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Ethiopia outraged over Saudi official’s “hostile” remarks on Nile dam project

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 1, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian government expressed outrage over remarks made by Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, who accused the Horn of Africa nation of posing a national security threat to Sudan and Egypt.

Tekeze Dam
Ethiopia’s Tekeze Dam (Source: International Waters)

During the third session of the Arab Water Council held in Cairo, Saudi Arabias deputy defense minister, Khalid Bin Sultan, said Ethiopia’s power plant project, which is under construction on the Blue Nile River near the Sudanese border is intended “for political plotting rather than for economic gain and constitutes a threat to Egyptian and Sudanese national security."

Bin Sultan said Ethiopia has ulterior motives for the dam and he further cautions it will particularly be a threat to Egypt’s future, as 95% of country’s population depends on the Nile River.

After Sudan Tribune published the report on Wednesday; Ethiopia’s ministry of foreign affairs gave immediate attention to the issue and top officials of the ministry have thoroughly and seriously discussed on the matter.

Ethiopia’s senior government officials further held high-level meetings with Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and other Saudi diplomats in Addis Ababa seeking answers to why the minister made such provocative remarks.

In a brief interview with the state television, Ethiopia foreign affairs spokesperson Ambassador, Dina Mufti, last night said that the remarks were not only an interference on country’s internal affairs but also could negatively affect the existing relations between Arabs and Nile basin African countries.

After holding an urgent meeting with Ethiopian officials, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Ethiopia stressed that the remarks made by the defense minister doesn’t reflect the current Saudi stance towards Ethiopia and was just the minister’s personal opinion.

The Saudi Ambassador further said that he will be addressing the issue to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Mufti said Ethiopia will publicise details when it receives official clarifications from the Saudi Arabian government.

Ethiopian officials said it was quite strange for a Saudi Arabian minister to make such serious and sensitive allegations against Ethiopia, which has cordial diplomatic relations with the Arab kingdom.

Sudan Tribune has learnt that Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, on Thursday, has raised the issue while holding talks with visiting Finance Minister of Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf.

After Ethiopia launched the massive $4.8 billion dam at Nile River in 2011, two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt, have argued the construction of the Dam - the biggest in Africa - would reduce the flow of the water to their territories.

Although Ethiopia is a source of 85% of the Nile’s water, Egypt and Sudan benefit over 90% of the total water resources under colonial era agreement.

The East African nation launched the construction of the mega dam after Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi signed the Entebbe agreement In April 2010, to reverse a colonial-era treaty seeking equitable water utilisation.

Egypt has been warning upper stream countries against construction of any Dams on the Nile River saying it is a life or death issue and any attempts would be considered as threat to national security.

According to whistle blowing site, Wikileaks, Cairo had reached an agreement with Khartoum to build air base in Sudan to strike Ethiopia Dam facility, a claim Cairo and Khartoum denied.

Egypt has also been calling on international donors not to fund Ethiopia’s Dam project, however Addis Ababa later announced that it will continue the project with or without external funds.

As a good will gesture and to build trust among the riparian countries, the late Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, proposed the establishment of the Tripartite Committee, now renamed as an international panel of experts, which officially launched on 8 May, 2012 to asses the impacts of the project.

The committee which is composed of six experts drawn from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, and another four international experts is set to announce and submit its final findings and recommendations to the three governments in May 2013.

(ST)

ST - In unusual rebuke, Saudi Arabia accuses Ethiopia of posing threats to Sudan & Egypt

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  • 2 March 2013 07:37, by Nuer Empire

    Ethiopia has a right to use her Resources.Arab Kigdom should shut up

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    • 2 March 2013 08:56, by Johndumo14

      Terorist Kingdom,want to control Africa water.
      All the 11.sept terorists came from Saudi Arabia,and Europe and USA kept silent. The world must get rid of Saudia Arabia after ,Syria,Iran,Govs. are gone. USA CIA knows that abd is a matter of time,histroy will tell.

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  • 2 March 2013 08:56, by Liberator

    Bravo ethiopia! Egypt thinks that u only have cats n no birds....huh! ethiopia, a country I first got to know has wat it takes to wage a war. egypt is kidding, hw on earth would u control one’s resources? wait, the war is like this: u will first fight urselves, ethiopia will come in after that then the balance will b up to ROSS to rub the board when we begin our control over the w.nile. wait n c.

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  • 2 March 2013 09:08, by ForAll

    Saudi Arabia’sdefense minister can kick this amassodor at glance while king of KSA will not comment.
    Ethiopia must respect their neibors and comply with AU regulations.
    UN has the rules and regulations such matters.

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  • 2 March 2013 10:07, by lobby

    We Ethiopian already know that Sudan, alluded by Egypt and Saudis who consider them inferior semi-Arabs, out of confusion made a miscalculation that they would shield her if she allowed them to give them airbase and join the attacking Ethiopia! Don’t worry much, we are just waiting Sudan to cross our RED LINE, then it will cease to exist, and no regret!

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    • 2 March 2013 11:55, by ForAll

      Ask USA and China who are the close supporters of Saudi Arabia.
      You better ask China about ballistic missiles that they supplied to KSA.
      You better ask Israel about the real strength of KSA.
      KSA is capable to overthrow Israel and Ethiopia but facing all the difficulties with IRAN.
      I do support Ethiopia to settles things with all neigbors.

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      • 2 March 2013 12:20, by lobby

        Forall,
        1)Refer to HISTORY: Ethiopia is the first nation in the world to embrace Islam, gave shelter while the pagan Saudis were killing the Islams!
        2)Ethiopia never invade any country, have been patient even with this tiny Eritrea, while it invaded and keep messing with us yet can be destroyed in one day.

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        • 2 March 2013 12:26, by lobby

          3) While stupid Al-Bashir repeatedly tried to cheat Ethiopia siding Egypt and Saudis who even don’t consider him inferior Arab, Ethiopia treated him with patience and kept neutrality and with S. Sudan, good relations with all others.
          ALAS! Your leader has inferiority complex and identity crisis: Egypt and Saudis cannot accept him as he is, so he begs to get a certificate of true Arab!

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  • 2 March 2013 10:13, by lobby

    We are also happy to see these international terror sponsoring centuries behind Wuhabi vandal indolent Saudis who just sit under their tents and seep from oil sales clearly exposed in meddling in Ethiopia’s sovereignty! We will see soon if they could shield themselves, leave alone Egypt or the failed state of Al-Bashir! As always, we Ethiopian never start a fight, but we finish it!

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    • 2 March 2013 10:38, by ForAll

      I am not one of the supporters of NCP but when your Ethiopia will disturb the innocent peoples of Sudan then it is death of life by all means.

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    • 2 March 2013 10:42, by ForAll

      Ask your ethiopians about Nuclear contamination. You better read more about SILCOSIS and study the soil of your country. Moreover I request you kindly as my African brother to be well informed about FALLOUT.

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  • 2 March 2013 10:34, by ForAll

    Last time, I read statement by Ethiopian that his country is in the process to contaminate the river water with Nuclear and chemicals to destroy Sudan and Egypt while inSudan and Egypt are more than two milliions Ethiopians Southern Sudanese. The main hard workers in Egypt are Southern Sudanese as Sudan lost them.

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    • 2 March 2013 14:56, by Hamra

      The same sort of situation exists in Sudan- those who are prepared to get their hands dirty (in an honest and honourable way) are those from the west of Sudan, the Nuba and Ethiopians. Unemployed Sudanese prefer to sit selling a few tomatoes in the sun rather than do a hard day’s work

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    • 2 March 2013 14:57, by Hamra

      The same sort of situation exists in Sudan- those who are prepared to get their hands dirty (in an honest and honourable way) are those from the west of Sudan, the Nuba and Ethiopians. Unemployed Sudanese prefer to sit selling a few tomatoes in the sun rather than do a hard day’s work

      repondre message

  • 2 March 2013 14:59, by Hamra

    May I suggest that his excellency puts the affairs of the house of Saud in order before worrying about Africa. I’ve heard that Saudi Arabia is a very corrupt place. Can anyone tell me why?

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  • 2 March 2013 19:09, by Extraterrestrial

    Ethiopia must stand alert if any idiot Arab want to temper with us.
    No Areb will enjoy the Nile water if Ethiopia can’t enjoy it, if you touch our day we will infect the water and you all will perish.

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  • 2 March 2013 20:32, by MAM2

    At present the relationship between Sudan and Ethiopia is outstanding and built on mutual trust and that suggests NO harm will result from the SAK defence minister. Om the other hand, there is a committee from the three countries to assess the issue of this same dam, which should submit its report by May 2013, why Ethiopia in hurray to create troubles.
    The issue have to be solved by the Nile Boar.

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    • 2 March 2013 22:53, by lobby

      "Why Ethiopia hurry to create problems?"
      What’s in your mind? It is the Wahhabi terror sponsoring Saudi govt defense minister which was invited by the mick Musi-Brotherhood to declare war on us! And, your feeble minded Al-Bashir tried to cheat us secretly siding Ethiopia’s enemies even if we did lots of favor for himself and his country! Do you see this? What’s the shit in your mind?

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  • 2 March 2013 23:13, by David

    Eth is doing nothing, except fighting poverty.All Eth offial are telling z world z nation building z Dam 4 mutual benefit of both Egypt and Sudan. I don’t care whether Egypt calling on intern’l donors not to fund Eth Dam project as Eth has a capacity to construct z Dam by internal resource. Do Egypt is z only nation to considered z Dam as national security? Eth has 90 million people to defend z D

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  • 3 March 2013 17:33, by Fetehyelem

    Guys we have to separete the TPLF regime and the people of Ethiopia.Every kind of crime on earth which we have never heard & come across has regularly been excuted by TPLF on Ethiopia.From its inception TPLF is anti-Ethiopia.That is TPLF which left Ethiopia without a port(Assab-part of Afar).
    Poverty,corruption,Disease,Inflation,Population explosion,lossing territorial integrity,exile of the natio

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  • 3 March 2013 17:41, by Fetehyelem

    Any form of Social,Economical and Political above all National disgrace is the result of the current TPLF reegime.I can dare to say every citizen excluding Tigrians and TPLF/EPRDF cadres,officials and their family members be a wittness to testify against the buch of criminal in the regime.Our pride as a nation has been stripped off and we are now below the standard of a whole human being under TPL

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  • 4 March 2013 09:44, by Fact Nonsense

    Saudi minister to interfere in African affairs! What a shame. Colonial treaties on Nile water should be revive such that every country would benefit from God given natural resource. Egypt and Sudan scary tactics shouldn’t be threat to the region that’s geographically located at the source of Nile. Ethiopia deserved the right to do whatever development based on water resource. Saudis should shut-up

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  • 5 March 2013 02:31, by samy

    why this so called illiterate deputy defense minister of saudiarabia give this remark in this water rel;ated conference in cairo ,we ethiopians despite the saudijihadia government giving any cover up remark as we ethiopian we take this individual remark very seriously and we take it like saudiwuhabia government hostile policy toward almaighty ethiopia so this bedwin remark z saudijalabia policy

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