Al-Sisi visited Kenya amid Egypt’s excessive activities with Ethiopia’s neighboring countries

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi paid on Saturday a one-day official visit to Kenya upon an invitation from his Kenyan counterpart.

At the presidential palace located in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, al-Sisi and Kenyatta discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations between both countries.

In a press conference, Al-Sisi expressed his pleasure to be in Kenya and stressed that the cooperation between both countries in trade and security fields is welcomed.

Al-Sisi also praised during his speech the role of the Islamic institution Al-Azhar in countering terrorism and extremism through its moderate rhetoric.

The main subjects of the sessions between al-Sisi and his Kenyan counterpart revolved around the updates regarding the affairs inside the Horn of Africa region and ways to enhance security and peace in it, means to develop cooperation between Nile basin countries, and discussions on the cooperation in countering terrorism and facing growing extremist ideology, according to a presidency statement issued during the press conference.

Also, the visit also focused on enhancing the economic relations between both countries.

In this context, Al-Sisi agreed with his Kenyan counterpart to increase trade between the two countries to $1 billion over two years through a number of joint ventures in various fields.

Accordingly, the two countries agreed to remove double taxation on imports, which means that goods from either country will only be subjected to import duty.

In addition, they also stressed the importance of activating the agreements which are already signed between the two countries, as well as the preparation of new agreements,especially, in the field of prevention of double taxation and protection of investment, in order to provide a suitable climate to increase the cooperation in the fields of economy and investments.

It is worth to mention that the volume of bilateral trade between Egypt and Kenya in 2016 was around $451 million.

In addition, al-Sisi and Kenyatta agreed to hold the meetings of the seventh session of the joint committee, chaired by the foreign ministers during 2017, with good preparation for the development of relations between the two countries in various fields.

Kenya and Egypt have a Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) aimed at promoting bilateral cooperation. Since its establishment, six sessions have been held, alternating between Nairobi and Cairo during which five Agreements/MoUs were signed in 2015.

The seventh session is expected to be held in Egypt later this year.

Within the framework of the JCC, Kenyans continue to receive specialized training in the fields of medicine, agriculture, security and diplomacy in various Egyptian institutions.

Al-Sisi’s Excessive Activities with Ethiopia’s Neighboring Countries

Although al-Sisi’s visit to Kenya mainly focused on bolstering the economic and trade relations between both countries, however, there is no doubt that the Renaissance Dam would probably be one of Al-Sisi’s issues during his visit in the light of his excessive activities with Ethiopia’s neighboring countries.

Al-Sisi visited Uganda on December 18,2016, which was followed by South Sudan’s President Silva Kiir visited Cairo on January 9,2017, and here comes the latest visit to Kenya.

These consecutive visits to Ethiopia’s neighboring countries, open the door for various speculations on the purpose of these visits and their relations with Ethiopia’s grand project, especially that some media reports pointed to the presence of a tripartite alliance between Egypt,Uganda and South Sudan against Ethiopia.

Last January, the Egyptian newspaper al-Dostour published an article titled,“In Cooperation between Cairo, Juba, and Uganda… Egypt leads a tripartite alliance to siege Ethiopia.”

The Egyptian newspaper mentioned that Egypt seeks to enhance its movements in Africa and especially with the Nile basin countries.

It also reported that Egypt, Juba, and Uganda currently form a tripartite alliance its main target to siege Ethiopia, support Egypt’s interests in the region and put pressure on Addis Ababa’s government if necessary.

Moreover,a senior SPLM-IO(South Sudan’s armed opposition) official told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) last January  in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa that South Sudan’s armed opposition (SPLM/A-IO) accused Cairo and Juba of working on a secret deal to keep South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in power.

However, South Sudanese rebels stated that the main player in these secret negotiations is Uganda that paved the way between South Sudan and Egypt.

In this context, an intelligence source was cited saying that South Sudan and Egypt have been in talks for sometimes.

The rebel official, who asked to remain anonymous in the report because of the sensitivity of the issue, explained that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has brokered a “dirty deal” which would allow Kiir to receive lethal weapons and ammunition from Egypt to wage a full-scale war against the armed opposition.

The source said, “There is a dirty deal going between Kiir and Al-Sisi,” adding that “the issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of the main deals being finalized in Cairo.”

The source ensured, “Our intelligence sources in Kampala and Juba confirmed that Egypt wants South Sudan and Uganda to be her regional allies so that she can advance its covert sabotage campaign against the Ethiopian Dam. The man [Kiir] is a double agent; he will cause many problems for the entire East Africa region.”

One of the SPLM/A-IO leaders in Cairo also mentioned that some areas in Cairo where South Sudanese live have witnessed increased police activities in recent days, according to South Sudan News Agency.

The source stated that Kiir’s visit aims mainly to issue with al-Sisi Egypt’s interests in East Africa, military deal brokered by Uganda, and ways to maintain peace in South Sudan in case if the current Transitional Government of National Unity collapses.

The source continued, saying Kiir asked al-Sisi to help strengthen relations between Khartoum and Juba so that he could further isolate South Sudanese rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar.

In return, Kiir would assist Al-Sisi regarding the Renaissance Dam issue as Egypt fears that its establishment would have negative repercussion on its water shares from the Nile River.

Ethiopians consider the dam, which is expected to be ready by July 2017, a great national project and a means of overcoming poverty.

Egypt’s share of 55 billion square meters is the country’s main supply of drinking water and irrigates the Nile Delta and generates nearly half of the country’s electricity through the operation of the Aswan High Dam.

Ethiopia Previous Accusations against Egypt

It is noteworthy that Ethiopia has accused Egypt of destabilizing the country’s national security.

Last December, the Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that there are Egyptian institutions harboring, supporting, and funding terrorist groups in Ethiopia, during his interview on Al- Muqabla show aired on Al-Jazeera.

The Ethiopian prime minister’s comments came in response to a question regarding his country’s claims that Egypt and Eritrea are supporting opposition groups in Ethiopia.

Desalegn explained that they repeatedly addressed the Egyptian authorities regarding those institutions, and called on them to take suitable procedures against them and investigate them, adding that Egyptian authorities have denied their relation with these institutions.

Among these groups is the Oromo Liberation Front, he noted.

The minister explained that they need not refer to intelligence findings to obtain information regarding these institutions since the information is already available on the internet and on Egyptian media outlets.

The prime minister said that the support of these institutions will impact relations between both countries, as it targets Ethiopia’s stability.

He concluded that Ethiopia is awaiting Egypt’s response regarding this issue.

Although the anchor pushed the narrative of an Egyptian intervention due to building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the prime minister denied such claims saying that is not the cause, as the dam will be built without any influence from Egypt or Sudan.

This was not the first time that Ethiopia stated such claims against Egypt. In early October, a video showed members from the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front sharing a stage with what Ethiopian media described as Egyptians.

The Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry commented on the video saying that Egypt does not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.

Ethiopian refugees in Egypt, including people from the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups, usually arrange rallies in front of the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Cairo to protest against the Ethiopian government’s violations against opposition groups in their homeland.

The Oromo and Amhara represent the largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. A significant proportion of these communities have fled Ethiopia due to the persecution and violent treatment by the state. Opposing members of these groups are frequently protesting in Ethiopia causing them to face prison and death.

The Oromo people have an estimated population of 40 million, including 20,000 political prisoners who are accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front, an outlawed group labeled as a terrorist organization.