US suspends millions in aid to Ethiopia over Nile dam dispute

(AP) On the guidance of President Donald Trump, the State Department said Wednesday the US is suspending some aid to Ethiopia over the “lack of progress” in the country’s talks with Egypt and Sudan over a massive, disputed dam project it is completing on the Nile River.

It was an unusual example of Trump’s direct intervention on an issue in Africa, a continent he hasn’t visited as president and rarely mentions publicly. The dam dispute centers on two of Africa’s most populous and powerful nations, Ethiopia and Egypt, and some have feared it could lead to military conflict.

A State Department spokesperson told The Associated Press the decision to “temporarily pause” some aid to a key regional security ally “reflects our concern about Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to begin to fill the dam before an agreement and all necessary dam safety measures were in place”.

It is not clear how many millions of dollars in aid are being affected, or for how long. The decision was taken by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “based on guidance from the president”, the spokesperson said.

Ethiopia this week said it was asking the US for clarification after a media report said Pompeo had approved cutting up to $130 million in aid because of the dam dispute. The report by Foreign Policy last week set off an uproar among some in Ethiopia, which sees the dam as a source of national pride.

There was no immediate comment from Ethiopia’s government. Ethiopia’s ambassador to the US, Fitsum Arega, this week tweeted that his country is determined to complete the dam, saying that “we will pull Ethiopia out of darkness”.

Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam has caused severe tensions with Egypt, which has called it an existential threat and worries that it will reduce the country’s share of Nile waters. Ethiopia says the $4.6 billion dam will be an engine of development that will pull millions of people out of poverty. Sudan, in the middle, worries about the effects on its own dams though it stands to benefit from access to cheap electricity.

Years of talks among the countries have failed to come to an agreement. Key remaining issues include how to handle releases of water from the dam during multi-year droughts and how to resolve future disputes.

Pope Francis recently urged Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to continue talks amid regional concerns about a potential military conflict.

The US earlier this year tried to mediate the discussions, but Ethiopia walked away amid accusations that Washington was siding with Egypt. Now the three countries are reporting any progress to the African Union, which is leading negotiations.

Ethiopia had said it would fill the dam with or without a deal with Egypt and Sudan. The dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir saw its first filling in July, which Ethiopia’s government celebrated and attributed to heavy rains, while a startled Egypt and Sudan hurriedly sought clarification and expressed skepticism.

“The United States previously and repeatedly expressed its concern that commencing the filling of the GERD before all necessary dam safety measures were implemented created serious risks for the populations of the downstream countries,” the State Department spokesperson said. “In addition, filling while negotiations were underway undermines the other parties’ confidence in the negotiations.”

The spokesperson also said “the United States has been increasingly concerned by the lack of progress in the negotiations of a trilateral agreement” on the dam’s filling and operation, but said the US continues to work with all three countries on the issue.

The spokesperson said aid will continue for Ethiopia’s response to Covid-19 and HIV and “certain humanitarian assistance to aid those affected by conflict, drought, displacement, and other humanitarian challenges”.

Ethiopia in recent weeks has seen a rapid rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases and now has more than 50,000, another challenge for a country already facing outbursts of deadly ethnic violence and growing economic pain.

A former US ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn, had warned against an aid cut, writing that “playing political hardball with Ethiopia will not only fail to obtain Washington’s desired result but will probably ensure that the Ethiopian diaspora in the United States rallies against Trump. There are sizeable Ethiopian-American communities in key states such as Georgia, Texas, and Virginia”.



  1. Subject: “US SUSPENDS MILLIONS IN AID TO ETHIOPIA OVER NILE DAM DISPUTE ” by ZeHabesha, September 2, 2020

    Commentary, 2 September 2020
    Let us be frank, open and honest
    There is no such thing as a “give away” money for nothing.
    The smart aleck “Donner” is really a smart aleck business and political menouverer.
    NO country on Earth gives money as alms.
    And AFRICA is a perfect victim as a recepient of money — always needing money and progressively losing its DEAR AFRICA slowly, slowly, and slowly………
    By the way, let us not forget, that the recipient “PLAYER” is NOT [I repeat >>>NOT, NOT ] the PEOPLE of AFRICA but the indigenous slick smart aleck Africans aggrandizing themselves with ‘green’ money — always kept in dollar binders and packed in safe boxes and boxes and boxes.
    At present one African leader — a man of God or Allah — is on trial. But that is only an insignificant looting.



    As I recall sizeable diasporas in USA for decades had begged the US government to cut aid towards the EPRDF PP accusing the aid money being the enabler source of money buying bullets to kill innocent civilians , lately this aid money is spent on buying machettes to slaughter innocent civilians . Funding a terrorist state is a serious crime. .

    Same as funding ISIS , Al Shabab is a serious crime , funding EPRDF PP government is also a same level crime. Just because the terrorist is in 4 kilo it doesn’t make it ok to fund it.

    Actually now is the perfect time to start civil disobedience , cut diasporas remittances and boycott Ethiopian Airlines all at once .

    why pay this narcciist terrorist Abiy’?
    Narcissist Abiy PP doesn’t ensure it’s citizens safety.
    Narcissist Abiy PP does not educate it’s citizens.
    Narcissist Abiy PP does not even hold elections.
    Narcissist Abiy PP does not hold census count as scheduled .
    Narcissist Abiy PP let’s criminals do whatever they like in Tigray while his own PP criminal team members do crimes elsewhere but n the country, while justice continuing to be more and more of a strange concept in Ethiopia.
    Narcissist Abiy does not secure Ethiopia’s borders or Ethiopian national interests.
    Narccist Abiy’s actions promotes the spread of Covid-19 in Ethiopia while his words claim otherwise .

    To bring this terrorist state/ PP down to it’s knees.
    – Boycott Ethiopian Airlines.
    – Boycott sending remittances from diadpora.
    – Practice civil disobedience.

    History will remember Trump’s administration as a hero administration who stood with the Ethiopian people for cutting this aid. Let’s hope EU and China do the same

  3. This suspension of financial aid will have no bearing on the progress of the dam and it is an ill conceived decision. Those three nations should continue the negotiation and something amicable to all three will eventually evolve sooner if not later. I am surprised and somewhat dismayed by this news. The filling was also sped up by the beyond expected heavy rainfall by Mother Nature. Egypt itself has announced that the first filling of the dam will not affect the flow of water for the entire year. This is going to be very interesting. There is another report that the World Bank has told the Ethiopian government that it will continue its assistance with $2.9 billion to support the country’s financial reforms. I don’t see the merits of this decision. What I am afraid is if such cutback goes on it will push the old country more and more into the arms of Beijing and Moscow just like 1976-78 during the Carter Administration. I hope the USA will continue engaging the government there. It should not do anything to weaken its presence/influence in that region. I hope this is only a pause, temporary.

  4. It’s Trump’S personal retaliation for Ethiopia embarrassing him in rejecting his deal making myth at the time when he needed such diplomatic success. Trump is like a third world country leader he is not your usual American president. He does not tolerate decent. He has a very fragile ego. The next big embarrassing news leak in a matter of weeks is an investigation of The Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund for domestic political activity by the treasury department, which has already flagged EDTF for review. whether the investigation is merited or not the Trump people don’t care. They just want to send a message before they lose the election in November. Read my lips and keep watching These are not normal times.

  5. If you have been watching the president lately you can notice that he is upbeat on the trail. Through his analysts and adviser it is too obvious to him that there a huge section of potential that feels uncomfortable and even threatened. That is what he is cajoling with. Unless something damaging debacle emerges between now and November he has this large section in his pocket. It is going to be tough both the president and his rival Biden. It is going to very interesting. Very, very interesting.

  6. Our strategy this year to return to higher black turnout is the key element in toppling Trump in November. The primary has proven Biden’s high popularity among Black voters have everything to do with the fact he remained loyal to Obama and stood by the nation’s first African American President through think and thin for 8 years. They (we) want to payback Joe. In a major study from the Center for American Progress, that natural demographic trends in the last four years plus a return to 2012 levels of African-American voting would flip four states — Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — and give Democrats a 294-244 majority in the Electoral College. And even if black voting turnout doesn’t quite hit those levels, in many states even marginal changes in turnout and Democratic vote-share could make the difference in a close race.That’s why Ethiopians in those states plus in Virginia and Texas will make a difference. Will black turnout rebound to 2012 automatically after nearly three years of the most openly racist president since Woodrow Wilson? In the 2018 midtermsAfrican-American turnout rose 10.8 percent as compared to the last midterm in 2014, as compared to an 11.7 boost in white turnout. Biden’s strong position among black voters at present is a living refutation of another theory: that Democrats can energize African-Americans with an aggressively progressive agenda aimed at addressing institutional racism. Black Democrats are more likely to self-identify as “moderate” than are white Democrats. And equally important Black voters appreciate Biden for choosing an African American running mate. From that eye he is simply fabulous and awesome. Vote Biden! We shall win!!!

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