The Takeaway: Egypt welcomes US mediation to assist break high-stakes impasse over Nile dam

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Feb 3, 2021

‘Avalanche of socioeconomic turbulence’ attainable if Nile dam talks fail, says Egypt’s ambassador to the United States

Motaz Zahran, Egypt’s ambassador to the United States, welcomed US and worldwide mediation of a harmful dispute over the Nile’s waters between Egypt and its upriver neighbor, Ethiopia. Zahran stated Addis Ababa is exhibiting “no political will whatsoever” in reaching settlement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is why US and worldwide intervention is required, and welcome, to interrupt the impasse.

  • In his affirmation listening to final month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the stalled GERD talks might “boil over,” and promised that the United States could be “fully engaged” within the area.
  • “We certainly encourage the new administration to be fully engaged in shepherding” a decision of the stalled talks, Zahran stated in an unique interview with Al-Monitor.
  • Egypt relies on the Nile for 95% of its water. If that water supply isn’t rigorously managed, Zahran warns, there’s the “potential to disrupt the livelihoods for over 150 million Egyptians and Sudanese”; all this might “create an avalanche of socioeconomic turbulence.” 

Zahran additionally mentioned:

• Why the US-Egyptian relationship “transcends local politics” in each international locations.

• The Egyptian economic system’s resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic (see under).

• Egypt’s function in Israeli-Palestinian and Libyan peace efforts.

• Egypt’s help for the governments of Sudan and Iraq.

• Turkey’s “extremely destructive role” in Libya, which is creating “another Syria.”

Listen: Check out my dialog with Zahran right here on the newest episode of the “On the Middle East” podcast.

Dateline Syria: Four fast takes from our on-the-ground correspondents

  • The makeoverMohammed al-Golani, chief of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is taken into account a international terrorist group by the United States, the United Nations and others, is hitting the streets in Idlib in his newest bid to recast himself from turbaned al-Qaeda linked terrorist right into a nationalist freedom fighter and a sort of mayor, listening to the complaints of residents about authorities providers and up to date flooding. He just lately appeared in a blue blazer and snappy haircut in a photograph with Martin Smith of PBS. His public relations makeover marketing campaign might be linked to Turkey’s efforts to have interaction HTS with a purpose to maintain Idlib out of the grasp of much more radical teams. Khaled Al-Khateb has the report right here.


  • Idlib crime on the rise. Golani, like several native official, is responding to group occasions. He is probably going selecting up complaints a couple of spike in crime in Idlib, particularly in HTS-controlled areas, making each day life for the folks there much more tough. Armed robberies, abductions and auto theft are all on the rise. Sultan Al-Kanj has the report right here from Idlib.


  • Car bombs in FSA-controlled areas. “The northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo, in addition to the north of Raqqa governorate and parts of the northwestern countryside of Hasakah governorate, which are under the control of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), are relatively safer” than different areas of Syria, writes Mohammed Hardan. “No bombings or raids by the Syrian regime and its allies are carried out there, unlike in Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo. However, being relatively the safest does not necessarily mean safe; northern Syria faces the danger of rigged cars and motorcycles.” Check out Hardan’s report right here on why automotive bombs are on the rise.


  • Women break taboos with bikes. Overcoming harassment and taboos, and a prohibition on girls using bikes and bikes, feminine journalists and activists in Qamishli, in northeastern Syria, began an initiative known as “I Want a Bike.” The marketing campaign encourages girls’s empowerment and reliance on bikes to cut back air pollution and keep away from site visitors delays. Akhin Ahmed has the report right here.

Iran nuclear deal: Israel wants ‘united entrance’ in opposing Iran deal, says former ambassador to US

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, is totally nice with Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief Aviv Kochavi talking out towards the United States returning to the nuclear cope with Iran and saying that he has, as a contingency, “instructed the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans in addition to those already in place,” as Ben Caspit stories.

War footing.” “Israel needs to present a ‘united front’ in opposition to the Iran deal,” Oren instructed Caspit on this week’s “On Israel” podcast, including that if the United States and Iran recommit to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, “We will be on a war footing.”

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Feb. 1, inspired the European Union to “choreograph” a return of each Iran and the United States to the Iran deal, as we report right here.

Marked friction.” Oren described Rob Malley, who has been appointed US envoy for Iran, as “intensely intelligent” and capable, and also noted that Malley has had some “marked friction” with Israel. Rob’s appointment “shouldn’t be possible in any solution to dispel our issues or ease our anxieties” about the Iran deal, Oren told Caspit.

Elizabeth Hagedorn has the background here on the over 200 progressives and foreign policy experts and former officials who have come to Malley’s defense from detractors’ allegations that he is soft on Iran. 

Cool thing: Egypt’s first woman mixed martial arts fighter pummels stereotypes

“I want women to not only practice the sport but also make it part of their lives as a means of defending themselves in any situation,” said Aya Saied, 29, who fights by the name of Sheklesa, who is the first and only woman on Egypt’s first mixed martial arts “Top Team.”

Cairo is notorious for cases of harassment of women. A 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found Cairo to be the most dangerous big city for women, and a United Nations’ survey in 2013 found that over 99.3% of women had experienced harassment in Egypt, Farouk reports.

Menna Farouk has the report here from Cairo.

In case you missed it: UN Syria envoy says, ‘We can’t continue like this’

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen expressed his disappointment to the “small physique” of the Syria Constitutional Committee, saying, “We can’t proceed like this.”

The latest weeklong meeting of the group in Geneva revealed a process that appears to be going nowhere, absent a new understanding of how to proceed. The Constitutional Committee, which is tasked with drawing up a new constitution, has 150 members, equally divided among representatives of the government, opposition and civil society. The small group has 45 members, drawn from the 150.

You can learn Pedersen’s remarks to the press right here, and my September 2019 interview with Pedersen here.

What we’re reading: IMF report on Egypt indicates success, to date, in managing COVID

Last month’s IMF report on Egypt chronicles a success story, so far, in the Egyptian government’s efforts to mitigate the negative economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Measures taken to deal with the well being and social wants and help the sectors most straight affected by the disaster seem to have helped mitigate the influence of the shock,” says the report, and Egypt’s economic system is predicted to develop, relatively than contract. You can learn it right here.