Arab League condemns Ethiopian attempt to cause rift with African Union

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read
The extraordinary session of the Arab League foreign ministers meets to discuss the situation in the Palestinian territories at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The Arab League has condemned Ethiopia for attempting to cause a rift between the pan-Arab bloc and the African Union (AU).

A source with the Arab League also expressed the organisation’s condemnation of Ethiopia’s recent letter to the UN Security Council regarding the disputed Nile dam. 

Ethiopia’s letter rejected the Arab League’s mediation attempts in the dispute. 

Meanwhile, the Arab League has called on the UN General Assembly to intervene in the Security Council meeting, which is set to take place on Thursday, on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue.

Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen sent a letter to the President of the Security Council on 5 July. In the letter, Mekonnen expressed his disappointment with the Arab League for addressing the UN on an issue that does not fall within its purview.

The letter added that the Arab League is known for its unfettered support for any claim made by Egypt on the River Nile issue.

According to the letter, the League’s approach threatens to undermine the friendly and cooperative relations between the African Union (AU) and the Arab League since the trilateral negotiations on the GERD under the AU’s auspices. 

The letter notes that the AU provides the platform for trilateral negotiations and a win-win outcome, guided by the conviction of “African solutions to African problems.

In its response to these allegations, the Arab League stressed that Ethiopia’s message contained many fallacies. The most serious of these is the apparent attempt to bring about a rift between two regional organisations that have long maintained close and robust relations.

A source at the Arab League stressed that it will not engage in any confrontation with the AU, especially since it includes ten Arab countries, which are also member states of the Union.

He pointed out that the League maintains different frameworks and mechanisms for consultation and joint work with the AU. It is also keen to coordinate positions with it on many issues, as well as the excellent friendly relationship between the Secretary-General of the Arab League and Moussa Faki, President of the AU Commission. 

The source added that the Arab League’s intervention in the GERD issue, which is based on decisions issued by its council, is natural and logical considering the issue affects the interests of two of its members, Egypt and Sudan.

He stressed that the just positions of the two countries, which demand a comprehensive and binding agreement to fill and operate the GERD reservoir, are the subject of Arab consensus.

The source concluded his remarks by saying that the Ethiopian effort is unfortunately trying to portray the issue as an Arab-African conflict, which is wrong and regrettable, calling on Addis Ababa to review this non-constructive approach.

For his part, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said that Ethiopia’s comments about the intervention of the Arab League in the GERD crisis. This is a continuation of the indifference to those efforts made to persuade the Ethiopian side to reach a solution to the crisis.

Shoukry added that the Arab League is a regional organisation that has the right to voice its opinion on any issue that has contact with its members.

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