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Egypt: No Longer Jewel of the Nile

Four of the seven upstream Nile Basin Initiative countries have decided to sign a new Nile deal. Despite strong Egyptian and Sudanese opposition, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia signed a new water-sharing agreement. The other three countries, Kenya, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to sign the new deal within the next 12 months as allowed by the accord.

Bikya Masr reported:

It is water. Water for all. At least this is the argument that upstream countries along the Nile River have been saying for years, but Egypt continues to refuse to renegotiate a colonial-era treaty that would allocate more water for use in the upstream countries part of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). Egypt says that without its access to water, the country could face severe shortages and possible nationwide anxiety and protests.

Egyptian Citizen laments the current situation saying:

مصر مش هتبقى هبة النيل عشان خلاص النيل راح من ايدينا
دي خريطة فيها النيل عشان نبقى فاكرينة
بكرة دول حوض النيل السبعة
هتوقع على أتفاقية المياة الجديدة
دون مصر و السودان
و هيبقى للمياة ثمن مثل البترول و الغاز
Egypt will no longer be the jewel of the Nile for we no longer have a Nile!
Have a good look at the map when we once had a Nile.
After the Nile Basin Countries sign the new treaty without Egypt and Sudan, water prices will hit the roof – just like oil and gas.

Nawara Negm is also worried – but for a different reason:

اسرائيل مسيطرة على دول حوض النيل وهي اللي حتمول السدود بتاعتهم … وهي اللي مقوماها في دماغ دول حوض النيل
وبصراحة كده اللي عندنا ما بيعملوش حاجة
وبصراحة اكتر هم مش عارفين يعملوا حاجة
وبصراحة اكتر واكتر هم مش حيعرفوا يعملوا حاجة
حد ينجدنا
انا باتكلم جد …. حد ينجدنا
حد ينجدنا
حد يدخل افريقيا ويقطع على اسرائيل وينقذنا… بيقولوا ايران في افريقيا بتحاول تقطع على اسرائيل هناك، ياريت ربنا ينفخ في صورة تركيا وتدخل معاها على الخط، ما السعودية تدخل في الليلة وتحاول تغريهم بالفلوس، ما دبي تعمل استثمارات وتقايضهم.. انجدونا يا ناس …. حنموت من العطش
Israel has full control over the Nile Basin Countries and they will finance their dams.
Our officials did  not lift a finger to stop this.
To be more precise they do not know what to do.
As a matter of fact, they will not be able to do anything!
I am serious! Rescue us! Please!
Someone please intercept Israel's plan! They say that Iran is trying to set foot in Africa instead of Israel. I hope Turkey jumps in. Why doesn't Saudi Arabia lure them with cash or Dubai, why don't they tempt them with investments … people .. rescue us .. we will die of thirst!

Bikya Masr does not see a reason for panicking:

However, despite a new agreement being signed, little is likely to change. Egypt is already pushing international donor bodies, such as the World Bank – the main financier of the NBI – to cut funding to the signatories.

According to World Bank officials last July in Alexandria, they would not fund any new project without the approval of Egypt.

“Egypt is the leading country in this consortium and the World Bank will not get behind any initiative that leaves them out,” a World Bank official said at the time on the sidelines of the NBI conference in the Egyptian port city

Meanwhile, The Egyptian Silent Majority is ashamed:

اخطأنا كثيرا في حقهم….اهملناهم….استهنا بهم…..تركنا غيرنا يشاركهم التنمية و يأخذ بيدهم نحو التقدم و اكتفينا نحن بالفوز عليهم رياضيا…بل و التندر عليهم و على امكانياتهم و قدراتهم.
و اليوم نكرر نفس الخطأ بتهديدهم بإستخدام القوة ضدهم.
لا اعلم كيف سنخرج من هذا المأزق…..فمن حقهم تأمين حصتهم من المياه مثلنا تماما….و ليس منطقي ان نطالبهم بتأمين احتياجاتهم من المياه عن طريق الأمطار (كما قرأت في الصحف) و ترك النيل لنا!!!!!
We have often wronged them (Africans)! We neglected them! We belittled them! We let someone else invest in their land and take their hand into civilization. We enjoyed defeating them in football, mocking them, joking about them, and making fun of their resources and capabilities. Today, we are making the same mistake when we threatened to use force against them. I do not know how we will get out of this dilemma for they have a right to a fair share of water and it makes no sense to arrogantly ask them to secure their water needs by relying on rain water – as some papers mentioned!

Nawara Negm disapproves of President Mubarak's visit to Italy:

انت ازاي تروح لايطاليا عشان مشكلة النيل وفاكرها حتفرض على اثيوبيا رأيها؟ ازاي تهين الناس بالطريقة دي انت ايه؟ انت ايييه؟ … انت فاكر انك لما تهينهم بالطريقة دي حيسكتوا؟
انا لو مكانهم اتربس دماغي… يعني مش مستعنيهم تكلمهم، وبقالك كام سنة بتعاملهم معاملة الكلاب وكمان تروح تكلم ايطاليا كأنها الابلة بتاعتهم؟
How dare you go to Italy and ask them to intervene with the Nile water issue? Did you think they will coerce Ethiopia into changing its stance? How did you have the audacity to insult people that way? What were you thinking? Do you think they will just suck it in? If I were in their shoes, I would be more obstinate. You did not even bother talking to them directly, and for years you've treated them with negligence and an air of superiority … and now you are surpassing their sovereignty and talking to “their class teacher”?

Ethiopia tells Egypt the Nile is for all, Bikya Masr reported:

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Wednesday that the bullying of Egypt over the construction of dams along the Nile River must end as upstream nations attempt to implement a number of water projects despite Cairo’s opposition. He rejected threats by Egypt to prevent the erection of projects along the world’s longest river.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Zenawi argued that a new era in the Nile basin has begun. His statements come less than one week after Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania signed a new treaty on water-sharing along the Nile.

Egyptian Citizen wondered:

هو احنا هنعمل اية حتى لا نعطش؟
هو احنا هنعمل اية بعد كدة طيب اية الخطة البديلة عشان نقدر نعيش و متجيش اللحظة الي مصر تكون فيها عطشانة و يبقى فية أزمة عطش في مصر … قبل ما نملى جراكيل مياة و ناس تطلع تقطع طريق الدائري و ماسكة الجراكل و تقول عاوزين مية عاوزين مية
What will we do so as not to wither of thirst? What is our alternative survival plan? How can we avoid a time when Egypt gets hit by a water crisis? What will we do before we see Egyptians walking up and down highways with empty buckets begging for water?

On Nawara's blog, the independent initiative for water conservation took off:

  1. Full car washing is completely prohibited; wipe your car with a wet towel.
  2. Minimize using water at home while bathing, getting ready to prey, or washing the dishes.
  3. Sprinkling water in front of buildings in the summer is prohibited.
  4. Use recycled water for irrigation purposes.
  5. Be positive and direct others on how to preserve our limited water resources.
  6. Upon manually washing the dishes, use a plug to conserve tap water.
  7. Use a dish washer if possible; it consumes less water than manual dish washing.
  8. Proper plumbing at home is mandatory to avoid leakage.
  9. Do not leave the water running while bathing, brushing your teeth, or shaving.
  10. Make sure all water taps in your vicinity are not dripping.

Blogs that are part of the initiative are Egyptian Resistance, A Human Being, Egyptian Citizen, Me and Those, Ehab Affandy, Silence Screaming Out loud, and Internet-ian.

On Facebook, Against the Nile Basin Countries page was created in fear of the coming wars over water.

And another group was created to promote the Independent Initiative for Water Conservation.


  • Bisrat

    Egyptian always thinks they are infinitely smarter than a black men and that assumption shaped their foreign policy towards Ethiopia for centuries. They thought they can endlessly keep Ethiopia in conflict and manipulate international relations for their national interest alone, in the process they deeply wounded Ethiopian national interest and feelings towards Egypt and become Ethiopians enemy number one while they are surviving by resources originating from Ethiopia. Today the value of Egypt in international relations is dwindling by the day and political turmoil and economic downturn is taking its turn on Egypt the sun that shines on the Egyptian pride against black people is setting. It is better for Egypt to come to the reality of the time and think about how you are going to pay for the evil foreign policy you carried out against Ethiopia to weaken the central government of Ethiopia.

    Ethiopia is not afraid of conflict with Egypt, as it was part of our history to live in endless conflict much of which have a lot to do with Egypt. As an Ethiopian if Egypt thinks the only agenda on the table is war I think it will be welcomed as usual.

    The most useless argument I hear from Egyptian is blaming Israel for what Ethiopia is doing and will do. Playing the Israel card is not beneficial in African context keep that card in your Middle Eastern game. The Nile issue is purely African and the black men’s inspiration. We are one of the independent nations in history, no one can tell us what to do.

  • War–Water war has already broken out between Ethiopia and Egypt.The Nile River currently stands as a platform for verbal war betweeen Ethiopia and Egypt with other African nations in the background.

    The regulations of the flow of the Nile River in accordance to demands of the infrastructural needs of nations is understandable.This is very true of Ethiopia where the demand for energy stands in contrast to the Agricultural needs of Egypt.

    The current verbal war between Ethiopia and Egypt finds It’s roots in the Egyptian counter diplomacy on the question of Southern Sudan.Egypt made diplomatic and media manupilations in tune to Pan-Arabisim on the question of Sudan in general or Southern Sudan in Particular.

    Ethiopia and Egypt may further trade accusations and war of words over the Nile River as and if Egypt continues It’s Pan-Arab media and diplomatic war against Southern Sudan.The Nile River may stand as a point of conflict as a cover for the larger issue of Sudan in General and South Sudan in Particular.

  • obsa

    I am an Ethiopian who hate the undemocratic nature of successive Ethiopian governments. Meles is raising the issue of Nile just to divert the attention of many ethiopians who are fighting him for freedom and democracy. I stand on the side of Egypt in the fighting aginst Ethiopia.

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