OPINION: Renaissance Dam..and Egypt's Political Options

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Mon, 06 Jul 2020 - 10:40 GMT

File - Renaissance Dam.

File - Renaissance Dam.

CAIRO - 7 July 2020: Talking again about alternative solutions in Egypt and Sudan in the face of Ethiopia has stalled after the negotiations of the Renaissance Dam and the announcement by Ethiopia of its intention to fill the dam even without reaching an agreement after 10 years from the start of the construction of the dam.
 
The Egyptian state must search in the procedures and options that preserve its historical rights to the waters of the Nile, as it was finally confirmed that the process of procrastination and lack of seriousness was Ethiopia's plan until the dam construction was completed and the filling process began as a matter of fact.
 
After the African mini-summit meeting on the evening of June 26, 2020, Ethiopia retracted its intention to move forward in filling the dam without an agreement with the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan, and instead the filling will take place within two weeks.
 
While continuing with construction work, provided that an agreement is reached during this period according to a statement The office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, while the statement of the Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency clarified that it was agreed at the conclusion of the summit to form a governmental committee of legal and technical experts from the three countries Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, along with the African countries members of the Presidency of the African Union, as well as representatives of the international monitoring bodies for the negotiation process. 
 
With the aim of finalizing a final legal agreement binding on all parties regarding the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, while refraining from any unilateral actions, including filling the dam, before reaching this agreement, and sending a letter in this context to the Security Council as a body Jurisdiction to take it into account when its session to discuss the Renaissance Dam issue next Monday, June 29, 2020
These decisions contain many important indicators, the first of which is: the success of the Egyptian diplomacy in dissuading Ethiopia from its previous individual decisions.
 
The second: informing the Security Council about what happened from a phased consensus, which means asking the Security Council to support the regional effort at this stage, while keeping all options open after the end of the two-week deadline.
 
the third: Ethiopia wanted to dilute the situation by insisting on a role for the African Union, but what happened is the opposite because the issue is on the agenda of the Security Council, and therefore Ethiopia will bear before the world the responsibility to drag the region into an inevitable conflict that may be prolonged and long-term and includes All tools and means of conflict in one way or another.
 
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In light of this, it remains for Egypt to determine the available alternatives in the event that the two-week deadline passed without reaching an agreement, and it has two main tracks: The first is political and diplomatic, and the second is legal, without excluding the rest of the other options, including the military option, even if it is not unlikely, and this is what came in the words of Egyptian officials, especially President Sisi.
 
First: the political and diplomatic option.
 
*Continuing to negotiate, because the relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have not yet reached the point of complete conflict, although negotiations were suspended during the previous period, but the door of dialogue and negotiation was not closed.
 
*The necessity of the Egyptian and Sudanese compatibility, given Sudan's influence on the upstream countries, especially Ethiopia, as it is a landlocked country that relies mainly on the ports of Sudan, whether to export its products or import its oil and nutritional needs, and thus Sudan has important papers in its negotiating process with Ethiopia
*The need to assess the need of African countries for development, as they are classified among the poorest countries in the world, and this imposes on Egypt by virtue of its relative technological and economic superiority, as well as the need to extend cooperation with these countries, especially in infrastructure projects and formulate comprehensive development plans aimed at achieving common development Especially for the Nile Basin countries.
 
*It was not before the possibility of an international mediator to discuss the file of the Renaissance Dam, but Egypt called for the intervention of an international mediator to solve the crisis, including the United States and the African continent South Africa, as Egypt seeks to adopt a strategy of international alliances to pressure Ethiopia to make it reach an agreement To serve the interests of both parties without harming either one
*Striving to extract Gulf positions in support of Egypt, by using the Gulf's financial clout to urge Ethiopia not to harm Egypt's water share, which is considered one of the important factors supporting the Egyptian negotiator.
 
*Effective movement towards the countries of the Horn of Africa and the pursuit of a strong balance with them, to serve Egyptian interests and influence, especially the Nile Basin countries, and to strengthen ties, especially with Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia, which constitutes psychological and political pressure on Ethiopia.
 
Second: The Legal Option.
 
*Egypt and Sudan appealed to the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the conflict that has been going on for years and to help countries avoid the crisis and to maintain international peace and security because of the consequences of this dispute, which may represent a serious threat in the region, which Egypt sensed early on.
 
Negotiations between the three countries, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced on June 21, 2020 that Cairo asked the Security Council to intervene in the hope of resuming the talks, saying, "We are always keen to go on the diplomatic and political track until its end."
 
Sudan also sent on June 25 a message to the Council United Nations security warns that millions of lives are at risk due to floods if Ethiopia goes ahead with plans to fill the dam before reaching an agreement.
 
the Council is scheduled to hold a public session on the issue on Monday, and Ethiopia does not support this behavior, said the statement issued by the Office of the President Ethiopian Minister Abi Ahmed, in a meeting on the evening of June 26, 2020, "decided to inform the United Nations Security Council that the African Union is under consideration,".
 
in this regard, Egypt could ask the council to discuss the conflict under For Chapter VII of the Charter, which concerns the areas of threats to international peace or security, breach of it or the occurrence of an act of aggression, and decisions issued by the Council will then be binding decisions for all parties, and the Council can also form a fact-finding committee to discuss the problem on the ground.
 
It can the case is resolved, or it is recommended to submit it to the International Court of Justice if Ethiopia accepts the arbitration. At that time, it was in Egypt’s interests for its strong legal arguments. 
 
*Resorting to internationally recognized instruments of international law to resolve international disputes, such as respectable offices, mediation, arbitration or fact-finding, which is what Egypt has already resorted to as serious Egyptian moves to use peaceful tools show it to the world as a country seeking peace, and is keen on it, including raising an independent case before the International Court, not arbitration.
 
Egypt requests a condemnation of the construction of the dam, in violation of the United Nations River Water Law of 1997, which requires that the dams of the source countries be small and do not hinder the access of water to the downstream countries. 
 
*An attempt to extract Ethiopian positions to go to the International Court of Justice if a final agreement is not reached to resolve the dispute, especially on the contentious issues that are still pending.
 
The first is: the dispute over how to manage the drought for several years, as Egypt asked Ethiopia to commit to the passage of excess water during a period Long drought, while officials in Addis Ababa insist on fears that it may undermine energy generation, and secondly: The dispute over how to resolve the resulting future disputes that may arise between the two countries, while Egypt called for resolving the differences through binding international arbitration, calls on Ethiopia to resolve The dispute between the three countries among them.
 
The Analysis:
 
Power Transition Theory.
 
The basic assumption of the power transition theory revolves around the idea that the convergence of power between the dissatisfied countries over the structure of the power system, whether in the international or regional scale, increases the possibilities of war and conflict, and this assumption contradicts the classic approach on which the balance of power theory is based, which is that the convergence or balance of power Peace is achieved.
 
According to  Organski and Kugler in their book “The War Ledger” (1980), through which they divided the states according to the degree of strength and degree of satisfaction into the strong satisfied states, the strong, dissatisfied countries, the weak satisfied states, and the weak dissatisfied states.
 
According to this theory, the second category, which is the strong, dissatisfied countries, is the one that causes instability, because the first category (the powerful, satisfied states) has no interest in changing the structure of the system that is mainly dominated, and strong dissatisfied countries see that they have power is what qualifies it to play a role on the international scene more important than the position available to it according to the rules imposed by the existing power structure.
 
From this category, competitors who seek to change the status quo and establish another system appear, while the fourth category, although not satisfied, is missing. The ability to change, while the third category is weak and satisfied with the status quo.
 
According to the theory of power transition, the dynamics imposed by relations between international powers not only determine the basic conditions for stability and peace, but also the elements of change and conflict.
 
The state's strength appears in: population size, military power, productivity, and relative political strength, and power is measured by these three main elements, each of which a different qualitative impact on the axis of time, the size of the population (which is an indispensable element for achieving the status of the superpower and the state resorting to mobilizing it through economic development), and is a relatively stable factor as it is difficult to change in the short term, while economic growth (and the national income is measured by a share (GDP per capita) changes rapidly.
 
so it affects the power of the state in the medium term, and finally, political power (meaning the ability of the ruling authority to direct the energies of its population, and its ability to mobilize its human resources and transform that into an actual national force),they are rapidly changing, affecting the power of the state in the short term, and therefore the force scale according to the theory of power transition is a dynamic measure and an accurate criterion for the results of the conflicts imposed by the competing countries on each other. This scale can predict the outcome of conflicts between advanced and less advanced powers.
 
Power shifts indicators
 
There are several indicators on the basis of which it is possible to know whether there is a shift of power occurring in the interest of one country at the expense of another, often the dominant one in the existing system, and it can be divided into
 
* Conventional indicators: These are indicators that can be quantified, and countries are compared against them, such as total population, relative political power, military power and gross national product.
 
*Unconventional indicators: This concept refers to soft power, which means the state's ability to achieve its goals without violence or coercion.
 
Based on this theory, it excludes the occurrence of military action between Egypt and Ethiopia in view of the big difference in the overall strength between the two countries in favor of Egypt, as well as the state of consent on the Egyptian side. Figure (1)
 
Although there is disagreement about some technical and legal points in the negotiations, and this does not mean a state of dissatisfaction, so it is likely that Egypt adopt all political, diplomatic and legal means, and that the military solution remains the last of these options. 
 
In conclusion, it can be said that if this Ethiopian intransigence persists, perhaps Egypt will have other political steps to place the world in front of its responsibilities. While reaching an agreement must be sponsored by the United Nations, in order to become ruler and binding over the coming generations.
 
Still Egypt adheres to its full right to the waters of the Nile with regard to the rights and benefits shared between countries, and this is what the political leadership has been keen on dealing with the file of the Ethiopian Dam, the rights and obligations are clear and do not accept a repudiation at any time.. The Nile is a life for the Egyptians. 
 
 
 
Ashraf  Singer is a research Fellow in World Politics,Trans-Research Consortium at Claremont Graduate University,California and Member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.
 
 

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