Friday Prayers for Egypt: Dam, Servicemen Voting

Flag Cross Quran


Trouble in Egypt this week is long term, but there are always some to make it short. In an effort to develop domestic water and energy resources, Ethiopia began redirecting the Blue Nile in preparation for dam construction. Downstream, Egypt fears a reduction in water – a severe problem for a desert nation with a rapidly growing population.

Meanwhile, in domestic politics the High Constitutional Court ruled against the draft elections law, in part because it continues the previous disenfranchisement of military and police personnel. Yes, it seems all should have the right to vote. But in a nation undergoing a democratic transition, some fear the voting of servicemen might reverse recent revolutionary gains.

In fact, many Islamists see a conspiracy, and have called for a referendum to disband the High Court altogether. An even broader swath of political Egypt sees conspiracy in Ethiopia, declaring the dam to be an act of war.

God, perhaps principles mean little in politics and international relations. Interests often trump all, even if they must be disguised within principles. But where in these issues is the right and the just? Where is the balance, and who makes the determination?

God, develop and provide for Ethiopia, using the resources you have placed in her land. But Egypt is the gift of the Nile; forgiver her for being often a wasteful and ungrateful recipient. Teach her to conserve, but the issue is beyond proper management. According to studies a 50% increase in Nile water quota will be needed by 2050.

Help the government of both nations, along with all others in Nile Basin, to succeed in mutually fruitful negotiations. Water is life; if desperate men will fight and kill for it. But keep greed and rivalry from being a part of the equation, God. Give wisdom to the president to neglect this issue no longer. Egypt’s future is at stake, but may cooler heads prevail. Hard choices will be necessary and are more easily passed into the future. But curb any who wish to exploit this issue for short term gain.

And so, similarly, for the servicemen. It seems right that all should vote. But, where democratic culture does not yet exist, institutions often function as blocs; is it wise to invite the recently disempowered military and police into a democratic exercise, possibly manipulating it to their own ends? Abstract principles rarely exist in practical policy, God. What is best for Egypt?

But if there is an institution to distill issues into principles, it is the judiciary. Servicemen are citizens, and should not be discriminated against. But if the judiciary is corrupt, the corruption is deep; if motivated by interests, they are skilled in disguising through the language of law.

But in this are Islamists above board, God? Are they seizing on legitimate debate to remove a politicized opponent, or an obstacle to their domination? Are they motivated by principle, or interest? This question repeats itself over and over again since the revolution, God. Provide an answer to the people upon whom sovereignty depends.

Make this sovereignty real, God. In water and politics, have an informed people sort properly both interests and principles. Give them the faith necessary to do so according to your will.