December 28, 2015

Cairo (Egypt Independent) — African affairs experts have differed on Egypt’s strategy for dealing with the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam problem and predicted the outbreak of war in the region. Some said Addis Ababa is pursuing a fait accompli policy while Egypt is dealing with the situation in goodwill, adding that Cairo will resort to the United Nations if the problem continues.

Hani Raslan of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies said Egypt has been negotiating for a year and a half with goodwill, while Ethiopia is pursuing a fait accompli policy and disregarding possible damages to Egypt from the diversion of the Nile.

“Goodwill has failed,” he said. “Ethiopia is stalling and gaining time.”

He said that the remarks of Water Resources Minister Hossam al-Maghazi that the diversion of the Nile does not technically mean the water is being stored in front of the dam consolidate Ethiopia’s interests, calling on the political leadership to devise a plan to deal with the problem.

Raslan’s colleague, Amani al-Tawil, said that escalation on the part of Ethiopia proves that Egypt’s strategy has failed. “Ethiopia is now able to test the filling of the dam,” she said.

“This is changing the balance of power not just in Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, but in the relations between North and East Africa,” she said.

She said the technical report of the international committee said the safety factor of the dam is unknown, which may affect the human security of the Nile Basin countries. “This can lead to wars and conflicts over Nile water,” she warned.

She called for an international campaign that shows Ethiopia’s breaches of the Declaration of Principles. “We should be proactive and not reactive,” she said.

Former Assistant Foreign Minister Mona Omar, however, did not agree that Egypt’s strategy has failed. “Ethiopia is intransigent,” she said. “If Ethiopia does not stop building the dam at least temporarily, Egypt should resort to international mediation based on the Nile Basin treaties and the charters of the United Nations.”

Disagreements persist as latest round of Ethiopia dam talks close

December 29, 2015

Cairo (Egypt Independent) — Disputes continued as Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan concluded their latest round of talks in Khartoum over Adis Ababa’s controversial Grand Renaissance Dam, with the Ethiopian side insisting on not halting construction at the facility upon Egypt’s request.

Cairo and Khartoum have largely been in unsuccessful talks with Adis Ababa over the technical studies that are meant to ensure that the dam’s undertaking, announced in 2010, is not a threat to their water interests.

With the dam’s construction 50 percent completed and Ethiopia starting to run Nile River water partially through it, the three countries failed to achieve consensus over the mechanism of filling the dam’s lake, according to official sources present at the meetings.

“Ethiopia’s delegation has expressed concern that any concession would spark tension with the Ethiopian public,” one source has said. “The delegation fears Ethiopia’s Oromo opposition ethnicity would use such a concession, especially with the dam having become a matter of national interest.”

Human Rights Watch said in a recent report that 75 people from the Oromo ethnic group were killed in clashes with police over a land grab dispute with the government.

Egypt stuck to its “demand to halt construction at the dam and to strike a deal concerning the filling of the dam,” said the source, who added that while Egypt recommends that the filling process last for at least ten years, Ethiopia insists the period should not exceed six years.

An official closing statement on the meetings is due on Tuesday.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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