Days after a prominent Saudi official had visited the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman arrived in Addis Abba in his first visit to Ethiopia since his appointment last January 27.
An Ethiopian source, who preferred to remain anonymous, added that the Qatari FM will meet the Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome, the Prime Minister Haliemariam Desalegn and the Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu during his visit.”
Reviving the Ethiopian Qatari relations
The meeting with Ethiopian officials will discuss the recent developments on the regional and the international arenas, including the events in Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, and the advanced bilateral relations between the two countries.
In April 2013, Qatar former Prince Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited Addis Ababa which was the first visit for a Qatari official to Ethiopia since both countries resumed their diplomatic relations in October 2012.
Ethiopia and Qatar had decided to resume their relations after four years when Ethiopia cut off its relations with Doha as it accused it of pursuing “a hostile policy “against it.
At that time, Doha considered this as “allegations and claims that have no true basis.”
The suspension of the Ethiopian Qatari relations came in the light of Qatar’s policy to retain good relations with Eritrea which the Ethiopian government accused of backing the anti-government militant opposition groups.
Later, the former Qatari FM Hamad bin Jassim visited Addis Ababa in November 2012 to normalize relations between both countries. On the other hand, Desalegn paid a visit to Doha on December 2, 2012, which was the first visit of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister to Qatar after the two the countries resumed their relations.
Recent Gulf moves towards Ethiopia
In fact, the Ethiopian relations with Gulf countries have flourished recently.
This month informed media sources said that Ahmed Al-Khatib, the adviser of Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, has paid a visit to the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam within the framework of his current presence in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to find out the possibility of renewable energy generation.
The Ethiopian source, that accompanied the Saudi official to the dam, said that Al-Khatib visited the dam , and was received by the project manager Semegnew Bekele.
The visit agenda of Al-Khatib and his accompanying delegation was undeclared, especially concerning the Renaissance Dam, which was not also mentioned by the Saudi Press Agency.
The Saudi Minister of Agriculture Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen al-Fadhli has also visited Ethiopia before Al-Khatib’s visit.
Egypt is alarmed by the recent Gulf moves
The Saudi official’s visit to the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been faced with harsh criticism from the Egyptian media and many Egyptian newspapers considered it as a “political intrigue” in response to the Egyptian stance in the Syrian file that opposes Saudi Arabia’s policy.
Saudi Arabia was a major supporter of the military-backed regime in Egypt following the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, and has poured billions of dollars in support of Egypt’s economy.
However, since Egypt’s vote on the Russian-backed draft resolution in the United Nations security council, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have started a cold war on media platforms. Egyptian officials, however, are denying any political disagreement between the two countries.
Egypt’s vote on October 8 to support a Russian Security Council resolution on Aleppo has exposed an unprecedented rift between Egypt and its strongest Arab ally, Saudi Arabia. The vote triggered the first public condemnation by the Saudis of the Egyptian regime, which they helped bring to power three years ago. The Saudi criticism also coincided with cutting monthly discounted oil shipments to Egypt, a much-needed support for the country’s deteriorating economy.
In this context, there is no doubt that Egypt is alarmed by the recent Saudi relations with Ethiopia as it came amid the tensions between Riyadh and Cairo on regional issues.
In addition, the Qatari FM visit to Ethiopia will also seem suspicious to Cairo especially that Egyptian-Qatari relations have soared since the military coup as the Egyptian authorities accused Doha of harboring members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In addition, Egypt’s interior ministry has accused Qatar of supporting the deadly massacre at St. Peter’s Church killing 25 people and injuring almost 49 others last week, which was rejected by Qatar and denounced by the Gulf countries.
The Renaissance Dam is considered a sensitive issue to Egypt as it fears that it would have negative repercussions on its water share (55.5 billion cubic meters) from the Nile River. However, the Ethiopians said that the dam will be beneficial, especially in generating power and will have no harm on Egypt and Sudan.