Egypt Concerned Over Ethiopian ‘Procrastination’ in ‘Renaissance Dam’ Crisis
Foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia convened Monday at the US Treasury headquarters, amid mounting tension and disputes in the wake of the failure of the three countries to agree on a filling mechanism of the ‘Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)’.
Egypt relies on the US to avoid reaching a deadlock that threatens in escalation and clashes. On the other hand, Ethiopia suggested an African mediation led by South Africa.
The two-day meetings precede Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry meetings with a number of US officials and international experts to seek means to avoid a clash with Ethiopia.
Egypt, however, fears that the meeting would result in half-solutions such as extending the duration of the negotiations or seeking refuge in intentional mediation – Cairo believes that Addis Ababa would benefit from any procrastination to move on with its plans to construct the Dam and seize the Blue Nile.
Behind closed doors, Cairo waved with making ‘a strong reaction’ in case the negotiations failed.
The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile costs $4.6 billion – it is around 70 percent complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia.
Egypt criticized the Ethiopian side on Friday, saying that its statement on GERD negotiations includes some “misleading and unacceptable information '' on Egypt’s discussions during the meeting.
Egypt said that Ethiopia violates its legal obligations stipulated in international treaties and norms, accusing Addis Ababa of imposing the policy of fait accompli and controlling the Blue Nile without taking into consideration the interests of the downstream countries.
In a press conference Sunday with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said: “As for Cyril Ramaphosa, he is a good friend for both Ethiopia and Egypt and is the upcoming president of the African Union. He can make a discussion between both parties to solve the issue peacefully because peace is the foundation of everything here in Africa."
The US and the World Bank have started to observe negotiations after Egypt announced in Sep. the failure of the nine-years negotiations among the three countries. A meeting in Washington on Nov. 6 sat a timeline to reach an agreement but four consecutive meetings couldn't accomplish this.
In case the three countries fall short to agree then the issue will be referred to mediation or the presidents of the countries.
Former Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Nasr Eldin Allam told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Addis Ababa seeks to prolong negotiations through engaging a new party to waste more time.
With Washington being a great power, it is expected to put an end to the crisis without allowing the intervention of other parties, Allam affirmed.