While Egypt and the Sudan had maintained common position in the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), in reality relations between the two sides since mid-2009 have hardly been as strong to enable them carry out joint operations or collaborate for military action against Ethiopia. After all, for a while now the Sudan has been at war with and within itself to manage such undertaking.
This is being stated notwithstanding Mr. Al Bashir’s unreliability and mercurial behavior that over the years have compelled him to change friends and loyalties like his jellaba or the military uniform he dons from time to time. Nor am I oblivious of Khartoum’s latest warming up with Eritrea, which is acting as a go-between Khartoum and SPLM-N.
Nonetheless, it should be borne in mind it was in July 2010 that Al Bashir began to officially accuse Egypt of illegally occupying Sudanese territory – the Hala’ib Triangle. Egyptians considered it a stab on the back, no Sudanese leader since the days of Nasser’s military intervention in the 1958 show of force had ever done. But there is no mistaking about its timing being long before story of the Renaissance Dam was made public.
This territorial reclaim was revived under Bashir, with intensity of symbolism especially in connection with the 2010 election. This turned Mubarak and the Egyptian establishment furious to up the ante against the Sudanese leader, e.g., smear campaigns on the Egyptian media, especially the highly opinionated Al Ahram.
In the circumstances, while not discounting the possibility of Egypt and the Sudan colluding against Ethiopia on the Arab River issue, as they refer to the Nile, the so-called leaked information through Egypt’s ambassador in Lebanon, below, seems to swim in the realms of abstraction and sheer analytical exercise.
Perhaps the information may have been leaked or manufactured for a different purpose. It may have much to do with the future governance of Ethiopia after the demise of long time autocrat Meles Zenawi. That seems to be the West’s major preoccupation as far as Ethiopia is concerned.
I consider it wise and useful to read this ‘wikileak’ via WikiLeaks in conjunction with another WikiLeaks document, reported by the US Embassy in Cairo, containing assessment of the United States Government of Egypt’s attitude towards upper riparian states and Egypt’s dilemma over the Nile issue.
One might need to ask is the West concerned that the volatile Morsi might seek to rally Egyptians behind his presidency by attacking Ethiopia, or are they trying to induce his threatening of Ethiopia? I do not know the answer to this question.
But I remember distinctly that Mubarak used to effectively exploit it all along reminding Egyptians on one hand the threat Ethiopia was posing to their water and national security. On the other hand he campaigned on African and international fora, for cooperation over the Nile and amongst Nile Basin countries, with diplomacy and technical assistance being the primary tools.
This worked in favor of Mubarak by sustaining support for Egypt’s unjust and colonial water treaties that have been in effect in the past 83 years, thereby making Egypt commander of the Nile utilizing the water share of Nile upper riparian states 86 percent of which came from the highlands of Ethiopia!
Already it was learnt a while ago that President Morsi’s young administration has been under pressure from the Moslem Brotherhood to take up position to press China not to finance any activities on the Nile River.
In a 26 August press conference, nevertheless, Presidential Spokesman Yasser Ali said that story was unfounded. It is also possible that the denial might have come from realization by Egyptian officials that China from day one has refused, at least in Ethiopia, to finance any construction on the Nile River. China’s rationale is its desire to avoid any semblance of conflict of interests with Egypt and other Arab countries.
Hereunder is the leaked information attributable to Stratfor
ATTRIBUTION: STRATFOR sources
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: Egyptian diplomatic source
SOURCE Reliability : C
ITEM CREDIBILITY: 3
SOURCE HANDLER: Reva
Follow-up to insight on Egypt asking Sudan to station commandos in Sudan
for ‘worst case’ scenario on the Nile issue:
Sudanese president Umar al-Bashir has agreed to allow the Egyptians to
build an a small airbase in Kusti to accommodate Egyptian commandoes who
might be sent to Ethipoia to destroy water facilities on the Blue Nile. He
insists that the military option is not one that the Egyptians favor. It
will be their option if everything else fails
6/1/10 (this one seems to be a different source, since it has an A for
ATTRIBUTION: Egyptian security source
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: high-level Egyptian security/intel source, in regular
direct contact with Mubarak and Suleiman
SOURCE RELIABILITY: A
ITEM CREDIBILITY: 2
SUGGESTED DISTRIBUTION: analysts
SOURCE HANDLER: Reva
Last week Mubarak met with four out of the 5 countries demanding more
rights over the Nile (unclear if he met in person or talked to them over
the phone). kenya, rwanda, tanzania, uganda reached an agreement with
Egypt and pledged cooperation that the water will only be used for
electricity generation (not diverted for irrigation), while Egypt pledged
more developmental projects. We’ll keep talking and talking to them to
make sure all sides abide by the agreement.
The only country that is not cooperating is Ethiopia. We are continuing
to talk to them, using the diplomatic approach. Yes, we are discussing
military cooperation with Sudan. we have a strategic pact with the
Sudanese since in any crisis over the Nile, Sudan gets hit first then us.
We can’t afford that. The military cooperation we are discussing is for
emergency planning, but I don’t think it will come that yet. There will
not be a war. If it comes to a crisis, we will send a jet to bomb the dam
and come back in one day, simple as that. Or we can send our special
forces in to block/sabotage the dam. But we aren’t going for the military
option now. This is just contingency planning. Look back to an operation
Egypt did in the mid-late 1970s, i think 1976, when Ethiopia was trying to
build a large dam. We blew up the equipment while it was traveling by sea
to Ethiopia. A useful case study.
Mubarak is looking pretty well. I was with him last week. He’s still very
active. Things are getting a little dicey with the Shura election
councils. There were some shootings and the Sinai election got cancelled.
We’ll be keeping an eye on that.
Source: Egypt WikiLeaks documents
Financial Times: Nile dam: Water wars averted for now
Sudan Tribune: Sudan’s NCP welcomes Eritrean initiative with SPLM-N rebels