CAIRO: Cairo said negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are deadlocked after meetings between ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia ended on Saturday.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry called for a new mediator in the negotiations. The US announced its support for the tripartite talks to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam.
“All Nile Valley countries have a right to economic development and prosperity,” the US said, urging “all sides to put forth good faith efforts to reach an agreement that preserves those rights, while simultaneously respecting each other’s Nile water equities.” Ethiopia has rejected Egyptian proposals for greater equity of Nile water.
Nader Nour El-Din, an Egyptian water expert and professor of water resources at Cairo University, said the wording of the US statement was carefully crafted so as to appeal to all parties.
He added that it never clearly mentions respecting international water-distribution agreements, but rather “respecting each other’s Nile water equities.”
He said Nile water is a matter of national security, and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will never allow any harm to Egypt’s water rights.
Nour El-Din added that Ethiopia wants to impose absolute sovereignty in administrating Blue Nile waters by constructing the biggest dam in Africa.
Ahmed El-Shennawy, a former UN dam expert, said Egypt might choose to internationalize the issue, which might deprive Ethiopia of international funding or operation and supply contracts with European countries.
He said the dam was constructed on land that is not fit for such a huge structure. He warned that the dam may collapse at any time, which might cause parts of Egypt and Sudan to be submerged.
Dr. Deyaa El-Qousy, former adviser to Egypt’s irrigation minister, said declaring the talks a failure signifies the start of a new phase, from seeking mediation to international arbitration.
He added that Egypt’s only options are negotiations and internationalization of the issue, and that military solutions are not an option.
El-Qousy said a mediator might not necessarily be a country; it could be an international organization such as the World Bank.
He added that the African Union could play a role in this “thorny” issue, and that Egypt and its Arab and African allies could exercise huge pressure.
Khartoum hosted the Egyptian and Ethiopian irrigation ministers, as well as scientific committees from both countries, to study Egyptian and Sudanese proposals, but Ethiopia rejected them. Egypt rejects any decrease in its quota of Nile water as a result of the dam’s construction.