Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) 2024

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) 2024

A hydroelectric power project in one of the Horn of Africa’s nations quickly and dramatically changed into a worldwide concern. It is no longer a dispute between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia is constructing on the Blue Nile River. The eleven riparian states along the Nile have nothing to do with it. Instead, it has gained international attention, which has led some to believe that the third world war—which would be fought over water resources—is getting closer to happening as predicted. The World Bank (WB) and the United States of America (USA) have joined the discussions being held to carve out our rules and regulations of the filling and operation of the dam. The Arab League is deeply involved in it with all of its prejudices.
However, when the US Treasury Department and the World Bank entered the discussions with the goal of “observing” the proceedings, the course of events became evident. They first claimed to be “mediators,” but as the negotiation went on, their function shifted to “facilitators.”

Gedu Andargachew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, acknowledged that the US had contributed to the parties’ closer ties and the closing of the gaps that had been seen in earlier talks, but added that Ethiopia “never asked for the US to get involved in the negotiations” and that Ethiopia had participated in the US and WB “observed” negotiations in response to US President Donald J. Trump’s request. This was said by Gedu at a news conference held last week at the Office of the Prime Minister with Seleshi Bekele (PhD, Eng.), the Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy.

The goal of the US-WB talks, which began on January 28 in Washington, DC, was to include just the foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Water ministries were included at the request of the Ethiopian side. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and a large number of Ethiopians expressed reservations over the selection of the US Department of Treasury as an observer alongside the World Bank, rather than the State Department. These worries were spread due to the worry that the Treasury Department would have too much influence over Ethiopia, given the US’s substantial financial, developmental, and political assistance for Ethiopia in many areas.

The discussions to reach a consensus on the dam’s operation and filling did not conclude as planned after the first summit in Washington. Instead, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia intensified the matter and gave it a more international face with the obvious participation of the Arab League states, citing Ethiopia’s “disappointment.”

But Gedu claims that Egypt’s desire to control the Nile flows is what motivates this.

The Sudanese remain steadfast in their view that the dam would benefit them, despite their concerns about safety given that the construction is close to their border and any perceived damages would put them in danger right away. However, they do not want to rule over the waters of the Nile. Gedu said that the Egyptians intended to rule over the waters of the Nile.
Seleshi, however, said that the technology of the dam and the materials employed in its construction would never endanger the safety of nations downstream.

The issue of GERD has gained international attention from the UN and individual countries due to its current involvement with the US, the world leader in the nearly final unipolar global order, and the World Bank, one of the largest multilateral sources of financial and technical support for Ethiopia, with an extended reach to the Middle East and continental Africa. During the 74th UN General Assembly, Egypt’s president, Abdel Fettah el-Sisi, made a plea to the participants, claiming that Ethiopia is constructing a dam on the Nile River without conducting credible studies and urging the international community to become involved in order to settle the conflict between the two nations. Speaking on the same platform, Ethiopia’s President Sahele-Work Zewdie disputed his claim, stating that Ethiopia is constructing the dam in accordance with the idea of the fair and sensible use of natural resources.

“Egypt has largely succeeded in turning the issue into a source of security concern for the region and the global community,” notes Yeshtila Wondemeneh (PhD), a professor at Addis Ababa University’s College of Development Studies, Centre for Regional and Local Development Studies. “Now the issue has become a global issue.”

However, he asserts that in order to comprehend the present strategy in its entirety, we must go back to the 2010 signing of the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA). With the signing of the Comprehensive Freedom of the Nile (CFA), Ethiopia achieved a major victory in uniting the nations of the Nile basin, rendering obsolete the colonial accords from 1929 and 1959 that divided the Nile waters between Sudan and Egypt.

“Countries that were excluded from the colonial accords were included in the talks. This is where the Nile water concerns become dynamic,” he says.

He contends that the signing of the 2015 Declaration of Principles (DoP) created a new problem by once again excluding the other riparian nations and casting doubt on the CFA that had previously been signed.

Although the DoP is worried about GERD, Egypt intended for the Nile water problem to solely affect the nations that are upper riparian. As a consequence, Ethiopia lost the support of the lower riparian nations, which it had rallied to join the CFA. Thus, while the three engaged with the dam, the others were not taken into consideration,” he claims.

This prevented the CFA from going into effect, despite the fact that it sometimes offered suggestions to the Egyptians to further their interests under the DoP. The Egyptians have been successful in convincing the world that the GERD seriously harms them, even though they also learned to understand the concept of the equitable and acceptable use of the Nile waters.

Yeshtila says, “Even though they were successful, Ethiopia hasn’t done much in the way of scientific research or other approaches.” For example, they used the argument that the dam would lead to instability in the Middle East to get the US engaged in the matter.

Yeshtila emphasises that President Trump’s push for peace between Israel and Palestine is the reason the US is involved. The president needs Egypt’s backing, which is historically seen as the Arab world’s leader, for this to be successful. Additionally, many Arab nations did not resist Trump’s idea, which he claims will bring about enduring peace in the Middle East, due to the influence of Egypt.

Yeshtila claims that there are two sides to this story. Firstly, Egypt has acknowledged Ethiopia’s right to utilise the water.

Ethiopia’s water share is now being kept as low as feasible. And for that reason, he claims, they are taking the colonial agreements’ water share seriously when they negotiate the dam’s filling and release of water.

Convincing the world community that the project would seriously hurt the lower riparian states is the other side of the inference that aims to exert influence on Ethiopia.

He continues, “The main strategy is to weaken Ethiopia and alienate Ethiopia from the Arab nations as well as neighbouring countries.” Ethiopia’s solid commercial ties with Arab countries, particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are subsequently impacted by this. Egypt thus tries “to make the isolation in a concerted manner” in order to include other countries in the drama.

Yeshtila thinks that “the best alternative is to instigate the CFA” in order for Ethiopia to emerge victorious from the agreement.

“Now, the CFA’s prior drive has faded, and Ethiopia and Egypt are the only countries seemingly affected by the Nile problem. It made the others feel unimportant. The CFA should have been considered while having the conversations about the dam. Even if returning the case to the CFA would be very expensive for the nation, Yeshtila says it is still vital.

Again, Ethiopia has to bring up the issue at the African Union, because the Egyptians have already raised it and the member nations have responded favourably.

Thirdly, he suggests giving public diplomacy the attention it deserves since challenging the US and other international entities may have unfavourable effects.

Others advise that as a substitute for GERD discussions, lobbying the US Congress and other significant political leaders in the US should be taken into consideration.

Yeshtila concurs that this is a potential substitute, but it should be evaluated in light of both its efficacy and its cost.

He notes, “Ethiopia can help the US public, academics, elites, and congressmen understand some of the issues surrounding the dam.”

Other observers believe that Ethiopia could gain more support if it lobbied in the US since there are encouraging signs coming from the US side in support of Ethiopia’s interest, such as the well-known human rights activist Jesse Jackson’s commentary criticising the US approach and congressman Steven Horsford’s heated argument with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin regarding the department’s partisan approach.

According to Jackson’s piece from last week, “American civil rights leaders, the African Union, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Ethiopian-American Caucus should stand by and with the government of Ethiopia.”

In addition to the difficulties the negotiation presents for Ethiopia, it also offers a chance to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that would put an end to Ethiopia’s hostility with Egypt and create a stable, long-lasting partnership with Egypt and other Arab countries.

The goal of Egyptian foreign policy has been to destabilise Ethiopia. However, if we can resolve this issue definitively, they may refrain from interfering in Ethiopia’s domestic political problems. Ethiopia needs rally allies and maintain the balance of power in order to achieve this. However, when it will finish is uncertain,” Yeshtila predicts.

Indeed, Yeshtila raises concerns about the government’s capacity to resist pressure from those who are in favour of the nation’s reform process, suggesting that the government may utilise it as political capital to win over support and acceptability in the political system.

As the GERD discussions take on more global aspects, some analysts advise Ethiopia to engage with non-Western world powers like as China and Russia.

However, there is no indication that the Ethiopian government plans to take this action. Gedu said during the news conference that Ethiopia does not anticipate additional parties participating in the talks and that the three nations are capable of handling the situation on their own. He went so far as to say that they are not in the discussions because of the nation’s supporters but rather because of the veracity of their claims.

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