Egypt says no progress in Renaissance Dam negotiations

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia. (Reuters/File Photo)
Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 12 January 2021

Egypt says no progress in Renaissance Dam negotiations

Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Six-party meeting was held to discuss a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating the GERD

CAIRO: A meeting on Sunday about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) failed to make any progress, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. 

The six-party meeting was held to discuss a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating the GERD. 

Ethiopia hopes the dam will turn it into Africa’s top hydropower supplier. Egypt and Sudan, however, fear it will substantially reduce their water share and affect development prospects.

“The meeting failed to achieve any progress due to disagreements over how to resume negotiations and aspects related to managing the negotiation process,” the ministry said.

“Sudan insists on the necessity to mandate the experts appointed by the African Union Commission to present solutions to the issues of disagreement which Egypt and Ethiopia are unsure about.”

Its statement added that the reservation came as a confirmation of the three countries’ commitment to the negotiation process and to preserve their right to formulate the texts and provisions of the agreement to fill and operate the dam.

According to the statement, Egypt confirmed its readiness during the meeting to engage in serious and effective negotiations in order to reach a legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam.

South Africa’s minister of foreign affairs, Naledi Pandor, expressed regret that the hoped-for breakthrough in the negotiations had not been achieved and said she would submit a report to the president on the talks and their results.

Among those taking part in the meeting were Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian minister of foreign affairs, Mohammed Abdel Aty, Egyptian minister of water resources and irrigation, and the foreign and water ministers of Sudan and Ethiopia. It was headed by Pandor, who is the current chairperson of the African Union’s executive council.

Sudan called for a change in the negotiation methodology to give the African Union experts a greater role to bring the views of the three countries closer.

Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas said: “We cannot continue in this vicious circle of indefinite discussions, given the direct threat that the dam represents to the Roseires Reservoir, whose storage capacity is less than 10 percent of the GERD's capacity if the filling and operation are done without agreement and the daily exchange of data.”

He added that Sudan had strongly protested a letter sent by the Ethiopian minister of irrigation to the African Union, Egypt and Sudan on Jan. 8, in which he affirmed Ethiopia’s intention to continue filling the dam in July regardless of whether an agreement was reached or not.

The three countries have held several rounds of talks since Ethiopia launched the GERD project in 2011, but are yet to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam’s huge reservoir.


Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
A military vehicle is stationed on the tarmac of Yemen’s Aden airport. Yemen says the Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace to the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2021

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation

Yemen’s government vows to mitigate effects of Houthi terrorism designation
  • International community urged not to surrender to ‘blackmailing and intimidation’ 
  • Stockholm Agreement has failed to bring peace, Yemen PM said

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s prime minister has vowed to address any impact on humanitarian assistance or the remittances of citizens abroad following the US move to designate the Iran-backed Houthis as a terrorist organization.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed also urged the international community not to surrender to “Houthi blackmailing” and intimidation.
Saeed defended his government’s strong support of the designation during a virtual interview with foreign journalists sponsored by the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies.
He said that his government had formed a committee to handle any effects on the delivery of humanitarian assistance inside Houthi-controlled areas and the remittances of Yemenis abroad.
“We are determined to prevent any impact of the decision on the Yemenis. We have formed a committee to mitigate effects of the decision,” he said.
When the US announced its intention to designate the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization last week, Yemen’s government quickly urged the US administration to put the decision in place, predicting it would stop Houthi crimes and their looting of humanitarian assistance, and would smoothe the way for peace.
Referring to the impact of the US designation on peace talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, Saeed said that the decision would not undermine peace efforts. He said that the Houthis would be accepted as part of the Yemeni political and social spectrum when they abandoned hard-line ideologies and embraced equality and justice.

The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed.

Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, Yemen’s prime minister

“This is an important pressure card on them and a real definition of them,” he said, adding that the Yemenis would not allow the Houthi movement to rule them.
“Yemen would not be ruled by a racist and terrorist group,” he said.
Formed under the Riyadh Agreement, Yemen’s new government’s ministers narrowly escaped death on Dec. 30 when three precision-guided missiles ripped through Aden airport shortly after their plane touched down.
The government accused the Houthis of staging the attack, saying that missile fragments collected from the airport showed that they were similar to missiles that targeted Marib city in the past.
The prime minister said that the Yemeni government had offered many concessions to reach an agreement to end the war. It had agreed to engage in direct talks with the Houthis in Stockholm in 2018 despite the fact that the Yemeni government forces were about to seize control of the Red Sea city of Hodeidah. However, the Stockholm Agreement had failed to bring peace to Yemen, he said.
“The government forces were about to capture the city within five days maximum. The Yemeni government agreed to go to Stockholm for reaching a solution to stop fighting and saving the city. This model has failed,” Saeed said.
In Riyadh, Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Friday appointed Ahmed Obeid bin Daghar, a former prime minister and a senior adviser to the president, as president of the Shoura Council.
Hadi also appointed Ahmed Ahmed Al-Mousai as the country’s new attorney general.
Fighting continues
Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Houthis broke out on Sunday for the third consecutive day in contested areas in the districts of Hays and Durihimi in the western province of Hodeidah. Official media said that dozens of Houthi rebels and several government troops were killed in the fighting and loyalists pushed back three assaults by Houthis in Durihimi district.
In neighboring Hays, the Joint Forces media said on Sunday that the Houthis hit government forces with heavy weapons before launching a ground attack in an attempt to seize control of new areas in the district.
The Houthis failed to make any gains and lost dozens of fighters along with several military vehicles that were burnt in the fighting, the same media outlets said. Heavy artillery shelling and land mines planted by the Houthis have killed more than 500 civilians since late 2018, local rights groups said.