Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

‘Confused’ Trump mocked after claiming he should have won Nobel Peace Prize for 'saving’ Ethiopia

Seemingly bizarre claim comes days after US president threatened war crimes in Iran

Andy Gregory
Saturday 11 January 2020 14:53 GMT
Donald Trump boasts about Soleimani killing before complaining about not winning Nobel Peace Prize

Donald Trump appears to have confused a historic peace accord with another dispute while claiming he saved Ethiopia from war and should have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

“I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country,” Mr Trump told supporters at a rally in Ohio on Thursday night.

Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the accolade in October 2019, in part for his efforts in brokering a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea after two decades of violent conflict.

“I said, ‘what, did I have something do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is,” Mr Trump claimed, days after threatening to commit war crimes in Iran. “As long as we know, that’s all that matters. I saved a big war, saved a couple of ‘em.”

Although there is no public record of meaningful US involvement, it’s possible that Trump administration officials played an undisclosed role in brokering the deal.

But the general consensus appears to be that Mr Trump is actually confusing the historic 2018 peace accord with a current dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the building of a dam on the River Nile.

Ethiopia says its new dam is essential for its development, but Egypt asserts its water supply will be threatened as a result. The US has been acting as a convenor, and ministers from the three East African countries are expected to meet in Washington on Monday to report on the failure of their latest round of talks.

Mr Trump’s claims were were swiftly shot down by members of his own congress.

“Trump is confused,” the US House Foreign Affairs committee wrote on Twitter. “Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Prize​ for his efforts to bring peace to the Horn of Africa, not stalled negotiations about a new dam on the Nile.

“If they gave the Nobel for deals that didn’t happen, the president would have a shelf full of them.”

It’s far from the first time Mr Trump has asserted his suitability for the Nobel Prize, for which his efforts in improving relations with North Korea earned him a nomination. His predecessor Barack Obama was awarded the prize in 2009.

Mr Trump is currently attempting to take credit for avoiding war in the Middle East, after he sparked a major diplomatic crisis by ordering the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

While Mr Ahmed’s office declined to comment on Mr Trump’s latest outburst when contacted by local media, a senior official in Ethiopia’s foreign office also believed the US president was confusing events.

“He was talking about Egypt and Ethiopia,” the official said, who spoke on condition of anonymity and also said that Egypt’s president had lobbied Mr Trump over the disputed dam project, which led to the US taking a role in the discussions.

“President Trump really believes he avoided a war as such ... but that was not the case,” the official said.

Trump doubles down on threat to take oil from Syria likely a war crime

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Ethiopia also appeared to reject the notion that Mr Trump had anything to do with the peace accord, directing reporters to secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s statement congratulating Mr Ahmed on winning the prize.​

“The United States congratulates Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali, prime minister of Ethiopia, on the prestigious honour of being the 100th recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize,” Mr Pompeo had written.

He commended Mr Ahmed’s commitment to seeking peace on the African continent and ending conflict with Eritrea as demonstrating “courage, strength, and leadership”.

Mr Trump did not publicly congratulate the Ethiopian premier on his success, although he was possibly preoccupied with the inquiry into his alleged abuse of power during a phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, for which he was impeached.

Additional reporting by AP

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in