Egypt hopes China can break impasse in Nile dam dispute

CAIRO — Egypt is following a brand new coverage course on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in newest bid to get Ethiopia to comply with signal a legally binding deal on the dam. Cairo is approaching Ethiopia’s closest allies, beginning with China.

During a assembly with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi within the northwestern coastal metropolis of Alamein on July 18, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi mentioned, “Egypt is unwavering in its determination to protect its historical right to its water share from the Nile.”

Ethiopia’s second-stage filling of the dam’s reservoir is near completion.

Egypt, which took the dam situation to the United Nations Security Council on July 8, objected to the second-stage filling of the dam and accused Ethiopia of appearing unilaterally and overlooking Egyptian considerations in regards to the results the disruption within the stream of the Nile would have on its folks.

There is deep concern in Cairo that the filling and the operation of the Ethiopian dam will deprive water-poor Egypt of a big a part of its annual share from the Nile, its main supply of water.

Political observers in Egypt say that China might play an essential position in settling the disaster over the Ethiopian dam.

“However, Chinese intervention can come in the form of advice, not pressure on the Ethiopian government, with the aim of ending the deadlock in dam negotiations,” Mustafa Kamel al-Sayed, a professor of political science at Cairo University, instructed Al-Monitor.

China invests closely in Ethiopia. It considers the East African nation a hub for its Belt and Road Initiative, which goals to develop China’s sphere of affect by financing infrastructure all through the worldwide south.

Ethiopia imports most of its items from China. By June 2020, Chinese firms had formulated plans to spend $2.7 billion in Ethiopia by means of some 1,500 initiatives. Ethiopia owes $16 billion to Chinese lenders, almost half of the East African nation’s overseas money owed.

China and Ethiopia established diplomatic ties in 1970. Over these 50 years, the 2 nations’ relations reworked massively. In 2017, they elevated their relations to a complete strategic partnershipTwo Chinese firms at the moment are taking part within the development of GERD, having been contracted by the Ethiopian authorities in February 2019.

In 2019, China was the biggest overseas direct funding supply for Ethiopia, based on the 2020 report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. In the identical 12 months, China accounted for almost 60% of newly accredited overseas initiatives within the East African nation. In 2020, commerce between the 2 nations amounted to $14.56 billion.

China can be one in all Egypt’s largest buying and selling companions, with big investments in Egypt. It plans to ascertain an industrial zone in the Suez Canal area. Chinese firms are additionally taking part within the development of the New Administrative Capital, a megacity being constructed on the outskirts of Cairo.

Egypt can be an essential nation for the Belt and Road Initiative, as a gateway for Chinese items into markets on the African continent.

“Egypt uses the diplomatic tools at its disposal to the utmost,” Aida Nacif, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations within the Egyptian Senate, instructed Al-Monitor. “Beijing can play an important role in settling the dam crisis in the coming period.”

Nevertheless, Chine’s longstanding noninterference coverage threatens to impede it from taking part in an lively position within the Nile dam dispute, observers say. As the battle over the dam has worsened through the years, Beijing has finished little to convey events to the battle collectively.

“China could have played a more decisive role in the dispute over the Ethiopian dam if it had wanted to,” al-Sayed mentioned. “It could have suspended the supply of the necessary equipment for the power stations of the dam.”

Ethiopia is beset by battle already, threatening Chinese investments. In the northern Tigray area, intense preventing is raging between authorities forces and its affiliated militias and the native forces.

China doesn’t need to see Ethiopia, which along with Eritrea and Djibouti is central to Chinese investments and financial aspirations in Africa, concerned in a army confrontation with one other nation.

“Chinese investments in Ethiopia give China strong influence in the East African country,” Asian affairs specialist Nadia Helmi instructed Al-Monitor. “China knows that its investments in Ethiopia will be in peril if the current dispute over the dam evolves into a military confrontation.”

China has put aside its noninterference coverage every now and then to guard its investments or support its allies, corresponding to in the battle between Sudan and South Sudan. Beijing was instrumental in bringing the battle between the 2 sides to an finish in 2015.

Egypt might approach Ethiopia’s different allies to strain Addis Ababa to signal a deal after Russia dissatisfied Cairo in the course of the newest Security Council session on the dam.

Concerns for armed battle are rising amid speak in Cairo in regards to the want for army intervention to cease Ethiopia from disrupting Egypt’s sources.  

Sisi warned July 15, the second time in 4 months, in opposition to harming his nation’s water rights. “Egypt has the political tools and military and economic power to determine its own fate and enforce its own will,” Sisi instructed a cheering congregation of residents at Cairo Stadium. “Egypt’s national security is a red line.”

During his assembly with Sisi, Wang mentioned his nation acknowledges the acute significance of the Nile for Egypt. China, he added, will stay invested to find an answer to this situation that serves the pursuits of all events.

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