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Ethiopian’s discuss the decision by Trump’s Whitehouse to halt aid amid GERD negotiations

Addis ZeybeAugust 28, 2020
PoliticsCurrent Affairs
Ethiopian’s discuss the decision by Trump’s Whitehouse to halt aid amid GERD negotiations
An article published on July 22, 2020 by Robbie Gramer published on Foriegn Policy reported that the Trump administration was considering cutting aid to Ethiopia to catalyze the signature of an agreement surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. This materialized on Thursday as Robbie released another article reporting that the US has in fact halted some foriegn aid funds to Ethiopia. According to the article, Secretary Pompeo has approved a plan to halt US foriegn assistance to Ethiopia as part of efforts by Trump’s administration to mediate the tension surrounding Ethiopia’s mega-dam. In the article Robbie believes:“The decision, made this week, could affect up to nearly $130 million in U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia and fuel new tensions in the relationship between Washington and Addis Ababa as it carries out plans to fill the dam, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.”The decision by Trump’s administration to cut aid on the eve of the president entering a challenging presidential election, has been criticized by several political commentators for potentially tarnishing US-Ethiopia relations that have become less and less since security concerns in the region such as the ones in Somalia and Eritrea have since calmed down, according to the article.Naturally, social media responded to the decision by the Whitehouse. This article will reflect on some of the responses to the online community. Anwar Hawa's reply to the tweet that shared Robbie’s article on the twitter page of Foriegn Policy was a message to the Whitehouse. In his comment Anwar says: The amharic portion of the tweet roughly translates to mean “Our enemies always make us stronger and more unified.”Dawit, another Ethiopian replying to Foriegn Policy’s tweet, stressed the importance of completing  the dam for the sake of the future Ethiopian generation followed by the #ItsMyDam and #GERD hashtags used by Ethiopians to increase support for Ethiopia's controversial mega-dam. Dawit’s reply reads as follows: Mahemud Tekuya - an Ethiopian lawyer and PHD candidate at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento - tweeted that allowing the US to partake in the negotiations was a strategic mistake stressing that the recent action by the Trump administration could potentially complicate the GERD negotiations and the relations between Addis Ababa and the Washington. Replying to Mahemud, Liyu - a solicitor in Toronto, Canada - and co-founder of EthioTube Alemayhu Gemeda challenged the argument set forth by Mahemud regarding the decision by the Ethiopian government to partake in US led negotiations in the first place. Liyu claims that the recent cut in aids would have happened as a result of Egyptian pressure on the US even if Ethiopia did not partake in the negotiations also noting that the US actions when it comes to the negotiations lay bare how little the world power knows the dam or the politics of the Nile waters. Alemayehu doubts that the recent cuts in aid would have been avoided had Ethiopia not partaken in the negotiations in DC under the lead of the United States. He believes the trip to DC showed good will on the part of Ethiopia. It showed willingness to reach an agreement. According to Alemayehu, the recent decision reflects badly on the US and Ethiopia has exposed the biased nature of US mediation by partaking in the negotiations.  Another tweet from the Ethiopian lawyer and Physician Professor Senait Fisseha set out to remind the US that the Ethiopian dam has not at any point depended on foriegn aid or loan. Her tweet reads  The online commentary following the decision by the Trump administration was not only from Ethiopian users. Connor, a South African user for instance questions the effectiveness of such a cut to aid by giving his prediction that the decision could backfire:  Conor also said that it is not empirically valid to cut aid as a result of a strong position a negotiating party has taken. “Isn’t that the whole point of a negotiation?” Connor asked in his tweet. But according to him the cut in aid from the US government is likely to affect the millions of Ethiopians who directly benefited from the projects funded by aid from the US. Pompeo’s signature that is expected to cut US aid to upto 130 million dollars is most likely to play some sort of role in future negotiations surrounding the GERD, but Ethiopians remain unshaken by the decision.Figures from USAID suggest that Ethiopia received over 829 million dollars in aid from the United States in 2019. Data from the same institution also suggests that in 2020 Ethiopia has received 114 million dollars in aid. The east African nation has received over 3.8 billion dollars in aid between 2016 and 2020. Considering the recently approved budget for the Ethiopian government was only 13 million dollars, it is clear that aid from the US plays an integral part in the developmental efforts of the country.