Egypt denounces Ethiopia for moving ahead with Nile dam amid water-shortage fears

Egyptian Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel Aati (2nd R) participates with a delegation in the "Renaissance Dam" trilateral negotiations with his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts (unseen) in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on October 4, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2019

Egypt denounces Ethiopia for moving ahead with Nile dam amid water-shortage fears

  • Ethiopia says the dam will not disrupt the river’s flow and hopes the project will transform it into a power hub
  • Egypt relies on the Nile for up to 90% of its fresh water, and fears the dam will restrict already scarce supplies

CAIRO: Egypt denounced Ethiopia on Wednesday for moving forward with building and operating a hyropower dam on the Nile, which Cairo worries will threaten already scarce water supplies.
Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile which joins the White Nile in Khartoum and runs on to Egypt, says the dam will not disrupt the river’s flow and hopes the project will transform it into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region.
A diplomatic standoff has heightened tension between the countries, which have held on-again-off-again talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for years.
They signed a “declaration of principles” with Sudan in 2015 as a basis for negotiations, but no breakthrough has been made since.
Egypt relies on the Nile for up to 90% of its fresh water, and fears the dam, which is being built in Ethiopia close to the border with Sudan, will restrict already scarce supplies.
“Ethiopia’s moving forward with the operation and filling of the Renaissance Dam is unacceptable and a clear violation of the Declaration of Principles and will have negative consequences for stability in the region,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in parliament on Wednesday.
“We call on the international community to shoulder its responsibility in finding a solution that satisfies all parties.”
After talks stalled, Egypt submitted a proposal on Aug. 1, including conditions over filling the reservoir.
Earlier this month, Ethiopia rejected that proposal, calling it “an effort to maintain a self-claimed colonial era-based water allocation and veto power on any project in the Nile system.”
Last week, Egypt said the talks were deadlocked, accusing Ethiopia of “inflexibility” and calling for international mediation. Ethiopia rejected that call.
Egypt has sought assurances that the dam will not significantly cut the river’s flow to its rapidly growing population.
Sudan also hopes to benefit from electricity produced by the GERD.


US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

Updated 24 October 2019

US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

  • Trump’s envoy demands explanation from Ankara of possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion
  • Envoy also expresses concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

JEDDAH: The US demanded an explanation from Ankara on Wednesday for what it described as “war crimes” committed during Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, said there were concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

“Many people fled because they’re very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces, as we are. We’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes,” the envoy told a House of Representatives hearing.

He said the US was also investigating the possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion, and wanted an explanation from Turkey’s government “at a high level.”

Jeffrey described Turkey’s invasion to drive Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters out of the border area as “a tragic disaster for northeast Syria.”

Meanwhile Russian military police began patrols on the Syrian border on Wednesday, following an agreement on Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Kremlin told Kurdish fighters to pull back or face being attacked again by Turkish forces.

“It’s quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don’t withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

In Washington, Trump said a US-negotiated cease-fire between Turkey and the Kurds would be permanent, and he lifted US sanctions on Ankara. “We’ve saved the lives of many, many Kurds,” he said.

Turkey considers the YPG terrorists because of their links to PKK insurgents in Turkey. It has demanded they retreat from the entire border region, creating a 30-km-deep “safe zone” where Turkey could also settle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil.

The new agreement allows Turkey to control that area. On Wednesday, Turkish-backed Syrian fighters in Ras Al-Ain unfurled their flag on top of the Kurdish fighters’ former HQ.