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Framing GERD as Arab Water Security Threat disappointing : Ethiopia

Ethiopia urges Egypt and Sudan to embrace a spirit of African brotherhood rather than politicizing the dam as an Arab Water Security Threat 

Arab Water Security _ politics _ Sudan _ Ethiopia
Dina Mufti, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia briefing journalists , Addis Ababa, April 15, 2021

Arab Water Security , GERD

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Egypt and Sudan have been attempting to mobilize support from gulf countries in a way painting Ethiopia’s mega hydroelectric power project, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as a security threat. 

In a biweekly briefing, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Dina Mufti, said that “Egypt and the Sudan who claim the GERD as a threat to Arab water security (despite being in Africa like every other riparian country and unnecessarily politicizing the matter) is disappointing.” 

The spokesperson who recalled that Ethiopia invited Sudan and Egypt for data exchange for the second filling of the dam, and both countries declined to accept it on grounds that a “binding agreement” should come first, said cooperation and the spirit of African brotherhood  are “best option for the management and utilization of the waters of the Nile.”

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies namely Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman last month expressed solidarity with Egypt and Sudan over GERD negotiation, as reported by Saudi Gazette. But there was no indication if they see GERD from the trajectory of Arab Water Security.

In 2020, Arab League members signed position document supporting Egypt in connection with GERD. That time Sudan declined to vote as it was calling for a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

Apart from mobilizing Arab nations, Sudan and Egypt attempted to take the negotiation out of the African Union platform when they proposed to elevate the role of observers namely The United States, United Nations and the European Union to have a more active role in the process. It happened during the latest negotiation which was organized in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ethiopia rejected the proposal saying African solutions to African problems is a better option and viable approach to solve the problem. 

When the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Serge Lavrov, met with Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister,  Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo earlier this week,  he remarked  “because all three participants of the process are represented in the AU. Also, the AU is the right place to showcase the tradition of African countries solving African problems.” 

Ethiopia also expressed interest in negotiating only the filling and operation of the GRED at this point. Mr. Dina Mufti said “the most practical and workable way for a successful negotiation is first to agree on the first filling and related operations and then to proceed to a comprehensive agreement on the utilization of the waters of the Nile.” 

The second phase of filling the GERD reservoir is  scheduled for the rainy months of July and August. Hiring for clearing forests needed for reservoirs had been done last month. 

A report by Ahram online, on Thursday this week, cited Mr. Sameh Shoukry as saying ” Egypt’s High Dam and its water reservoir will allow the country to absorb the negative impact of the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).”

But the remark did not come without the usual threat for action. 

“We imagine that the GERD will not cause damage to Egypt, but if there [is damage], all the country’s authorities will be prepared to handle it because they have the resources necessary in this respect,” he said as reported by Ahram online. 

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Arab Water Security

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