The Sleazy Propaganda Conspiracy by the Axis of Lies, Fake News and Disinformation (ALFND) to Demonize Ethiopia in the GERD (Nile) Dam “Agreement”

By Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam

… Ethiopians have no desire or idea to harm the Egyptian people. We believe that we should benefit from this river, the Nile, but when we benefit, we should not do harm to the Egyptian people. We want to forget what was in the past and begin a phase of cooperation … We will take care of the Nile, and we will preserve your share of the Nile water and we will work to increase this share.” — H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, June 10, 2018 talking about a peaceful resolution of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance (Hedase) Dam disputes…

… Some say things about use of force (by Egypt). It should be underlined that no force could stop Ethiopia from building a dam. If there is a need to go to war, we could get millions readied. If some could fire a missile, others could use bombs. But that’s not in the best interest of all of us… — H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, October 22, 2019, addressing those who stoke up war hysteria and threaten to wage war on Ethiopia.

The Greek historian Herodotus is said to have called Egypt the “Gift of the Nile”. If Egypt is the gift of the Nile, then Egypt should beware not bite the hand that gave it the precious gift. It is the height of folly to tread on Ethiopia. Don’t tread on Ethiopia. ኢትዮጵያን አትንኩ! — Alemayehu G. Mariam

Ethiopia is being victimized by the “Axis of Lies, Fake News and Disinformation” (ALFND)

On March 2, 2020, Soliman Wadhan, deputy speaker of the Egyptian parliament declared “Egypt will not stand helpless in the face of ‘Ethiopia’s conspiracies’ and is ready to take all measures necessary to preserve its historical rights to the Nile water.”

Wadhan offered no evidence of an “Ethiopian conspiracy” or any sort of improper action.

But there is a real, long-standing and current secret propaganda conspiracy that is unfolding before our eyes.

It is a four-pronged conspiracy:

It is a conspiracy of lies, fake news and disinformation to demonize Ethiopia that is concocted, coordinated and spread in the international media and in American policy circles by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, World Bank Group President David Malpass and the Egyptian Government, the “Axis of Lies, Fake News and Disinformation” (ALFND).

It is a conspiracy that has the ultimate aim of reducing Ethiopia to a “water colony” of Egypt by reinventing, reinforcing and perpetuating the nearly century-long deprivation of Ethiopian sovereign rights under an outdated and oppressive colonial-era treaties that excluded Ethiopia.

It is a conspiracy that aims to diplomatically isolate and cripple Ethiopia in the world community, expose Ethiopia to global condemnation, censure and denunciation and delegitimize any and all of Ethiopia’s rightful claim to use the waters of the Nile to lift itself out of perennial poverty.

The “Washington talks” charade was a bait and switch conspiracy by the ALFND to bring Ethiopia to the table and arm twist her into signing an agreement concocted by the ALFND.

In 1929, Britain and Egypt conspired and drafted a treaty denying Ethiopia all rights to use the Nile River even though Ethiopia is the fountainhead of the Blue Nile.

In 1959, Egypt conspired with the military junta regime in Sudan to reaffirm and expand its “rights” under the 1929 treaty and deny all rights to Ethiopia in the use of the Nile.

In 2020, Egypt conspired with the Trump Administration and the World Bank to reaffirm and vastly expand its “rights” under the 1929 treaty and 1959 agreement and deny Ethiopia any and all rights to use the Nile, specifically by demanding a 12-20 year reservoir filling time for the GERD and renunciation of any and all future development on the Nile River or its tributaries.

The current ALFND sleazy propaganda conspiracy against Ethiopia aims to accomplish a variety of objectives including those listed below:

1) Demonize Ethiopia in the global media as the “bad guy” in the so-called “Washington GERD talks and agreement”.

2) Create global sympathy and solidarity for Egypt as the underdog denied and deprived life-saving Nile river water and provoke global condemnation against Ethiopia as a greedy and rapacious nation hellbent on making money by selling electric power. In other words, the the ALFND have launched a media campaign propagandizing that the Nile waters are a matter of life and death for Egypt but a wasteful luxury for Ethiopia.

3) Tar and feather Ethiopia as an international outlaw that flouts international conventions, treaties and agreements, including a 2015 agreement on the equitable use of the Nile waters.

4) Show Egypt as always negotiating in good faith and with sincere political will to reach an agreement that meets the interests of the three countries and depict Ethiopia as always acting in bad faith and in flagrant disregard for the needs of downstream countries.

5) The U.S. has played a fair and constructive role in the Washington GERD talks over the past 4 months and all of the achievements were wrecked by a reckless Ethiopia which refused to sign it the final agreement by boycotting it.

6) The “agreement” prepared by Mnuchin and Malpass are valid final agreements endorsed by Ethiopia which Ethiopia in bad faith abandoned at the last minute.

7) Any use of Nile River water by Ethiopia will destroy Egyptian agriculture, its economy and infrastructure.

8) Final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement because of unfinished work on the safe operation of the GERD and the need to implement all necessary dam safety measures in accordance with international standards before filling begins.

9) Ethiopia and Egypt could go to war if an agreement is not reached soon.

10) International organizations and governments should sanction Ethiopia for not signing the Mnuchin-Malpass GERD agreement.

The INDISPUTABLE facts about Ethiopia’s sovereign right to use the Nile River and disproving the campaign of the Axis of Lies, Fake News and Disinformation.

Fact # 1: Ethiopia is NOT bound by treaties Egypt has concluded with other countries in the use of Nile River waters. Ethiopia is NOT bound by any treaty or agreement to which it is not a party.

In 1929, Egypt and Britain concluded The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty on the utilization of the  waters of the Nile River declaring Egypt has a  “natural and historic rights in the waters of the Nile”. Ethiopia was not a party to that agreement.

That treaty accomplished two objectives: 1) allocate 48 billion cubic meters of water to Egypt and 4 billion cubic meters to Sudan from an estimated annual flow of 84 billion cubic meters, and 2) granted Egypt veto power on any construction projects on the Nile River, including in Ethiopia, to permanently guarantee full flow of Nile waters  to Egypt without any access or use by Ethiopia.

In 1959,  a bilateral agreement was signed between Egypt and the military junta regime in Sudan which reaffirmed the 1929 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and increased Egypt’s water allocation from 48 billion cubic meters to 55.5 billion cubic meters and from 4 billion cubic meters to 18.5 billion cubic meters for Sudan. This agreement made no allowances for Ethiopia, the source of 80 percent of the water that flows into the Nile River.

Ethiopia was NOT a party to the 1959 agreement.

Fact # 2: Ethiopia is a sovereign nation and can use its resources without the permission of any other power and consistent with applicable international law and commitments.

Under the 2015 Declaration of Principles (DOP) agreed to by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia has faithfully and without evasion performed its obligations, and upheld its commitments  to utilization and sharing water resources with downstream countries in an equitable and reasonable manner, among many other things.

Ethiopia has also upheld its commitment to implement the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts (IPOE) on first filling and operation of the dam covering different scenarios during the construction of GERD and create an appropriate coordination mechanism among them.

Above all and without question, Ethiopia has agreed and is fully committed to resolving all disputes by the heads of states as stated in Article 10 of the DOP.

Egypt’s effort to flagrantly disregard the DOP and pressure Ethiopia by enlisting the support of the Trump Administration and the World Bank is a supreme example of its fundamental bad faith, duplicity and hypocrisy in the GERD negotiations.

Ethiopia at all times has acted in good faith and lived up to its obligations under the DOP while Egypt demonstrably acted in bad faith by running to Trump and the World  Bank to end run the entire process that has been going on for the past nine years.

The fact of the matter is that Ethiopia need the GERD because it has a growing population at 110 million, one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and its people need to be lifted out of poverty. The GERD is just as important to Ethiopia as Aswan Dam is to Egypt. It is not simply an infrastructure project. It is Ethiopia’s pathway out of centuries-long poverty and privation. But the GERD is valuable not only to Ethiopia but also to neighboring countries including Egypt.

Fact #3: The U.S. set up the “Washington GERD talks” in bad faith and colluded with Egypt to trap Ethiopia and force her to sign an “agreement” under duress and threat of foreign aid and World Bank loan cut-offs. The U.S., the World Bank and Egypt tricked Ethiopia into attending the “Washington GERD talks” by false pretenses, calculated misrepresentation, deception, treachery and mendacity.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, World Bank Group President David Malpass “invited” Ethiopia to the “talks” with a bait and switch trick up their sleeves.

On November 6, 2019, the Treasury Department announced:

… The ministers [of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt] agreed that the World Bank and the United States would support and attend the meetings as observers… If an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020, the foreign ministers agree that Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked. (Italics added.)

On January 31, 2020, the Treasury Department reaffirmed its observer role in an announcement:

… The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Water Resources of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and their delegations met with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the World Bank, participating as observers in negotiations on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in Washington, D.C. on January 28-31, 2020… (Italics added.)

On February 9. 2020, the New York Times in a report on the “Washington GERD talks” headlined, “President Trump is mediating.

On February 28, 2020, the Treasury Department issued an announcement stating:

… The United States facilitated the preparation of an agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) based on provisions proposed by the legal and technical teams of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and with the technical input of the World Bank… (Italics added.) 

The Treasury Department imperiously commanded: “… [F]inal testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.”

In less than 4 months, the U.S. metamorphosized from “observer” to “facilitator” to “mediator”, to “broker”, to binding arbitrator and to “bully arm twister” commanding, “final testing and filling [of the Dam] should not take place without an agreement.”

At no time during the four months did the U.S. reveal its evolving role from observer to binding arbitrator.

There is no explanation by Mnuchin and Malpass why, as clearly indicated in the November 6 Treasury announcement, the matter was not referred to the heads of states pursuant to Article 10 “if an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020″.  Manifestly, no agreement was reached by January 15. The Ethiopians reasonably expected the January 15 date would be respected. It was then that they found out they had been had, been took, bamboozled and let astray.

The whole “Washington talks” charade was a bait and switch conspiracy sprung on Ethiopia in midstream.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn said it best commenting on the chameleon role played by the U.S. “You can’t all of a sudden play the role of a binding arbitrator or you’re telling one party or the other what to do”.

Suffice it to say, I smell a dirty rat when an “observer” suddenly becomes a “binding arbitrator”. 

The U.S. and Egypt intended to trap the Ethiopian ministers, arm twist, strong arm, bully and coerce them into signing an “agreement” they had secretly concocted among themselves. They did not succeed.

Fact #4: NO agreement between Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan was reached in the so-called Washington discussions. Secretary Mnuchin and World Bank President Malpass LIED through their teeth when they represented to the world Ethiopia had agreed to the “agreement” they drafted. There is only an “agreement” drafted by Secretary Mnuchin and World Bank President Malpass, pre-signed by Egypt and imposed on Ethiopia and the Sudan.

The Ethiopian Government has flatly and unequivocally rejected Mnuchin’s claim Ethiopia has agreed to the agreement Mnuchin and Malpass had prepared:

Ethiopia does not accept the characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD (Guidelines and Rules) is completed. The “text” reportedly initialed by the Arab Republic of Egypt in Washington D.C. is not the outcome of the negotiation or the technical and legal discussion of the three countries. Ethiopia made it clear that the Guidelines and Rules must be prepared by the three countries. The Countries are yet to address outstanding issues pertaining to the finalization of the Guidelines and Rules.

Mnuchin and Malpass knew they were perpetrating a LIE, a DAMNED LIE, to demonize Ethiopia when they said Ethiopia had agreed to their agreement.

The Ethiopian Government’s position that the Mnuchin-Malpass “text is not the outcome of negotiations is fully supported by the Egyptian Government which officially stated “the agreement to fill and operate the renaissance dam was developed by the American side and the world bank”. Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan were simply handed a “text” to sign, which Egypt pre-signed with a nod and a wink, while Ethiopia and the Sudan did not.

Fact #5: Egyptian zero-sum water games: Anglo-Egyptian Agreement (1929), Sudan Egypt Agreement (1959), Mnuchin-Malpass-Egypt Agreement (2020)

Egypt today is playing the same old agreement game it has been playing for nearly a century.

It is called the Nile River Zero-Sum Game.

The rules are written by Egypt and its colonial and neo-colonial masters: Egypt gets all the Nile water, Ethiopia gets nothing, not even the evaporation from the river because Egypt wants to tax that with additional release of water by Ethiopia from the GERD.

In 1929, Egypt used its colonial master Britain to play its Nile River zero-sum game.

In 2020, Egypt is trying to use the U.S. to play its Nile River zero-sum game.

Today, Egypt is trying to substitute the United States for Britain to do its dirty work on Ethiopia.

Ethiopia will not put up with Egypt’s Nile River Zero-Sum Game.

The days of Egypt sucking dry the teats of Ethiopia’s Nile River is over.

It is GAME OVER for the Egypt Nile River Zero-Sum Game

For nearly a century, Egypt has succeeded in its zero-sum game against Ethiopia.

That stops with the new GERD Game played only by one rule: equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile waters by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

Fact #6: Any “Agreement” prepared, drafted or otherwise tendered to the parties by the Treasury Department and the World Bank in the GERD talks is in violation of U.S. federal law and Constitution and is therefore null and void.

Any “agreement” drafted by Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the World Bank Group’s David Malpass is unconstitutional and in violation of federal law and therefore null and void.

In “preparing” the “final agreement” Secretary Mnuchin unconstitutionally trespassed on the powers of the State Department and his actions are ultra vires (beyond his legal authority) as a matter of federal law.

By engaging in “negotiations with public ministers or other foreigners, or to such other matters respecting foreign affairs”, Mnuchin and Malpass have illegally usurped, and continue to usurp, the jurisdiction of the State Department and flagrantly violate the Act of Congress of July 20, 1789 which provides, “negotiations with public ministers or other foreigners, or to such other matters respecting foreign affairs” are the exclusive domain of the State Department.

Given the fact that Ethiopia and the United States are in “dispute” over the GERD agreement, David Robert Malpass, President of the World Bank Group and a private American citizen, is in violation of the Logan Act, 18 U.S. Code § 953, in past and any continuing participation in the so-called “Washington DC GERD Talks” and in drafting and preparing U.S. foreign policy instruments.

The fact of the matter is that the so-called agreement drafted and prepared by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass is not worth the paper it is written on.

Ethiopia has no obligation to sign or even participate in diplomatic negotiations or discussions conducted by unauthorized officers of the United States. Secretary Mnuchin and President Malpass are unauthorized officers of the U.S. to conduct foreign policy.

 Fact #7: Africans, the African Union, and Article 10 of the Declaration of Principles, NOT the United States, the International of Justice or any other Western organization or institution be the final arbiters should be the agency to deal with the GERD issue.

Why did Egypt run to Uncle Sam (the U.S.), in much the same way as it did in the past to Uncle John Bull and Old Blighty (Britain) to solve the GERD-related disputes?

After all, the Nile River is a trans-boundary resource shared by 11 African countries including Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. Shouldn’t the AU at least get a chance to address the issues?

Why didn’t Egypt seek out African Union involvement in addressing the GERD issue first?  After all, Egyptian President El Si-Si was the Chairman of the African Union until a few weeks ago.

How could Africa ever deal with its own problems if African countries run to their former colonial or neo-colonial masters for solutions?

It should  come as no surprise to anyone that Ethiopia, the only African country to have maintained its independence for thousands of years and never colonized, despite two attempts by Italy, should stand its ground and not kneel before anyone and sign an agreement under duress or trickery. Italy tried to do just that in the Treaty of Wuchiale and learned a hard lesson at the Battle of Adwa, 124 years ago to the week.

There will be no Treaty of Washington to bargain away the GERD!

Fact #8:  What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If Egypt can dictate to Ethiopia on the use of the Nile River, Ethiopia can dictate to Egypt in the same way.

Egypt today wants to dictate what should happen to the Nile River and how Ethiopia may or may not use the GERD.

If Egypt could demand 10-20-year filling for the GERD, Ethiopia could easily demand a 75 percent reduction in the use of Nile River water for Aswan Dam for the next 10-20 years.

If Egypt could demand no development on its stretch of the Nile River, Ethiopia could demand no development on Egypt’s stretch of the Nile.

The Nile River is a two-way river. Whatever can happen upstream can also happen downstream.

An old lesson for Egypt: “What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

Fact #9: MAKE THE MNUCHIN-MALPASS GERD AGREEMENT PUBLIC!

If Ethiopia is the “bad guy” in refusing the GERD agreement, let Mnuchin and Malpass release their so-called final agreement to the public.

What are they trying to hide in their secret agreement?

Are the Axis afraid their true colors – hypocrites, liars, diplomatic bullies, cheats and frauds — will be revealed if they make their so-called agreement public?!

Let the world judge Ethiopia on the basis of the truth and facts.

Fact #10: The River Nile is a gift to Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. They should work together in good faith and in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood to enjoy this gift. 

Egypt needs to face a stark fact: The days of sucking dry the teats of Ethiopia’s Nile River is over. Period!

Egypt needs to be more creative and resourceful:

It should plan to invest in desalination plants, water conservation and less water intensive agriculture. It should develop nuclear energy. It should divert its huge military spending to civilian infrastructure projects.

Egypt should develop its huge aquifers (Nile, Nubian sandstone, coastal, fissured, etc.)

And for goodness’ sake, stop all this nonsensical talk about waging war on Ethiopia.

History shows those leaders who waged war on Ethiopia met the most gruesome fates.

Egyptian leaders should learn from the experiences of those leaders who launched aggression on Ethiopia and failed spectacularly.

Prime Minister Francesco Crispi of Italy resigned in total humiliation after the Italian defeat at the Battle of Adwa in 1896 at the hands of Emperor Menilek II of Ethiopia.

In 1935, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia. In 1941, Ethiopia defeated Italy and Emperor Haile Selassie returned triumphantly.

Mussolini was executed by Italian partisans in 1945 principally because of his misadventures in Ethiopia. “Angry crowds strung up his corpse, spat on it, stoned it, and otherwise desecrated it before finally laying it to rest.”

Let Egyptian leaders who contemplate war on Ethiopia take heed. History repeats itself!

The Greek historian Herodotus is said to have called Egypt the “Gift of the Nile”.

If Egypt is the gift of the Nile, then Egypt should beware not bite the hand that gave it the precious gift.

President Ronald Reagan said, “History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.”

Those who threaten aggression on Ethiopia by proclaiming they will “defend their interest by all means necessary” should know the price of their aggression will be a quick death on Ethiopian soil.

One hundred twenty-four years ago to the week, a European aggressor, equipped with the latest military technology with thousands of soldiers armed to the teeth, was wiped out in less than half a day.

It is true history repeats itself.

Let any aggressor try to tread on Ethiopia in 2020. He will surely meet the fate of the European aggressor in the Battle of Adwa in 1896.

It is the height of folly to tread on Ethiopia.

“ኢትዮጵያ ማለት ሰላም ናት
ለጦርነት አንቸኩልም
ገፍቶ የመጣን ጠላት ግን
አንለቅም አንምርም
ዶጋ አመድ እናረግዋለን።”

This is the time for all Ethiopians to come together and fight the “Axis of Lies, Fake News and Disinformation” with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help us God!

To be continued… How to fight back against the Axis of Lies, Fake News and Disinformation demonizing Ethiopia…

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