Nile River Politics: When Sisi Met Desalegn

BY: Nizar Manek
The guests had been seated at the tables of the great hall in Addis Ababa, and fanfares rang out as the Emperor Haile Selassie walked in with President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt at his right hand. Nasser was a “tall, stocky, imperious man, his head thrust forward and his wide jaws thrust into a smile,” next to him Selassie’s “diminutive silhouette,” his “thin expressive face, his glistening penetrating eyes” worn by the years. Behind the extraordinary pair, the remaining leaders also entered in their pairs, writes Ryszard Kapuściński in his chronicle of the fall of the Abyssinian monarchy and the intrigues at Selassie’s court. The audience rose; everyone was applauding. “Ovations sounded for unity and the Emperor. Then the feast began.”
Their corresponding persons, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn — a pair less extraordinary, their relations less gregarious —find themselves seated together on June 26 at the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union in Equatorial Guinea. During his presidential campaign, El-Sisi spoke of his interest in travelling to Ethiopia “not once, but ten times” for the mutual benefit of the two countries. As El-Sisi addressed the crowd at his presidential inauguration ceremony at the Qubba Palace in Cairo, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus looked on among Arab royals, the First-Vice President of Sudan, Lieutenant General Bakri Hassan Saleh, and heads of state, from Chad’s Idriss Déby and Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki to Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has held power in Equatorial Guinea even longer than El-Sisi’s military predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. El-Sisi professed to the crowd he would protect pan-Africanism, and he wouldn’t allow Ethiopia’s self-financed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to “cause a crisis or a problem with sisterly Ethiopia.” Over centuries, the Nile has tied the two countries together. Ethiopia’s priority now is power generation, while Egypt, a desert country, prioritises irrigation against the Nile water source countries on the Central African and Ethiopian plateaus, which have greater rainwater.

The GERD is a major issue of peace or war. As he summits in Malabo with Adhanom over Egypt’s Nile water crisis, El-Sisi finds himself confronted with deep and changing historical forces. When Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, Britain immediately understood it had become “ruler of a hydrological society,” and that the irrigation question was central to maintaining stability along its Suez Canal, notes Terje Tved, professor at the universities of Bergen and Oslo and an authority on the Nile. Then everything changed after the First World War, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the Egyptian revolution of 1919, and yet Britain’s strategic interests remained the same. This trickled into a series of colonial treaties, including the 1959 Nile Waters agreement, which contributed to Sudan becoming Egypt’s downstream hydro-political ally, and safeguarded Egypt and Sudan’s over 90 percent share of Nile waters. Ethiopia, the source of the Nile, was left only with ghosts of discord. Selassie himself was left affronted by Nasser’s marginalisation of Ethiopia in the 1959 agreement, and was to be overthrown in a 1974 coup d’état. At the same time, notes a March 21 2011 memorandum from the international businessman and dam engineer Dr Ibrahim Mostafa Kamel submitted to the first post-Mubarak government of Essam Sharaf, since 1969 Egypt has lost an estimated 100 million tons annually of silt, “creating a 4.1 billion silt dump which lies over the Egyptian-Sudanese border.”

Even if he is a diminutive Nasser, El-Sisi’s jaws will not likely be thrust into a smile, even a wry one. It is not even sure whether there will be a feast as in Kapuściński’s tale, or if so, whether it will be sumptuous. Only three days before El-Sisi’s presidential inauguration, the governments of Ethiopia and South Sudan arrested three Egyptians reportedly sent by Cairo to spy on dam projects in South Sudan and western Ethiopia, principal among them the 6,000-megawatt GERD. Egypt fears the GERD is a threat to its lifeline, the Blue Nile at Ethiopia’s Lake Tana upon which Egypt depends for over 85%of its Nile water flow. As the dispute fanned to a flame earlier this year, Egypt boycotted talks over the dam as they ground to an acrimonious standstill, and followed with a diplomatic card game to enlist the support of external stakeholders and African countries keen to capitalise on strategic alliances.

The real threat to Egypt is the reaction of Sudan, given its part in the 1959 agreement; not the GERD itself. If there are signs of a rapprochement between Egypt and sisterly Ethiopia, it is by Egypt’s necessity; it coincides with a growing rift between El-Sisi’s Egypt and Omer Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir’s Islamist regime in Sudan, a former ally of Mohammed Morsi’s government of Muslim Brothers. Egypt courts South Sudan in spite of Sudan, and besides Egypt’s anti-Islamist alliance with Saudi Arabia, there are signs of a rapprochement with Libya’s anti-Islamist leader General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar. While the Sudanese vice-president Bakri Hassan Saleh attended El-Sisi’s presidential inauguration, he has also reaffirmed Sudan’s commitment to the GERD; Ethiopia is also an important strategic alliance for Sudan. One reason is its interests in the six-month long conflict in South Sudan.

The Nile Basin Initiative, which met in Khartoum last Thursday, has called on Egypt to re-involve itself in the activities in the initiative, which both Sudan and Egypt left four years ago in protest over the signing of the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement by four Nile Basin countries (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania). Burundi and Kenya later signed onto the NBI, which removes Egypt’s veto power over upstream irrigation and hydro-power projects. It is bound to reduce Egypt and Sudan’s historically protected Nile water share. After El-Sisi overthrew Morsi, Sudan returned to the NBI. Its new chairman also happens to be Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, Muattaz Musa Abdallah Salim. “I should like to place an appeal to our sister nation Egypt,” Salim said at the meeting of Nile Basin water ministers, according to AFP. “Your resumption of your activities in the NBI will further consolidate our gains and integrity in the region.”

For M. Jalal Hashim, a professor at Comboni University College and a close observer of Nile politics, the flutters of Khartoum’s heart have more to do with Khartoum’s calculations for political survival than technical issues connected with transboundary water management. “If Khartoum stood against the GERD, this may lead Ethiopia to host the military opposition of the regime, and the remaining of the regime in Sudan is a matter of inertia, not strength,” he says. “There is enough opposition to put it out.” During his brief reign, Morsi, who is now languishing behind bars in El-Sisi’s Egypt, showed his readiness to give the disputed area of land at the Egypt-Sudan border called the Halayeb triangle to Sudan, a matter Hashim thinks played a role in his overthrow.

When the Ethiopian delegation brought up the topic of the GERD for the first time, in Kampala according to Hashim, the Sudanese delegation was late by hours due to disruptions in airway programmes. When they joined the meeting, he says, they discovered that the Egyptian delegation had already blessed the project. They were “furious” and made clear their reservations to the GERD being built in an area vulnerable to volcanic eruptions and notified their minister, who, by his turn, notified his Egyptian counterpart in protest. “If such a tremor and earthquake takes place and destroys the GERD that would be disastrous to both Sudan and Egypt,” according to Hashim. “The water will be almost 26-metres high in Khartoum for days. The threat of dam collapse can wipe out Sudan, while Egypt would not be affected directly.”

The Sudanese experts repeatedly warned their government while negotiating with the Ethiopians, “hoping that wisdom would prevail, but in vain,” says Hashim. According to him, Khartoum’s position at the time prompted the Egyptian delegation to withdraw their agreement to the GERD, while Khartoum’s position has now aligned with the rising power of Ethiopia, which Egypt continues to contest. Even while Ethiopia’s award of a no-bid contract to an Italian company to construct the US$4.8bn. dam contributed, alongside Egypt’s earlier protests, to it being left without concessional finance, the World Bank is heavily invested in Ethiopia and region. At the end of last month, the bank approved US$178.5mn. credit and a US$254.5mn. grant to help Ethiopia develop its geothermal energy resources to boost electricity supply. Several electricity export contracts have already been signed, and Yemen’s Minister of Electricity Saleh Sumai and Adhanom have now agreed to begin studying electrical interconnection between the two countries across the Red Sea through Djibouti.

Ethiopia seeks to capitalise on its new economic development, part of which involves the Nile; Egypt faces the winds of an economic and national cohesion crisis. Sounds for unity are growing; but because Egypt is fast running out of alternatives, and faces major change on the Nile. As the late rebel-turned statesman Meles Zenawi said in an interview on Egyptian television, the relationship between the two countries is “like a very old marriage, which has no possibility of divorce. It has its ups and downs, but it is very solid. It is of long standing.” “Sometimes we quarrel, sometimes we agree,” Zenawi told the Egyptian interviewer, radio waves fizzing in the background. “That has been the case for thousands of years.”

Nizar Manek is an independent journalist reporting on Africa.

Copyright © 2014 Le Monde diplomatique—distributed by Agence Global

Nile dam study fails to stem the tide of Egyptian indignation towards EthiopiaClaim and counter-claim has attended the delayed publication of a report on the likely impact of the Grand Renaissance dam

The opening sentence of Egypt’s new constitution describes the country as the river Nile’s gift to Egyptians. It is a grand claim, but one that helps explain Egypt’s indignation at the ongoing construction of a blockage on the Nile, thousands of miles upstream: the $4.7bn (£2.8bn) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam (Gerd).

Egyptians have long maintained that Ethiopia’s dam project will dangerously deplete its water stocks – about 95% of which are derived from the world’s longest river. A year ago, a former Egyptian water official boldly claimed that the Gerd might deprive Egypt of up to 10bn kilolitres, devastating roughly a million acres of farmland along the shores of the Nile.

“Then you might cross the Nile on the back of a camel,” the former head of Egypt’s National Water Research Centre said at the time, in what were highly contested claims.

Egyptian politicians have used such claims to portray the dam as a threat to national security, and have occasionally made ambiguous statements about the possibility of military action. For their part, the Ethiopian government sees the Gerd as a crucial developmental goal – a 6,000 megawatt source of surplus electricity that they could sell to foreign countries to boost their economy.

Last month, the saga took a fresh twist after the leak of a highly anticipated and hitherto suppressed report into the long-term effects of what would be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam. Written by two water experts from each of the three main countries concerned – Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan – as well as international advisers, the report was seen as a much needed means of arbitration between the parties concerned.

But for nearly a year the report’s contents were a mystery. After its submission last April, publication was suppressed at the request of one of the countries involved, enabling all concerned to make whatever claims they liked about its contents.

That should have changed at the end of March, when a leaked version (pdf) was finally published by the International Rivers Network (IRN), an independent group that campaigns against dams across the world. But rather than clarifying the dam’s impact once and for all, the report has become the latest pawn in a war of words between Egypt and Ethiopia.

IRN said it showed that “big questions remain” and called for a halt to the dam’s construction. But Ethiopian government spokesman Getachew Reda said the group was “absolutely biased”, and “part of the smear campaign organised by Egypt”. In the meantime, the dam’s construction continues apace.

The report is nuanced and complex, and does not try to quantify exactly the likely downstream effect of the dam on Egypt’s water supply. But its 48 pages nonetheless contain alarming findings. If the dam’s reservoirs are filled during years of average or above-average rainfall, says the report, the hydroelectric capacity of Egypt’s downstream Aswan High dam (Had) – which provides about 15% of Egypt’s power – could face a temporary 6% decrease. But if filled during years of below-average rainfall, the Gerd may “significantly impact on water supply to Egypt and cause the loss of power generation at Had for extended periods”.

Among other criticisms, the report warns that the dam’s foundations may need further structural support to protect against sliding. It also says Ethiopia has done little to assess the Gerd’s effect on local people, ecosystems and biodiversity. Based on these findings, the IRN concludes that the report “confirms Egypt’s concerns that the project’s impacts could be significant”, and calls for construction to cease pending better analysis.

Not all independent analysts share this view, however. According to Dr Ana Cascão, a researcher at the Stockholm International Water Institute whose doctoral thesis analysed hydropolitics in the Nile basin, Egypt fought for the report to be kept secret. Cascão argues the study is largely optimistic about the Gerd’s impacts – “and that’s why Egypt was not happy for it to be released”. It is critical about the dam’s social and environmental impact, she says, “but otherwise – in terms of dam safety and even in terms of water going downstream – the report is quite positive”.

This is because the Gerd may eventually help to reduce the build-up of sediment in downstream dams like the Had, increasing capacity. The Gerd will also help to keep the Nile’s flow – which presently fluctuates according to the amount of rainfall, potentially causing problems for downstream farmers even in Egypt – constant throughout the year. In terms of structural safety, Sudan – the country most endangered by any catastrophe at the Gerd – is satisfied with its construction.

Egypt’s interests may actually be aligned with Ethiopia’s, since Ethiopia will ultimately want to see as much water flow through the Gerd as possible in order to maximise hydroelectric power. It is, says Cascão, Sudan’s intentions that may instead cause the greatest long-term concern for Egypt. The Gerd would allow Sudan to siphon off more downstream water for farm irrigation, potentially allowing the republic to take more water from the Nile than allowed by an agreement signed with Egypt in 1959.

Sudan has achieved this leverage by engaging positively with the dam’s construction; Egypt’s only means of reaching a grand compromise may be through similar engagement.

But it may now be too late. According to the Ethiopian government, an army of 8,500 builders, working 24 hours a day, has already completed about 30% of the 1,800 sq km site.

Source: The Guradian

The Pitfalls of TPLF and EPLF leadership: A Retrospective Analysis

March 2012, By Zerihun A Woldeselassie,University of Bergen, Department of Social Anthropology, Norway

When they demolished the Derg-regime in the early 1990s, through a collation of ethnic or nationalist movements, the TPLF (Tigray Liberation Front) and EPLF (Eritrean Liberation Front) (and other) political movement leaders had the ostensible and impetuous dream of establishing peaceful and friendly countries through two short and long term plans. The short-term plan was driven by the impulse to let Eritrea secede from Ethiopia while trying to make it legitimate in any way possible. This was facilitated through a) the characterization of “the Eritrean question” as colonialism against the existing academic consensus, and b) the immediate and formal recognition of the Eritrean independence, by the TPLF-led Ethiopian government even though TPLF, with its coalition was not an elected Ethiopian government at the time.

The long term but furtive plan was the obstinate desire to control, for some years to come, state power in Ethiopia and Eritrea using Ethnicity and Nationalism as legitimizing ideologies. The Eritreans felling into the clutches of the EPLF can only be explained by the promotion of a ‘nation-state’ style nationalist ideology by the EPLF in which ordinary Eritreans were told how they were different if not unique from other Peoples in the horn, especially from their former co-citizens, Ethiopians. Moreover, an independent Eritrean state, they were promised, would end oppression and suffering and bring prosperity, welfare, democracy and peace. TPLF in its turn legitimized its state control of the Ethiopian empire state through ethno-nationalist ideologies characterized by contradictory political moves. On the one hand, this is accomplished by marginalizing and excluding other competing ethno-nationalist movements (such as the OLF for example, which for various reasons, I do not discuss in this paper). On the other TPLF had also legitimized its power by institutionalizing what many commentators characterize as pseudo-federal state system through the practice of “encadrement” in which the elites of the various ethnic groups in the country (which are now nation, nationalities and peoples) are accorded access to state power and resources in as much as they are not subversive to the regime or power of the ruling elites.

To the dismay of some of the leaders as well as the majority ardent followers of the two parties, after almost 20 years of Eritrean independence and control of state power in Ethiopia and Eritrea, not only are they yet trying to be stable political communities, there is also no friendly or plausible political relationship between the two states. In fact, the relationship between the two countries is not something they can ignore or avoid without putting in place some legal and political arrangement that consider the geographical, cultural, historical and political relationships of the two respective populations. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that as pro-secessionist and communist oriented movements they did not care about the possible and future effects of creating a new state and a new boundary in the eastern african region. In addition to the growing migration, sufferings, inequality, the bloody war that broke out early in 1998, despite the fact that when TPLF and EPLF came to power, they arrogated to themselves the wisdom of establishing a stable and peaceful political orders was a major evidence. Not only the war claimed the lives of many human beings from both sides but also there is still a hostile relationship with erratic military raids and other incidents that show no avail.

For a neutral and critical observer the leadership of the two parties have so far preferred to avoid accountability by pointing finger on each other. The EPLF-led Eritrean leaders blame their TPLF counterparts for their failure to enforce the Algiers Agreement and the Boundary Commission ruling. They reduce everything to the nature of TPLF: its psychological, political and cultural motive, ‘behaviour’, history and organisation. The TPLF-dominated Ethiopian leaders in their part do the same but emphasize the dogmatic position upheld by the EPLF leadership and consequently adopt a policy, which they think could contain and isolate Eritrea while at the same time insisting that there should be further talks before any enforcement of the ruling of the Commission.

Such dispute, however, does not deal with the very basis of the conflict in the first place. It rather eschewed those structural questions that should have been dealt, from the very outset, by pragmatic, responsible and rational political leaders, who should have thought seriously not only regarding the consequences of this on the two populations, but also about their future relationship in respect to lasting regional and national peace, equality, democracy and rule of law – an important issues which is still not considered by the OLF and ONLF leaders and supporters, particularly in the diaspora, who romanticized secession as if it would necessarily end suffering/opression and bring peace to the region or the peoples they claim to represent.

Considering the current strained relationship, it is fair to argue that rather than rushing into the business of expediting Eritrean secession and controlling of state power, the TPLF-leadership, who claimed a self-ascribed moral and revolutionary authority of “liberating Ethiopian Peoples”, could at least have addressed the following main issues with their EPLF counterparts. First, was Emperor Haile Selassie’s annexation of Eritrea in 1962 and the subsequent union with the Ethiopia empire-state colonialism? What was and is the consensus or suggested points regarding this by the existing majority academics? Second, how can we legally and politically maintain the interest of the two Peoples, in situation of secession, in a way that does not favour one at the expense of the other? Third, how can we incorporate the different ethnicities, identities, voices, at different levels, of the two peoples in such processes? Fourth, does EPRDF have a (legal or political) legitimacy of power to facilitate and officially recognize an independent Eritrea? Howe does that relate to the question of Ethiopian sovereignty, as a state?

Neither TPLF nor EPLF leaders had rational and scientifically supported explanations for such questions. They probably had already raised and discussed some of these issues. Yet it is now self-evident that like most if not all secessionist movements, they had not dealt with them with the will and strong desire of seeking long term peace and political stability in the region. First, there has been an overwhelming consensus among the academics that Eritrean annexation of Eritrea was not colonialism. Second, following the secession of Eritrea, the elites of the latter openly attempted to (unfairly) benefit their newly formed nation through illegal means. Third, as a party not yet elected by any kind of election EPRDF had no any legal and political mandate to facilitate the secession of Eritrea. For example, it should have suspended the recognition and passed such issues to the responsibility of the Ethiopian people themselves, as Ethiopia and the world did to the state of the Somaliland. In that, EPRDF did not protect Ethiopian sovereignty. Fourth, neither TPLF nor EPLF allowed the establishment of free civil society that help to negotiate for peace from below. Both fronts supressed, controlled and politicized any genuine local and grass root level independent organisation for their political ends. Fifth, it is now evident that as peace demands solidarity, empathy and mediation across linguistic and religious boundaries, self-determination does not necessarily lead to peace, stability and freedom.

In addition to Eritrea, Somalia and S.Sudan are case in points. I want my readers, here to understand that by raising such questions, I am not longing for the returning to the status quo ante bellum. The main point rather, though in hindsight is to demonstrate the political mistake of the TPLF and EPLF leadership in properly dealing with the most fundamental issues that affect the long-term relationship, political and economic interest as well as historical and cultural ties of the populations in the two countries. And this has immensely contributed to the current hostile, volatile and fragile nature of their relationship and the failure in establishing sustainable peace and security in the region.

Referring to the Eritrean case in his work entitled Nation Building, State Construction and Development in Africa, Andebrhan Welde Giorgis, an Eritrean writer recently (2010) argues that “the state in Eritrea, … has failed to provide for the needs, promote the well being, cater to the aspirations and safeguard the security of the people. It is characterized by a crisis of legitimacy, delivery and relevance.” pp. 1. “The promise to create a modern, advanced and competitive economy within two decades has failed to materialize, leaving the Eritrean economy in tatters.” pp.13. Such statements not only clearly imply that the very reality on the ground is far from what is envisaged through secession or rather embellished by EPLF’s nationalist ideology but also indicates that the fundamental question is whether Eritrea is a viable state to its citizens without any good and friendly political, legal and economic relationship with its immediate neighbour, Ethiopia.

Regarding the Ethiopian situation, one recognized academics, J. Abbink (2009), in his recent article entitled The Ethiopian Second Republic and the Fragile ’Social Contract’, Africa Spectrum, 44, 2, wrote that – ”In post-1991 Ethiopia ethnic identities, mainly in the form of linguistic-cultural background and based on Stalin’s conception of “nationalities” (originally in his work The National Question and Marxism, 1914) were recognized politically and made the basis of regional and local administrations, to be filled by local people (often to the exclusion of so-called “non-natives” despite their job qualifications). As such this was a new answer to the problems of multi-ethnic Ethiopia, but the tensions between population groups on the national and local level were far from solved by it. Ethno-political competition emerged, also exclusionist discriminatory practices, and conflicts on power and budgets” pp. 13. The argument of Abbink clearly indicates that notwithstanding some achievements especially in respect to use of local language and economic growth, the TPLF re-configuration of the Ethiopian empire along ethnic lines has only created a fragile political order that failed to solve ethnic tension and competition contrary to what the TPLF-led EPRDF leaders flaunt.

One shouldn’t therefore wonder why after promoting “self-determination” through a long history of “liberation” movement and coalition of “liberation struggles”, the TPLF and EPLF “liberators” failed to create a lasting peace and stability between Eritrea and Ethiopia to the satisfaction and aspiration of their respective citizens. This is instructive as to how we should see the claims of similar movements like OLF and ONLF, whose true aim is to finally get referendum and promote secession as the best political solution, even though experience reflects the contrary. I argue that rather than aspiring for sustainable peace and devolution of power (which should be the primary goal of any liberation movement, of course theoretically) to the various Ethiopian and Eritrean populations, the main aim of the TPLF and EPLF leadership was controlling state power and achieving their eccentric objectives. These objectives had varied natures that could be personal and collective, appealing to individual as well as group motives. In the meantime, several unforeseen circumstances had in fact emerged and today’s situation needs a different analytical framework than stipulated here. Nevertheless, considering the present scenario retrospectively one can conclude that both TPLF and EPLF leadership had only pursued their respective party interest against what is plausible and common to all Ethiopians or both Ethiopians and Eritreans.

This political behaviour is still evident in TPLF-leaders who use all the power at their disposal to punish or marginalize (rather than negotiate and create national consensus) any dissent voice that doesn’t directly support or at least sympathize with what they politically or ideologically think is the only and better political idea and practice to the Ethiopian population. Similar demeanour is still observed in EPLF-leaders who resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to achieve their short-sighted end of holding to power, even if that is immoral, oppressive or inimical to the long-term interest of Ethiopian and Eritrean populations.

On the other hand, the TPLF-led Ethiopian government now seems to have the firm stand that the only solution regarding Eritrea is negotiations, which I suspect, set to correct, if possible, past-mistakes by addressing any lingering issues and re-defining the future political and economic relationship between the two Peoples. In its weekly publication A Week in the Horn, the Ministry of Ethiopian Foreign Affairs publish a briefing entitled “Talking, not shooting is the only choice for Eritrea” seems to imply this position by noting that “the Ethiopian Government still upholds its determination that the problems between Eritrea and Ethiopia can only be resolved through negotiations and dialogue”.http://www.mfa.gov.et/Press_Section/Week_Horn_Africa_Mar_16_2012.htm#3. Whether the two leaderships will come to a table and begin to sort out and discuss their issues to reach a rational and legal consensus regarding not only the border case, but also other vital matters that have greater implications to the lives of ordinary Ethiopians and Eritreans is not clear, at least to the near future. However, we now know for sure that the negotiation and dialogue, the EPRDF is now insisting should have been desired and pursued 20 years ago in good time and condition.

One may of course ask why the TPLF leadership failed to negotiate with the EPLF from the very outset? The evident explanation is that notwithstanding their limitation of fully understanding the peace and conflict dynamics, when they organized themselves based on ethnic and nationalist ideologies and finally were able to succeed (because of in fact different factors) in removing the Derg-regime in the early 1990s through a solidarity of struugle, the TPLF and EPLF-leadership either were driven by sentiments of grievances, competition, irrelevant ideology or they didn’t have the will to foresee and negotiate for a lasting, all inclusive and sustainable peace considering the long term ramification of most of their political decisions on the lives of the ordinary human beings in that region.

Needless to say that the interest or foreign policy of global powers especially that of the West in general and the USA and regional forces in particular had played their share directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, at the end of the day the various social and political elites of the two parties including their ardent supporters, as the main actors and decision-makers personalities, cannot elude responsibility for the post-socialist conflict, sufferings, predicament and generally plight of the peoples of the two countries. Any reconciliation, transformation of conflict should therefore consider political accountability and discussion then dialogue and rational consensus if there would in the future be a desire to move to long term peace and political settlement both within and between the two populations.

Therefore, had the leadership of the two parties were willing and not merely motivated by grievances and implausible ideology they could have consulted neutral academics and all other voices or stake holders that have been subsequently and consciously marginalized and excluded from the processes of creating peace and stable political order in the two countries. By doing this not only they could have possibly avoided the war and the current deadlock (no peace/nor war policy) but also the now anti-EPRDF and anti-TPLF (so called opposition groups or) forces would have allied with them and share the responsibility and burden of building Ethiopia and bringing peace, equality, democracy, the rule of law and development in that troubled region. In fact, we could have seen a different political discourse or scenario than what we are now witnessing. Generally, what we are now experiencing between Ethiopia and Eritrea is the unforeseen and embarrassing pitfalls if not pratfalls of the elites of TPLF and EPLF leadership.