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Trump’s latest gaff – more or less predicting – if not encouraging – Egypt to bomb Ethiopians Great Ethiopian Renaisssance Dam. Colorado Protests

October 26, 2020

Taste of Ethiopia – August, 2019 – Aurora, Colorado

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Colorado Ethiopians Celebrate Collapse of Hailemariam Desalegn Dictatorship – 1
Ethiopia and the U.S. Geo-Politics in the Horn of Africa – Fifth of a Series.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Ethiopia’s Pride, Egypt’s Albatross

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The wrecklessness of Trump’s remarks – treating a major U.S. African ally so rudely – has triggered a landslide of Ethiopian Community voters to come out and vote against Trump, both in Colorado and nationally. Reports from members of Ethiopian friends in the Denver area tell of Ethiopians taking photos of lines of people waiting to vote, many of them Ethiopian. The whole community has been motiviated, including Ethiopians here in the USA that have never voted; they are asking for ballots and for help to fill them out.

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Once again Donald Trump engaged in his daily ritual of foot-in-mouth disease. He all but encouraged Egypt to bomb Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam essentially stating that it is inevitable that this will happen – and that it probably should have happened earlier.

The wrecklessness of Trump’s remarks – treating a major U.S. African ally so rudely – has triggered a landslide of Ethiopian Community voters to come out and vote against Trump, both in Colorado and nationally. Reports from members of Ethiopian friends in the Denver area tell of Ethiopians taking photos of lines of people waiting to vote, many of them Ethiopian. The whole community has been motiviated, including Ethiopians here in the USA that have never voted; they are asking for ballots and for help to fill them out.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), situated in western Ethiopia on the Blue Nile River, has been contentious ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011. The dam which has taken nearly a decade to build is seen as essential to Ethiopia economic take off as a regional powerhouse. Besides regulating water flows during flooding seasons, when fully functioning it would provide enough electricity to power Ethiopians industrial aspiration and greatly extend electrical power use, thus modernization, throughout the country. At the same time, Egypt and Sudan view the dam’s completion as a threat to its vital water supplies. 97% percent of Egypt’s water flow comes from the Nile.

Needless to say, some kind of negotiated arrangement between the countries on the Nile Basin, but particularly Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia is in order given the dam’s construction but to date negotiations held in Washington and later headed up by South Africa have not produced the needed compromise settlement. Despite the failure to reach an agreement, in July, Ethiopia said that it would soon start filling the reservoir, while Egypt has repeatedly warned against any unilateral action without a prior tripartite agreement. Egypt has threatened to take military action.

Trump’s entry into the fray, once again, only makes matters worse; he certainly completely undermined Washington’s image as “an honest broker” between two of Washington’s important African allies and greatly undermined any future possibility that Washington will be able to bring the two parties together – yet another U.S. foreign policy gaff, if not failure.

Just last Friday, on October 23, Trump announced that Egypt “will end up blowing the dam. And I said it and I say it loud and clear – they’ll blow up that dam. And they have to do something.” He was speaking with “leaders” from Sudan and Israel at the time. He was referring to Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that is near completion. Trump went on to say that suggest that the Egyptians “should have stopped it long before it started.” Trump made these comments while announcing the normalization of relations between Israel and Sudan. that followed on the heels of Israel’s normalization with the United Arab Emirates (and the utter failure of the “deal of the century” – the plan to make the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories permanent.

While Trumps remarks were directed at the Sudanese, with Trump calling on Khartoum to help pressure Ethiopia to accept the Egyptian negotiating conditions, they were clearly a direct threat to the Addis Ababa government to fall in line and an indication of how Trump, Sisi and Netanyahu have formed something of a team. Last month, in response to Ethiopia’s refusal to accept Egyptian diktats on how to handle the GERD’s water flow. In a parallel gesture, last month, in September, the Trump Administration announced it was cancelling a $350 million loan to Ethiopia. Adding salt to the wound he has inflicted on Ethiopia, Trump added, “They will never see that money unless they adhere to that agreement.”

A nice Trumpian arm twisting touch.

Ethiopian Initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party speaks out

In two strongly worded statements a week before the November 3 presidential election, Colorado Democrats sharply criticized President Donald Trump for callous remarks.

However they were intended given Trump’s usual lack of finesse, the remarks created nothing short of a fury both in Ethiopia, considered an important U.S. ally – but apparently not important enough to treat with some respect – as well as among the nearly half a million Ethiopian immigrants living in the United States. This community includes an increasingly politically influential Ethiopian Community of Colorado, with some 35,000 living here, mostly in the broader Denver-Aurora metropolitan area. For some time now Colorado Ethiopians – like many immigrant communities have been split politically roughly between many of the first generation Ethiopians many of whom tend, as new immigrant communities do, to vote Republican, while much of the younger generation thinks and acts more in line with the the Democratic Party here.

In two strongly worded statements, both Nahome Yifru, Chair of the Ethiopian Initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party and Morgan Carroll, Colorado Democratic Party Chair condemned Trump’s almost blatant encouragement for Egypt to bomb the dam.

Yifru commented:

“America is seen around the world as the beacon of hope and a fair broker for many conflicts. However, President Trump’s xenophobic and racist comments have eroded the trust that was built around the world and in Ethiopia through the years. When we heard the President’s threatening comments about allowing Egypt to blow up the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), we could not help but remember the s***hole countries comment at the white house and his constant cajoling of dictators like Putin and Alsisi of Egypt. His calloused comments not only show his ignorance on the geopolitical situation, but his reckless disregard for the Ethiopian American community. The GERD project is already a delicate topic between Egypt and Ethiopia. It is solely based on abhorrent colonial treaties that did not take into consideration the wishes of the Ethiopian people. Instead of using America’s unique position as the sole superpower in the world and being a fair and effective mediator, President Trump signaled to Egypt that it will be ok with him and America if they bombed the GERD, which is built using the scarce resources of one of the world’s most impoverished nations, Ethiopia.

He went on to note that:

“Colorado Republicans like Cory Gardner and Ken Buck have chosen to remain silent in the face of this threat against Ethiopia. Voters in the Colorado Ethiopian American community have been strongly mobilized because of this insensitive remark and are making sure their voices are heard at the ballot box against this President and his enablers.”

Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll added:

“Colorado Democrats condemn this reckless and irresponsible rhetoric from Donald Trump. Like he has done his entire presidency, Trump has shown little curiosity or care to study the complexities of international relations — unless you count the time Trump referred to African nations as ‘****hole’ countries. Our state is home to tens of thousands of members of the Ethiopian community, and we at the Colorado Democratic Party stand in solidarity with them against this dangerous war mongering by Donald Trump.”

Congressman Jason Crow responded to the news on Friday, calling Trump’s words “reckless and uninformed. “The U.S. must act as an honest broker to ensure a sustainable diplomatic settlement and stop senseless foreign aid cuts,” he added.

Such protests are being expressed all over the United States.

Trump’s remarks unites Ethiopians both in Ethiopia and the United States against Trump

In response to Trump’s remarks, Ethiopian government spokespeople have called on Americans of Ethiopan heritage to vote Trump out of office. As with other immigrant communities, the Ethiopians in Colorado have somewhat divided both on which major U.S. party they support and on issues back home. Trump’s remarks have overnight – as it was described to me – brought different Ethiopian Community factions together in a common effort to defeat Trump.

Indicative of Trump’s last minute pre-election eroding support, the comments of Ted Alemayhu former Republican Congressional hopeful posted by Menguistu Humne Tolla. Alemayhu called for a protest demonstratin in front of both the State Department (that cancelled the loan) and the White House:

No doubt that I have been one of the most out spoken supporters of #DonaldJTrump since the day he announced to run for the Presidency. I put my neck out to support and defend this man for nearly 4-years now. I did so simply because of his ‘America first’ policy which I continue to support. Nothing else! When it comes to Hagera- Ethiopia however, I will never-ever back down from defending her! Trump is clearly an idiot and lacks basic knowledge of International diplomacy.
NO President of the United States should ever suggest or recommend to another country to “Blow up” a sovereign nation’s dam! This is unprecedented and shocking to say the least!
#DonaldTrump, has once again demonstrated his lack of Diplomacy and pure cluelessness of the African continent. We will officially reach out to the #WhiteHouse for further explanation on the President’s statement. I would assume that #EthiopianEmbassy in Washington DC would react immediately as well!
Every Ethiopian in the United States and across the world should be outraged must condemn Trump’s reckless remarks!
A wide and peaceful demonstration in front of the State Department and the White House is a must!
Ted Alemayhu former Republican Congressional ‘Candidate’.
How the issue of the Great Renaissance Ethiopian Dam is settled could be a model for riparian politics between up and downstream countries, not just on the Nile, but worldwide. It involved colonial history – early legal documents on the Nile in which Ethiopia had no roll, the question of shared precious resources, in this case, of course water, and ending regional hegemonic relations in East Africa and placing the relations between states on a fairer and more equitable basis. All countries involved have legitimate issues. Rather than using its considerable influence to reduce tensions between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, in a completely crude, partisan and undiplomatic manner, the Trump Administration has, as usual, aggravated the situation that much more. Another reason – among a plentitude to vote next Tuesday… and how to vote.
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