In what has to rank as one of the major public relations disasters in 2013, Egyptian politicians during a meeting with President Mohammed Mursi were caught on live television calling for the sabotage and even destruction of the Renaissance Dam now under construction by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile some 13 kilometers from the Sudanese border.
The head of the Islamist Nour Party, Younis Makhyoun, said Egypt should back rebel groups in Ethiopia or, as a last resort, use the Egyptian intelligence service to destroy the dam. The Nour party holds about 25 percent of the seats in Egypt's parliament.
Ayman Nour, head of the liberal Ghad Party, suggested spreading rumors that Egypt was buying advanced military planes that could be understood in Ethiopia as a plan to strike the dam. Abu al-Ila Madi, leader of the pro-Mursi Wasat Party, argued that this might scare the Ethiopians into cooperating with Egypt.
Some of the politicians responsibly warned that spreading rumors or military action was dangerous and could turn Ethiopia into an enemy of Egypt; they suggested a diplomatic response.
Following the embarrassing live broadcast, Egyptian presidential aide for political affairs, Pakinam el-Sharakawi, wrote on twitter "Due to the importance of the topic it was decided at the last minute to air the meeting live. I forgot to inform the participants about the changes. I apologize for any embarrassment caused to the political leaders." This one qualifies for understatement of the year!!!
So far, the Ethiopian response has been restrained. The Associated Press in a brief report on 5 June 2013 titled "Ethiopia: Egypt Attack Proposals 'Day Dreaming'" quotes Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that Egyptian leaders in the past have unsuccessfully tried to destabilize Ethiopia. He called the suggestions of attack or sabotage an "old failed concept" and labeled it "day dreaming."
Solid reporting on this debacle is contained in the following: al-Akhbar "Egypt Politicians Discuss Sabotaging Ethiopian Dam on Live TV"; ABC News "Egyptian Politicians Caught Discussing Plan to Sabotage Ethiopian Dam"; Sudan Tribune "Egypt TV Airs Live Discussion of Ethiopia Dam Sabotage Plans"; and Associated Press "In Meeting with President, Egyptian Politicians Propose Sabotaging Ethiopia's New Dam."