Egypt participates in Ukraine International Travel, Tourism Exhibition    139 Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza    Palestinian under attack in 73rd anniversary of Nakba Day    Egypt's Health Ministry launches awareness campaigns against COVID-19    Egypt partakes in drafting OECD Recommendations on AI    Palestine's Telecom Ministry names top social media supportive hashtags for maximum engagement    Egypt fines mobile operators EGP 20m for number portability violations    Sudan pledges to investigate killing of 2 protestors during peaceful sit-in    Grand Egyptian Museum finishes installing Tutankhamun's 3rd shrine    Egypt discovers several ancient tombs in Sohag's Al-Hamdiya necropolis    Egypt scales up readiness of hospitals nationwide for Eid Al-Fitr holidays    Egyptian hospitals in Sinai on alert amid Israeli aggression on Gaza    Egypt announces Thursday 1st day of Eid Al-Fitr    Nuweiba: Egypt's paradise of serenity    Egypt's current account deficit jumps to $7.6 bln in 1H of FY2020/21: CBE    Egypt's trade deficit down 1.2% to $3.34bn in February 2021: CAPMAS    Global economic recovery to improve debt service coverage ratios: Moody's    Egypt's Parliament discusses abolishing imprisonment for female debtors    India signs an agreement to buy 300,000 doses of Remdesivir from Eva Pharma    Egypt will locally manufacture first 2m Sinovac vaccine doses by June-end    2021 South East European Film Festival celebrates cinematic diversity of 18 countries    Turkey seeks to restore 'historic unity' with Egyptian people: Erdogan    Elneny's Arsenal targets 'remontada' in Europa League semi-finals    Zamalek eye return to victories at expense of Smouha in Egyptian Premier League    Al Ahly face injuries as they take on Al Ittihad Alexandria    Egypt buys 30 Rafale fighter jets from France    Direct flights between Russia and Egypt will resume in June, Ambassador    Egypt's Ahly is establishing a new stadium, expected to be 'sports complex'    Blinken presses Ethiopia's Abiy to ensure full withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray    Forces opposed to Somali president control parts of Mogadishu    Nine people executed in Egypt over Kerdasa police killings in 2013    UEFA investigating Ibrahimovic's alleged ties to betting company    61 doctors died from coronavirus since start of April: Egypt's medical syndicate    Egypt targets 5.6% inflation rate in FY2020/21, 6% in FY2021/22    Egypt allocates EGP 132 bln to modernise railway system: Transport minister    Real Madrid not thinking about any Super League sanctions: Zidane    Total declares force majeure on Mozambique LNG after attacks    All the winners at the 93rd Academy Awards    Egypt's Ahly granted approval to build new stadium on Cairo outskirts    Aswan Int'l Women's Film Festival dedicates 5th edition to Kawthar Heikal    BREAKING: Egypt's information minister Osama Heikal resigns amid parliamentary criticism    'War was not Egypt's aim, but peace was the ultimate goal,' Sisi says on Sinai Liberation Day anniversary    Factbox: Key nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    Veteran Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed passes away at 86    Allianz Egypt partners with IGNITE to equip brand ambassadors for 2021 Olympics    Hassan Allam consortium wins contract to manage, operate Grand Egyptian Museum    Seasoned Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed dies at 76    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





GERD: Back to square one
Published in Ahram Online on 01 - 09 - 2020

The latest round of negotiations on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has failed. The talks, which started on 18 August and ended earlier this week, were attended by representatives from the African Union (AU), which sponsored the talks, the European Union (EU), and the United States (US).
“The failure to reach a consensual preliminary formula is a clear indication of the lack of political will in Addis Ababa to reach an agreement and resolve differences over the dam,” says Mohamed Hegazi, a former deputy to Egypt's foreign minister.
Hegazi thinks it is high time alternative options were considered, including the US president's suggestion that a four-way summit be convened in Washington, attended by the heads of state of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and the US.
Egypt said the latest round of talks had ended in failure after the three countries could not reach a consensual unified agreement on the filling and operation of GERD. “Instead of presenting a unified agreement to the AU each state sent an individual letter to the South African president outlining its vision of the next stage of negotiations, a clear sign that contentious technical and legal points remain unresolved,” said a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation blamed the failure to reach an agreement on the absence of political will, and said the negotiations had ended without a date being set for the resumption of talks. Despite this, the Ethiopian ministry of water, irrigation and energy announced that the next round of negotiations is expected to convene on 14 September, though the date has been confirmed by neither Cairo nor Khartoum.
That Addis Ababa clearly considers setting dates for one round of talks after another is a positive step despite never coming close to an agreement may compel Egypt and Sudan to refer the problem to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the grounds that Ethiopia's intransigence and its insistence on storing water in the absence of an agreement violates international law and threatens regional and international peace and security, said the anonymous diplomat.
“The next step should be to either hold another mini-summit like the one held in July, or refer the whole issue to the UNSC,” says Abbas Sharaki, a professor of political science at Cairo University.
Hegazi argues that other options are possible, including that observers from the AU or South Africa submit a detailed report that will show which party is impeding the negotiations. In the light of the report, the AU can try to put more pressure on the parties to make the necessary concessions.
Foreign Policy magazine reported last week that Washington had decided to freeze $130 million worth of aid to Addis Ababa due to the GERD crisis.
The move, says Hegazi, may not lead to any concessions from Addis Ababa, but “it does show which party is impeding the negotiations.”
The diplomat is hopeful Washington's decision to freeze aid will pressure Ethiopia into showing some flexibility in the negotiations, but in Ethiopia the move was derided on social media as proof that the US is biased towards Egypt.
Mehemed Tekuya, an Ethiopian human rights lawyer, tweeted that “Ethiopians around the world should raise the amount the US is planning to cut. Our ancestors fought colonialism, and this is how we should fight neocolonial powers now, @AbeyAhmedAli resist.”
Several visits have been exchanged between heads of state during the last month in which the parties vowed to exert more efforts to resolve the dam deadlock. Last week Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a one-day visit to Khartoum and met with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Both officials agreed they would make every effort to reach a deal on GERD.
Ahmed's visit to Sudan coincided with that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, though the two officials did not meet.
Pompeo urged Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt to continue talks on the dam as the only way out of the impasse.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli paid a visit to Khartoum two weeks ago following which Egypt and Sudan reiterated their determination to secure a comprehensive and binding agreement setting rules for the filling and operation of GERD.
The latest round of talks fell into a hiatus between 27 July and 3 August after Ethiopia announced it had completed the first phase of filling the reservoir, followed by another halt last month when Sudan called for a suspension of meetings to allow for consultations after Addis Ababa proposed a package of non-binding guidelines for the filling.
Last month, Addis Ababa declared the partial filling of 4.9 billion cubic metres of water complete. The announcement was widely seen as an attempt to placate Ethiopian public opinion after Addis Ababa's repeated promises that the initial filling would start in July.
Addis Ababa's declaration angered Egypt and Sudan, who saw it as a violation of the Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed in Sudan in March 2015, which state the three countries must first agree guidelines and rules on the operating process of GERD before filling the reservoir.
Both states sent letters to South Africa, the current chair of the AU, rejecting Ethiopia's unilateral actions.
Nonetheless, Ahmed declared last month that the second phase of filling the GERD reservoir, which will involve 18.4 billion cubic metres of water, would begin during the rainy season in August 2021.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 September, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


Clic here to read the story from its source.