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Youm7 interview: General Secretary of Pan-African Association
Published in Youm7 on 24 - 05 - 2011

The Secretary General of the Pan-African Association speaks to Youm7 about the Nile Basin Crisis, Egypt's relations with Africa, and the crisis in Sudan.
Egypt's share of Nile water is threatened by misuse of water and Egypt is not prepared to enter a war over water. Deposed president Hosni Mubarak dealt kindly with African leaders until an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa in 1995, said the Secretary General of the Pan-African Association, Ahmad Hagag, in an interview with Youm7.
Youm7: Regarding the Nile Basin crisis, what did you think of the Ethiopian situation when it postponed ratification on CFA even though its previous situation did not concern Ethiopian and Sudanese Countries?
Ethiopia has postponed ratification of the agreement until a new Egyptian government is elected in September. The agreement will be ratified by an official diplomacy and not by the public diplomacy in spite of the delegation's efforts to ease tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt; both sides will give Egypt a chance for negotiations.
Do you think Egyptian water safety is threatened?
Of course. Water safety is threatened by Egyptian and Ethiopian misuse of water sources. We waste a great quantity of water in projects that give very few economic revenues. This matter is unjustified so we remain silent about it. Moreover, the Upper Nile projects can influence Egypt's water share and we aware of this.
Do you believe that Egypt could drag itself into a war over water?
Egypt cannot get into war over water, and also cannot succeed in finding a solution by getting into war. Egypt should negotiate with Nile Basin Countries. It should be taken into consideration that there are elements that could easily incite Egypt to launch a war over water.
What do you think is the ideal approach Egypt should follow to deal with Ethiopia?
Ethiopia is a civilization as great as Egypt, so it should not be dealt with as a hostile state. There must be economic and cultural bilateral relations between Egypt and Ethiopia and not only seasonal visits between the two countries.
How would you evaluate the African-Egyptian cooperation, especially with Ethiopia?
The Egyptian government cannot afford the costs of investment in Africa. That would cost billions of dollars. So I call on all private sectors to create investment opportunities. As for Ethiopia, there already are Ethiopian-Egyptian investments in Addis Ababa and the volume of trade between the two countries should not be affected by any political difference. Egypt and Ethiopia are joined not only by the Nile River but also by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Dose this mean the Nile Basin Crisis emerged because Egypt did not create or provide development projects in Nile Basin Countries?
Even if there are Egyptian projects, the situation of the Nile Basin Countries will not change to benefit from their natural sources. So Egypt should negotiate with Ethiopia and Nile Basin States on water rationalization.
What do you think about Egypt's accusation of supporting Eritrea, Addis Ababa's great enemy; especially since Ethiopia prevented employment of any Egyptian in any communication sector in fear of being a spy for Eritrea?
I do not think that is the case because the Ethiopian and Eritrean government were allies before they launched a war against each other. The Ethiopian–Eritrean relations cannot be Egypt's responsibility.
Do you agree with Ambassador Abdullah al-Ashaal's statement that the former Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, is the main cause of the Nile Basin crisis?
I was Moussa's advisor in African affairs and our relations with Nile Basin Countries were good. The leaders and presidents of the Nile Basin states were taking Moussa's opinions seriously when dealing with each other.
Since you were manager of the African department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were there issues the ministry neglected?
The ministry never neglected any issue until now and although Egypt is a poor country financially, it is rich in human resources. Also Egypt is the only African country that offers fellowships for approximately 15,000 African students without any return. Egypt also provides humanitarian aid in case of natural disasters in African countries.
These efforts should be supported by public opinion, the same way it is concerned with the Palestinian issue.
President of the Ethiopian Cabinet Abdullah Jimida said Egypt's former regime was responsible for any deterioration in Egyptian-African relations. Does this mean the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the former president were reckless in their duties?
There could have been recklessness in the way certain things were handled but not the Egyptian duty towards African countries since there were African-Egyptian visits between both countries and Egypt has a great number of African embassies in Cairo.
Since you were Mubarak's special envoy for Africa, how did Mubarak deal with Africa?
Mubarak was kind in dealing with African leaders until an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa in 1995. After this attempt, security measures were important and it affected his diplomatic movements in Africa. However, he compensated by receiving a large number of African leaders in Cairo. Moreover, Egypt hosted the African Union in 1989 and 1993.
Why didn't other Egyptian officials visit African countries instead of Mubarak?
They were not very eager or intent to visit the African states.
Why not?
I do not know. That is all they said. But the matter got better in past few years.
How can we revive the Jonglei project that aims to increase Egypt's water share?
After the independency of South Sudan, Egypt can negotiate with the new government to revive the project. I think there is an understanding on this matter since the popular delegation met with the Prime Minister of South Sudan.
Is it expected that South Sudan will join East African countries and the Nile Basin States, and could that affect our relation with the South?
It is possible, but every state has the right to what it sees could benefit its interests. Our bilateral relations should remain strong.
Some say this issue could negatively affect our water share. What do you think?
I do not think so because all statements by the South Sudan government reassure us.
You said previously the Sudanese division could threaten Arab Security. How? And what about future relations between Egypt and South Sudan?
The division of Sudan could lead to another division in any place with anarchy. But as long as the division was made by the agreement of all Sudanese citizens, Egypt should recognize South Sudan. The upcoming Egyptian government will recognize South Sudan.
Could the dispute on the Abyei area, which is rich with oil, lead to a third civil war between the South and the North of Sudan?
No, the dispute will not lead to a third civil war. But there will be clashes that could last for several years. Furthermore, the wave goes up and down, but at the end there will be an agreement between both parties to share this fortune in a fair way.
Is it possible for Sudan to be unified again?
There is a movement in South Sudan that says if the south returns to its ‘Mother's embrace' it will be the Sudanese people's will and it may happen in the next few years.
Reports claimed that Chad had a role in causing the Darfur Crisis. What do you think?
Chad had a role in supporting the rebel movements in Sudan but after an agreement between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Chad's president, the support for the rebels from both sides stopped. There is ambiguity in the Doha negotiation between both parties, but after ending the problem with the South, the Sudanese government can now tackle the Darfur crisis.
Regardless of intervention of regional countries, do you believe the Sudanese regime is responsible for what is happening now in Sudan?
All Sudanese regimes have neglected the Darfur case and what the Darfur residents feel. This area was marginalized.
Are there any countries that do not want Egypt to establish foreign relation with African countries?
That is Egypt's decision and not any other country's. Besides, anyone is welcome into Egypt's political, economical, social, and cultural role in African states. There must be a T.V. channel about the African continent for the average Egyptian citizen.
What about the role of Iran in Africa?
The role of Iran is very active as it helps the Shiite minority and gives them extra money. Despite the West and African opposition, the role remains. Iran uses the religious feature to attract a number of African Sunni Muslims to move upwards into Egypt to study at Al-Azhar University. Thus we must boost the role of Al-Azhar and Churches.
What about Arab Gulf investments in Africa?
Arab countries prefer to import food and so the best area to invest in is an African agricultural area near the Gulf countries.
Is it possible these investments could help solve the Nile Crisis?
Yes, but we should not depend on it.
How has the January 25 Revolution affect African public opinion?
The revolution was ideal and had a positive impact not only in Egypt and the Arab World but also in all other African countries.


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