US-African Efforts Racing against Time to Resolve GERD Crisis

Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Ethiopia. (Reuters file photo)
Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Ethiopia. (Reuters file photo)
TT

US-African Efforts Racing against Time to Resolve GERD Crisis

Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Ethiopia. (Reuters file photo)
Water flows through Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Ethiopia. (Reuters file photo)

The joint US and African efforts to resolve the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis are racing against time, as Ethiopia insists on implementing the second filling next July, while Egypt and Sudan reject any partial solution.

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman concluded on Monday his tour to Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia where he met with the Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy Seleshi Bekele, in the presence of the Ethiopian GERD negotiating team.

Bekele briefed the special envoy on the process of building the dam and the tripartite negotiations, explaining that the GERD is a source of cooperation and helps achieve regional integration.

Feltman, who was recently assigned to his post, asserted that he will focus on resolving the dispute. He is expected to hold talks with UN and African Union (AU) officials in Addis Ababa.

Cairo views the dam on the main tributary of the Nile River as an "existential threat", warning that it will have a negative impact on its limited water share, while Khartoum fears that the GERD will affect its dams. They are both insisting on an agreement that regulates the filling and operation.

The US envoy’s tour coincides with AU efforts, which sponsored the stalled negotiations between the three countries launched in July last year, to reduce tensions.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who chairs the African Union, conducted a similar round of talks in an attempt to resume negotiations.

Tshisekedi put forward a new initiative to bring the parties together and reach a solution before the second filling.

Addis Ababa announced in 2020 that it had completed the first phase of filling the dam, achieving its target of 4.9 billion cubic meters, which allowed the testing of the first two turbines of the dam. This year, it is targeting filling an additional 13.5 billion cubic meters.

The dam is expected to become the largest hydroelectric power station in Africa, with an expected capacity of 6,500 megawatts to meet the needs of Ethiopia’s 110 million people.

A spokesman for the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said that the construction and filling of the dam would proceed according to plan, adding that Addis Ababa is determined to make fair use of the Nile's resources without harming the two downstream countries.

Over the past weeks, Ethiopia reintroduced an old proposal, by signing a procedure agreement on the second filling only and offered to exchange data of the second filling. However, Egypt insists on a binding legal agreement.

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has told Tshisekedi that his country would not accept a compromise of its water security over the ongoing dispute.

Sisi stressed the need for a legally binding deal that preserves Cairo’s water rights and averts further tensions and instability in the region.



Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
TT

Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS

Israeli forces pounded areas in the central Gaza Strip overnight, killing three people and wounding dozens of others, according to medics, while tanks deepened their invasion into Rafah in the south, residents said.
Israeli planes struck a house in Al-Nuseirat camp, killing two people and wounding 12 others, while tanks shelled areas in Al-Maghazi and Al-Bureij camps, wounding many other people, health officials said, according to Reuters. Nuseirat, Maghazi, and Bureij are three of Gaza's eight historic refugee camps.
In Deir al-Balah, a city packed with displaced people in the central Gaza Strip, an Israeli airstrike killed one Palestinian and wounded several others on Thursday, medics said.
The Israeli military said on Wednesday forces were continuing their operations across the enclave targeting militants and military infrastructure in what it described as "precise, intelligence-based" activities.
More than eight months into the war in Gaza, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to storm: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the center. The operations have forced more than a million people to flee since May, the vast majority already displaced from other parts of the enclave.
In Rafah, near the border with Egypt, Israeli tanks stationed deep in the western and central areas of the city stepped up bombardment, forcing more families living in the far coastal areas to flee northward. Some residents said the pace of the raid has been accelerated in the past two days.
"The tanks took control of most of the areas in Rafah. People living by the beach have also started to leave toward Khan Younis and central areas in fear because of the continued bombardment," said Abu Wasim, a resident from Rafah's Al-Shaboura neighborhood, who quit his home over a week ago before tanks rolled in reaching the heart of the city.
Rafah housed over half of Gaza's 2.3 million people until May 7 when Israeli forces began the ground offensive into the city. Fewer than 100,000 are now believed to be left behind.
There has been no sign of let-up in the fighting as efforts by international mediators, backed by the United States, have failed to persuade Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire.
The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said fighters battled Israeli forces with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs, and have in some areas detonated pre-planted explosive devices against army units.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities freed 33 Palestinians who had been detained during the past months by Israeli forces in different areas of the enclave. The freed detainees were admitted into Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip after they complained of torture and mistreatment by Israeli jailers.