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Monday, 08 January 2018

Issues in Development: Sudan, Egypt and the Millennium Dam

“In a conference held in Egypt in 2004,I have jokingly asked a senior official by saying

, ”what if  Almighty  Allah reversed the course of the Nile to flow from  Egypt to the South what would happen? The man and in a very serious tone said to me swearing by the Prophet (saas),” that we (in Sudan)would not have dreamt of getting  one  glass of water?!!!”
Some years ago between 2007 and 2010 I have published seven articles in on the relation between Sudan and Egypt specially on the Nile waters .One particular article was, ”The Egyptian Role in Sudan’s Development and underdevelopment 1899-2010”(June 27th.2010.The articles with some others were published into a book titled, “Readings in Sudan’s economy,’ 2010.During 2016 and 2017 some other articles on the same subject  were published in Sudan Vision daily in Khartoum.
In that article I tried to reflect on certain issues related to Sudan’s development since Egypt was also under British domination. In spite of that the British authority made the Egyptian tax payers money to finance the infrastructure in Sudan in order to avail an environment  within which the British  could manage the affairs of the colony. They were reluctant to spend British resources on the new colonial venture There was hardly any visible development in Sudan at the time of British takeover of Sudan. A number of basic projects  were established with Egyptian resources. These monies were all repaid back to Egypt the last part being paid after Sudan became independent in 1956.(see a very detailed interesting account of such funding is  published in a book by Mekkawi Mustafa). Mekkawi praised the Egyptians for that. However, one wonders whether if Egypt was independent could have spent such monies voluntarily on Sudan. A number of such infrastructure stand as a manifestation of Egyptian efforts.
The last British military left Egypt in July 18th. 1965 (Eid Al Jalaa) in 1965, while the British military left Sudan ten years before in January 1965. It is after this date that independent Egypt started it subtle and sometimes overt vendetta on independent Sudan mainly because the Sudan chose to become independent of both Egypt and British Commonwealth. The first tension was in 1958 when late Nasser fearing military   cooperation between Sudan with USA, that his army marched and took over Halayeb Triangle (HT). The Sudan government and people feeling offended stood very much against that  aggression. The issue was tabled before the UN Security Council. Almost all the members stood on the side of Sudan’s right to continue managing HT within its boundary. Nasser  was  wise to withdraw the Egyptian forces  and the matter was referred to a future date.(see our translation of the detailed  account of the crisis by late Mohamed Amir Beshir Fourawi of the Information Department  titled, ”Halayeb 1958, How it started and how it ended,”1st and 2nd. Edition 2005).I strongly maintain that if late Nasser had a small legal document that HT belonged to Egypt he would not have withdrawn his army!!
The second case took place in 1959 when late Abboud’s  military government came in being. At that time Egypt decided to build the Aswan High Dam (AHD) without consulting Ethiopia. When the World Bank refused to finance the dam, Nasser resorted to the Soviet Union. Since the AHD required  the storage of water into the Northern part of Sudan and the submerging of Wadi Halfa town, negotiations took place and the story of the unfair compensation is a story well  known. In fact the agreement of 1959 represented an unjust and unfair agreement for the Sudan, Wadi Halfa people and the loss of ancient and invaluable heritage submerged. This represented an unforgivable vendetta!  
The third is related to the various tug of war on the issue of the Nile water agreements which had been treated by many writers and still continue until today. One is interested to refer to particular issue which show how Egypt continued its vendetta on Sudan and did all it can to delay Sudan’s development. This case is the delay in raising the Roseires dam for almost forty years. I have always been thinking how a dam built by funding from the World Bank in 1962 stood there  without contributing to Sudan’s development. Late Sharif Hussain El Hindi expressed such sentiments in a budget speech when he was minister of finance. The answer came to me from  the Deputy President of the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) in 2003.I was (collaborating Economic Advisor to Khartoum Stock Exchange) a  member of an official delegation which left to Saudi Arabia to promote the idea of Sukuk such as Shihama to the Sudanese working abroad. In  a visit to the SDF we were met by the Vice President. After the meeting was over I excused the VP to ask a question not related to subject of the meeting. He politely allowed me. I asked him why is it that SDF does not show interest in the raising of the Roseires dam? With a subtle smile he said, ”your brothers in the North are not keen on it!!” It was left to me to guess who was our brother in the North none except  Egypt!!No more.
The fourth is more obvious. This was the Arab Authority For Agricultural Investment (AAAID) which was supposed to convert the Sudan into the granary of the Arab world. In the first meeting in Rabat which was supposed to  form an organization for the purpose, the Egyptian delegation  attempted to have it as a small company in Sudan .The Sudanese delegation headed by late M.Bheiry insisted that it should a big worthy financial  and development institution. When the Egyptian delegation failed in that attempt Egypt was able to get the chairmanship. It appointed Dr. Badran only to have him as someone who was supposed to gradually destroy the idea. He was successful in dwarfing it and left at the level desired by his government. To make the story short late Gafaar  Nimerie twice heavily criticized  Dr.Badran for having intentionally failed to develop AAAID and make Sudan the granary of the Arab world. Egypt was aware that if Sudan developed its huge agricultural resources it would become economically strong and, therefore, politically strong. More important to Egypt, Sudan would be using more of the Nile waters for such a huge agricultural effort. That was a real harsh vendetta.
The last but not least, when the President of Sudan visited the Tigray region in Western Ethiopia about 2010 and signed six agreements of cooperation with Sudan, some months later Egypt sent a delegation of 100 Egyptian businessmen led by the lady minister of cooperation to strengthen relations with Ethiopia. And so on the course of vendetta carries on.
Now I come to my last point. Recently the Egyptian minister of foreign affairs visited Ethiopia and according to  the news requested the Ethiopian government  to go ahead with the negotiations on the Millennium dam without involving the Sudan!!!Of course the Ethiopian side with their traditional politeness refused .This to me is the highest degree of meanness vulgarity and ignorance of the relations that exist between the two peoples of Sudan and Ethiopia if not between their governments. By so doing Egypt (official Egypt) did not insult only the Sudan but the entire people of Sudan. It also proved our feelings and impressions that Egypt never in its whole life wished prosperity of the Sudan and its people. By so doing Egypt ignored the long stand of Sudan by its side in many issues specially on the Nile waters. Sudan stood by its side refusing to sign the Entebbe agreement thus giving the impression that Sudan followed Egypt blindly .One Ethiopian friend expert once asked me while meeting in Addis as to why we blindly follow the Egyptians and added, were we afraid   of them?!!! Did Egypt consult Ethiopia on 1959 agreement, whose highlands provide the Nile with more than 86% of its waters? Why now? I strongly feel that the present mood of policy-makers in Egypt is very pathetic and could be quite dangerous and could even be more dangerous for all the peoples of Sudan and Egypt. The present policy-makers are definitely  motivated by some devilish plan. This could be felt from its present mood as reflected in the media.