A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

For the Annals of "Oops! Was This Microphone Live?": Egyptian Threats to Ethiopia Go Out Live on TV

Is this thing working?

I haven't posted yet about the growing dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia (and Sudan as well) over Ethiopia's plan for a big new Blue Nile dam. Egyptian President Morsi was fairly accepting initially but orher Egyptians are unhappy and fear the Ethiopian project threatens Egypt's water supply. So President Morsi called a meeting of Egyptian political and religious leaders to talk about it.

And talk they did:
The meeting, which was broadcast live on Egyptian television, was full of what some Cairo-based African diplomats described as a condescending Egyptian reflection on Africa. Some suggestions heard from participants included sabotaging the dam, interfering in internal political disputes in Ethiopia, or bribing local tribes, with the aim of prohibiting any potential reduction in Egypt’s annual share of the Nile waters.
You did notice the "which was broadcast live on Egyptian television" part, right?  Well, apparently some of the participants are now saying  they weren't told that their helpful, diplomatic suggestions about sabotage and subversion of Ethiopia were being broadcast. And apparently, that was indeed the case:
While Morsi did not respond to any of the controversial statements made at the meeting, his aide for political affairs, Pakinam El-Sharqawy, has since apologised for failing to inform attendees that the 'national dialog' meeting was being broadcast live.
"It was initially planned that the national meeting would be recorded and aired the following day as is usually the case, but due to the importance of the topic it was decided at the last minute to air the meeting live," she said via Facebook late on Monday. "I forgot to inform attendees of the changes."
Oops. Welcome to democracy, folks, where live microphones have been known to cause trouble. I don't think they've ever started a war yet, but this is in the running.

No comments: