How conflict is jeopardizing Sudan’s museums and cultural heritage

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Updated 06 June 2023

How conflict is jeopardizing Sudan’s museums and cultural heritage

How conflict is jeopardizing Sudan’s museums and cultural heritage
  • Priceless archives have already been ravaged by fire and looting since the conflict began on April 15
  • Experts fear artifacts spanning Sudan’s 6,000-year history could face similar fate to Syria’s antiquities

JUBA, South Sudan: Sudan’s rich cultural heritage is at risk of irreparable damage from the conflict raging for more than a month now as museums lack adequate protection from looters and vandalism.

The clashes have caused widespread suffering and misery, destroyed infrastructure and property, and sparked a humanitarian emergency. However, the two feuding factions, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), continue to ignore international calls for dialogue.

In the latest troubling development, RSF fighters seized control of the Sudan National Museum in the capital, Khartoum, on Friday. Although they assured that no harm had been done and steps had been taken to protect the artifacts, including ancient mummies, there is no way to verify those claims.

The museum houses a diverse collection of statues, pottery, ancient murals, and artifacts dating from the Stone Age as well as the Christian and Islamic periods.

An elephant skull displayed at Sudan National History Museum. (Supplied)

The conflict initially erupted in Khartoum but quickly spread to other states and cities, causing significant casualties. Multiple ceasefire deals have been announced and quickly broken. Nearly one million people have been displaced.

As diplomats scramble to bring the warring parties back to the negotiating table and aid agencies deploy assistance to help those in need, Sudan’s heritage sites and ancient collections have little protection from theft and destruction.

“The Sudan National Museum has become a battleground,” Khalid Albaih, a Sudanese political cartoonist and civil rights activist, told Arab News.

Smoke billows in southern Khartoum on May 29, 2023, amid ongoing fighting between two rival generals in Sudan. (AFP)

The location of the museum — in close proximity to the SAF’s Khartoum headquarters — made it at once vulnerable to accidental damage and difficult for officials to guard its collections.

“This further exacerbated the danger, as anyone found near the premises risked immediate harm, as tragically witnessed when a university student was fatally shot,” said Albaih.

Established in 1971, the museum is the largest in Sudan, housing an extensive collection of Nubian artifacts spanning thousands of years. It offers a comprehensive account of Sudan’s captivating history from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic, Kerma culture, and medieval Makuria.

Besides the national museum, the Presidential Palace Museum, chronicling Sudan’s modern history, the Ethnographic Museum, established in 1956 to celebrate the nation’s ethnic diversity, and the Sudan Natural History Museum are also at risk.

Sara A. K. Saeed, director of the Natural History Museum, recently drew the world’s attention via Twitter to the fact that Sudan’s “museums are now without guards to protect them from looting and vandalism.”

She raised particular concern about the welfare of the live animals held within the museum’s collections, which include several species of reptiles, birds, mammals, snakes and scorpions for research purposes, and which now face neglect and starvation.

The entry of SAF fighters into the Sudan National Museum happened just days after a building in Omdurman, northwest of Khartoum, housing archives that included priceless documents chronicling Sudan’s colonial past, was ravaged by fire and looters.

Home to some 200 pyramids — almost twice the number in Egypt — and the legendary Kingdom of Kush, Sudan is one of the world’s most precious reservoirs of human culture and civilization.

Without pressure from the international community on the warring parties to guarantee the preservation of historical artifacts, experts fear the unchecked conflict could erase 6,000 years of Sudanese history, in echoes of the destruction visited upon Syria over the past decade.

The civil war and concurrent Daesh insurgency devastated ancient heritage sites across Syria, including the monumental ruins of Palmyra and much of the historic center of Aleppo. Many objects looted by militants found their way onto the black market.

A file photo taken on March 31, 2016, shows a photographer holding his picture of the Temple of Bel taken on March 14, 2014 in front of the remains of the historic temple after it was destroyed by Daesh group in September 2015 in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. (AFP)

Christopher A. Marinello, a renowned lawyer known for his tireless work recovering looted artworks, told Arab News that “looters will dig up objects to sell quickly for survival, often at a fraction of their true value.

“These objects find their way to countries such as Libya and Turkiye before reaching the West,” he said, adding that this illicit trade could exacerbate security problems, as the proceeds from such sales could end up funding international terrorism.

International agencies have several mechanisms in place designed to prevent the destruction of heritage in wartime.

“Prior to any conflict, it is crucial to conduct documentation and cataloging of cultural sites, ensuring that proper records are maintained,” Bastien Varoutsikos, director of strategic development at the Aliph Foundation, a network dedicated to protecting cultural heritage in conflict areas, told Arab News.

The Aliph Foundation has been actively involved in various projects in Sudan since 2020, protecting, among others, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Meroe against the threat of Nile flooding and human activities.


  • Museums in Sudan are at risk of irreparable harm, officials warn.
  • Archives in Omdurman have already been ravaged by fire and looting.
  • Experts say collective memory, identity and history must be safeguarded.

Meanwhile, the Western Sudan Community Museums project, funded by Aliph, focuses on community engagement and the establishment of museums celebrating the region’s unique heritage.

The agency has also implemented capacity-building programs across Sudan to provide professional training in heritage protection, including the utilization of digital preservation methods to help safeguard sites.

Anwar Sabik, field projects manager at the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, emphasized the need “to keep experienced professionals working on cultural heritage close to these invaluable treasures, not only to prevent material damage but also to preserve Sudan’s knowledge and expertise.”

Since 2018, the agency has gone beyond the traditional role of museums by providing a community dimension.

“The aim has been to transform museums into vibrant hubs where people can gather, celebrate their intangible cultural heritage, and foster a sense of community,” Sabik told Arab News.

Now, with the violence in Sudan showing no sign of abating, all of this work could now be at risk.

A man visits the Khalifa House ethnographic museum in Omdurman, the twin city of Sudan’s capital, on January 18, 2022. (AFP)

Without proper protection and preservation, the conflict threatens to erase not only tangible artifacts but also the intangible fabric of Sudanese society. Traditional practices, customs, and oral histories that have been passed down through generations could disappear forever.

“The disappearance of these invaluable resources would inflict an irreparable loss upon Sudan and the world,” said Sabik. “Perhaps, Sudan has already lost a part of it as a result of the mass displacement.”

According to Varoutsikos, although reports of unprotected museums and archaeological sites have surfaced, documented instances of actual looting remain, mercifully, limited.

“In times of conflict, it is challenging to confirm looting occurrences without concrete evidence,” he told Arab News.

To combat the illicit market for cultural goods, Varoutsikos says, governments must implement stringent measures that make it difficult for these illegally acquired items to find a market.

“Decision-makers in each country play a crucial role in enacting and enforcing such measures,” he said. Heightened vigilance among customs and law-enforcement agencies worldwide is one such measure.

However, “determining the demand on the black market, particularly in the Middle East, is challenging due to the abundance of valuable items that attract interest,” Varoutsikos said.

Sudan National History Museum. (Supplied)

Matters are complicated further, as looted artifacts are often stored for extended periods before being sold to avoid attracting attention. Caution is also essential in the market due to the prevalence of fake items, which impacts sellers and buyers alike.

How the warring parties and the international community choose to respond to these calls for action could determine what sort of society emerges when peace finally returns — one that is united by its shared heritage, or one that is torn asunder.

“Sudan’s museums and the invaluable artifacts they house are not just a reflection of the past,” Varoutsikos said. “They have the power to shape the future.”


Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech

Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech
Updated 24 September 2023

Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech

Djibouti FM calls for international financial reform in UNGA speech
  • Mahmoud Ali Youssouf: High costs of loans, falling public revenues prevent developing nations from investing in SDGs
  • Djibouti is one of 22 African nations categorized as ‘in financial distress’ by World Bank

NEW YORK: The world must commit to reform of the international financial structure to enable developing nations to grow and reach development goals, Djibouti’s foreign minister told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Mahmoud Ali Youssouf criticized what analysts sometimes call “minilateralism” — the tendency of countries to group together in clubs — saying it erodes inclusive multilateralism.

He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to intergovernmental negotiations for the Summit of the Future, which aims to reinvigorate multilateralism, boost implementation of national commitments, and restore trust among UN member states. The summit will be held in late September next year in New York.

Youssouf called for reform of the international financial structure, saying high costs of loans and falling public revenues prevent developing nations from investing in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and increases the likelihood that they will default on their debt payments.

Djibouti is one of the 22 African nations that the World Bank has labeled as “in financial distress,” and the country suspended its payments on nearly $1.4 billion in debt to China early this year.

“Despite the deterioration of the world economic situation, Djibouti has worked unwaveringly to achieve the SDGs, and has made notable progress in a number of areas such as reducing malnutrition and undernutrition, and has effectively managed the pandemic,” Youssouf said.

“Djibouti integrated the SDGs in our national development plans and in our strategies, such as the 2035 Djibouti Vision.”

The country’s long-term strategic vision aims to strengthen peace and national unity, diversify the economy, consolidate human capital, and encourage regional integration and international cooperation.

Djibouti has also prioritized poverty reduction, access to potable water and sustainable economic growth, Youssouf said.

He referenced the Ghoubet Wind Power Station, the country’s first-ever grid-ready renewable energy power station, which was commissioned in mid-September.

The project, which will produce roughly 60 megawatts of electricity, will be the first international investment project in the energy sector in Djibouti, “and will serve as a model for future private investment,” Youssouf said.

He also urged countries to achieve the goals laid out by the Paris Climate Agreement, and called for the full operation of the Loss and Damage Fund, which was agreed upon in the COP27 conference in Egypt last year, and aims to provide financial assistance to countries impacted by the effects of climate change.

Youssouf stressed the importance of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Sudan, which he called “a sister nation with whom we share political, historical and cultural close ties.”

He also called for a peaceful resolution to his country’s dispute with Eritrea over the Doumeira Islands.

In 2008, clashes in the small border region on the Red Sea coast led to the deaths of dozens of Eritrean and Djiboutian soldiers.

Djibouti has accused Eritrea of occupying the region since the withdrawal of Qatari peacekeepers six years ago.

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN
Updated 24 September 2023

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN

‘International monetary system has failed,’ Tunisian FM tells UN
  • Conflict, climate change, poverty fueling mass migration from Africa: Nabil Ammar
  • Global governance must be rebuilt to navigate ‘delicate page in history’

NEW YORK: “Substantive” reforms to the international financial system and global economic governance are necessary to bridge the gap between rich and poor countries, Tunisia’s foreign minister told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Nabil Ammar warned that the world is “experiencing a very delicate page in its history,” defined by growing crises and challenges, “wars and conflicts getting worse and geopolitical divisions being evident.”

He said: “Is this really the world to which we aspire after almost eight decades since the creation of the UN? This is an image that’s very distant from the goals and values that this organization is based on.”

Ammar called for universal acknowledgment that the international financial system has failed in its objectives.

Only then can the system, “which has increased the gap between advanced countries and developing countries,” be rebuilt, he said.

“The international monetary system has failed; the system which was created following the Second World War to provide a safety net for the world, to guarantee lasting financing for development and for the least-developed countries. This system, quite to the contrary, has disappointed and has abandoned these countries.”

Indebtedness among developing countries is worsening, he warned, with growing poverty and hunger fueling an “unprecedented increase in refugees and migrants.”

Tunisia has taken on an outsized burden in that regard because of its geographical position as a gateway to Europe, and due to the effects of conflict and climate change in Africa, Ammar added.

“We reiterate the need to adopt a global approach to tackle this issue of illegal migration, by focusing on its root causes rather than simply its consequences.”

He added: “We once again would like to reiterate the need for all parties to assume their responsibility — origin countries, transit countries and destination countries, as well as regional and international organizations.”

As part of the effort to address the root causes of mass migration, Ammar welcomed a decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch a response group for energy and food crises.

Ammar relayed an appeal by Tunisian President Kais Saied to establish a global emergency grain stockpile to safeguard against supply chain issues.

Ammar said confronting climate change is an “absolute priority” for Tunisia, adding: “What the world is experiencing today — the impact of climate change, deterioration of ecosystems, worsening of natural disasters — all of this forces all of us to confront these challenges urgently.”

He said: “Tunisia hasn’t been an exception to what the world has experienced and continues to experience in terms of challenges — economic challenges, social challenges and living conditions.

“And we, in spite of these difficulties, intend to overcome them, strengthen resilience and sustainability in cooperation with our friends and partners, while respecting the principles and the guiding principles of our national policies and national destiny.”

Ammar said Tunisia will continue “tirelessly” with reform, strengthening good governance and combating corruption in order to “strengthen and fine-tune our democracy.”

The country will also continue empowering women and young people to “strengthen their participation in public life and in decision-making,” he added.

Ammar called for “a new global order” and a new vision that promotes balance and equality between states, and which “takes into account the root causes of instability.”

The Palestinian question is part of that effort, he added, condemning the “silence of the international community” on Israel’s “disregard of international law.”

A just solution, overseen by the UN and based on the June 1967 borders, is necessary to achieve peace for Palestinians, Ammar said.

In Tunisia’s “immediate neighborhood,” he said his country is “providing all possible assistance” to Libya in order to achieve a political agreement there. Tunisia rejects any military solution or foreign incursions into Libya, Ammar added.

He ended his address by telling the UNGA: “We’re at a crossroads, given the scale of the risks and challenges that are unprecedented.”

The choices each country makes “should be based on long-term vision and our engagement to humanity,” he said.

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border
Updated 24 September 2023

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border

Israel strikes Gaza again amid new violence at border
  • Israel has imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the impoverished Palestinian enclave ever since the Islamist group Hamas seized control in 2007

GAZA CITY: The Israeli army launched a drone strike on the Gaza Strip on Saturday after violent protests in which three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire, sources on both sides said.
The early evening strike is one of a series that have come amid near-daily protests at the border by Palestinians after Israel closed the Erez crossing from Gaza.
A drone “struck a military post belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization, adjacent to the area where a violent riot was taking place,” the army said.
It added that “shots were fired toward” Israeli soldiers near the border during the strike, without reporting any casualties.
A Palestinian security source told AFP that an “Israeli aircraft had targeted a Hamas surveillance site east of Gaza City,” without mentioning any casualties.
Earlier in the day, Palestinian demonstrators faced off against Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, an AFP journalist reported.
Demonstrators set fire to tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers.
Three Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Israel has imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the impoverished Palestinian enclave ever since the Islamist group Hamas seized control in 2007.
Thousands of Palestinian workers from Gaza have been prevented from entering Israel by the closure of the Erez crossing, which an Israeli NGO, Gisha, condemned as “collective punishment.”
Israel has issued work permits to some 18,500 Gazans, COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, said on Tuesday.
Since September 13, six Palestinians have been killed and nearly 100 wounded during violence at the border, according to figures from the health ministry in Gaza.
Armed conflict sporadically erupts between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.
In May, an exchange of Israeli air strikes and Gaza rocket fire resulted in the deaths of 34 Palestinians and one Israeli.


Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec

Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec
Updated 24 September 2023

Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec

Interview: Rosatom ready to take on competition for KSA’s nuclear energy requirements, says Russian exec
  • Kirill Komarov says the Russian state-owned company has almost 80 years of experience on nuclear energy development 
  • Adds that Rosatom has built 81 units with VVER reactors, which comply with all post-Fukushima safety requirements

Described as a recognized leader in the field of nuclear technologies, with a share of about 40 percent of the global market, the Russian state-owned corporation Rosatom is bidding to win a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Kingdom.
During an exclusive interview with Arab News, Kirill Komarov, Rosatom’s first deputy director general for corporate development and international business, spoke about the potential for Russian-Saudi cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and his company’s plans in the Kingdom.

What agreements currently exist between the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom and Saudi Arabia?

Our cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on an Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, signed in the summer of 2015. Since 2017, Saudi Arabia has been carefully working on the selection of a suitable technology for the first nuclear power plant in the Kingdom.
Rosatom, as one of the world’s leading vendors, is certainly part of this process. In addition, there is a program of cooperation in a number of promising areas: the nuclear fuel cycle, low-power reactors, nuclear science and technology centers.
We have great respect for the ambitious development goals that the Kingdom has formulated in the Saudi Vision 2030 program. Thanks to the unique experience, and significant scientific and technical base, we are confident that Rosatom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have many points of contact not only in the energy sector, but also in healthcare, environmental solutions and the creation of smart cities.

Which areas of cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear industry are most interesting and in demand?

Saudi Arabia has great potential in the development of both nuclear energy and non-energy applications of nuclear technologies. We see the interest of our Saudi partners in creating a full-fledged nuclear industry and building their own competencies.
I would also like to note the high level of development of the Saudi industry. It is, of course, ready to solve the complex tasks that production enterprises face when implementing projects in the field of nuclear energy and technology.
In this regard, the construction of a large-capacity nuclear power plant is, of course, a flagship for the development of the industry but it is equally important to develop infrastructure, the competence of specialists, and use all the capabilities and resources of Saudi Arabia in the field of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Being one of the global technology leaders, Rosatom State Corporation can offer its resources, competencies and almost 80 years of experience for the development of nuclear energy, in both energy and non-energy applications of nuclear technologies. Which of them to use is up to our partner to decide.
Saudi Arabia is actively seeking to develop its nuclear power industry. In particular, authorities want their own nuclear power plant. What could Russia offer in this regard? How strong is the competition for the implementation of such a project in the Kingdom?

Rosatom offers VVER-1200 reactors to its foreign partners. These reactors are operating all over the world. In total, Rosatom has built 81 units with VVER reactors. This is one of the most common types of reactor in the world today and, importantly, the safest. Nuclear power plants with reactors of this type comply with all post-Fukushima safety requirements.
The units based on the VVER-1200 reactors offered by Rosatom belong to the latest safety class, “3+,” and combine active and passive safety systems that make the NPP (nuclear power plant) as resistant to external and internal influences as possible.
One example of such systems is the “melt trap.” This is one of the main elements of the passive safety system of the power unit, the unique know-how of Russian nuclear scientists, which ensures safety for the environment and humans under any scenarios of NPP operation.
At the stages of design, construction and operation, a wide range of technical and organizational measures are also provided to prevent the development of emergency situations under any scenarios and their combinations.
Let me remind you that Rosatom was the first company to launch a generation 3+ nuclear power plant, in 2018. There are already five such reactors in operation, including one at the Belarusian NPP (BelAS power unit No. 2 is currently in the final stage of pilot operation). Nuclear power plants with VVER-1200, our flagship project, are being built in Bangladesh, Belarus, Hungary, Egypt and Turkey.
As for the competition, it certainly exists. Nevertheless, the position of our company in the world is obvious; Rosatom is one of the leaders of the global nuclear market, cooperating with partners in more than 60 countries around the world.
We have 33 power units at various stages of implementation in 10 countries; that is to say, we have more projects for the construction of reactors abroad than all of our competitors combined. We account for 85 percent of the world’s nuclear power plant exports. For 18 years, we have connected 18 power units around the world to the grid, as well as a floating nuclear power plant.
Rosatom is successfully developing nuclear power in Egypt. How is the implementation of this project going?

In Egypt, Rosatom is implementing the El-Dabaa NPP project, the first nuclear power plant in the country. It is the largest Rosatom project in Africa and is also one of the largest nuclear construction projects in the world.
The active phase of construction began last year, when the so-called “first concrete” was poured into the foundation of the first power unit. Today, the project is moving dynamically and in accordance with the directive schedule. We are already building three power units at the same time.
At the end of August this year, we received a license for the construction of the fourth block from the Egyptian supervisory authority, the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority. This allows us to proceed to the full-scale construction stage on the fourth block.

Which countries in the Arab world have approached Russia to express an interest in developing nuclear energy?

The Middle East and North Africa region is now one of the drivers of the development of nuclear energy. In addition to the implementation of large-scale projects for the construction of large-capacity nuclear power plants, we see a high interest among Arab partners in small-capacity nuclear power plants.
The region, rich in oil and gas, invests in the implementation of clean-generation projects while, despite the abundance of solar and wind resources, it is increasingly investing in the development of nuclear energy. This not only eloquently testifies to the irreplaceable role of nuclear energy in terms of the formation of a green energy balance for the future by these countries, but also fits into the global trend; interest in nuclear generation is steadily growing around the world, even in those countries that have not previously considered nuclear energy for themselves.
We are connected with Middle Eastern partners by decades of successful cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and not only that. Historically, Russia was the first country to lend a helping hand at the initial stage of the development of important national infrastructure and industrial programs in the region, from the construction of hydroelectric power plants and personnel training, to the first research reactors and the development of nuclear infrastructure.
Today, Rosatom’s competencies are absolutely in demand. Agreements on cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy of various formats have been signed with 16 countries in the region. The geography here is the most extensive: Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, etc.
Successful cooperation has been built with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation; Rosatom provides the Barakah NPP project with enriched uranium products.
In Egypt and Turkey, we are “turnkey” (a term referring to ready-to-go solutions that are relatively easier to deploy) implementing two of the world’s largest nuclear power plant construction projects, the El-Dabaa NPP and the Akkuyu NPP, respectively.
Throughout its history, the enterprises of the Russian nuclear industry have accumulated a unique set of products and solutions in the field of nuclear energy, which make it possible to successfully implement projects for the construction of nuclear power plants not only from A-to-Z, but also to provide support at any stage of their life cycle.
Based on our own experience, we are convinced that the long-term use of nuclear energy creates opportunities for improving the quality of life and the level of development of science and education. Rosatom is open for cooperation with all countries of the region and is ready to offer its expertise.

How does Rosatom cope with sanctions pressures?

Rosatom State Corporation itself is not on any sanctions list. We continue to actively engage in foreign nuclear projects; we are building 22 power units in seven countries. Only one nuclear power plant construction project abroad has been stopped. This is the Hanhikivi NPP in Finland, where the decision was made for purely political reasons. We are negotiating new nuclear power plant construction projects in various regions of the world.
In the nuclear fuel cycle sector, Rosatom retains world leadership: first place in uranium enrichment, second place in its production, and third in the fabrication of nuclear fuel. We continue to work in 60 countries around the world.
There are obvious logistical difficulties but as new routes are developed, they are overcome. Rosatom has sufficient resources and the necessary organizational flexibility to adapt to new business conditions.

Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan resume Nile dam talks

An aerial view Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Guba, northwest Ethiopia. (AFP file photo)
An aerial view Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Guba, northwest Ethiopia. (AFP file photo)
Updated 24 September 2023

Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan resume Nile dam talks

An aerial view Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Guba, northwest Ethiopia. (AFP file photo)
  • For years at loggerheads over the issue, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed in July to finalize a deal within four months, resuming talks in August

NAIROBI: Ethiopia said Saturday it had begun a second round of talks with Egypt and Sudan over a controversial mega-dam built by Addis Ababa on the Nile, long a source of tensions among the three nations.
Ethiopia this month announced the completion of the fourth and final filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, prompting immediate condemnation from Cairo, which denounced the move as illegal.
Egypt and Sudan fear the massive $4.2-billion dam will severely reduce the share of Nile water they receive and had repeatedly asked Addis Ababa to stop filling it until an agreement was reached.
For years at loggerheads over the issue, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed in July to finalize a deal within four months, resuming talks in August.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the three countries had opened a second round of negotiations in Addis Ababa.
“Ethiopia is committed to reaching a negotiated and amicable solution through the ongoing trilateral process,” it said.

Protracted negotiations over the dam since 2011 have thus far failed to bring about an agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors.
Egypt has long viewed the dam as an existential threat, as it relies on the Nile for 97 percent of its water needs.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in an address to the UN General Assembly, said that Cairo wanted a “binding agreement” on the filling and operation of the dam.
“We remain in anticipation of our goodwill being reciprocated with a commitment from Ethiopia to arrive at an agreement that will safeguard the interests of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia,” Shoukry said.
“It would be a mistake to assume we can accept a fait accompli when it comes to the very lives of more than 100 million Egyptian citizens.”
The dam is central to Ethiopia’s development plans, and in February 2022 Addis Ababa announced that it had begun generating electricity for the first time.
At full capacity, the huge hydroelectric dam — 1.8 kilometers long and 145 meters high — could generate more than 5,000 megawatts.
That would double Ethiopia’s production of electricity, to which only half the country’s population of 120 million currently has access.
The position of Sudan, which is currently mired in a civil war, has fluctuated in recent years.
The United Nations says Egypt could “run out of water by 2025” and parts of Sudan, where the Darfur conflict was essentially a war over access to water, are increasingly vulnerable to drought as a result of climate change.