Egypt’s decisions slender on the Nile dam disaster

CAIRO — In an interview with Bloomberg tv on Sept. 8, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry mentioned Egypt is dedicated to talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) disaster and desires to keep away from any navy battle.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty instructed Al-Jazeera on Sept. 6 about “diplomatic actions regarding the GERD.” He defined that “these actions cannot be announced unless they are fruitful.” He didn’t present any additional particulars about their nature.

Following a five-month stalemate because the final spherical of negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Kinshasa below the auspices of the African Union (AU) on April 6, Egypt known as on the UN Security Council to look into the case. On July 8, the world physique really useful the resumption of negotiations below the AU.

On July 19, Ethiopia introduced the completion of the second filling of the dam’s reservoir with out an settlement with its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan, which escalated tensions between the three Nile Basin nations.

In this context, Rakha Hassan, member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, instructed Al-Monitor, “As the military option is unlikely for Egypt, negotiations remain the only possible course of action, alongside political pressure and soft power, specifically with Germany and Italy, whose companies operate in the GERD, in addition to the African countries that back Ethiopia.”

On whether or not a brand new spherical of AU-negotiations would fail, Hassan mentioned, “Jumping to conclusions is not recognized in diplomacy.”

On Aug. 26, regional media shops cited nameless Sudanese sources as saying that Tunisia intends to submit a revised draft decision on the GERD to the Security Council, calling on Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia to renew talks to reach a binding settlement on filling and working the dam. Tunisia had submitted a draft decision in July, calling on Addis Ababa to halt its unilateral strikes and return to the negotiations to reach an settlement inside six months.

Hassan believes the brand new Tunisian draft decision is just not an answer as a result of the council is not going to tackle the GERD disaster except the AU informs it that it has exhausted all means and did not reach an settlement.

Hassan mentioned that resorting to worldwide arbitration is the final resort as a result of the disputing nations will probably be compelled to just accept the end result of this arbitration, no matter it could be. Therefore, the technique of negotiations and mediation have to be exhausted first, he famous. “Failure to reach a result in the negotiations is not the end of it. We must continue to try and exploit Egypt’s interests with different countries to reach a solution.

Egypt has recently been reaching out to several countries in the region as part of efforts to mobilize support for its position in the crisis. On Sept.13, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed the GERD file. Following the meeting, Sisi said he sensed a common understanding between the two sides.

On Sept. 10, Egyptian assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs Badr Abdel-Aty and Director-General of Political Affairs at the Italian Foreign Ministry Pasquale Ferrara addressed the GERD issue during the talks in Cairo.

Meanwhile, Shoukry met with his Burundian counterpart, Albert Shinjiro, in Cairo on Sept. 7. The two officials discussed the GERD issue, with Shinjiro expressing his country’s support for Egypt.

Mostafa Kamel el-Sayed, professor of political science at Cairo University, does not believe there is a third option for Egypt other than military intervention or negotiations, except for relying on itself to maximize its benefit from the Nile waters.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Sayed mentioned the government’s plan to rationalize water use, line canals, reuse wastewater after refining it and increasing cooperation with Nile Basin countries, specifically the White Nile countries, to benefit from the increased water flowing into Egypt from there.

He added, “In the past days, the media circulated news about Tunisia’s willingness to submit a new draft resolution to the Security Council regarding the GERD. But the council’s intervention in the crisis is currently unlikely because the current high level of flooding in Egypt makes the council’s intervention not urgent, given that the dam is not currently a source of harm.”

Sayed mentioned, “The current weakness of the Ethiopian government due to internal armed conflicts may rekindle hopes for a change in the Ethiopian position on the GERD crisis during negotiations under the auspices of the AU, and make it more willing to accept a consensual solution between the three parties.”

Sudan and Egypt, which endure from water shortage, fear the GERD will have an effect on their shares of the Nile water, whereas Ethiopia considers the dam an existential challenge for the event of its nation by producing electrical energy.

Heba al-Bashbeshi, researcher on the Institute of African Studies at Cairo University, instructed Al-Monitor the AU will play position in resolving the GERD disaster within the coming interval, particularly because the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the present AU chair, mentioned earlier than that it’s looking for to develop a highway map to get out of the disaster.

On Sept. 9, Ethiopian Minister of Water and Irrigation Seleshi Bekele introduced his nation intends to generate electrical energy from the generators of the GERD by the Ethiopian New Year, which falls on Sept. 11.

He mentioned in a press release, “Ethiopia is currently unstable; the fate of its government is unknown, and these circumstances must be taken into account.”

“Maybe a new agreement will be made or the AU may become a party to the process of filling and operating the dam; no one knows,” he added.

Al-Monitor tried to contact a member of the Egyptian negotiating committee and a spokesperson for the Ministry of Irrigation for touch upon the destiny of negotiations, however there was no reply.

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