Brief: Status of GERD political process holds grim outlook

By | Rachel Brooks

April 17, 2021 


Above image: “The Nile in Cairo” by dungodung is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.The Nile, Egypt’s source of life since the dawn of the ages, is the subject of the controversy as negotiations talks have failed. 

Brewing hostilities over the Nile River crisis have triggered security alerts from international defense experts. The conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia has the potential to be a security hazard for the world. Defense Arabia reported on April 17 that it would be a “delusion” to consider the dispute between the Nilotic nations over the Nile as anything less than a state of war. The states of Egypt and Ethiopia have been engaged in war-level political conflict over the regional dispute of filling the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam ever since it was announced in 2009. The threat of a shooting war over the regional dispute looms closer still, with all regional players looking on in anxiousness.

Within the past week, AllAfrica news shared a release from Ethiopia’s state press service which stated that Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have “prolonged” trilateral negotiations to delay filling GERD. Addis Ababa has argued through its press agency that Egypt and Sudan are deliberately stalling the process. The Ethiopian Press Agency cited ENA, Addis Ababa University African and Oriental Studies Center Assistant Professor Samuel Tefera. Professor Tefera called Egypt and Sudan’s position in the negotiations “feet dragging,” highlighting the opinion of the Ethiopian state. Egypt and Sudan have grievances with the dam and the national security implications wrought upon their states by Ethiopia’s human displacement in the Tigray conflict, Ethiopia’s civil war. The GERD dam adds an additional burden to a delicate political balance.

“Former Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Nasr Allam said in a TV interview that filling the dam’s reservoir without a legal binding agreement may incur a famine in Egypt and Sudan. That is because the capacity of the dam is 74 billion cubic meters, which is almost equivalent to the annual water shares of Egypt (55.5 billion cubic meters) and Sudan (18 billion cubic meters) combine,” wrote Egypt Today.

In direct contrast to the Ethiopian expert, the former Foreign Minister of Egypt cited Ethiopian “intransigence” since 2011 as a reason why the political process regarding the GERD dam was expected to fail. “Inflated egos and obstinate policies” were cited as reasons for the failure to negotiate beyond the stale stalling.

The western world maintains the argument that solar wind and power could bread the deadlock regarding the dam, as a move for alternative injuries is popularly favored. 

“My colleagues and I have published new research which shows that there are ways out of this controversy and that a win-win situation can be found for GERD’s long-term operation,” wrote The Conversation contributor Sebastian Sterl. 

Yet, the idea of solar wind and infrastructure construction that could solve the logistics issues of the need fueling the political conflict may not wait, in realism, for the tensions that surmount. 

Nile Dam talks failed to break the deadlock, reported in the last two days by Africa News. The dam issue adds further political rift between Sudan and Ethiopia, already at odds over the displacement of the Tigray conflict into Sudanese territory, due to Sudan’s fear that the GERD dam will harm its own dams’ production. Sudan continues to call on African countries to support a comprehensive outlook for solving the dam issue, but tensions are stated strained by egos and the outlook, for the moment, appears grim.