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Friday, July 30, 2021

River Nile dam: Egypt new African allies

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Armed forces of Egypt and Sudan full a joint army train in southern Kardavan province, Sudan on Could 31, 2021

Egypt is making an attempt to strengthen its diplomatic and army clout in Africa amid an escalating dispute with Ethiopia over the constructing of an enormous dam on a tributary of the River Nile, writes Egypt analyst Magdi Abdelhadi.

The Egyptian Geographic Society, established in 1875, homes some useful manuscripts that replicate Egypt’s long-standing curiosity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Amongst them is a historic map that exhibits the southern borders of Egypt at Lake Victoria in East Africa.

The society was established on the top of Egypt’s short-lived imperial ambition, which had introduced Sudan underneath Egyptian management and sought to beat Ethiopia in a disastrous army expedition from 1874 to 1876. It led to a humiliating defeat.

Some 70 years later, Egypt atoned for its imperial misadventures when it grew to become the usual bearer of anti-colonial struggles in Africa and past.

However because it acquired sucked into the Arab-Israeli wars, its engagement with sub-Saharan Africa dwindled.

The previous few years, nonetheless, has seen a dramatic re-engagement, particularly with the Nile Basin nations.

Egypt has signed a string of army and financial agreements with Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Djibouti in latest months.

Cairo already has substantial integration agreements with Sudan, the place it just lately carried out joint army workouts involving warplanes and particular forces.

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia, on December 26, 2019

Ethiopia says the dam will present energy to 65 million of its residents

Egypt has linked its energy grid to Sudan’s and plans are underneath strategy to join the railway networks too, with a grand imaginative and prescient to run a practice service from Alexandria to Cape City.

The key phrase behind this international coverage change is the controversial dam Ethiopia is constructing on the Blue Nile, referred to as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd).

“Egypt has lengthy relied on diplomacy to unravel its variations with Ethiopia over the Gerd. However the monitor of negotiations appears to have been exhausted, or almost so,” says Nael Shama, an professional on Egyptian international coverage.

Fears of drought

Tanzania is one other instance, the place Egypt is investing closely within the large Julius Nyerere hydroelectric dam on the Rufiji River. Cairo clearly desires to spotlight the mission for instance of its willingness to assist growth within the Nile Basin nations.

And that is exactly the form of message Egypt – which has no different main sources of water for ingesting and agriculture than the Nile – has been making an attempt to relay to international opinion.

This picture taken on January 3, 2021 shows a view of Aswan from the Old Cataract Hotel overlooking the Nile river in Egypt's southern city of Aswan, some 920 kilometres south of the capital, where British crime fiction writer Dame Agatha Christie is believed to have stayed while writing her 1937 novel "Death on the Nile", with the Mausoleum of Aga Khan III seen in the background (top R).

The River Nile is a serious vacationer attraction in Egypt

It isn’t against the Ethiopian dam per se, however this can be very cautious of its seemingly influence on the circulate of the Nile waters if Ethiopia refuses to enroll to a legally binding settlement on easy methods to handle its operations.

It’s feared the dam may decimate Egyptian agriculture and lay waste to massive swathes of its arable land, triggering large drought and unemployment. Ethiopia, however, sees the Gerd as important to its growth wants, and the provision of electrical energy to its inhabitants.

Commerce hyperlinks, not army muscle

Egypt’s change of path and focus of international coverage in the direction of sub-Saharan Africa is subsequently lengthy overdue, however, some Egyptians say, it’s too little too late.

“Clout in trendy politics is not only weapons and cannons,” argues Walaa Bakry, an educational on the UK’s College of Westminster and a enterprise marketing consultant.

“Safety agreements with a number of the Nile Basin nations comparable to Burundi, Rwanda or Uganda is an effective factor, however won’t give Egypt the clout it desires,” he writes.

Robust commerce hyperlinks can obtain excess of army muscle, he argues, pointing to the minuscule commerce Egypt has with all 9 Nile Basin nations.

“No-one is saying that Egypt should purchase something it would not want from these nations. However for instance, the Nile Basin nations produce enormous quantities of high-quality espresso – Egypt imports espresso for properly over $95.5m yearly, 95% of that’s from exterior Africa.”

Ethiopian woman preparing coffee in a bar, Harari region, Harar, Ethiopia on August 8, 2019 in Harar, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a serious producer of espresso

In the meantime, the temper in Egypt has grown more and more bellicose. The Egyptian regime, in reality the president himself, is underneath huge strain to get robust with Ethiopia.

Even supporters of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have began to mutter the unthinkable – that failure to guard Egypt’s water rights would imply he would not have the fitting to rule.

Egypt apparently hopes that constructing a hoop of allies round Ethiopia would repay in some kind if a showdown with Ethiopia turns into inevitable.

Extra concerning the mega dam:

Egypt and Sudan have taken the dispute over the dam to the UN Safety Council, as they think about it may doubtlessly threaten peace and stability within the area.

The problem has been earlier than the Safety Council earlier than, which referred it to the African Union, which didn’t resolve it.

Each Cairo and Khartoum blame Ethiopia for that, whereas Addis Ababa accuses Egypt of utilizing the negotiations as a ploy to re-assert its efficient monopoly of the Nile waters – a reference to Egypt’s lions’ share of the water.

"If all diplomacy fails, there is little doubt that public opinion in Egypt will back military action if need be"", Source: Magdi Abdelhadi, Source description: Egypt analyst, Image: Helicopter

“If all diplomacy fails, there’s little doubt that public opinion in Egypt will again army motion if want be””, Supply: Magdi Abdelhadi, Supply description: Egypt analyst, Picture: Helicopter

The joint army train carried out just lately in Sudan was clearly supposed to ship a warning not simply to Ethiopia however to the broader world – that the 2 nations won’t shrink back from utilizing their army muscle if want be in a matter of life and demise comparable to water.

Egypt’s agreements of army cooperation with Uganda, Kenya and Burundi seem to bolster that message, though it’s laborious to think about these nations agreeing to be sucked right into a regional conflict the place their key nationwide pursuits should not at stake.

If all diplomacy fails, there’s little doubt that public opinion in Egypt will again army motion if want be.

Much less so in Sudan, the place there’s a sure diploma of ambivalence, not least as a result of, in contrast to Egypt, Sudan stands to profit from the dam, which can scale back harmful flooding and provides it low-cost electrical energy.

However there’s broad consensus amongst observers that, though Egypt and Sudan might have the political will and the army {hardware} and talent, a strike of some type concentrating on the continued development of the dam to set it again by a number of years won’t clear up the issue.

As an alternative, it should enhance distrust and re-fuel the discourse of historic grievances, nationalist pleasure and revenge.

Ethiopia dam map

Ethiopia dam map

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