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Egypt Seeks Support of Major Powers on GERD Dispute

Egypt Seeks Support of Major Powers on GERD Dispute

Monday, 22 June, 2020 - 07:15
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Ethiopia (File photo: Reuters)

Egypt is seeking to ensure the support of the major powers in the conflict with Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which was brought to the UN Security Council.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry Minister Sameh Shoukry briefed his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the latest developments of the controversial dam.

Russia is one of the five major powers that have the ‘veto power’ in the Security Council, along with the United States, China, France, and Britain.

Cairo wants to guarantee the support of at least nine of the 15 council members, while ensuring that none of the five permanent members use the veto. It aims to have their vote in favor of a balanced resolution protecting its "water rights" in the face of Ethiopia.

Egypt urged the Security Council to intervene and emphasize the importance of holding negotiations in “good faith” between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to reach a just and balanced solution to the GERD dispute.

Shoukry said in a televised interview that his country filed a complaint to the Security Council to prevent tensions that might affect the region and after Ethiopia rejected all mediation attempts.

The FM thanked the Security Council for maintaining national peace and security, noting that GERD impacts the lives of more than 150 million Egyptian and Sudanese people.

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi asserted his commitment to following a diplomatic and political path to find a fair solution for all.

Sisi told his army to "be prepared to carry out any mission here within our borders, or if necessary outside our borders to protect national security.”

Ethiopia refused to sign a final agreement on the rules of filling and operating the dam earlier this year, under the auspice of the US and World Bank.

GERD has been under construction since 2011 when Ethiopia kicked off building it on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile water. In 2015, the leaders of the three countries signed an initial agreement on the Renaissance Dam to guarantee Egypt’s share of 55 billion cubic meters of the Nile water.

Egypt rejects Ethiopia's “unilateral” intention to fill the dam reservoir in July, without signing a comprehensive final agreement.

Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed Morsi explained to Asharq al-Awsat that a number of issues could obstruct the Egyptian request. He indicated that the UN might issue an unclear resolution, with room for interpretation thus carrying a more general meaning, or it could include measures that prolong the conflict.

Morsi also warned that the UN resolution might call upon the three states to resume the negotiations without any conditions ensuring Ethiopia’s compliance.

However, political expert Malik Awni told Asharq Al-Awsat that resorting to the Security Council is considered a “risky option.”

Awni explained that the existing international legal framework is based on the political will of the major powers, through the mechanism of the Security Council. Yet, it is a process that does not adhere to any principles, except for the interests of these powers.

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