Juba, South Sudan,
June 17, 2021 – The Arab League foreign ministers have met in Qatar Tuesday to discuss and find a solution to the dispute over the Nile River between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
This comes as Sudan and Egypt raise concerns over the continuous filling and operation of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance
Dam, which is contaminating drinking water stations in the downstream countries and in Sudan in particular.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting on Tuesday, the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sameh Shoukry said Cairo seeks a diplomatic solution not a military solution over the Nile water issue. However, he said after the failure of these negotiations, the Sudan and Egypt have full responsibility to defend what might affect the lives of their people.
In a statement extended to Nyamilepedia, Arab Foreign Ministers urged the United Nations Security Council to meet urgently to discuss Ethiopia’s disputed Nile dam, demanding a binding agreement that would protect water flows to Egypt and Sudan when the filling of its reservoir resumes.
The Security Council should take crucial steps in initiating negotiations that can guarantee a just and honorable deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam within a specific time frame.
The senior diplomats also agreed that the dam will be a key source of electricity for Ethiopia, which enacted the first filling phase of the dam on the Nile River’s main tributary last year and plans the second around July.
Downstream Egypt and Sudan, which rely on the Nile for most of their freshwater needs, oppose any unilateral move that may affect its flows. Ethiopia says those fears are misplaced.
The Arab officials had been holding talks in Qatar’s capital, Doha, at the request of Sudan and Egypt. Negotiations among Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the dam mediated by the African Union hit another deadlock in April.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has previously cautioned Ethiopia not to “touch a drop” of Egypt’s water while urging a negotiated solution.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said it was “dismayed” by the Arab League statement and rejects it “in its entirety.” Accusing the Arab League of squandering its chance to play a constructive role in the dispute, it said in a statement late Tuesday that Ethiopia had done “everything possible to accommodate” Egyptian and Sudanese concerns.
“The GERD is an African issue, which should be resolved from an African perspective,” the ministry said, adding that Ethiopia remains “fully engaged in the AU-led tripartite negotiation process to find a mutually beneficial outcome.”
In the last two weeks, Egypt and Sudan governments agreed to mobilize and coordinate regional and international efforts in order to bring Ethiopia to sign the agreement in their favor referring to the historical agreements that granted them lion shares of the Nile water.