Eight years have passed since the start of the Renaissance Dam crisis, where Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are disputing over their rights concerning the Nile water.
During those years, changing positions and statements have spearheaded the negotiations that were launched with African initiatives, together with international efforts.
But the negotiations have achieved no progress in reality, particularly those that took place in the US, indicating that the Ethiopian side is not serious enough in reaching an agreement that could satisfy all parties, and insisting on filling the dam regardless of the damage that it could cause to its neighbours, according to analysts.
The Ethiopian rigid stance wasn’t limited to analysts’ expectation, as the Ethiopian government has clearly revealed its intentions regarding the dam in the past few days.
The Ethiopian Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Ayoub Tikalin, has said that his government is working on completing the construction and filling of the dam, although the parties concerned – Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia – have reached principles of an agreement under US auspices, preventing Ethiopia from taking such unilateral measures.
The Ethiopian insistence and the government’s desire to ignore the takeaways of the Washington negotiations were not limited to statements, but according to Sudanese media Ethiopia has informed Sudan through diplomatic channels of its intention to start the operations of filling the Renaissance Dam in next June before reaching an agreement with the countries affected by such a decision.
This might provoke Cairo and Khartoum to react, and maybe increase the tensions in the region, especially that Egypt referred, a few years ago, to military actions that could prevents constructing the dam.
Although Egypt has not yet been informed of any Ethiopian intentions about the dam, Sudanese media have suggested that the Ethiopian government will send messages to Egypt, the US Treasury Department, and the World Bank as a final diplomatic step related to the crisis, revealing its intention to proceed and fill the dam with water.
Sudanese media expects that Cairo will declare its stance, once it receives the message.
As for Sudan, it was clear that the transitional government headed by Abdullah Hamdouk has begun preparing for the stage after the Ethiopian steps, by studying the Ethiopian message and holding several meetings last week to discuss the issue in the Cabinet. Relatedly, reliable sources reported that a private meeting took place last week, it was attended by Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdouk, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Yasser Abbas, and Director of the General Intelligence and Security Agency, Jamal Abdel Majid, which indicates that Addis Ababa is now more serious in closing the door for negotiations on a peaceful and consensual solution to the crisis.
So far, the most important thing in the Sudanese stance is that the Minister of State in the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, Omar Qamar Al-Din has stressed his country’s rejection of polarization policies in favor of Ethiopia or Egypt. But he soon indicated that Khartoum is committed to its obligations regarding Egypt’s share of the Nile water and its water security, which is considered as Sudan’s closest convergence with Egypt since the approval of the Washington track reference on the mechanism for building the Dam.
On the other hand, the Sudanese Minister’s statements have gained increasing importance, as he indicated that Sudan will not remain silent about the developments, stressing that Sudan is a partner in the dam’s management and its stance is based on what the experts have reached, denying any division in government regarding the Renaissance Dam.
Meanwhile, in an article published by al-Rai newspaper, the author Bilal Al-Masry attributed the US failure in finding a solution to several different reasons. The most important of which is that the three negotiating parties have bilateral relations, based on a previous series of hostilities and conflicts, which decreased the minimum levels of confidence among them, and any chances of resolving their crises in light of unbalanced relations, despite the complete governments change in each country and the arrival of new leaders to power.
“If Ethiopia succeeds in filling the lake with about 74 billion cubic meters of water from the Blue Nile in a period of 3 to 5 years, it would have abolished the water quotas agreed upon between Egypt and Sudan, included in the Nile Water Sharing Agreement signed in 1959, which includes a term indicating the share of each, after operating the High Dam, where Sudan’s share is 18.5 billion cubic meter, while Egypt’s share is 55.5 billion cubic meter,” Al-Masry added, noting that Ethiopia does not recognize that agreement.
During the past years, many regional countries and international organizations have tried to mediate between the countries conflicting over the dam issue, including the Arab League, the African Union and the United Nations. In a related context, Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, visited several Arab, African and Western countries during the past months, to discuss the crisis.