Still No Final Deal for Egypt-Ethiopia Nile Dam Talks
As the latest round of US-mediated negotiations on the contentious Nile dam project come to an end without sign of an agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, the International United Nations Watch calls upon the UN to step in and help end the stalemate.
The negotiations held in Washington D.C, February 12-13, were part of renewed efforts between the countries to arrive at a deal brokered by the U.S. and the World Bank as mediators. Officials initially stated a deal was likely by the end of the month only for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell at a press conference in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on 18 February 2020 that a deal could take “months,” as he confirmed the parties’ inability to arrive at final resolution of the longstanding dispute over Nile waters. The parties did, however, agree to an interim arrangement allowing the dam to be filled in stages during the rainy season.
Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) began in 2011. The $5 billion hydropower project on a stretch of the Blue Nile running through Ethiopia has been disputed from the outset by the Egyptian government, which views the dam as a direct threat to its reliance on the full flow of Nile water resources and the effectiveness of Egypt’s Aswan dam. Cairo cites historical claims to the Nile, which Ethiopia dismisses as vestiges of British colonial rule, maintaining that the Nile water treaty concluded in that era did not serve Ethiopia’s interests instead holding back the country’s development potential. Now, with the advent of climate change and its impact, drought and water scarcity are beginning to affect the Nile river region.
The compromise, interim pact now in place provides “a schedule for a stage-based filling plan of the GERD” that includes a mitigation mechanism for filling and operating the dam during drought, prolonged drought and dry years., plus a similar mechanism for its annual and long-term operation in cyclical-to-severe drought conditions. , Conclusion of a final deal requires more as was indicated by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Gedu Andargachew, who, speaking at the same press conference as US State Secretary Pompeo, pointed out that “outstanding issues” remained to be negotiated.
In Washington, Brookings Institute analyst Addisu Lashitew noted that Pompeo remained under pressure to achieve a final since “President Trump seeks to get the credit… as the dealmaker for resolving this issue.” Lashitew suggested it would be best for Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to avoid ”a rushed, Washington-brokered Nile Treaty” that might not serve their interests. hich may end Taking this into account, the International United Nations Watch urges the UN to consider taking on the mediating role lest Washington D.C.’s efforts end up in failure.