Saturday, December 31, 2016

Egyptian FM Official Calls on Ethiopia to Stop Accusing Egypt

Egyptian FM Official Calls on Ethiopia to Stop Accusing Egypt

Egyptian-official-denies-Ethiopian-ClaimDecember 30, 2016 - An Egyptian Foreign Ministry official called on Addis Ababa to stop what Cairo believes to be the provocation of crises between the two countries against the backdrop of Ethiopian accusations in October that Cairo supports the anti-government Oromo ethnic group, according to the Middle East Monitor.
The two countries have been at loggerheads since Ethiopia started to construct the Grand Ethipian Renaissance Ethiopian Dam, which Egypt fears could reduce its share of Nile water.
“Addis Ababa knows well that Egypt has nothing to do with internal events in Ethiopia, but its attempts to involve Egypt’s name in the internal events it is going through will not be of use,” the Egyptian official told the UAE-based media outlet “24”.
“[Egyptian] relations with Ethiopia – no matter how they witness tensions – are historic relations … and cannot be ignored,” he added.
The Egyptian official denied allegations made by Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workenh Gebeyehu on Monday that Cairo supports the Oromo opposition group. He also said that “accusations” made by Addis Ababa “harm” the bilateral relations, adding that such relations improved under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“Ethiopia has no evidence on Egypt’s involvement in such activity, and Ethiopian refugees in Egypt, like all refugees, respect the laws that regulate their residence, which ban political activities,” he added. (Middle East Monitor)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ethiopia prime minister accuses Egyptian institutions of funding opposition groups - Daily News Egypt

Ethiopia prime minister accuses Egyptian institutions of funding opposition groups
This was not the first time that Ethiopia had made such claims, as Egypt's Foreign Affairs Ministry had previously denied Egypt's interference in the internal affairs of other countries

Sarah El-Sheikh 20 hours ago 3 Comments
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Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn

Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that there are Egyptian institutions harbouring, supporting, and funding terrorist groups in Ethiopia, during his interview on Al- Muqabla show aired on Al-Jazeera on Thursday.

The minister’s comments came in response to a question regarding his country’s claims that Egypt and Eritrea are supporting opposition groups in Ethiopia.

Desalegn explained that they repeatedly addressed the Egyptian authorities regarding those institutions, and called on them to take suitable procedures against them and investigate them, adding that Egyptian authorities have denied their relation with these institutions.

Among these groups is the Oromo Liberation Front, he noted.

The minister explained that they need not refer to intelligence findings to obtain information regarding these institutions, since the information is already available on the internet and on Egyptian media outlets.

The prime minister said that the support of these institutions will impact relations between both countries, as it targets Ethiopia’s stability.

When the TV anchor asked the minister about Egypt’s response, he said that Egyptian authorities said that they are working on the issue, and that they have asked for information regarding these institutions. He added that Ethiopia had sent them everything that is available on the internet.

He concluded that Ethiopia is awaiting Egypt’s response regarding this issue.

Although the anchor pushed the narrative of an Egyptian intervention due to building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the prime minister denied such claims saying that is not the cause, as the dam will be built without any influence from Egypt or Sudan.

This was not the first time that Ethiopia stated such claims against Egypt. In early October, a video showed members from the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front sharing a stage with what Ethiopian media described as Egyptians.

The Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry commented on the video saying that Egypt does not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.

Ethiopian refugees in Egypt, including people from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups, usually arrange rallies in front of the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Cairo to protest against the Ethiopian government’s violations against opposition groups in their homeland.

The Oromo and Amhara represent the largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. A significant proportion of these communities have fled Ethiopia due to the persecution and violent treatment by the state. Opposing members of these groups are frequently protesting in Ethiopia causing them to face prison and death.

The Oromo people have an estimated population of 40 million, including 20,000 political prisoners who are accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front, an outlawed group labelled as a terrorist organisation.

In late July, two Ethiopian asylum seekers allegedly set themselves on fire in front of the UNHCR as part of a protest led by the Oromo community that sought to demand the right to seek asylum with the UN office.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Saudi official visit to Ethiopia sparks controversy in Egypt's parliament | Egypt Independent

Saudi official visit to Ethiopia sparks controversy in Egypt's parliament
The Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives (parliament) witnessed on Tuesday heated arguments between MPs, over the timing of the visit of Saudi officials to Ethiopia and its links to the Renaissance Dam project, in light of the current strained relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
An adviser to the Saudi monarch recently visited Addis Ababa and met with senior Ethiopian officials.
Arguments started after MP Magdy Seif asked Assistant Foreign Minister Khaled Youssry about whether the Saudi official's visit had links to the Renaissance Dam project. Seif responded by saying that it was not clear yet whether there are planned joint Saudi-Ethiopian projects, other than those announced during the Saudi official's visit. 
Seif reiterated the need to have confidence in Egypt's political leadership.
"Saudi Arabia has to be put in its right stature," said MP Said Shababeek, stressing that Tiran and Sanafir islands are Egyptian land.
Saudi authorities meanwhile imposed on Tuesday a temporary ban on the import of all types of pepper from Egypt. The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the Ministry of Environment as saying that the decision was made after residues of pesticides were found in a sample from a shipment of Egyptian imported pepper.
Egyptian quarantine authorities have not received any official notification yet from quarantine Saudi authorities on the temporarily import ban of pepper from Egypt because of pesticide residues, said the chairman of the Central Administration for Agricultural Quarantines, Ibrahim Embaby.
He added that international standards apply to all exported agricultural products to Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Qatar-Ethiopia ties normalise SIsi visits Uganda


Tue, 20/12/2016 - 11:35

The Qatari Foreign Minister Mohamed bin Abdul Rahman arrived in Addis Ababa on Sunday in a first-of-its-kind move after four years of broken relations between the two countries.
Abdul Rahman will meet with the Ethiopian president, prime minister and foreign minister to discuss the latest developments on the regional and international arenas.
The Qatari official's visit came 3 days after Ahmed Al-Khatib, the adviser to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, paid a visit to the Ethiopian capital to discuss cooperation in different fields.
The Ethiopian prime minister called on Saudi Arabia during Khatib's visit to support the Renaissance Dam project and to invest in Ethiopia.
The Media Centre for the presidency of Uganda quoted the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as saying during his meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the Ugandan capital Kampala, yesterday, that Uganda would take strict measures to ensure the preservation of its share of the Nile river, on which Egypt also depends as a main source for water.
 Museveni called on the Nile basin countries to develop a highway along the river, to connect easily between the landlocked states such as Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia on the one hand, and the port of Alexandria and Europe on the other.
Sources that attended the meeting said that Museveni called for working toward the equitable use of the water of the Nile in basin countries, and stressed the importance of the implementation of a river transport project across the Nile, to link Uganda with the port of Alexandria.

Ethiopia inaugurates dam to double energy output

Ethiopia on Saturday, 17 December, inaugurated a hydroelectric dam that aims to double the country's electricity output, but which critics say is a threat to locals and a UNESCO-listed lake in Kenya.
The grand Gilgel Gibe III dam Photo: viaggietiopia

The grand Gilgel Gibe III dam Photo: viaggietiopia
The Gibe III dam, which reaches 243m in height, is the third largest dam in Africa and the biggest in a series built along the Omo River.

When it comes fully online, the Gibe III is expected to produce 1,870MW of power, enough to sell energy abroad including to neighbouring Kenya. The dam has been generating electricity for about a year.

"This hydroelectricity plant, with other ongoing projects, fulfils our domestic power needs and will be provided for foreign markets," Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in a speech inaugurating the dam.

But environmentalists and rights groups warn the project will dramatically decrease water levels downstream all the way to Kenya's Lake Turkana, which derives 80% of its resources from the river.

The lives of hundreds of thousands of people who make their living in the Omo River valley and on Turkana, both UNESCO World Heritage sites, would be affected, they say.

UNESCO has previously condemned the project and Human Rights Watch has accused the Ethiopian government of uprooting people from the Omo Valley to free up land for state-run sugar cane plantations.

"The project has overcome challenges such as financial and environment issues," Desalegn said. "Some people who think they have a concern for the environment have been downgrading the project rather than being reasonable."

Project boosters say the dam will allow authorities to better regulate the flow of the Omo, which spools out over 700km. They also deny the dam is primarily a way to ensure a steady flow of water to irrigate cotton and sugar cane plantations.

Gibe III, located about 350km southwest of Addis Ababa, took nine years to build and cost $1.6bn, with 6o% of financing coming from the Chinese export credit agency China Exim Bank.

Ethiopia was the world's fastest growing economy last year at 10.2%, however the International Monetary Fund estimates that the worst drought in 30 years is likely to see this plummet to 4.5% in 2016.

With no natural gas or oil reserves of its own, the Horn of Africa country is banking on renewable energy to help foster energy independence and economic growth.

Its Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, which is slated to be Africa's largest-ever dam, is expected to produce 6,000MW - tantamount to six nuclear reactors - when it is completed in 2017.

The Blue and the White Nile rivers converge in Khartoum and from there run north into Egypt as the Nile.

But the project has poisoned relations with Egypt, which is almost totally reliant on the Nile for agriculture and drinking water, and fears the dam will hit its supplies.

Source: AFP

Egypt-Gulf relations tested by Saudi visit to Ethiopia dam | Middle East Eye

Egypt-Gulf relations tested by Saudi visit to Ethiopia dam

A Saudi visit to Ethiopia and a tweet falsely attributed to a Qatari official have harmed relations between Cairo and Gulf monarchies
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir and Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry at a meeting in Jeddah in 2015 (AFP)
MEE staff's picture
Last update: 
Tuesday 20 December 2016 11:00 UTC
Egyptian media lashed out at Saudi Arabia over a high-level Saudi delegation visit to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during a short trip to Ethiopia on Friday. Experts said the decision to visit the GERD was an act of revenge against Egypt that could deepen tensions between the two countries.
Ahmed al-Khateeb, a senior adviser at the Saudi royal court and board chairman of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), visited the site and met Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and other officials to discuss GERD’s construction project.
Khateeb’s trip came after the Saudi agriculture minister visited Ethiopia last week, making it the second visit by a Saudi official to Addis Ababa in less than a week.
'You will soon hear that we have the capacity to intervene in the Gulf region's affairs and provide support for the royals who oppose current Saudi policies'
- Tarek Fahmy, Egyptian professor
On Saturday, Egyptian news commentator Mohamed Ali Khayr called on Riyadh to "review its policies before it can only blame itself for what ensues".
"Egypt is not obliged to continue to contain its reactions towards Saudi Arabia... any interference [by Saudi Arabia] in the GERD project implies a direct threat to Egypt’s national security," he said on Egyptian TV.
Khayr went as far as accusing Saudi policy makers of being "amateurs" that have caused bilateral relations between the two countries to completely break down as a result of this visit.
On Saturday, Ahmed Moussa, another journalist, threatened Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that if they were to invest in Ethiopia, their investment would be lost in the Nile.
Workers build the Grand Renaissance Dam near the Sudanese-Ethiopian border (AFP)
Moussa continued to condemn the visit over his talk show on Sada al-Balad, an Egyptian satellite TV channel.
"The GERD will not last forever, a volcano might erupt at any moment. So for those looking to invest billions [of dollars] in this project, your money might as well be going to waste," said Moussa.

'Egypt has many cards'

Egyptian media personalities were joined in their denunciation of the Saudi visit by several academics who voiced strong criticisms against the Gulf state for its policy.
"You will soon hear that we [Egypt] have the capacity to intervene in the Gulf region's affairs and provide support for the royals who oppose current Saudi policies," Tarek Fahmy, a lecturer at the American University in Cairo, told viewers of Sada al-Balad on Saturday.
Fahmy warned Saudi Arabia that Egypt’s patience is waning and that Cairo will no longer accept actions that threaten its national security.

READ: Ethiopian mega-dam project leaves Egypt high and dry

"Egypt has many cards to pressure Saudi Arabia, which we have yet to use," Fahmy said. 
However, he added that Cairo wanted to continue its friendly relations with its "siblings in the Gulf". 
Meanwhile, Egyptian political science professor Hassan Nafaa told Daily News Egypt on Sunday that the visit was an indirect message from Saudi Arabia that it could align itself with anyone if Egypt does not comply with Saudi foreign policy.
Nafaa said the visit will likely increase tensions in Saudi-Egyptian relations, saying that Cairo would not be tolerating Saudi’s implicit support for the GERD.
Many Eyptians fear that the waters of the Nile will drop with the opening of the Ethiopia dam (AFP)
The 6,000-megawatt GERD, which is not yet 70 percent complete, is situated close to Ethiopia’s border with Sudan. While Ethiopia hopes it will be able to export energy generated by the dam, Egypt has long expressed concerns that the dam might reduce the amount of Nile water it receives, thus affecting its main source of irrigation water.
Relations between Cairo and Riyadh have soured since Egypt voted in favour of a UN Security Council draft resolution by Russia regarding the Syrian civil war.

READ: 'Our children will die of thirst'

Egypt took an opposing position to Saudi Arabia by choosing to support the Syrian government and army against rebel fighters  Saudi's envoy to the UN described Egypt’s vote as "painful".
Since the vote, the Saudi ministry of petroleum said that Aramco, the Saudi state-owned oil company, has suspended its oil aid to Egypt but that the five-year agreement is still in effect.
Egyptian officials, including President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, have repeatedly denied any tension with Saudi Arabia.

Qatari-Egyptian relations shaken

As Egypt’s alliance with Saudi Arabia continues to deteriorate, bilateral relations with Qatar have also been tested in a new series of obstacles.
Tensions grew after a Qatari national wrote on Twitter that Qatar will no longer be issuing work permits for Egyptians.
"Qatar has been extremely patient in regard to Egypt’s 'dirty' policies. It is now time for payback," he added in the tweet.
After the tweet was mistakenly ascribed to deputy Qatari minister of trade Sultan bin Rashed al-Khater, news of Qatar’s "new policies" spread across Egyptian media platforms with Egyptian commentators condemning the alleged move as an official decision to deny Egyptians entry into the Gulf state.
'Circulating information without verifying it has resulted in disastrous ramifications'
- Jaber al-Qarmouty, Egyptian commentator
Spokesperson for the Egyptian prime ministry, Ashraf Sultan, issued a statement denying that Egyptian labourers had been expelled from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and confirming that the news was only a rumour.
In a television interview on Egyptian satellite TV channel Alassema 2, Sultan said: "We are completely transparent when it comes to information we receive. Any changes would be communicated directly to you all."
Sultan said citizens should verify information before circulating it to avoid the spread of rumours such as this, it was reported by Elwehda news website.
At the same time, the minister of manpower, Mohamed Saafan, denied reports that Qatar had decided to reject applications by Egyptians for work permits, adding that there were 150,000 Egyptians working in Qatar at the moment.
Saafan said he met with the Qatari minister of labour on Thursday to discuss the rights of Egyptian workers in Qatar, highlighting that Egyptian-Qatari relations continue to be fully respectful.

READ: Destruction of dams: Will IS carry through with its threats?

Meanwhile, Egyptian commentator Jaber al-Qarmouty condemned the Egyptian media for circulating the tweet and building false reports upon it.
"Circulating information without verifying it has resulted in disastrous ramifications, which in this case can only be considered a slap in the face of Egyptian media personalities," Elwehda news website quoted Qarmouty as saying.
Relations between Qatar and Egypt have been shaken since Doha showed support for former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi  who was ousted in a military coup led by then General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Qatar has also voiced support for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed by Cairo.
Egypt has accused Qatar of using state-funded Al Jazeera news network to tint the image of Egypt’s military by publishing news and documentaries that show the army in a negative light.