In Response to Comments by Saudi Deputy Defense Minister, Prince Kahlid Bin Sultan Al-Riyadh

By Adal Isaw,
March 1, 2013

This letter is in response to the comments made by the Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister

What Else Can I say?

“There are fingers messing with water resources of Sudan and Egypt which are rooted in the mind and body of Ethiopia. They do not forsake an opportunity to harm Arabs without taking advantage of it” Prince Khalid said.

Be it in Khartoum, Riyad, Cairo and anywhere else, the nature of ill-conceived politics is the same. An ill-conceived politics has common features no matter how much a prince, a lawyer or a doctor political figure wants to localize, regionalize and internationalize it. Ill-conceived politics will live and die as such—only as ill-conceived politics, composed of undesirable words and terms that no human language on earth may resuscitates it to live another day.

I am not in any way, shape, or form suggesting to downgrade the ramification of an ill-conceived politics—the type that was thrown at our country by a Saudi prince who may not have to explain to his king back in Riyad. What I am suggesting here is that, we as prudent people with the experience in history to know better should weigh ill-conceived politics for what it is; nothing more for now.

It does not matter and it is the fact; nations that are presumed advanced in the art of politics and nations with no rooms for more than half of their citizens are known to engage in ill-conceived politics. The prince from Riyad is not the exception even with his rude, crude and unenlightened political comments.

The degree of political enlightenment does not save a political figure or, a prince of some sort from ill-conceived political comments. For example, in the run-up for U.S. Presidential election in 2012, Romney targeted China with ill-conceived political comments and commercials to affect the outcome of the election by nearly insignificant points. Had Romney won the election, he would have no choice but to swallow back his ill-conceived political comments—so say political experts of international relations. Likewise and sooner or later, the prince from Riyad may have to swallow his rude, crude and unenlightened political comments.

There is of course a qualitative difference between what was commented by the Saudi prince in Egypt and what was stated by American Presidential candidate in America. However, there is commonality in the sense that both ill-conceived political comments are directed at a specific group of people for emotional consumption. The intended objective in America was to simply win the Presidency, and the objective in the case of the Saudi prince may not be known fully in clear terms but a thing or two are clear.

Few states are immune from the political abuse that powerful states wage around the world—not for their angelic political behavior but only for luck that they sit on resources that immunizes the abuse and the abuser. In an effort to deflect real issues of social, political and economic fairness in a region hit by so called Arab Spring, states that stayed immune so far from questions of fairness within the region may have to find the ways and means to maintain the status quo. Galvanizing the easily beguiled sector of a given people by finding a presumed weaker target may seem a good idea—especially for a prince who may lack the needed diplomatic skills in international affairs. And hence, the prince’s ill-conceived comment is not worth repeating except to say it is very troubling and unfair.

The Nile case is purely a case of fairness, and I as an Ethiopian will never ever expect a fair comment from a prince in the region at the helm of unfair political, economic and social arrangements of life. The prudent political response for us Ethiopians should therefore be to simply acknowledge the prince’s comment as troubling and unfair and build our Renaissance Dam in due time. In fact, we should make the best out of this worst and unfair political comment and use it once again to declare to the Arab world that the only enemy that we have is poverty.

In the past and for one reason or another, we Ethiopians might have been reserved to call poverty for the enemy that is and assert our right to use Nile to fight it in ways fair to all stake holders. But our shyness was not in any way predicated on anything except in the excessive prudence that we had— to avoid a perceived problem with Nile stake holders at the expense of our lives. We are not shy anymore about calling poverty for the enemy that is—and our resolve to fairly use Nile to fight our only enemy poverty should not be misconstrued for the enemy we are not.

Political rhetoric aside, the fact remains the fact and no force on earth will never ever relocate Nile from Ethiopia. And no force on earth will save poverty from the resolute will that we Ethiopians have to kill it. It just happens that our country Ethiopia is still perpetually giving birth to Nile—and for us Ethiopians not to have a sip or two from Nile to quash our thirst to overcome poverty is outrageously unfair.

Of course, there is no politics of fairness but politics of unfairness. Fairness in its real sense is not the kind that a political game theory gives birth to. Fairness in its real sense resides in clean hearts and souls of sisterhood and brotherhood. We Ethiopians have stated time again that the Renaissance Dam is not a project of greed that which narrowly benefits only Ethiopians. Quite to the contrary, the Renaissance Dam is a project intended to serve brothers and sisters in our region as far as it can reach.

For all of you with interest, please check and read all documents pertaining to the Renaissance Dam for it is the primary rational thing to do. But for some of you out there who may misconstrue our resolve to fight poverty as a resolve to fight you as an enemy, think again. Because at the end of the day you will not stop us from fighting poverty, and if you insist to be in our way, think again. It just does not worth it. I as a citizen of Ethiopia might have said few things here and there that may not pass the test of our Ethiopian government’s prudence, but what else can I say?