New Round of Long-Term Talks over GERD

A round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ( Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources)
A round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ( Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources)
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New Round of Long-Term Talks over GERD

A round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ( Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources)
A round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ( Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources)

A new round of long-term negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) continued Tuesday with the participation of the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

The new round began in Cairo, seeking an agreement on the dam's operating rules despite fears of failing to reach a deal as in previous rounds.

The Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said the meeting follows up on recent talks held in Cairo and Addis Ababa over the past two months.

It indicated that the Cairo meeting is based on talks between the three countries to accelerate the process of reaching an agreement on the rules for filling and operating GERD, following a meeting between leaders of Egypt and Ethiopia on July 13.

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry also stated Monday that it is committed to reaching a negotiated result through the tripartite talks.

It stressed in an official statement that the three countries are expected to carry out their joint responsibility to ensure fair and reasonable use of the Nile River.

Observers believe the repeated negotiations without significant results led to increasing fears of not reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties.

They explained that it comes with a change in the parameters of many controversial points, some of which have become futile to discuss due to Ethiopia's imposition of a 'de facto policy.'

Last September, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the completion of the fourth round of filling of the GERD reservoir, which was criticized by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, saying it ignored "the interests and rights of the downstream countries and their water security."

The Deputy Director of al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (APSS), Ayman Abdel Wahab, considered that many contentious points have changed due to Addis Ababa's policy of imposing a fait accompli.

Abdel Wahab told Asharq Al-Awsat that some points of contention between Egypt and Ethiopia have been overcome because they have become a fait accompli, such as the rules for filling the dam and safety measures.

According to the expert, Addis Ababa does not have the political will to sign a binding agreement but instead creates new controversial points in every round of negotiations, such as its recent insistence on ensuring a water share allocation.

In addition, former advisor to the Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Diaaeddine al-Qusi believes that many of the controversial points relate to technical details such as the dam's safety parameters, which is a scientific matter that may harm all Nile Basin countries in the event of a natural disaster.

Qusi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that there were many controversial points related to the future and the operating rules of the dam, noting that it was necessary to form committees to address disputes between the two countries in the event of disagreements.

He indicated that there should also be a committee that manages the mechanisms for periods of drought during which rainfall and water levels drop.

Qusi explained that Ethiopia has operated only one turbine out of the five that were supposed to be included in the dam, as handling all the turbines will pump the surplus water back towards Sudan and Egypt.



Clashes Escalate in Sudan’s North Darfur

Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)
Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)
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Clashes Escalate in Sudan’s North Darfur

Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)
Rapid Support Forces members. (AP)

Clashes renewed on Monday between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in several locations in North Darfur, while each side claimed to have inflicted the other with heavy losses in lives and military equipment.

Eyewitnesses said fierce ground clashes took place early in the morning in the vicinity of El Fasher, and around the Zarq and Um Baar areas, which are controlled by the RSF.

Meanwhile, residents fear counter-attacks following threats launched by several RSF leaders, who vowed to strongly respond to the killing of Ali Yagoub Gibril, one of their senior commanders during a battle in the besieged north Darfur city of El Fasher last Friday.

Social media accounts affiliated with the RSF posted videos showing violent clashes that took place Monday in the Um Baar area.

The video also showed destroyed military and armored vehicles of the army and the armed movements backing it.

Since the outbreak of fighting in Sudan, the RSF has pushed large numbers of its forces to capture the town of El Fasher. The city is the army's last stronghold in the western Darfur region.

On Sunday, RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, also known as Hemedti, blamed the escalation in El Fasher on armed factions “that have abandoned neutrality and chosen to side with their slaughterer.”

A resident of El Fasher said the Eid Al-Adha celebrations were completely absent, and that many residents did not leave their homes to perform religious rituals for fear of bombs targeting residential neighborhoods.