The Egyptian-Ethiopian conflict over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is witnessing a fierce competition over which country can garner more international support.
Cairo and Addis Ababa began sending diplomatic envoys to various countries, following the stalled negotiations that took place under the auspices of the United States and the World Bank.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry begins an African tour Tuesday to deliver a message from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to his African Counterparts.
The tour will begin in Burundi and include: South Africa, Tanzania, Democratic Congo, South Sudan, Niger, and Rwanda.
For its part, Addis Ababa pushed senior diplomatic delegations to Europe and Africa, a move that Shoukry described as “having no impact”.
The conflict escalated between the two countries after Ethiopia refused to attend a meeting in Washington, at the end of February, which was dedicated to conclude a final agreement regarding the rules for filling and operating the Dam.
Ethiopia further announced its decision to fill the dam in July. Egypt responded by intensifying its diplomatic moves to ensure international support for its stance rejecting any “unilateral” measure that could alter its water share.
Cairo reiterated the importance of reaching a solution that preserves the interests of all parties, by pressing Addis Ababa to sign the US-sponsored agreement and discouraging it from taking any unilateral action, which will have serious security implications, according to Shoukry.
The FM stressed that his country relies on the Arab states’ position that ensures its security, pointing out that EU countries are aware of the seriousness of Ethiopia’s intransigence in the negotiations which could result in rising tensions in the Horn of Africa.
Shoukry reiterated that his country’s position is fair and Egyptians deserve to reach results that protect their water interests.
There are no direct communications between Egypt and Ethiopia since negotiations faltered, according to Shoukry, who confirmed Cairo is contacting its Arab partners and the US as the sponsor of the negotiations.
Egyptian Ambassador Gamal Bayoumi told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country continues with its political movement, backed by the international law, to compel Ethiopia to honor its previous pledge in not harming Egypt’s water security.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian community in Washington organized a protest in front of the White House and the World Bank to urge the US administration along with the international community to exert more efforts to protect Egypt’s water rights.
Protesters presented a “comprehensive assessment” on the effects of GERD on Egypt, citing Egypt’s dry climate and water resources, 97 percent of which comes from the Nile River.
Ethiopia says the construction of the dam, which costs about $4 billion, is necessary to supply the country with electricity. Addis Ababa also launched a series of diplomatic activities and visits to clarify its position on the negotiations.
Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde held talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi.
The two leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral and multilateral subjects including the challenges facing the Nile River basin.
She also met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who reiterated the importance of ensuring the equitable and sustainable use of the River Nile waters.
Museveni emphasized the need to urgently convene a summit of the Nile Basin Commission so that the Heads of State conduct discussions on the issue of the Nile.
Over the past few days, Ethiopia began sending high-level delegations to different countries to inform them of its position on the Renaissance Dam. It also plans to send a high-level delegation to the United States and other countries for a similar mission.
Source: Al Sharaq