Egyptian invitations and Ethiopian speech .. Will the Renaissance Dam negotiations move?
Cairo- After about a year of the failure of the Renaissance Dam talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, it was punctuated by many developments and stormy events in the upstream country, whether at the level of the security situation, or the technical level related to the continuation of the construction of the dam and the completion of the second filling; Cairo called for the resumption of the Renaissance Dam negotiations as soon as possible.
During a meeting with his Senegalese counterpart on Saturday in Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stressed the importance of reaching a fair, balanced and binding legal agreement regulating the filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam in accordance with the rules of international law and the outcomes of the Security Council in this regard, within an appropriate time frame and without any unilateral measures. He explained that Egypt’s vision is based on the fact that the Nile River is a source of cooperation and development and a uniting lifeline for the peoples of the Nile Basin countries.
In an unusual statement issued last Tuesday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that his country “shows interest in resuming negotiations as soon as possible, with the aim of expediting the resolution of technical and legal dispute points, to reach a fair, balanced and equitable agreement, taking into account the water scarcity Egypt suffers from, And its dependence mainly on the waters of the Nile, the main source of which is from the Blue Nile.”
Madbouly reiterated Egypt’s keenness to reach a binding agreement to fill and operate the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, explaining that the agreement that his country wants “will be achieved by balancing Ethiopia’s maximum possible benefit from the dam in the field of electricity generation and sustainable development, in exchange for no harm to the downstream countries.” “.
Last week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry – while receiving the US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield – stressed the importance of resuming the Renaissance Dam negotiations as soon as possible, with the aim of reaching a fair, balanced and legally binding agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam that take into account the interests of the three countries. This is in line with the presidential statement issued by the Security Council in September 2021.
Among the contacts made by the parties to the crisis during the past days, it was remarkable that the Egyptian president was a guest in Abu Dhabi, and he met its Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, last Wednesday, before the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed was also a guest in Abu Dhabi the day before yesterday, Saturday.
In statements reported by the Egyptian press, international relations expert Nabil Najm Al-Din said that the visit cannot be viewed apart from the presence of a blockage in the Renaissance Dam file, and the existence of divergence in the negotiations between Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Cairo, and Abu Dhabi realizes the importance of this file for Cairo.
The media, Ahmed Moussa, who is close to the authority, said that Sisi’s visit to Abu Dhabi was related to the Renaissance Dam, given the strong relationship between the UAE and Ethiopia.
After the war of the Ethiopian Tigray region and the turbulent conditions in Sudan, and the futility of any international mediation; All of these factors require – according to observers and experts who spoke to Al Jazeera Net – a new phase of cooling the discourse and changing its usual contents, and imposes the imperative of sitting and negotiating to resolve contentious issues without preconditions, until negotiations lead to satisfactory results for the three parties.
A few days ago, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed published a letter via Twitter in which he said that it is time for Egypt and Sudan to change their discourse on the Renaissance Dam, calling for the speech to focus on building peace and cooperation between the peoples of the three countries, stressing that the Renaissance Dam carries several benefits for the downstream countries Egypt. And Sudan and East Africa, as well as the riparian countries can benefit from the waters of the Nile in a reasonable and equitable manner without causing great harm, as he put it.
A statement that was not new, according to Ambassador Mohamed Morsi, the former assistant foreign minister, who added, “But I see it as positive in its entirety, despite my reservations about many of what was stated in it. It represents the first message to Egypt and Sudan after the cessation or end of the civil war in Ethiopia, even if temporarily.”
Morsi said – in a post on his personal Facebook page – that the lesson remains in the end with actions, not words, especially since the dust of the civil war in Ethiopia has not subsided yet, and that many of Abi Ahmed’s promises and words cannot be trusted.
And the round of meetings of the Renaissance Dam hosted by Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in April 2021, failed to lead to an agreement on re-launching negotiations, and Egypt and Sudan then accused Ethiopia of intransigence, while the latter accused them of putting forward items outside the negotiating agenda, while the United Nations called United parties to reach a compromise.
The inevitability of negotiations
The advisor of the United Nations Development Program on the waters of the Nile, Mohamed Mohieldin (Egyptian), believes that the continuation of closing the negotiation file will not be in the interest of the crisis issue between the three parties, and that official statements from Egypt and Ethiopia confirm that there is no other choice but to resume the path of negotiations, even if it is not temple”.
Mohieldin stressed – in statements to Al Jazeera Net – that the three countries have a desire to end this file and reach an agreement that ends an arduous, long and costly journey of negotiations without any time horizon, especially in light of the security, economic and political conditions in the region, which oblige everyone to the fact that The Nile River should be a reason for cooperation, not conflict.
He believed that Egypt is the weakest link in the Renaissance Dam crisis, and that its call to resume negotiations is a clear message to Ethiopia of the need to return to the negotiating table, especially after the revolution of political turmoil in the country of the Blue Nile has subsided, and the speech of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia confirms beyond any doubt that There is no time for maneuvering again, and he should not antagonize the inside and the outside against him again.
On the Sudanese side, writer and academic Yasser Mahjoub Al-Hussein says that the implications of the invitation at this time “come after the vision regarding the internal conflict in Ethiopia was clarified, and some were waiting for the outcome of the battles that swept the country and threatened the presence of the central government in Addis Baba; thus, the calls came. And statements from each side call for calm and the resumption of negotiations after a hiatus of about 10 months.
Al-Hussein – in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net – suggested that Abi Ahmed would adopt a less severe and strict negotiating strategy as part of his attempts to calm the atmosphere internally and externally, “after he came out of the war less strong and more prudent,” he said, stressing at the same time that the stalemate in the talks between the parties The conflict is not in the interest of Egypt and Sudan in any way.
The Sudanese academic believes that Cairo is concerned about the steps of rapprochement between Ethiopia and Sudan after the visit of Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Vice-President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, last week to Addis Ababa, in light of calm conditions on both sides of the borders of the two countries after tension and armed confrontation, noting that Addis Ababa wants to cool the border front with Sudan is benefiting from the state of Khartoum’s vacillation and the instability of its position on the dam, as well as the internal instability in Sudan.
With the push to return to negotiation and Algeria to enter the line at the initiative of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, which he presented during his recent visit to Cairo, the demand of Egypt and Sudan to sign a binding legal agreement on the management of the dam seems far-fetched, and Abi Ahmed’s statements are nothing more than an attempt to gain time, according to Sudanese academic opinion.
The meaning of Abi Ahmed’s speech
Member of the Ethiopian Federal House of Representatives, Mohamed al-Arousi, said that Cairo’s interest in resuming negotiations is positive, provided that it is flexible and without preconditions, and that the goal is to reach a solution that satisfies all parties and not just one.
Al-Arousi added to Al-Jazeera Net that the Renaissance Dam crisis was not absent from the Ethiopian agenda, which appears to many to be witnessing radical transformations in its internal and external policies, while the Ethiopians see it as a new page for Ethiopia entitled justice, peace and good neighborliness.
He believed that the Ethiopian leadership, after the field victories, wanted to send a message of peace to the parties to the Renaissance Dam crisis, and Abi Ahmed’s speech did not come out of nowhere, but rather after a series of accusations leveled by the downstream countries that Ethiopia refuses to negotiate, hides information, intransigence, and procrastinates to the last of these accusations.
According to Al-Arousi, the title of the letter (meaning Abi Ahmed’s speech) was clear and its content was clearer. Welcome to negotiations preceded by good intentions, absent accusations and in which the tone improved, and Egypt and Sudan called on Egypt and Sudan to present their concerns objectively to negotiate about them, and there is no point in negotiations with prior conviction and accusations. ready.
It is worth noting that Egypt depends on the Nile River for 97% of its water needs, and the per capita share of water does not exceed 560 cubic meters annually, and the amount of rain falling on Egypt does not exceed 1.3 billion cubic meters annually compared to between 1600 and 2000 billion cubic meters annually from Water falls on the headwaters of the Nile, including Ethiopia.
Egyptian officials talk about great challenges facing the water sector in their country, on top of which are the limited water resources, population increase, and the negative effects of climate change. Egypt’s water needs amount to about 114 billion cubic meters annually, with an estimated deficit of 54 billion cubic meters annually. Water use and import of agricultural crops equivalent to about 34 billion cubic meters annually.