Arab writers from the Middle East and beyond, opine on potentially explosive issues in the north of Africa – the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Turkey’s interference in the affairs of Libya – that could have a global impact.
Playing with Water (and fire)
By Abdul Latif Al-Manawi
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, July 15
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has become one of the most important issues concerning the Egyptian people and, perhaps, the entire Arab world. This is because it revolves not merely around water, agriculture and food security – but also because it threatens the national security of several countries in the region. Many international players have acknowledged this to date, including the United States.
The Arab world has been united in its support for Egypt and Sudan, including, most recently, in a statement delivered by the foreign ministers of Arab countries in their recent meeting in Doha. Unfortunately, the Arab position doesn’t seem to affect the intransigence of the Ethiopian government, which continues to provoke and defy its neighbors to the north, including by moving forward with the dam’s second filling. It’s clear that the Arab world must move from talking to doing, and threaten Addis Ababa with sanctions and penalties should it refuse to cooperate with Arab demands.
I don’t know when the next round of negotiations will commence, but I expect that it will only lead to more Ethiopian intransigence and Egyptian-Sudanese steadfastness on the situation. What we know is that Egypt will not give up its right to the waters of the Nile. Likewise, Sudan – which suffers from a weaker and poorer infrastructure than Egypt, and is thus expected to be most harmed by the project – will not sit idly by as its water resources are stolen. Does Ethiopia realize this? Do the decision-makers in Addis Ababa understand that they are passing the point of no return?
The answer, unfortunately, seems to be yes.
Abdul Latif Al-Manawi
Turkish Outage over the Flag Incident in Libya
By Suleiman Jawda
Al-Arabiya, London, July 16
The recent session held by the Libyan House of Representatives in the eastern city of Tobruk was unlike any session held by the House since its very formation. In the session, the legislature was planning to discuss the general budget after a long political brawl over how resources should be allocated.
However, the real drama took place not within the halls of the parliament, but rather outside, on the streets leading to the building. At the exact moment when Abdulhamid Dabaiba, Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, was heading in his convoy to attend the session, a group of Libyan citizens spread out the Turkish flag on the road so that cars and passersby making their way to the parliament would trample it. The act drove the Turkish government crazy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara was quick to issue a condemnation describing the event as an “affront to Turkey” and a “heinous attempt to desecrate its national symbols.”
Moscow called upon the Libyan authorities to take whatever steps necessary to arrest those involved in the incident. Those who followed these statements could easily sense how outraged the Turkish government was. But the truth is that Turkey shouldn’t be surprised by what transpired. The defiant act represents what a majority of Libyan citizens think about the Turkish presence in Libya.
Turkey describes its presence in Libya as a legitimate presence, and claims that it was agreed upon together with the government of Fayez Al-Sarraj. However, Turkey refuses to understand that its presence in a foreign country is illegitimate and illegal. The best thing for Erdogan’s government to do is to stay silent and swallow its pride. Then, it should think of ways it can quickly and elegantly exit Libya – because the flag incident is just the beginning.
It’s a prelude to the rage that exists among ordinary Libyan citizens who feel like their country has been kidnapped from them by foreign mercenaries.
*Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb
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