Wed, 07 Apr 2021 - 02:50 GMT
FILE - Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) - Reuters
CAIRO – 7 April 2021: After the failure of talks on a mechanism to resume negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was announced Tuesday, a number of Egyptian experts and former ministers gave insight on the issue.
Former Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Nasr Allam said in a TV interview that filling the dam's reservoir without a legal binding agreement may incur a famine in Egypt and Sudan. That is because the capacity of the dam is 74 billion cubic meters, which is almost equivalent to the annual water shares of Egypt (55.5 billion cubic meters) and Sudan (18 billion cubic meters) combined.
Allam also warned that the lack of regulations on the quantity of water released from the dam can cause flooding and displacement in Sudan. "If just four billion cubic meters of water are released at once from the Renaissance Dam, Sudan will be gone," Allam underscored describing the mega hydropower project as "a water bomb."
Obstinate Policies and Inflated Ego
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed al-Oraby said he had expected the failure of the Renaissance Dam negotiations because of the Ethiopian intransigence over the past decade since 2011.
The minister argues that Abiy Ahmed got an inflated ego when he was awarded Nobel Prize for Peace so that he initiated a civil war in his own country, underlining that he has been meaning evil to Egypt.
Oraby highlighted that Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia 10 years ago and the world stood still. Ethiopia still hosts the headquarters of the African Union (AU) that always reiterates the principle of good-neighborliness, although its behavior does not reflect it, the diplomat showcased.
"Ahmed is causing great harm to his country due to its obstinate policies that have no legal ground…Since he took office, he has been creating a strategic environment that suits him by achieving reconciliation with Eretria, and building strong ties with Russia, China, and some Arab countries. Similarly, he got a strong lobby in the United States, which perceives Ethiopia as a central state in Africa," the former FM clarified.
"It is a must to be strict when dealing with Ethiopia…Any damage would incur classifying Ethiopia as an aggressor against Egypt… Egypt and Sudan are ready to repel dangers," Oraby reiterated.
Space for Egypt and Sudan to Embark on Other Scenarios
Chairman of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies Khaled Okasha said in a phone-in that the Egyptian-Sudanese strategic vision wants the region to avoid conflicts.
Okasha pointed out that Ethiopia is attempting to enforce a fait accompli, and that its obstinacy is further complicating the matter. He added that although Ethiopia wants the African Union to be the only sponsor of negotiations, it has refused to make the Congolese president responsible for negotiations. That gives Sudan and Egypt space to embark on other scenarios, the strategic export explained.
Ethiopia Thinks It Owns the Nile River
Consultant to Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Hani Raslan said that Egypt wants to reduce the quantity of water filled during drought, and that Sudan wants daily data on the Renaissance Dam to ensure the safety of its small dams.
Such demands were met with rejection by Ethiopia, which indicates that negotiations were not fruitful, Raslan pointed out highlighting that Ethiopia is pushing Sudan and Egypt into conflict, which has never been desired by either of them.
"The Ethiopian stance is ridiculous and rooted in the notion that Ethiopia owns the Nile River. That [belief] contradicts international law and norms," Raslan asserted.
Both Raslan and Former Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Nasr Allam noted that Ethiopia plans to build three other dams so that the total quantity of water it can hold becomes 200 billion cubic meters.
The Nightmare Scenario
"Ethiopia wants to turn itself from an upstream country into a merchant of water and electricity. That is a very ugly scenario reflecting its desire to disregard international law, agreements signed in the 1920s and 1950s, and the Declaration of Principles," Writer and Journalist Emad El Din Adib said.
Adib added that the chance international meditation may take place is 5-10 percent warning that the nightmare scenario embodied in war is looming.
If it insists on the second filling without agreement, "Ethiopia can be stopped by force. That is the duty of our people and our Armed Forces," the writer asserted.
Debunking Ethiopian Claims
In March, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Aty stated in a TV interview that Egypt does not acquire the lion share of Nile River water as propagated by Ethiopia.
The minister explained that 900 cubic meters of rainwater fall on the Nile Basin per annum on average, 2-3 million feddans (one feddan is equal to 4,200 square meters) are cultivated in Ethiopia consuming huge amounts of water, and 100 million cattle consume 84 million cubic meters of water in the fellow African state.
Abdel Aty added that Ethiopia is also benefiting from water held in a number of its dams such as Tekeze Dam whose capacity is 10 billion cubic meters, and other reservoirs on the Nile River having a total capacity of 150 billion cubic meters.
The Egyptian minister further noted that Ethiopia has the basins of Omo River, Awash River, Jubba River, Shabelle River as well as 40 billion cubic meters of underground water.
Speaking of lakes, Lake Victoria (source of the Nile) has 3,050 billion cubic meters, Lake Albert has 122 billion cubic meters, Lake Tana has 55 billion cubic meters, and Lake Kioja has eight billion cubic meters.
Egypt receives 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile Water per annum, which made the minister question how come the country is getting the lion share given the aforementioned facts.