Worried about its Nile water share in the face of stalled talks, Egypt mulls options – hostilities redux!

15 Dec

Editor’s Note:-

Negotiations with Egypt are never done until they are done. The state of reality of the negotiations/consultations between Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan at the moment is once again showing that truism.

From every direction the remark pops up that the three countries’ talks have failed. In the case of Egypt, it is habitual that talks fail only when Egypt says. This ground rule for Cairo is also confirmed by Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi, who a few days ago claimed that talk of failure was not only untrue, but also premature.

In fact, in an ambiguous language the minister hinted in the third quarter of October 2015, “Egypt holds pressure cards in Ethiopia’s Renaissance dam issue and is making political and diplomatic efforts that aim to reach a compromise.” However, since he had not clearly specified what those “pressure cards” are, one is bound to assume perhaps it was a reference to the three alternative courses of action Egypt is mulling.

Rendering it all the more confusing, nearly a month after that implied “threat” against Ethiopia by the irrigation minister, Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail stated at a press conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, “Egypt still has three concerns related to national security and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

He amplified this as follows: The three concerns are “Egypt’s historical water share from the Nile river, making sure that the dam will not affect Egypt’s water share, and ensuring that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is not used for any political purpose other than generating electricity.”

Moghazi topped up this by stating, among others, Egypt “would rectify past mistakes by making the relationship with Nile basin countries a priority for foreign policy.”

Until time reveals the essence of that, what remains ironic is the fact that Ethiopia should officially see the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as negotiator on Nile water Question, allegedly inducted by President El Sisi. What is disturbing about this is whether El Sisi is aware that UAE is a financial funneling point for Ethiopian officials. To confirm this, the grapevines also have smudged the relations between Ethiopia and UAE with unsavory story that involves the TPLF using it to siphon capital out of Ethiopia.

In its latest report on 2004-2013 financial outflows from developing countries, the Global Financial Integrity reported on December 8, 2015 that Ethiopia had lost during this period $25.8 billion, which annually is estimated at $2.6 billion.

While the UAE has never been key to Ethiopia’s diplomatic relations or in economic terms, or employment, the TPLF regime opened embassy in Abu Dhabi in November 2014. That is when, this blog recalled: “Ethiopia’s fundamental problem is the fact that TPLF officials and operatives are primary beneficiaries of the gains of trade or economic growth in Ethiopia. What good is this for the people of Ethiopia?”

At the time, this was said with illicit financial outflows that were being rumoured through that country in mind.

We would again ask the same question regarding the Renaissance Dam issue, wherein an ex-Palestinian security official has become a backdoor into UAE, it appears to us, not to address the problems of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Interestingly, at will and to his convenience, on December 7, 2015, Mr. Hossam Moghazi was seen shooting one of the three options, i.e., “international arbitration”, referred hereunder, as premature! No soul is at ease in negotiating with Egypt. It is everywhere and nowhere at the same time!

Egypt continues to express its concern that the GERD construction is proceeding without the technical studies’ findings implemented.

At the same time, the international criminal Omar El-Bashir is needling Egypt on the side campaigning on the media Cairo to accept the dam, “since it has become a reality.” Of course, the man is shooting two birds with one stone: hurting Egypt unable to recapture the Hala’ib Triangle –20,580 sq km territory to Egypt – lavishing Ethiopia with praise until he receives lands belonging to Ethiopia on the border the TPLF has promised him.

There is no doubt that the speed with which the dam reached its present completion point has terrified Egypt, as the TPLF regime is increasingly becoming short-handed when it comes to its financing!

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Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

For the 10th time, the six-party meeting of the Renaissance Dam negotiations, which was attended by foreign and water ministers in Khartoum on Saturday, failed to find solutions to outstanding problems between Egypt and Ethiopia, especially with regards to the French and Dutch consulting firms tasked with the project’s technical studies.

Observers are still counting on the next round of negotiations, slated for December 27, to reach an understanding after nearly two years of negotiations. Others, however, believe Ethiopia is stalling until the completion of the dam, of which 50 percent has already been constructed.

But Egypt has the following three alternatives if the negotiations fail completely:

    1- To cancel the Declaration of Principles that was signed on March 23 by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

    The document contains 10 basic principles that preserve the Egyptian rights to the Nile water and that are consistent with the general rules of international law that regulate the use of common rivers.

    The principles include cooperation, development and economic integration, a pledge not to cause significant harm to any country, the fair and equitable use of water, cooperation in the first filling of the reservoir and the annual operation of the dam, confidence-building, exchange of information, safety, respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful resolutions of disputes.

    The document also includes mechanisms for the settlement of disputes between Egypt and Ethiopia, including consultation, negotiation and mediation in accordance with international law and agrees not to prejudice the historical conventions of the Nile water.

    However, it does not address water shares or uses, mentioning instead the filling and operation of the dam.

    The agreement is to be followed by other agreements of principles.

    Nader Noureddine, professor of water resources at Cairo University’s Faculty of Agriculture, says Ethiopia is misusing the Declaration of Principles and is stalling to gain time to complete the construction of the dam.

    He adds that Egypt has jumped the gun by signing this agreement, which explicitly states that Ethiopia has absolute sovereignty over all water resources and recognizes the legitimacy of the dam without reservation, while it does not tackle any guarantees for Egypt’s historical share of the Nile water.

    “Parliament should cancel the Declaration of Principles. In this case, Egypt can withdraw its recognition of the dam in accordance with international law and the Egyptian Constitution,” says he.

    2- To stop negotiations and resort to the United Nations and the Security Council.

    Noureddine says the basic rules of international law and the Nile Basin countries regarding the use of water do not allow any country to exploit its rights without the approval of the other countries.

    He says Ethiopia has committed numerous violations by building a high dam, as international law and United Nations agreements stipulate that upstream countries should build low dams so as not to harm downstream countries.

    “Egypt should make it an international issue and demand the countries that finance the dam to stop funding it because it threatens its national security,” he says.

    3- To file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice

    Noureddine also suggests that Egypt should file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice in The Hague so as to pressure Ethiopia to sign an agreement that ensures Egypt’s share of Nile water.

    “Egypt should consider this a hostile act on the part of Ethiopia because it did not notify it in advance of the construction of the dam,” he says.

/Egypt Independent

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