GERD .. Endless Crisis .. French/Algerian Intervention!

Al-Sammani Awadallah

The disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) are escalating especially after Addis Ababa started the second filling of the dam without reaching a legal agreement.

The UNSC failed to stop the Ethiopian step of the second filling or changing the stances of Sudan and Egypt over what could be done to continue the talks towards reach a tripartite agreement. The disputes expanded between the downstream and upstream states a matter that indicates that the diplomatic dispute will lead to lengthening the negotiations.

The dispute within the failure of the enormous initiatives resulted in the intervention of France and Algeria to enter into new initiatives according to a new vision which might lead to bridging the gap of differences.

France opted to the humanitarian aspects as an approach to launch its initiative over GERD as t called for providing humanitarian assistance to Tigray where the situation is worsening since the Ethiopian government launched its campaign against the armed groups and the violent actions on the Sudanese/Ethiopian borders.

The French government issued a statement affirming that the President has called each of the Sudanese premier, Dr. Abdallah Hamdok, and the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in which he expressed concern about the escalation of fighting in North Ethiopia and the humanitarian situation in Tigray.

Macron affirmed the necessity of taking effective decisions to allow for access of humanitarian assistance to Tigray besides conducting cessation of hostilities negotiations in the Tigray region and paving the way for political negotiations between the rivals to preserve the sovereignty and unity of Ethiopia. On November 4th, 2020 a fierce fighting erupted in the Tigray region following a long tension due to the disputes over the local elections and the accusation of the Ethiopian government to Tigray forces in attaching government military bases in the area.

Algeria also sent its foreign minister to Khartoum to mediate as he met with Sudanese officials to present Algeria’s initiative for resolving the GERD crisis.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Irrigation Minister, Mohammed Nasraddeen Alam warned that any mistake in operating or filling the dam represents a real risk on the Sudanese dams.

Alam said through TeN that the waters are running as if there is no GERD and this will cause a risk to Sudan because there is no cooperation from the Ethiopian side.

He pointed out that the High Dam in Egypt is protected from any risks but there should be a legal agreement with the Sudanese side on GERD considering that Ethiopia is constructing an uncompleted dam and unprotected against risks.

Alam affirmed that there will be a considerable increase in the High Dam Lake this August, pointing out that the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation is continuing the emergency status to guarantee the administration of the water system.

Despite the Egyptian warnings, Sudan announced welcoming to an Algerian imitative to resolve the dispute over GERD which Addis Ababa completed its second filling.

The welcome came during the meeting of the President of the Sovereign Council, 1st Lt. Gen. Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan to Algerian foreign minister in the presence of Sudanese foreign minister Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi.

The Sovereign Council has issued a statement in which it affirmed Sudan’s welcome to the Algerian initiative which called for a direct meeting between the three countries to resolve the dispute over GERD, pointing out that the initiative comes in coincidence with Article (10) of the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries in Khartoum.

The intervention of Algeria comes in an attempt to make a breakthrough in the GERD crisis.

Last Thursday the Algerian foreign minister discussed with the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security Affairs the important issues in the African continent.

Ethiopia informed each of Egypt and Sudan on last 22nd June that it completed the second filling of GERD a matter that found rejection from both countries.

Despite the Ethiopia move Sudan reiterated its stance to reach a legal agreement over the filling and operation.

Sudanese Minister of Irrigation, Prof. Yassir Abbas pointed out the contradiction which appeared in the information received from his Ethiopian counterpart over the filling process, a matter that necessitates reaching a legal agreement.

Prof. Yassir said that Ethiopia affirmed in an official letter last month affirming that the filling will be 13.5 billion, while the filling was only 4 billion cubic meters.

He praised the technical team which provided accurate information which is more appropriate than the official one provided by Ethiopia, a matter that supports Sudan’s stance over the importance of exchanging information over the filling an operation.

It is to be noted that each of Eng. Wael Awad and Maysoon who were among the Sudanese technical team on GERD had provided a detailed report on the stages of the construction and the accurate information about the issue which were reached from sources other than Ethiopian sources, besides the stages of the filling and the amounts of the expected waters either from the two opened gates or upon operation stage.

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