Rising tension between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia

PARIS, (BM) – In 2011, Ethiopia launched the “Grand Renaissance” [GERD] dam project built on the Nile to provide it with the capacity to produce 15,000 gigawatts/hour each year. Enough to enable it to put an end to the electricity shortage and accelerate its industrialization and therefore its development, as opex360 reports.

Only, for that, he must fill a storage lake that can contain up to 67 billion cubic meters. However, for Egypt as Sudan, it is not the question as much, the waters of the Nile being vital for these two countries.

Thus, if Ethiopia keeps its project as it is, 12% of Egypt’s water needs [population, industry, agriculture] would no longer be covered. However, negotiations have failed to reach an agreement between Addis Ababa, Cairo, and Khartoum.

In early March, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi again criticized Ethiopia’s intention to proceed with the second phase of filling its storage lake. “We reject the policy of imposing a fait accompli and extending control over the Blue Nile through unilateral measures without taking into account the interests of Sudan and Egypt,” he said in a statement trip to Khartoum.

Egypt and Sudan “agreed to relaunch negotiations through quadripartite mediation including the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States … to reach an agreement before the flood season”, then specified the Egyptian president.

On March 30, the latter again returned to the charge. “No one can afford to take a drop of water from Egypt; otherwise, the region will experience unimaginable instability,” he warned of the Ethiopian dam. “No one should imagine that it is far from the reach of Egypt”, he insisted, stressing that the share of the waters of the Nile going to his country was a “red line”.

But the Ethiopian authorities are still sticking to their positions. “Ethiopia does not intend to hurt Egypt with its dam. I want our brothers who live on the other side [in Egypt and Sudan, editor’s note] to understand that we don’t want to live in darkness. We need a light bulb,” said Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian Prime Minister, in response to criticism from Cairo.

On April 7, Ethiopia announced that it would stay the course, that is to say, that it would continue to fill the GERD storage lake after the failure of negotiations led by the foreign ministers. Of the three countries concerned, under the aegis of the Congolese President, Félix Tshisekedi, who holds the rotating presidency of the African Union [AU].

“The filling will therefore continue during the next rainy season, which is due to start in June or July,” said Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water minister. “As construction progresses, filling takes place,” he continued. “We are not giving it up,” he said.

In Khartoum, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas warned that if “Ethiopia undertakes the second filling without a deal,” then “all options” would be considered, “including returning to the Security Council [and ] the road to political hardening.”

As for the Egyptian president, he says almost the same thing as the Sudanese minister. “I say to our Ethiopian brothers: do not touch a drop of the water of Egypt because all options are open,” said Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Which, after his previous statements, can amount to military action.

In 2018, Mr. al-Sisi had hinted that he could go as far as armed confrontation if necessary. “The people of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt need investments, not wars. But at the same time, we are asked to preserve the lives of 100 million Egyptians,” he said, after referring to the military might of his country.

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