Tensions Reignite Between Ethiopia and Egypt Over Nile Dam

New images captured in the last week by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite suggest that Ethiopia may have started filling its massive Nile River dam, as tensions over the project continue. Ethiopia denied the assertion but maintains the country’s position that it is still on track to begin the multi-year process of This combination image made from satellite images taken on Friday, June 26, 2020, above, and Sunday, July 12, 2020, below, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river.International Crisis Group analyst William Davison told The Associated Press that the water seen in the images from July 9 might be a Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele, gives a press conference on March 3, 2020 at the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water and energy minister, said the trilateral negotiations that started after Egypt’s call to take the issue to the United Nations Security Council had ended again without an agreement. He said in a tweet that the talks lasted 11 days and included 11 observers and other experts, but still, “no breakthrough deal is made.”  The discussion is expected to continue with Pan-African-led mediation and a review by the president of the African Union, the minister added. 1/2 The trilateral negotiation on GERD that was happeninnig for the last 11 days in the presence of 11 observers and augumented experts ended last night. Although there were progresses no breakthrough deal is made. Today we prepare reports to AU and our respective leaders.
— Seleshi Bekele (@seleshi_b_a) Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry speaks during a press conference on Sept. 17, 2019, in Cairo.“While we recognize the importance of this project to the developmental objectives of the Ethiopian people, a goal that we certainly share and support,” Shoukry said, “it is essential to realize that this mega-dam, which is Africa’s largest hydropower facility, potentially threatens the welfare, the well-being and the existence of millions of Egyptians and Sudanese citizens.” The contentious negotiations date back to the beginning of the project and have included several mediators. In January 2020 all sides met in Washington, D.C., for talks mediated by the U.S. Treasury Department and the World Bank. The parties appeared close to a technical agreement at the time, but negotiations hit a standstill more recently over whether the agreement will be legally binding under international law. Egypt and Sudan believe Ethiopia should not move forward with filling the dam until an agreement is signed. “Sudan strongly believes that reaching an agreement on the guidelines and principles before the commencement of the filling of the GERD is extremely necessary for the three countries to avoid putting millions of lives and communities at great risk,” said Omer Mohamed Ahmed Siddig, the permanent representative of Sudan to the United Nations. “Any decision on the timing and the feeling of the GERD has to be agreed upon.” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stressed that it is not a question of if the dam will be filled, but simply how it will proceed. Following a week where more than 100 Ethiopians died in ethnic violence and thousands were arrested, Abiy believes the future of the country is intertwined with the future of the GERD project.  

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