U.S. to de-link Ethiopian aid pause from dam policy

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FEBRUARY 19, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department on Friday said Washington will de-link its pause on some aid to Ethiopia from its policy on the giant Blue Nile hydropower dam that sparked a long-running dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

The Blue Nile River is seen as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir fills near the Ethiopia-Sudan border, in this broad spectral image taken November 6, 2020. NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team/Handout via REUTERS

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that President Joe Biden’s administration will review U.S. policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and will assess the role the administration can play in facilitating a solution between the countries.

A bitter dispute between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the filling and operation of the dam remains unresolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

“We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” Price said.

The temporary pause on certain U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia affects $272 million in development and security assistance to Ethiopia, Price said, adding that the resumption of assistance will be assessed on a number of factors and that the decision has been shared with Addis Ababa.

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Among the factors assessed will be “whether each paused program remains appropriate and timely in light of developments in Ethiopia that occurred subsequent to the pause being put in place,” a State Department spokesperson said.

The United States has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the central government has claimed victory over a rebellious regional government in a conflict that began in November.

Ethiopia began filling the reservoir behind the dam after the summer rains last year despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that it should first reach a binding agreement on the dam’s operation.

Egypt views the dam as a major threat to its fresh water supplies, more than 90% of which come from the Nile. The Blue Nile flows north into Sudan then Egypt and is the Nile’s main tributary.

Ethiopia says the dam is crucial to its economic development.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump said Ethiopia had broken a U.S.-brokered agreement to resolve the dispute, forcing him to cut funds. The United States cut $100 million in aid to Ethiopia in September.

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Ethiopia in October summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from Trump over their dispute.

2 Comments

  1. Incitement of a war between two countries is a serious accusation. If a war would not have taken place if only the inciting action did not take place, then history will remember the action as such a horrible action as it is. That is why most likely from now on, noone will openly speak about any possibility of a war erupting over the GERD dam between Egypt and Ethiopia even if at some point in time it becomes clear war is about to erupt over GERD , since no government or no entity wants to be accused of inciting a war between Egypt and Ethiopia.

    Even African Union (AU) is currently not saying a word about Sudan’s invasion of the Ethiopian territory because most likely the African Union (AU) does not want to be accused of inciting a war. It is obvious the African Union (AU) remained this silent this long without taking concrete actions, while one African country invaded another neighboring African country’s territory just to avoid accusation of inviting a war being thrown at African Union (AU) . Then on top of that there is the additional issue which the AU (African Union) is not currently stressing the need for more attention in regards to the humanitarian concern in Tigray. For these reasons many are starting to wonder if Ethiopia is currently treated differently by African Union (AU) compared to the rest of the other African Union (AU) member countries are being treated. Ethiopia is such a lucky country to have such skilled diplomats who defended Ethiopia’s position without being treated as just another country. The current leaders of Ethiopia for sure got the best interest of Ethiopia at heart unlike almost all of the competitors/the opposition political parties who are running for Ethiopian leadership positions at the upcoming national election.

  2. Biden administration maybe now follows on the right track if they investigated the sabotage made by Ex-president Trump. But still more remaining, what about the present issue of selling a multi-million dollar missiles by US government to Egypt, is it the right time to sell for them? What is behind the curtain? Ethiopia foreign policy & Embassy placed there have to express their concern and do diplomatic mission instead of keeping silent.

    As stated AU is a symbol because it is a skeleton of an organization not showing extra effort to mediate and condemn Sudan aggression (with the driver of Egypt government), however Ethiopia is more strong than ever.

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