Ethiopia’s withdrawal from United States-led negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project have led to much speculation over what happens next if a deal falls through, and some are fearing the worst now that talks appear to have completely collapsed.
“Ethiopia has a general election later this year, which has turned the dam into a hot political issue,” writes Ahmed Aboudouh, a Middle Eastern affairs expert whose piece was published Tuesday by The Independent in the UK. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is committed to Ethiopia’s hydropower plan, with the dam expected to generate 15,000 GWh per year in power for Ethiopians at the expense of Blue Nile River resources in Sudan and Egypt.
Meanwhile, however, “Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi can’t afford the political consequences of the potential dramatic drop of Egypt’s water supplies if the dam’s matter is not resolved,” adds Aboudouh, who believes war is looming on the horizon if the countries don’t come to an agreement before it’s too late.
The Egyptian water minister and other diplomats believe the year-long stalemate can still be resolved, but some blame Ethiopia for refusing to seal a deal. Ethiopia says it balked, however, at agreeing to terms when the other nations signed off in its absence at the end of February, though it says it wants to continue the process.
“The Ethiopian side does not want an agreement and has not offered an alternative,” countered Egyptian minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati on Monday. “Every time we inch closer to a deal, we then go ten steps back.”
There is no timetable for a return to negotiations, with Ethiopia moving forward in its plan to begin filling the dam in July.