Trump Mulls Withholding Aid to Ethiopia Over The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

BY ROBBIE GRAMER/ FP
July 22nd, 2020

Rising Water Levels in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Reservoir Images from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite show expanding water levels between July 26 and July 11 behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in northwestern Ethiopia. The region has recently seen above-average rainfall.

The Trump administration is weighing withholding some aid to Ethiopia over a Nile dam project that has severely strained its relationship with downstream countries Sudan and Egypt, six officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.

The massive dam, Africa’s biggest, has become a flash point of geopolitical tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hinting that his country could use military force to halt the project. Many in Egypt fear the dam could threaten its water supplies.
But some U.S. officials said the project has also fueled divisions and confusion over policy within the U.S. government, ever since Sisi asked President Donald Trump to help mediate negotiations over the dam last year.

U.S. participation in four-way talks over the dam earlier this year, led by the Treasury Department, helped advance talks. However, Ethiopia refused to sign a final agreement. Now there’s growing concern that the Trump administration is putting its thumb on the scales to favor Egypt at the expense of Ethiopia—even as new signs of progress emerge in negotiations.

“The Trump administration has gotten it into its head that it has to take Egypt’s side on this,” said one U.S. official familiar with the matter. “Nobody in the White House seems to be looking at this through the Africa lens and its impact on Ethiopia, which is equally important,” the official added. “This is just shooting ourselves in the foot.”

A Treasury Department spokesperson said the administration is working as an impartial mediator. “The sole objective of the U.S. government has been, and continues to be, to assist Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in reaching a fair agreement on the filling and operation of [the dam] that addresses the interests of all three countries,” the spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, Ethiopia said the three countries had made “major” progress on their dispute in talks brokered by the African Union, and they agreed to more negotiations aimed at a comprehensive solution on water issues around the dam. The announcement sends a positive signal to some U.S. officials and observers who feared that if Ethiopia continued filling the reservoir behind the dam without an agreement with Egypt, regional tensions could boil over into a military confrontation.

Two administration officials who spoke to Foreign Policy cast the announcement as an indication that negotiators have laid the groundwork for a final agreement. “The Trump administration’s engagement has helped Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan make more progress in negotiations over the last nine months, than the last nine years,” said one. “The considerable work by Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the last nine months shows it is possible to come up with a fair and balanced agreement if there is a commitment among all to do so.”

In the “major common understanding” reached Tuesday by Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan, the three countries agreed to have more technical discussions on the pace of the reservoir fill and drought mitigation measures with an eye toward inking a final agreement.

Several U.S. officials said that the Trump administration could move forward with aid cuts to Ethiopia if negotiations hit another impasse and the sides can’t reach a final deal.

31 Comments

  1. It’s unbelievable how America’s relationship with Ethiopia has deteriorated under Trump to the point of being contemptuous and insulting.

  2. In retrospect it’s shameful that the contrarian and self-defeating habeshas in America and those with ነገረኃ disposition than moral conviction that had embraced this known racists baboon as one their own as “the best thing that ever happened to human right in Africa” (total bullshit) blinded by their over the top, excessive and extreme condemnation and denunciation of Obama that in hindsight was a historical error. Here we are in the lost summer of 2020 the President of the United States is threatening to cut off aid to Ethiopia. Why? Why not? Remember when he said “I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said: ‘What, did I have something to do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is.”

    That’s the way it is. Unless and until you wake up from your sleep walk and smell the coffee. This is not the time for business as usual and pontificating. It’s time for action and Medemer in a true sense of the meaning. Please people let’s not make the same mistake again.

    Solution: Medemer. When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.

  3. ተኩላ እንደ አንበሳ እጮህ ብላ ተተረተረች

    Trump, take you aid money and shove it donkey. You needed it for your coronavirus humanitarian criss. ከጦጣ የዋለ ጉሬዛ እህል ፈጅቶ ገባ

    We are building the dam with our own money.

  4. ተኩላ እንደ አንበሳ እጮህ ብላ ተተረተረች

    Trump, take your aid money and shove it donkey. You needed it for your coronavirus humanitarian criss. ከጦጣ የዋለ ጉሬዛ እህል ፈጅቶ ገባ

    We are building the dam with our own money.

  5. The Egyptian press and as well as cyber the social media spheres are all alight with this story and just enjoying it and socking it up. SAD. America has made it official that its is on their side and apparently they cant hide their giddiness. How did this happen? We used to be best in at his Diplomacy thing.

  6. The Egyptian press as well as cyber and the social media spheres are all alight with this story and just enjoying it and socking it up. SAD. America has made it official that its on their side and apparently they cant hide their giddiness. How did this happen? We used to be best at this Diplomacy thing.

  7. Repeat!!!

    This is a lie. The Trump Administration will not suspend any type of aid because of the dam. I don’t think so. This is typical yellow journalism aka fake news.

  8. Folks! Let us not kid ourselves. Tramp’s attitude over the BLACK RACE has NEVER been anything but CONTEMPT. Fortunately, there are individual officials in the US Government, with PRINCIPLE, who are tuned to fairness and sympathetic to AFRICANS — THE BLACK RACE who suffered, for time immemorial, negative destructive attitude from the WHITE RACE. It is the saddest and ugly MONUMENT of HUMAN RACE. It helps to be philosophical in such an ugly atmosphere.

  9. Razen,

    I don’t agree with you. There are a lot of good, decent white people. Let’s not generalize. Trump is an unique creature and phenomenon in the history of the American Presidency. He is basically the Jawar Mohamded of America who managed to capture power. What PRINCIPLE? There is hardly anyone with principle in the Trump administration with the exception of Dr. Anthony Fauci and a few others the rest are coopted political hacks. But don’t put all white people in the same basket as we do with our disgusting ethnic politics in Ethiopia. Keep that where it belongs in your gutter. Trump is racist, but that does not mean all white people are.

  10. Razen,

    I don’t agree with you. There are a lot of good, decent white people. Let’s not generalize. Trump is a unique creature and phenomenon in the history of the American Presidency. He is basically the Jawar Mohamded of America who managed to capture power. What PRINCIPLE? There is hardly anyone with principle in the Trump administration with the exception of Dr. Anthony Fauci and a few others the rest are coopted political hacks. But don’t put all white people in the same basket as we do with our disgusting ethnic politics in Ethiopia. Keep that where it belongs in your gutter. Trump is racist, but that does not mean all white people are.

  11. ALERT!!!

    Trump has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims. In July he crossed the 20,000 mark — an average of 23 lies a day over a 14-month period, which included the events leading up to his impeachment trial, the worldwide pandemic that crashed the economy and the eruption of protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. So who knows this could be true or not true or intended to intimidate Ethiopia then deny to extend the news, which is likely and in unholy alliance with Egypt. Either way Ethiopia is already a PR looser which is the intended effect anyway. What’s true is that no body knows what happens in the Trump administration because none of his staff knows what he’s doing or may do let alone others. But according to Egyptian media Sisi and Trump spoke by phone two days ago and this came today. So if anybody knows it’s Sisi. Ethiopia is locked out of the situation room. For Egypt it’s mission accomplished. SAD.

  12. Repeat!!!

    ሀሜተኛ ነው ከዳተኛ

    Trump never said Africans come from “shithole countries.” It’s orange journalism, Fake news. Where is the tape? Show me the tape. It’s like a burger without meet. where is the beef? green journalism. fake news.

    ከፈሳም ቤት ቅዘናም ገባበት ማለት እንደዚህ ነው።

  13. Hoping now Trump administration will regret now from previous mistakes and motivate to offer billion of dollars for completion of the project instead of withholding. They will never do as stated on fake news. Fairness starts here for such so called democrat country, USA.

    Long live to Ethiopia!!!

  14. Trump administration does not regret anything. They’re not normal like that. See below የዛሬውን ምርጥ ምሣሌያዊ ባባሎች:

    ከጠጅ ወዲያ አስካሪ ከባለቤት ወዲያ መስካሪ
    ከጋበዙና ብሉ ሀይ በሉ ከልክሉ

    Good thing that the negotiations has been moved back to AU where it should remain forever.

    ዘመድ በዘመዱ አይጨክንም ሆዱ።

    Forget Trump.

    Biden, please make America normal again.

  15. Trump administration does not regret anything. They’re not normal like that. See below የዛሬውን ምርጥ ምሣሌያዊ አባባሎች:

    ከጠጅ ወዲያ አስካሪ ከባለቤት ወዲያ መስካሪ
    ከጋበዙና ብሉ ሀይ በሉ ከልክሉ

    Good thing that the negotiations has been moved back to AU where it should remain forever.

    ዘመድ በዘመዱ አይጨክንም ሆዱ።

    Forget Trump.

    Biden, please make America normal again.

  16. Trump , his administration, his cronies, such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham etc. are haters and warmongering nazi like individuals who believes they are above the law, and money , power are the only religion they know of, no ethics, morals and or, religion, they are the most morally, ethically and religiously bankrupted individuals you have never known in the 21st century, Mr. Trump himself being at the top of all of them and the leader of the bunch. May GOD be with the world, for what I think, the worst of my predictions are yet to come due to Trump’s lack of basic human decency , grave ignorance in anything and or everything , as well as an undeserved position that he is holding, as the president of the United States of America.

  17. Hear ye… Hear ye… those who care represent Ethiopia as worthy ambassadors. There should be no place for name calling especially in situations such like this when every dollar is a gain to the poor in our homeland. We’d be foolish not to do our part to just give up and not try to convince the current administration to change its mind.

    If we care be worthy diplomats of dearest Ethiopia we shall hone the skills to be one….

    Ready. An ambassador is alert for chances to represent that which he loves and will not back away from a challenge or an opportunity.
    Patient. An ambassador won’t quarrel, but will listen in order to understand, then with gentleness will seek to respectfully engage those who have different viewpoints.
    Reasonable. An ambassador has informed convictions (not just feelings), gives reasons, asks questions, aggressively seeks answers, and will not easily give up.
    Tactical. An ambassador adapts to each unique person or situation, maneuvering with wisdom to challenge bad thinking, presenting the truth in an understandable and compelling way.
    Clear. An ambassador is careful with language and will not rely on name calling or resorting to empty rhetoric.
    Attractive. An ambassador will act with grace, kindness, and good manners. He will not dishonor that which he loves & seeks to represent in his conduct.
    Dependent. An ambassador knows that effectiveness requires coalition building and will see support from those who are willing to listen and/or are sympathetic to his vies.

    Cheers!

  18. It’s okay America, This too shall pass. We were friends for more than 100 years and have forged bonds better than family.

  19. ዘመድና ሳንቲም ከመንገድ ወድቀው ሳንቲሙን እነሱ ዘመድን ጥለው። ይሄም ያልፋልይ ውሀ ሲደርቅ ይሸታል ሰው ሲከዳ ይወሸክታል።

  20. Malan Jira:

    Ambassador as in “a person who acts to represent or promote a specified activity”…
    You don’t need to carry a specific title to be an ambassador of a cause. So in this sense I mean
    each and every one of us who care to be called Ethiopian, e.g. ambassadors of Christ are called Christian, ambassadors of Ethiopia are called Ethiopian.

    Regards!

  21. That is a lie. This administration will not withhold financial assistance to the old country. None of its financial aid was ever used in the construction of the dam. No western nation came out condemning it. No African, Asian or Latin American country came out against it. Everyone knows that it was Mother Nature doing its annual chores. The dam was there in May and most of June with no one holding back the river. The river was flowing unabated then and it is still flowing and even with higher volume of water. Mother Nature let the bottom fall out and it rained in buckets. So stop wrongfully accusing those innocent black folks. They mean no harm to their neighbors near or afar. They are exercising their birth rights. Talk to Mother Nature. She will mince no word in telling you how stupid absolutely mooncalf you are. It is July, door knob!!! I know who would be withholding the financial aid. If it was still the Obama administration with Rice in the kitchen, he would.

    This article is just another example of yellow journalism aka fake news.

  22. Alex,

    እሺ eshi. In my neighborhood “ambassadors of christ” are called ጴንቴቆስጣል (Pentecostal). The regular Christians go to Orthodox Tewahedo church. But I see your point. Okay, thank you.

  23. Ittu Aba Farda,

    Mintesinot, ዛሬ ደግሞ ፈረስ እየጋለብክ ከች አልክ።

    You said: you know who would be withholding the financial aid if “rice” was still in the “kitchen.” What? First of all that’s very chauvinistic to refer to one of the most accomplished and powerful black woman in America as “rice in the kitchen.” You may have disagreed with her policy decisions, which is acceptable in a democracy, but please be reminded she also happens to be a mother, a husband and the former National Security Advisor of the president of the U.S.A. (first black person to hold the post). Furthermore, she is currently under review to become a heart beat away from the presidency herself as possible vice president. And you refer to her as “rice in the kitchen”?? GEEZ. Have you lost all decency?

    ለወሬ የለው ፍሬ ለአበባ የለው ገለባ

    But importantly STOP making up negative stories about Obama. He never threatened let alone withheld financial aid from the people of Ethiopia despite your well recorded instance that he does so and despite the fact that the sanctions would have hurt not those in power but the poor masses. So get your tabloid media facts straight. And get a grip of yourself.

  24. Ittu Aba Farda,

    Mintesinot, ዛሬ ደግሞ ፈረስ እየጋለብክ ከች አልክ።

    You said: you know who would be withholding the financial aid if “rice” was still in the “kitchen.” What? First of all that’s very chauvinistic to refer to one of the most accomplished and powerful woman in America as “rice in the kitchen.” You may have disagreed with her policy decisions, which is acceptable in a democracy, but please be reminded she also happens to be a mother, a husband and the former National Security Advisor of the president of the U.S.A. (first black person to hold the post). Furthermore, she is currently under review to become a heart beat away from the presidency herself as possible vice president. And you refer to her as “rice in the kitchen”?? GEEZ. Have you lost all decency?

    ለወሬ የለው ፍሬ ለአበባ የለው ገለባ

    But importantly STOP making up negative stories about Obama. He never threatened let alone withheld financial aid from the people of Ethiopia despite your well recorded instance that he does so and despite the fact that the sanctions would have hurt not those in power but the poor masses. So get your tabloid media facts straight. And get a grip of yourself.

  25. Ittu Aba Farda,

    Mintesinot, ዛሬ ደግሞ ፈረስ እየጋለብክ ከች አልክ?

    You said: you know who would be withholding the financial aid if “rice” was still in the “kitchen.” What? First of all that’s very chauvinistic to refer to one of the most accomplished and powerful woman in America as “rice in the kitchen.” You may have disagreed with her policy decisions, which is acceptable in a democracy, but please be reminded she also happens to be a mother, a husband and the former National Security Advisor of the president of the U.S.A. (first black person to hold the post). Furthermore, she is currently under review to become a heart beat away from the presidency herself as possible vice president. And you refer to her as “rice in the kitchen”?? GEEZ. Have you lost all decency?

    ለወሬ የለው ፍሬ ለአበባ የለው ገለባ

    But importantly STOP making up negative stories about Obama. He never threatened let alone withheld financial aid from the people of Ethiopia despite your well recorded instance that he does so and despite the fact that the sanctions would have hurt not those in power but the poor masses. So get your tabloid media facts straight. And get a grip of yourself.

  26. -It would be advisable to make GERD a fish farm rather than a power station because Ethiopia can build multiple power stations at other rivers in Ethiopia, that way all these could have been avoided but the EPRDF is fixated on making GERD a powerplant no matter what .
    USA poured billions of dollars to the corrupt EPRDF who became Prosperity Party & TPLF , the money was used to buy bullets by the corrupt government, this money was the root of all evil which initiates the killing , imprisonment, torture and oppression of the Ethiopian people.
    Those who pocketed the dollars drove up cost of living in Ethiopia to the extent where honest hard working Ethiopians cannot afford to survive unless they resort to life of crimes and steal. The enormous income level gap combined with CoronaVirus is making Ethiopia a country of cannibals, for the youth of Ethiopia not to loose any last hope, Ethiopia needs to stop this widening gap of income levels so everyone can afford to exist with the income generated from their labor by not relying on income from crime and corruption.
    Quality of education is at an all-time low in Ethiopia with many of the youth planning not to go to school anymore due to safety concern by loosing hope on honest work.

    Ethiopia got 30+ billion dollars foreign debt already while Prosperity Party is asking for this foreign debt to be forgiven by cancellation, claiming Ethiopia cannot afford to pay back the foreign debt. If Ethiopia gets more foreign loan money from USA while USA knows Ethiopia will not be able to pay back , it will be considered as setting up Ethiopia for failure , not paying foreign debt will disqualify Ethiopia from any more loans , by default Ethiopia will be denied any international loans forever, so to avoid that from happening it would be the correct to stop pouring more loans towards Ethiopia from USA , WorldBank , IMF , EU and China. Ethiopia’s credit history is at stake. If a transitional government was formed Ethiopia would have navigated through this tough times much better , now the clumsy reckless PP is unable or is unwilling to lead in a safe manner which is very concerning , Ethiopia might even get sanctioned by the UN if war erupts between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Sudan is already confiscating Ethiopians properties in Sudan to ensure safety of Khartoum .

    Prosperity Party African Union AU are giving GERD’s “technical” military strategical informations to Egypt , as a result Egypt knows better how to attack the dam . Knowledge is power Egypt is getting power from PP AU.

  27. I agree with you. We have some people in our diaspora with a strongly prejudiced and deeply ingrained misogynistic attitudes against women in a position of influence, which is rather embarrassing given that back in Ethiopia they are way ahead of us in having so many women in high positions such as the President, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Chair of the election board and so on. But Susan Rise understands the difference between her genuine critiques and haters. ‘I inadvertently intimidate some people, especially certain men,’ she reveals in her best selling book “Tough Love.” (recommend you read it…you may regret a thing or two you have said about her) she reveals I I have long inspired motivated detractors who simply can’t deal with me.” To keep it short, it’s ludicrous to compare the current clown in the White House with Obama. Trump is a nincompoop a foolish and stupid person that’s why he will be defeated in November.

  28. It’s great to see the Obama people swinging once again. That’s the silent majority for you. As someone said recently the new generation of Ethiopian Americans are our last hope to redeem ourselves in this trying times. Egypt is certainly scared of them more than even the Ethiopian government as evidenced by the recent blearing headline in the EGYPT TODAY Newspaper asking: Who’s the Ethiopian in Biden’s potential administration? They were talking about the Ethiopian-American Yohannes Abraham, who was handpicked by presidential nominee Joe Biden to be a high-ranking member of his post-election transition team that will be tasked to build a governing infrastructure in case Biden won the elections, which is distinctly possible. To underscore how worried Egypt is by this development the article was circulated among the Egyptian political, military, espionage and academic elites and published in the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies. Egypt Today give emphasis to the fact that Yohannes was hired to oversee the Day-to-Day operations, a matter of high value for Egypt given the current situation. Despite the fact that who leads the transition team responsible for selecting officials and the preparations of the new president’s entry to the White House is crucial. Abraham was born to Ethiopian immigrant parents, graduated from the prestigious University of Yale, received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. He previously worked as chief of staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, led by Valerie Jarrett, a close friend, and advisor of former President Obama. Abraham also served as chief operating officer of the Obama Foundation in Chicago, known as a devoted Democratic who is loyal to Obama, and a social activist who seeks an elected position as he belongs to the progressive bloc in the Democratic Party. He once described himself during an interview with Los Angeles Times newspaper as “We are not politicians, we are Obama’s people”, in an obvious reference to his long friendship with Obama. He later joined the faculty of Harvard Kennedy School as a professor. The rise of Abraham in American politics reflects the capability of the Ethiopian community in the US to present political leaders due to the community’s eagerness to have their children well educated once they make it to the US, which is a highly noticed matter in different locations of the American society.” Indeed Egypt has good reason to be worried and Ethiopians equally have good reason to be hopeful. That’s unless , of course, the wild card (the hippos) screw things up once more. Don’t think they’ll succeed this time. But we’ll see. As always time will tell. Or they will take credit for this too, which is ok. That’s at least better than the alternative.

  29. looking at all this comments you can tell it’s election time in America, where the country gets close to a civil war without filing a singe shot. Love it!!!

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