Sudan boycotts faltering talks over Ethiopia’s mega-dam

In this file photo, the Blue Nile river flows near the site of the planned Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam near Assosa in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, near Sudan, some 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa. (AP)
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Updated 21 November 2020

Sudan boycotts faltering talks over Ethiopia’s mega-dam

  • It was the first time that Sudan refused to attend talks with Ethiopia and its northern neighbor Egypt
  • Abbas said in a statement that the current approach to reaching a tripartite agreement on the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s dam had not yielded results

CAIRO: Sudan boycotted talks on Saturday between Nile Valley countries over Ethiopia’s controversial mega-dam, calling on the African Union to play a greater role in pushing forward the negotiations that have stalled for years.
It was the first time that Sudan refused to attend talks with Ethiopia and its northern neighbor Egypt, which has expressed for years its fears that the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile will dramatically threaten water supplies downstream.
Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said in a statement that the current approach to reaching a tripartite agreement on the filling and operation of Ethiopia’s dam had not yielded results, and the AU should do more to “facilitate the negotiation and bridge the gab between the three parties.”
Sudan’s boycott, however, could derail the complicated talks, which the AU has already taken the lead role in supporting.
On Thursday, the foreign and irrigation ministers of the three Nile Valley countries met online, two weeks after they failed to agree on a new framework for negotiations.
There were no immediate comments from South Africa, which heads the African Union, Egypt or Ethiopia to Saturday’s move by Sudan. It was not clear when they would restart negotiations.
Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam has caused severe tensions with Egypt, which has called it an existential threat and worries that it will reduce the country’s share of Nile waters.
Ethiopia says the $4.6 billion dam will be an engine of development that will pull millions of people out of poverty. Sudan, in the middle, worries about the effects on its own dams, though it stands to benefit from access to cheap electricity.
Key questions remain about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries will resolve any future disputes. Ethiopia has rejected binding arbitration at the final stage of the project.
As well as tension with its Nile Valley neighbors, Ethiopia was plunged earlier this month into a deadly internal conflict when its federal government launched a military attack on the northern Tigray region’s administration.
The conflict threatens to pull in Ethiopia’s neighbors, which include Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, whose capital came under rocket attack from the Tigray forces over the weekend. The fighting has sent over 35,500 Ethiopian refugees into Sudan.
Ethiopia rejected a US-crafted draft deal over its dam in February and went on with the first stage of filling of the dam’s massive reservoir, leading Washington to suspend millions of dollars in aid to Addis Ababa.


Zarif ‘desperate’ to blame Saudi Arabia for anything negative that happens in Iran: Al-Jubeir

Updated 28 min 25 sec ago

Zarif ‘desperate’ to blame Saudi Arabia for anything negative that happens in Iran: Al-Jubeir

  • “It is not the policy of Saudi Arabia to engage in assasinations; unlike Iran” minister tweeted

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said on Tuesday Mohammad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister, was “desperate” to blame Saudi Arabia for anything negative that happens in Iran.

“Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is desperate to blame the Kingdom for anything negative that happens in Iran. Will he blame us for the next earthquake or flood?” he tweeted.

“It is not the policy of Saudi Arabia to engage in assasinations; unlike Iran, which has done so since the Khomeini Revolution in 1979. Ask us, and ask many other countries who have lost many of their citizens due to Iran’s criminal and illegal behavior,” he added.

Al-Jubeir's comments come after Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an ambush near Tehran on Friday.

Fakhrizadeh has been described by Western and Israeli intelligence services for years as the leader of a covert atomic bomb programme halted in 2003, which Israel and the United States accuse Tehran of trying to restore in secret.

Iran has blamed external entities, including Israel and an exiled opposition group, for the killing.