Ancient inscription reminds modern Egypt of drought risk

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Ayman Hussien, a guard of Famine Stela, or "Rock of Starvation", sits near the rock, initially attributed to the reign of King Djoser (Third Dynasty), during a shortage of the Nile flood that led to a seven-year drought and famine, on the Nile?s Sehel Island at Aswan, Egypt February 21, 2020. Picture taken February 21, 2020. (Reuters)
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Hossam Nasser, 32, plays with his camel "Anter" front his house in the Nubian village of Gharb Soheil, on the west bank of the Nile river in Aswan, Egypt February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 September 2020

Ancient inscription reminds modern Egypt of drought risk

  • The hieroglyphs on Nile’s Sehel Island near Aswan in southern Egypt are more than 4,000 years old

ASWAN: A granite inscription tells us that for seven years during the reign of the ancient Egyptian king Djoser, the Nile failed to go through its annual flooding cycle, causing a devastating drought and famine.
The hieroglyphs on Nile’s Sehel Island near Aswan in southern Egypt are more than 4,000 years old, but worries about the natural rhythm of the Nile, which provides 90% of Egypt’s fresh water, are of no less importance today.
“The Nile does not reach its previous levels in the winter and summer flows,” said 52-year-old Abdel Hares Mohamed, a resident of Aswan who gives Nile boat rides to tourists.
Officials say Egypt currently has around 570 cubic meters (150,000 gallons) of water per person per year. Experts consider a country as water poor if its supply is less than 1,000 cubic meters per person annually.
Experts blame population growth, climate change and a giant hydropower dam built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile, which Egyptian authorities say poses a threat to its water security.
Ethiopia says it has taken the needs of Egypt and Sudan into account in the construction and scheduled fillings of its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
While modern day Egyptians can still empathize with King Djoser’s plight, the measures he took to counter the drought would not get much support today. The ancient pharao was instructed by Imhoteb, the designer of his famous Step Pyramid, to offer a sacrifice to Khnum, God of the Nile.
“When Egypt had a famine for seven years, he (King Djoser) made a council ... And Imhoteb told him: we have to give an offering to Khnum,” said egyptologist Zahi Hawass. “Because Khnum controlled the water from the Nile.”
“The Nile is the soul of Egypt,” he said.

No Middle East peace without solving ‘Palestinian problem,’ says Russia

Updated 18 September 2020

No Middle East peace without solving ‘Palestinian problem,’ says Russia

  • Kremlin observes ‘progress’ in the normalization of ties in the region

MOSCOW: Russia said it would be a “mistake” to think of peace in the Middle East without resolving the Palestinian issue.

The Foreign Ministry statement came on Thursday after Israel normalized relations with long-time foes Bahrain and the UAE at the White House on Tuesday.

Russia said it noted “progress” in the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab countries but said that “the Palestinian problem remains acute.” 

“It would be a mistake to think that without finding a solution to it that it will be possible to secure lasting stabilization in the Middle East.” 

Moscow urged regional and global players to “ramp up coordinated efforts” to solve the issue. 

“Russia is ready for such joint work,” including in the framework of the diplomatic Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators and in close coordination with the Arab League, the Foreign Ministry said. 

US President Donald Trump has said similar US-brokered deals are close between the Jewish state and several other nations. 

Bahrain and the UAE are the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. 

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that only an Israeli withdrawal from its occupied territories could bring peace to the Middle East.