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Jan 31, 2021

CAIRO — Several nations are looking for a mediation function within the faltering negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is set to imagine in February the chairmanship of the African Union, with Congo President Felix Tshisekedi succeeding his South African counterpart. Among the chairmanship’s duties is sponsorship of the continuing dam negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. 

On Jan. 21, the ambassadors of the United States and Italy to Sudan praised Khartoum’s place within the talks on the dam. During their assembly with Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas, the 2 ambassadors burdened the necessity to set up an change information mechanism to make sure Khartoum’s proper to safe its dams, water amenities and the security of its residents through the operation of the Renaissance dam. 

Meanwhile, the British ambassador to Khartoum, Irfan Siddiq, burdened throughout his assembly with Abbas on Jan. 18 his nation’s assist for reaching an settlement on the dam that’s passable to all involved events, specifically Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. 

The Sudan News Agency reported Jan. 13 that the United Arab Emirates is looking for to converge the views of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia with the goal of breaking the impasse within the dam negotiations, following a one-day go to by a delegation from the UAE Foreign Ministry to Sudan. 

The latest actions come as the most recent spherical of dam negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, sponsored by the African Union, have faltered. On Jan. 10, the six-party assembly of water and irrigation ministers and overseas ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia did not reach a binding and authorized settlement on the filling and operation of the dam. The failure was ostensibly attributable to disagreements over how one can resume negotiations and the procedural elements associated to managing the negotiation course of.

Abbas stated in a assertion issued Jan. 11 that his nation requested the African Union specialists to play a better function in facilitating negotiations and bridging the rift between the conflicting events. The day earlier than, Egypt and Ethiopia expressed reservations about the Sudanese proposal to develop the function of African Union specialists. 

Cairo University political scientist Tarek Fahmy advised Al-Monitor over the cellphone that any try to mediate “is a noble and welcome try. The UAE efforts are probably the most outstanding and tangible. Yet they arrive at a essential time, a couple of months earlier than the scheduled begin of the second filling” of the dam in August

He added, “The UAE’s mediation could have two scenarios. The first consists of stalling until the second filling of the dam is done. The second aims to succeed in the negotiations, which is difficult to achieve in light of the approaching second filling stage and the absence of a specific agenda for this mediation.” 

Fahmy said, “Egypt wants the African Union to officially declare the failure of the negotiations and inform the negotiating parties that it no longer will play the role of mediator in the negotiation process in its capacity as the relevant regional organization. In this case, Egypt would be able to internationalize the file by referring it to the UN Security Council.”

Since the construction of the dam began on the Blue Nile in 2011, Egypt and Sudan (two downstream countries) have been striving to reach a binding legal agreement with Ethiopia (an upstream country) through negotiations on the rules for filling and operation of the dam. The three countries signed on March 23, 2015, the Declaration of Principles in Khartoum. The declaration stipulates fair and appropriate use of water, non-harm, cooperation and regional integration, as the dam raises concerns in Egypt and Sudan about their historical shares of Nile water. 

Egypt, which suffers water shortage, fears a lower in its Nile water share amounting to about 55.5 billion cubic meters. The $4.6-billion dam is located near the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, with a maximum capacity of 74 billion cubic meters. For its part, Sudan fears the dam will have an effect on its agriculture by retaining silt (sediment) and lowering water ranges, which might consequently undermine its fish wealth. Ethiopia says the dam is critical for financial improvement, because the dam will present Ethiopia and different nations with giant portions of electrical energy. 

Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Countries Unit at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor the most important stance regarding the negotiations currently is the US position. “The US has experience and is well aware of the details of the dam crisis and its points of disagreement. It is also well aware that the Ethiopian position contradicts international law and that Ethiopia’s intransigence on the negotiations threatens Egypt and Sudan.” 

He added, “Washington had previously submitted a document containing a set of items on filling and operating the dam. This means the US is the most equipped to make an efficacious intervention” when it comes to the dam, “especially since the US does not want the region to slip into any spiraling conflict.” 

Raslan said the UAE, UK, Italy and even the Democratic Republic of the Congo may play auxiliary roles in resolving the crisis, but they will not be able, alone, to reach an acceptable settlement. 

A former Egyptian irrigation minister, Mohamed Nasr Allam, does not expect progress in the negotiations during the coming period. He told Al-Monitor, “The interference of some new parties may push the negotiations forward, but only if this is done within the framework of enforcement of international law.” 

Allam added, “These efforts will not result in any solution unless Ethiopia shows flexibility; it has so far rejected any mediation, whether regional or international. This is something that falls neither in its favor nor in its interest.” 

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