26 August 2020
- Cairo will continue to pursue African Union-mediated talks over Ethiopia dam but parties will fail to reach agreement within coming months
- Egypt will maintain efforts to win greater Sudanese support in talks, particularly by leveraging influence with mutual Gulf allies
- Prospect of military intervention over GERD remains remote but President al-Sisi will continue to highlight potential for conflict in order to pressure Ethiopia
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly met his Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok in Khartoum on 15 August to discuss bilateral cooperation on issues including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), as well as plans to partner on electrical connectivity and infrastructure projects. Separately, the Egyptian Minister of Irrigation met his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts on 19 August to discuss the GERD under the auspices of the African Union (AU). Following the meeting, a committee of legal and technical experts from all three countries compiled a draft document outlining the main points of contention regarding the dam to submit to the AU ahead of talks scheduled for 28 August.
Egypt has strongly opposed the GERD since Ethiopia unilaterally announced plans to build it in 2011. Cairo fears the dam will substantially reduce its share of the Nile River waters, on which it relies for agriculture, hydropower and tourism. Ethiopia, for its part, views the dam as crucial to its industrial and economic development. US-mediated negotiations collapsed at the end of February and a further round of talks in June ended without success. Egypt then appealed to the UN Security Council to intervene on 29 June, after Ethiopia announced plans to begin filling the dam, but a subsequent round of negotiations ended on 12 July, once again without agreement (see 15 July report)…