Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Addis Ababa, Cairo Seek Support Over Renaissance Dam

Addis Ababa, Cairo Seek Support Over Renaissance Dam

Friday, 6 March, 2020 - 08:30
A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on December 26, 2019. (AFP)

A dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the filling and operation of the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) continues to intensify after the last round of talks in Washington last week failed to reach an agreement between the concerned parties.

As part of a war of words between Cairo and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia continued to mobilize its nationals over the dam by describing the project as “a weapon to overcome poverty.”

Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde launched a community fundraising program to support GERD and complete construction ahead of schedule, disregarding the Egyptian threats.

At the same time, Cairo intensified its international diplomatic movements to support its position, which rejects any unilateral measures that would harm its water shares in the Nile waters.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan had expected to sign an agreement in Washington last week on the filling and operation of the Dam, but Ethiopia skipped the meeting and only Egypt has initialed the deal thus far.

Last Tuesday, US President Donald Trump told his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in a phone call that Washington will keep up “tireless efforts” for a deal between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over an Ethiopia Nile dam.

Ethiopia considers the Dam as a means to unite its nationals, who suffer from ethnic and political divisions.

“(The Renaissance Dam) is our (Ethiopia’s) weapon to overcome poverty and our hope for future development,” Ethiopia’s President said.

Zewde said that filling of the dam would begin in July, while the completion of the entire project is scheduled for 2023.

In return, Egypt resorted to diplomacy to gather the largest international support to its position.

In this regard, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with ambassadors of African countries in Cairo on Thursday and discussed the latest developments concerning the Dam, and the serious and sincere efforts made by Cairo in this regard to bring about a fair and balanced agreement that meets the interests of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

Egyptian observers told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that Addis Ababa should beware of the repercussions of its positions concerning the filling of the Dam.

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