11 JUNE 2013 –
Addis Ababa — Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia heightened on Monday after Cairo threaten Addis Ababa in connection with its first dam project along the Blue Nile.
Egypt, which has long been opposing the construction of the $4.8 billion dam, said it will not tolerate any attempt by the horn of Africa’s nation that diminishes its water share.
Addressing to Egyptians on a live televised speech, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi warned that his country is ready to confront any threat that would endanger the country’s water security.
“Egypt’s water security cannot be violated at all,” said Morsi.
“As president of the state, I confirm to you that all options are open.”
The Egyptian president however said that he is not calling for war but warned that he would not allow any type of threats against water security.
President Morsi’s comments come after Egyptian politicians this week intensified pressure on him for doing not doing enough to stop the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD).
Although Ethiopia is the source of 85 percent of the Nile’s water, a colonial-era treaty grants Egypt the use of over 70 percent of it, supplying the North African nation with 55 billion cubic meters of water per year.
The new dam on the Blue Nile river where Ethiopia is building Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant is considered by some Egypt politicians to be a security risk considering how much the largely desert nation relies on the Nile’s water.
Experts estimate that Egypt could lose up to 27% of its share of the Nile’s water when Ethiopia fills the GERD, which, when complete will be the Africa’s biggest reservoir with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.
Egypt has in the past threatened to go to war against any country that violates to its historic rights over the Nile river.
Egypt argues that other countries along the Nile have alternative water sources, but the Nile is the only water source available to Egypt and its historic water rights should be respected.
“If it loses one drop, our blood is the alternative,” president Morsi said.
“The lives of the Egyptians are connected around it as one great people. If it diminishes by one drop then our blood is the alternative.”
REACTIONS IN ETHIOPIA:
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry responded on Tuesday, saying that the construction of Nile dam will not be stopped “even for a second” despite what Egyptian politicians say.
Addis Ababa’s foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufuti said the sabotage proposals suggested by some Egyptian politicians were unacceptable.
However he welcomed the remarks by Sudan’s information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman, in support of the dam project.
Osman said the ten-member international panel, which has been studying the impacts of the dam on Sudan and Egypt in its final report last week, had dispelled all concerns raised about the dam.
The Sudanese spokesperson said that his country will send experts and technicians to help in the construction of the dam.
Ethiopians were caught by surprise last week when Egyptian politicians last week were aired live discussing sabotage plans to stop the Nile dam, which currently is 21% completed.
Politicians suggested that President Morsi take military action or support Ethiopian rebels to destroy the Dam, outraging many Ethiopians.
“We are ready for an armed confrontation to any attacks by Egypt” Mesfin Nega, a 32 year old Ethiopian told Sudan Tribune.
“Words of war are not the smartest ways to deal with Ethiopia” he said. “Egypt better stop making provocative remarks. It should refer back and learn in to how Ethiopia defeated the Italian invaders.”
Speaking to state television, Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, said “No Nile – no Egypt.”
He declined to detail possible actions Cairo would take in connection with Ethiopia dam but said “We have a plan for action, which will start soon. We will talk to Ethiopia and we’ll see what comes of it.”
The Egyptian foreign minister is expected Addis Ababa within the coming few days to discuss with Ethiopian officials over the controversial massive dam project.