(Awasa Guardian) A photo of a new graduate from Ethiopia’s prestigious AAU campus, carrying firewood on his back as his mother wore the cap & gown, went vital on African social media today. The heartbreaking image symbolizing the struggle by millions of Ethiopian mothers, due to lack of electricity, was trending at the same day that US President Joe Biden promoted Egypt’s agenda to control & deny Ethiopia’s hydroelectric development.

Ethiopians worldwide praised the Addis Ababa University (AAU) graduate, Efrem Belete, for honoring his mother’s painful sacrifice to help him attain higher-education. Efrem’s mother was visibly emotional as he reflected on her support for his education since childhood despite their economic circumstances. Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian women nationwide are known to carry such heavy bundles of firewood daily just to provide cooking power & heat for their families. Efrem’s commendable act during his university graduation ceremony put a spotlight and recognized both his mother and hardworking mothers around the country.

Many observers in social media also noted it is unacceptable that Ethiopian mothers, even those living near urban centers, lack basic human rights in the 21st century due to Western geo-political support for Egyptian monopoly of the Nile river.

In Ethiopia, under 4% of women have access to clean fuel for cooking and over 50 million Ethiopians have no access to electricity. 

Ethiopia is the source of 80% of the Nile but most Ethiopians have no electricity because Egypt was empowered by the West to dominate the water usage & provide electricity to over 99% of the Egyptian population.

US has provided tens of billions of dollars worth military aid, developmental and infrastructural assistance to Egypt since the mid 1900s. After  decades of Egyptian proxy wars against Addis Ababa, Ethiopia recently built the hydroelectric Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by spending over $5 billion of its own hard money because United States and UK blocked international bank financing for the GERD.  This Western diplomatic & financial blockage on Ethiopia also caused several delays in the GERD dam construction as well as reduced quality bidding options to hire international contractors and sub-contractors.

After Egyptian leaders threatened to bomb the GERD, as its construction proceeded, notorious Egyptian lobbyists in Washington DC recently influenced more US politicians to support Egypt gain a legal control on the filling & operation of Ethiopia’s own GERD project. Accordingly, earlier today, President Joe Biden confirmed this prevailing US bias promoting Egyptian interests, by declaring his support for a legal binding agreement between Egypt and Ethiopia “on the filling and operation of the GERD without further delay,” as published on White House gov website. 

On top of American diplomatic and financial support for Cairo, President Biden acknowledged continued US “military equipment and security assistance for Egypt,” which include weapons reportedly being smuggled to rebels destabilizing Gambella state of Ethiopia. In coordination with the TPLF rebel insurrection in the northern Tigray, the regional government of Ethiopia’s Gambella state accused Egypt’s military equipment support for GLF rebels operating at the Western border with Sudan as well as rebels in Benishangul-Gumuz. Recently, popular Gambella activist Jekap Omod also confirmed that Egypt is smuggling its US-funded weapons directly to the rebel leader Gatluak Boum Pal who committed atrocities during its attacks.

African governments have repeatedly attempted various initiatives to peacefully address Egypt’s US-backed monopoly of the Nile and Cairo’s destabilization role in the horn of Africa. Since 2010, seven upstream black-African countries (including Ethiopia) signed a Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) promoting equitable sharing of the river, but Egypt refused to share the water resource and even used its Arab League leadership role to damage Ethiopia economically and diplomatically. 

The inspiring message demonstrated by the Addis Ababa University (AAU) graduate today carrying his mother’s firewood has not only economic implications for millions of Ethiopians but also an impact on women health. Lack of clean energy produces health problems from firewood use for nearly 80 percent of Ethiopia’s rural women while household air pollution is responsible for 46,000 deaths annually, according to a 2018 study at the University of California.

Ethiopian and regional analysts say virtually all of America’s destructive foreign policy decisions in the horn of Africa, including its recent support for Tigrayan rebel insurrectionists in Tigray, connect back to its support for Egypt’s geo-political interests against Ethiopia.

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