam. “You (Egypt) will blow the dam in the end,” said Trump. “And I said it and I say it loud and clear … they’re going to blow up that dam. And you have to do something. “
The U.S. President earlier this year urged the State Department to suspend million dollar aid to Ethiopia over the dam dispute, angering the Ethiopians, who had accused the U.S. during their previous efforts to broker a deal on the Ethiopia-Egypt project to be biased and Sudan. Ethiopia moved away from these talks.
“You will never see this money if you don’t abide by this agreement,” Trump said on Friday.
“Occasional statements of military threats to subject Ethiopia to unfair conditions are still in abundance,” the Ethiopia statement said on Saturday. “These threats and insults to Ethiopian sovereignty are misguided, unproductive and outright violations of international law.”
It added: “Ethiopia will not give in to aggression of any kind.”
Ethiopia celebrated the first filling of the dam in August, citing heavy rains to the dismay of Egypt. Ethiopia later banned flights over the dam because of concerns about possible military action by Egypt.
Now, with Trump’s new remarks, some Ethiopians are calling on Ethiopian Americans to elect him out of office in next month’s elections.
The statement from Abiy’s office said that talks with Egypt and Sudan have shown significant progress since the African Union stepped in to oversee them. Trump’s testimony could undermine that process, said Abel Abate Demissie, associate fellow at Chatham House, adding that it proves that the US was not an honest broker to begin with.
Ethiopia says the colossal dam could help it become a major electricity exporter. Egypt depends on the Nile to provide fresh water for its farmers and a booming population of 100 million people.
The negotiators have said that important questions remain: how much water Ethiopia will release downstream in a multi-year drought and how the countries will resolve future disputes. Ethiopia rejects final stage binding arbitration.
A military strike on the dam would be catastrophic, warned a water expert. The dam already has more than 4.9 billion cubic meters of water in its reservoir, ”Abebe Yirga told The Associated Press. “There will be thousands of people along the way when this huge amount of water gushes from the dam.”
The Blue Nile flows into the White Nile in Sudan and becomes the Nile. About 85 percent of the river comes from Ethiopia. Officials hope that the dam, which is now more than three-quarters complete, will reach full power generation capacity in 2023.
PICTURED: FILE – This Tuesday February 18, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center right) is walking with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (center left) after meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Addis Ababa. The State Department announced on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, that the US, under the direction of President Donald Trump, is withdrawing aid to Ethiopia because of the “lack of progress” in talks with Egypt and Sudan over a massive, controversial dam project called Egypt An existential threat and concern will reduce the land’s share of the Nile waters. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Pool via AP, File)