Ethiopia: Biden Will Hold Fair Position On GERD - Scholars

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd), under construction since 2011, began holding back water after the the Blue Nile swelled during heavy rains in July.

Scholars are optimist that the new US president-elect Joe Biden will entertain the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) wisely using his country's observer role in the negotiation among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

The president-elect Biden expressed the victory he won recently "a time to heal America". But, is he committed to heal the wounds inflicted on Ethiopians by his predecessor Trump who blindly stood beside Egypt on GERD and barefacedly provoked war against Ethiopia?

He told The Ethiopian Herald that Biden is expected to hold a fair position in the issue of GERD and try to negotiate the two countries impartially than Trump did. Trump acted aggressively and ignorantly to harm Ethiopia.

He thought that Biden will be more sagacious than Trump in this regard as Trump's move was coercive on Ethiopia.

"I hope Biden will respect Ethiopia's national interest," said Samuel Tefera Assistant Professor at the Center for African and Asian Studies, adding that he will follow a disciplined diplomatic approach even on differing points.

He said, "at least Biden's US will not utter 'Egypt will blow the dam.'" This statement was a historic mess from Trump's speeches. The speech neglected the long-standing cooperation between Ethiopia and US in counterterrorism and regional cooperation.

Anbesie seconds Samuel's view that Biden, as a matured politician and seasoned leader, understands the world diplomatic rule and Ethiopia's significance to the US, will not utter offensive words against Ethiopia.

Trump was not only inconsiderate but also tried to intimidate Ethiopia to sign an agreement he prepared and that favored Egypt on GERD, it was learned.

His strong tendency to support Egypt was neither scientific nor supported by policy. Rather it was self-perceived one, Anbesie noted.

Of course, Egypt is a strategic US ally in northern Africa and the Middle East. But Ethiopia is also a strategic US partner in the Horn of Africa especially in counterterrorism activities, he mentioned.

That is why many US scholars had been criticizing Trump's wrong diplomatic move against Ethiopia regarding GERD, as to Anbesie.

But Trump had clearly shown his poor understanding of Ethiopia's indispensable position in the Horn and the continent in general, he stated. Trump had also tried to achieve his wish and personal gain at the expense of the grand project.

The same will not be true for the new president-elect. But it seems unlikely to persuade Biden to support GERD, the project of a poor nation aimed at electrifying a country where over 60 percent of its population are short of electricity. GERD has flickered hope for millions of Ethiopians striving to claw their ways out of the pit of poverty constructing giant dam by own finance, and as per the international standards and requirements.

Unfortunately, this is the bitter truth. The current complicated world espouses wrong-headed outlooks under the guise of "national interest," according to Anbesie.

But Ethiopia should not hesitate to persuade the US to hold a fair position based on the above facts since Ethiopia does not have any intention to harm others. Contrariwise, Egypt has been working for years to destabilize Ethiopia. It has been poking its nose in various internal affairs of many countries including Libya, he mentioned.

These facts support Ethiopia's claims are much more legitimate than Egypt. But a strong diplomatic effort is yet needed to get the US's cooperation in this worthy project [GERD] for Ethiopia and the continent, Anbesie pointed out.

"We should persistently show our firm stance to solve the disagreement through peaceful means. We should also convey our enthusiasm for development through utilizing our natural resource without causing "significant harm" as stipulated in international law for Cross Border Rivers like Abbay," as to him.

Whatever the case is, no international power can halt Ethiopia from its sovereign right of taping its river for development without harming others since the project is a hydropower dam that generates electricity and regulate the flow of water to the downstream nations.

Moreover, Ethiopia has also been advocating a win-win approach even participating in various discussion forums to reasonably elongate the filling stages. That reveals its relentless effort in negotiating its flagship project that falls in line with international laws and procedures wishing for good results.

However, Anbesie said, "If Egypt continues to fight shy from Ethiopia's approach based on mutual benefit and the reality of "not causing significant harm," we should proceed ahead and showcase to them by completing the dam as we did it in the initial filling,"

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