CAIRO – The United Arab Emirates has declared that it will mediate Egypt and Sudan’s dispute with Ethiopia to end a deadlock over Ethiopia’s Nile dam.
The UAE’s initiative comes days after negotiations between the three states on the dam, which is being constructed over the Blue Nile and is almost complete, came short of producing an agreement on the operation and the filling of the dam reservoir.
Abu Dhabi has not provided any information about its expected mediation bid, but experts in Cairo express optimism that the same bid will help encourage the three countries to reach an agreement.
“The UAE enjoys good relations with the three states”, Egyptian international relations expert Akram Hossam told MedyaNews. “This qualified it for playing a good role in this regard”.
Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90% of its water needs, tried to get the international community involved in its dispute with Ethiopia over the dam. It first asked the US administration to intervene, and then asked the United Nations Security Council. The African Union, the pan-African organisation which includes Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan as members, is now in charge of the case. However, the organisation has not succeeded in making any breakthroughs until now.
Hossam said the UAE can use its investments in Ethiopia as a pressure tactic on Addis Ababa. After all, he said, Ethiopia wants to have a price for agreeing to Egypt’s demands as far as the filling and the operation of the dam are concerned.
Egypt wants to extend the filling of the dam to the maximum period possible to avoid severe impacts on its water supplies. the country receives 55.5 billion cubic metres of water from the Nile every year. However, it says this amount of water satisfies less than 70% of the water needs of its growing population.
Representatives of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia last held a meeting on the dam on 3 January. As with all other meetings before it, this one failed to achieve any results, amid accusations from Egypt and Sudan that Ethiopia is only wasting time until the project is complete, leading to a point of no return among the three states.
A UAE Foreign Ministry delegation paid a visit to Sudanese capital Khartoum earlier this month. The members of the UAE delegation met officials at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Irrigation. Sudanese political analyst Shawqi Abdel Azeem said his country would be the hardest affected by the Ethiopian dam.
“Recurrent floods bring devastation to Sudan”, Abdel Azeem told MedyaNews. “These floods cause a tragic situation in my country”. He accused Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of jeopardising the interests of downstream states Egypt and Sudan only to make internal political gains. Sudan will explain its point of view on Ethiopian procrastination during the African Union summit next month, said Abdel Azeem.