In several tweets posted on 31 August and 1 September, Ambassador Fitsum said Ethiopia had asked for an explanation and was told “the issue is a Temporary Pause.” (Translation from Tweet below)
Repercussions to halting of aid
Trump’s decision to suspend part of the US’s aid to Ethiopia may have implications both at home and abroad, but its more immediate implications will become clear when the GERD talks resume in mid-September.
It could poison the AU-mediated process, as Ethiopia will undoubtedly view the timing and extra pressure for its agreement to Cairo’s demands as an affront to the talks.
It also confirms Ethiopia’s main reason for not signing a US-drafted agreement in February, when it cited a bias towards Egypt. Still, Cairo will be waiting to see if a drop in American aid will play some role in softening Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed’s stance on the issue.
In addition to GERD, and now a halt to aid, Abiy is also dealing with looming breakaway elections in Tigraw and unrest in Oromia and other regions.
However, Ambassador Fitsum’s tweets also seemed to signal Ethiopia’s continued defiance to the US’s support for Egypt’s position on the GERD. On 31 August, for example, he followed up the tweet about the suspension of aid with another with a link to the GERD fundraising website.
Meanwhile, as record floodwaters in Khartoum have killed at least 90 people and affected more than 600,000 people since late July, Ethiopia’s position that GERD would help control the seasonal flooding in downstream countries, is once again being highlighted.