Egypt, Sudan accuse Ethiopia of stalling Nile dam talks

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Feb 1, 2021

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has lately accused Ethiopia of obstructing negotiations to reach a binding settlement on the large hydroelectric dam being constructed by Addis Ababa on the Blue Nile.

In a speech to parliament on Jan. 26, Shoukry stated Cairo engaged in US-brokered talks final yr to strike a balanced settlement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that preserves the pursuits of all involved events, i.e., Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

The tripartite talks resulted in a US-mediated draft deal to resolve their dispute. Egypt initialed the settlement, however Ethiopia skipped the signing ceremony and accused then-US President Donald Trump of siding with Cairo. Sudan attended the assembly however didn’t signal.

“Ethiopia rejected the deal and boycotted the negotiations in Washington and started to unilaterally fill the dam without an agreement on the rules of the GERD filling and operation,” Shoukry stated to parliament.

Ethiopia accomplished the primary filling of the dam final yr and vowed to begin the second part of filling the GERD reservoir in August of this yr.

The chief diplomat stated Cairo participated in all negotiations and conferences within the hope of reaching an settlement however was met with Ethiopian intransigence.

“Egypt will not compromise or bow down to threats to its interests in the Nile River or its water rights,” Shoukry pressured. “Egypt will not allow any attempt to impose the policy of fait accompli and will not let any party dominate the Nile River.”

Egypt relies upon almost fully on the Nile River for its water provide and fears that the GERD will drastically scale back its water share. Ethiopia says the dam, which is being constructed near the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, a essential tributary of the Nile River, won’t hurt Egypt and Sudan, two downstream international locations.

Cairo has launched into a diplomatic offensive aimed toward convincing Ethiopia to signal a binding settlement on the filling and operation of the large dam, together with bringing the difficulty to the UN Security Council’s consideration. Addis Ababa has refused to bow to the stress.

Several rounds of African Union (AU) -sponsored negotiations between the three international locations have didn’t yield any outcomes amid frictions on thorny points like drought mitigation and dispute decision.

On Jan. 24, Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Ati blamed Ethiopian obstinacy for the failure to reach an settlement on the GERD.

“Ethiopia has backed down on all agreed principles to resolve the dam dispute,” Abdel Ati informed parliament. “Unfortunately, Ethiopia is showing intransigency regarding the Nile dam file.”

Sudanese Defense Minister Yassin Ibrahim on Jan. 25 accused Addis Ababa of procrastination concerning reaching a binding deal on the dam mission.

“Currently, we are trapped in a vicious cycle of negotiations,” Ibrahim informed the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya tv. “Sudan has no demands other than participating in the administration of the dam project and sharing information.”

Sudan stands to realize from the dam’s hydropower and movement regulation however worries that filling the large dam with out an settlement threatens the protection of its personal dams.

Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas stated Jan. 24 the GERD poses a direct menace to the Roseires Dam, the most important in Sudan. “Since war is not an option, Sudan has started a diplomatic effort to urge the international community to shoulder its responsibility toward the Ethiopian threat to half of Sudan’s population on the Blue Nile,” he stated.

Abbas continued, “Sudan will not allow the filling and operation of the GERD without a binding agreement that guarantees the safety of the country’s dams and lives of its population.”

Sudan and Ethiopia are engaged in a border battle over the disputed al-Faqsha border area. Khartoum says the realm round al-Fashqa was demarcated below colonial-era treaties relationship again to 1902 and falls into the nation’s border.

Sudan dispatched delegations to Kenya, South Africa and Saudi Arabia to elucidate its stance concerning the Nile dam dispute and present border battle with Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Seleshi Bekele, in the meantime, accused Cairo and Khartoum Jan. 30 of disrupting the GERD negotiations.

“The prediction about the outbreak of war on the waters of the Nile is wrong,” Bekele stated. “[The GERD] is a factor in strengthening and developing the Nile Basin countries.”

Bekele continued, “After a consensus was reached with Egypt on the proposals of the AU experts, Sudan withdrew. And when an agreement was reached with Sudan on the proposals of the AU experts, Egypt withdrew.”

Amani al-Tawil, director of the African program at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, opines that buying and selling accusations between the three international locations goals to attract US consideration to the dam dispute.

“The Nile dam negotiations are now at a standstill, and accusations between the parties are primarily meant to draw the attention of the new US administration, as it is still shaping its policies on world affairs,” Tawil informed Al-Monitor.

Tawil thinks that Egypt and Sudan will search to escalate their diplomatic marketing campaign to pile stress on Ethiopia to melt its place on reaching a binding settlement on the rules of filling and operation of the GERD.

“Cairo and Khartoum are likely to launch a campaign to internationalize the Nile dam issue,” Tawil stated. “Egypt is not excluding any option as Cairo will not allow Addis Ababa to complete the second filling of the dam reservoir without an agreement.”

Gamal Bayoumi, former assistant minister for international affairs, believes Ethiopia was refusing to reach an settlement on the dam mission for political causes.

“This Ethiopian intransigence is based on non-technical reasons, as Addis Ababa wants to show that it is politically more powerful than Egypt,” Bayoumi informed Al-Monitor by cellphone. “Addis Ababa is seeking to push Cairo to agree on buying the Nile water, but this will not happen since the Nile River is an international river.”

The former diplomat suggested the Egyptian authorities to observe a wait-and-see angle in coping with the Ethiopian dam file. “Cairo has to show patience and should not be dragged into a conflict with Ethiopia over the dam project,” he stated.

Bayoumi continued that Ethiopia can’t retailer water behind the dam for good since Addis Ababa is primarily in search of to make use of the GERD for electrical energy era.

“The dam issue needs patience and clever diplomacy from Cairo in order to continue embarrassing Ethiopia diplomatically until it bows to the Egyptian and Sudanese demands,” he stated. “What Egypt needs to do now is to find other options to fulfill its needs of water in the first years of filling the dam reservoir.”