Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved the Trump administration plans to withdraw some foreign aid to Ethiopia as the United States mediates tension over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). A Foreign Policy exclusive shows that the decision could escalate tensions between Washington and Addis Ababa.
The cuts, amounting to nearly $130 million could affect security assistance, development funding, counterterrorism, anti-human trafficking programs and military training. Nevertheless, the U.S. government will not cut foreign aid in emergency humanitarian relief, food or health assistance programs.
Details on the cuts are yet to be finalized.
The cuts on foreign aid aim to address the impasse between the tripartite nations on the dam. Construction and filling of the Nile Dam threaten Egypt’s freshwater supply for agriculture while Sudan holds that GERD will endanger its dams. On the other hand, Ethiopia believes that the $4.6 billion dam could be the answer to alleviating poverty for its population.
Several Ethiopian officials believe that the White House is taking Egypt’s side in mediating conflict around the Nile dam, pointing out that the administration is yet to set similar policy initiatives against Egypt.
Nevertheless, officials from the U.S. government assure the countries that they maintain an impartial stand on the project saying,
“The U.S. role is to do everything it can to help facilitate an agreement between the three countries that balance their interests. At the end of the day, it has to be an agreement that works for these three countries.”
On Tuesday, Sudan and Ethiopia promised to make every effort to reach a successful conclusion between the three countries after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Khartoum.