Tuesday, January 28, 2014

As Egypt’s president, El-Sisi shoulders huge security challenges: Muslim Brothers, Sinai terror, Gaza, water"he may consider going to war for control of the river’s sources."

DEBKAfile Special Report January 27, 2014, 6:58 PM (IST)
Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to run for president of Egypt

Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to run for president of Egypt
Egypt’s Defense Minister and virtual strongman Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi had three options after the new constitutional referendum was out of the way. Should he run as president or pick a tame candidate, when to call an election and should it take place before or after the parliamentary poll: In fact, he rolled them all in a single package. Monday, Jan. 27, the general promoted himself to the rank of field marshal and resigned as defense minister preparatory to announcing his run for the presidency in a vote (still unscheduled) to take place before parliamentary elections.
He opted for the presidency even through the new constitution approved two weeks ago by a 98 percent popular majority substantially reduced the powers of that post, by removing the army from the jurisdiction of the executive branch of presidency and government.
The new charter transformed the military into an independent entity, its policies, decisions and operations free of the oversight of or intervention by the president or prime minister. The generals’ powers were thus enhanced to exceed those enjoyed by the authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak, or indeed his successors in post-revolution Egypt, while elected political institutions' authority was attenuated.
Full democracy in Egypt has therefore been put on hold.
Gen. El-Sisi had to choose between running as president, and then flouting the new constitution by choosing his own tame defense minister and generals – or retaining defense and engineering the election of a docile president.

According to our sources, the Egyptian strongman confided to his inner circle that the president was the head of state and respected as such both at home and in foreign relations. He therefore decided he wanted to be president after all, and would trust his popularity to place the job within his grasp and not make objections to his appointment of a dependably loyal defense chief and military elite.

That way El-Sisi, would stand at the head of the two national pinnacles of power – the army and the political executive.
As future president, Field Marshal El-Sisi will have to prove his mettle in four huge security tasks, over and above the job of feeding the proliferating Egyptian people:
1. Although the Muslim Brotherhood has been kicked out of power and outlawed as a terrorist group, it is far from being wiped out. It is a troublesome threat to security on the streets of Egypt’s cities and engages in terrorist tactics to boot. El-Sisi has still to finish the job of eradicating or at least reducing the Brothers’ influence.
2. The Sinai Peninsula is a hotbed of swarming Al Qaeda and Salafist forces which continue to plague Egypt’s armed forces, often in league with the Brotherhood underground. The major offensive he embarked on last year to root out the jihadist networks still needs to be finished.
3. One of the keys to this goal, the general believes, is the removal of Palestinian Hamas rule from the Gaza Strip. Hamas is the offspring of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. It provides both parent and Sinai jihadists with a support system. So long as Hamas rules the enclave, El-Sisi sees no prospect of the Egyptian military reasserting its authority in the Sinai Peninsula or containing the Muslim Brotherhood’s subversive activities.
4. For Egypt, resolving the dispute with Ethiopia over the Nile waters is an existential imperative. The general hopes the dispute over Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, which draws off one-fourth of Egypt’s Nile waters, can be resolved peacefully. If not, he may consider going to war for control of the river’s sources. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

War Drums on Nile the Part 4 - "Ethiopia affirmed it wont Budge on the...

Egypt may take Nile dam dispute with Ethiopia to UN - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

After all attempts to solve the Egyptian-Ethiopian crisis over the Renaissance Dam at the negotiating table ended in failure after a third round of negotiations on Jan. 4, with Egypt withdrawing from the discussions and conferences being held in Khartoum, there is now talk at the governmental level about internationalizing the issue. At the same time, Egypt is witnessing rising popular demands to resort to the UN Security Council to establish Egypt’s right to veto the establishment of the Renaissance Dam, given the potential danger it represents to Egyptian water security.
Summary⎙ Print After negotiations broke down between Cairo and Addis Ababa regarding the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Egyptian government is considering internationalizing the issue through filing a complaint with international bodies.
Author Walaa HusseinPosted January 20, 2014

Khalid Wasif, the official spokesman for the minister of irrigation and water resources, revealed to Al-Monitor that Egypt has “begun to explore international channels for setting up alternative diplomatic and political tracks to ward off the dangers that might afflict the country if the Renaissance Dam is built, in light of the announced specifications of the dam.” He emphasized, “Egypt will not allow the dam to be built and will move to rally international pressure to prevent it from being funded. Moreover, Cairo will work [to secure] a public declaration by the international community rejecting the dam’s completion, in the absence of [Ethiopian] guarantees that Egypt and Egyptians will not suffer any loss in water security, nor will the other states of the Nile Basin. Egypt has rights guaranteed by international law and agreements, which the Ethiopian side is not respecting.”
Wasif added, “According to existing agreements governing the river — which require upriver states to notify Egypt in advance and obtain its consent prior to embarking on any projects that would affect the Nile sources — Egypt’s is the stronger legal position. Yet, Egypt has nevertheless insisted upon resolving the issue in a friendly manner, through reciprocal dialogue with the Ethiopian side, devoid of any escalation. But the government in Addis Ababa has shown no appreciation for this fact. Thus, Egypt has refused to continue the latest Khartoum meetings, given Ethiopia’s insistence on not providing the necessary guarantees that Egypt’s share of the water supply will remain secure.”
Rida al-Dimak, the director of the Center for Water Projects at Cairo University's Engineering College, told Al-Monitor, “The development of alternative supplies of water must be accelerated, to replace the water that will be lost as a result of the construction of the Renaissance Dam. Foremost among these alternative sources is the exchange of wellspring [water] with the [Democratic Republic of the] Congo, transferring water from the Congo River to the Nile, so as to guarantee that the amount of water available to Egypt remains constant.”
Dimak warned against the completion of the Renaissance Dam according to its current specifications, stating that it would constitute a violation of human rights. The social and environmental effects, he explained, must be taken into consideration whenever a new water project is built, in accordance with inviolable international conventions. Some international reports have confirmed that the Ethiopian dam will result in a shortage of drinking water and destruction of a great deal of Egyptian agricultural land. This, he states, provides the foundation for Egypt’s right to object to the dam in international forums.
For his part, former Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Muhammad Nasr al-Din Allam said in an interview with Al-Monitor that the Egyptian government no longer has any alternative but to move quickly to take steps toward international escalation. The first of these, he states, should be to lodge an official protest against the government in Addis Ababa, formally declaring Egypt’s rejection of the project.
“This right is guaranteed to us by old agreements signed and recognized internationally, and which were conditioned upon notifying Egypt in advance before any Nile-related project was established. This protest ought to be followed by the lodging of an official complaint with the UN to establish Egypt’s position and [remonstrate against] Ethiopian intransigence, as well as to formally demand the formation of an international fact-finding committee to study the points of disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia. These points include the dam’s capacity, the period of time needed to fill it, [details concerning its] operation, the project’s unsound and unsafe construction and the lack of rigorous Ethiopian studies demonstrating that the dam is not vulnerable to collapse, something that would have disastrous consequences for both Egypt and Sudan,” Allam noted.
Allam stressed the need for Egypt to demand that construction on the Ethiopian dam be halted at once, until the fact-finding committee completes its work. According to Allam, this would require “a period of, at most, three to six months.” Moreover, he added, “A copy of the committee’s report should be brought before the UN, to demonstrate the damage that the dam would wreak upon Egypt, which should then head to the Security Council.”
In an interview with the daily El Fagr on Jan. 9, Ayman Salama, an Egyptian expert in international law, stressed that the Egyptian government would be justified in taking its case to the UN Security Council, even though “one cannot adopt international arbitration to settle the crisis, since that would require the assent of both parties to the conflict to adopt this formulation of crisis resolution. The Ethiopian government has indicated that it will be highly intransigent on this issue. International arbitration has therefore become extremely unlikely. But Egypt might be able to turn to the Security Council. This, however, would require the preparation of a file containing documented facts of legal and material evidence of the harm that this dam would incur, both to Egypt and to its vital interests. The issue must be shown to threaten the peace and security of the two countries. [If successful], a number of measures could then be taken by the Security Council to compel Ethiopia to meet Egyptian demands.”
Egypt’s National Defense Council has already held an emergency session on Jan. 8, headed by President Adly Mansour and dedicated to reviewing internal developments and the domestic Egyptian security situation. With the irrigation and water resources minister in attendance, the council also examined the latest developments concerning Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and the steps being taken on that front to preserve Egyptian water security. It also noted the steps devoted to reducing or eliminating any negative effects that the soon-to-be-built dam might have on Egypt or the other states of the Nile Basin. The council also stressed that Egypt’s water rights must not be squandered, and that it would not accept any undermining of Egyptian national security.
These steps, and Egyptian moves toward international escalation and the internationalization of the Renaissance Dam crisis, follow years of Egyptian insistence upon solving the crisis through mutual dialogue at the negotiating table.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/egypt-renaissance-dam-dispute-internationalize.html##ixzz2r7mnqSkB

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Egypt-Ethiopia Nile dam talks hit dead end(Almonitor)

Security guards look at the construction of Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam, June 28, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri) Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/egypt-ethiopia-renaissance-dam-negotiations-dead-end.html##ixzz2qiH5Xggi
Security guards look at the construction of Ethiopia’s Great Renaissance Dam, 
Technical negotiations among water ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have reached a dead end after all parties refused the proposals set forth to solve the crisis that revolves around the repercussionsEthiopia’s Renaissance Dam have on Egypt’s water security. These repercussions were discussed during three rounds of negotiations in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
The third round of negotiations held in Khartoum on Jan. 4 — and attended by technical delegations represented by water ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia — did not yield any clear results. Egypt withdrew from the meeting, describing the Ethiopian stance as “intransigent,” as Ethiopia refused the Egyptian proposal that ensures Egyptian water security, as noted in a statement issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.
Al-Monitor secured a copy of the statement, which stated: “The dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia during the negotiations is related to two points. First, Ethiopia refused the participation of international experts in the new mechanism put in place to follow up on Ethiopian studies about the consequences of the Renaissance Dam. These studies will be conducted in accordance with the report of the international committee. Second, Ethiopia refused to discuss the document on ‘principles of confidence-building’ between the countries of the eastern Nile basin — namely Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Egypt proposed this document to provide guarantees for the downstream countries against any negative effects that may be generated from the construction of the dam.”
In a phone interview with Al-Monitor, Egypt’s Water Minister Mohammed Abdel Moteleb said: “We tried to set forth more than one initiative to build the trust Ethiopia always talks about when promising not to cause Egypt any harm. However, we will not attend or participate in any technical negotiations concerning theRenaissance Dam until we make sure Ethiopia is proposing genuine initiatives that are in line with the Egyptian view, so that these meetings will be meaningful.
“Egypt has concerns and reservations over the Renaissance Dam. It is not logical to build a dam that big without completing the technical and environmental studies required by the international committee. Ethiopia agreed to these studies and signed [the committee’s] final report.”
He went on: “Egypt agreed on attending the three rounds of negotiations, so that it could not be accused of rejecting cooperation. We are always striving [to hold] a dialogue that is based on the principles of not causing harm and creating benefits for all parties. Currently, we do not have the luxury of giving up any drop of water from Egypt’s share of Nile water.”
An informed Egyptian security source concerned with the issue of the Nile basin toldAl-Monitor: “Egypt will follow new courses to solve its crisis with Ethiopia in regard to the Renaissance Dam. It will adopt measures to push the issue forward on the international level. Egypt will not accept for its historical share of the Nile water, which is preserved by agreements and provisions of international law, to be diminished.”
“We do not rule out [the possibility of adopting] any technical, political or security measures to solve this crisis. We are waiting for thereferendum on the constitution to be over. After that, we will launch a series of official and nonofficial movements,” the source affirmed. He pointed out the “possibility of referring to international courts and filing a claim with international institutions, such as the UN, to preserve Egypt’s rights.”
A diplomatic source, closely tied to the Egyptian Cabinet, told Al-Monitor, “Egypt has already launched diplomatic movements to convince donor countries to stop the financial aids serving the construction of the dam until it is assured that it will not harm Egypt.” The source affirmed, “This campaign will be put in focus after the completion of parliamentary and presidential elections, and once relative stability has been achieved.”
Interim President Adly Mansour held a closed meeting with the National Defense Council on Jan. 8. The meeting was attended by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Hazem el-Biblawi, who discussed the crisis of the Renaissance Dam and the deadlock surrounding the technical negotiations. The council reiterated the importance of “not wasting the water rights of Egypt and not accepting any violation against Egyptian national security.”
Former Water Minister and Nile Basin Studies Unit head Mohammad Nasreddin Allam, told Al-Monitor, “We are currently drafting an international claim comprising five parts, which will be filed to donor countries, international institutions and organizations entitled to settle this dispute. Such a dispute can threaten peace and security in the East African region.”
“The memorandum will comprise a legal part documenting the historical rights of Egypt to the Nile water, and another part stating the Ethiopian violations of the law and international agreements, after it constructed a large dam without taking into consideration the safety of downstream countries. It will also include a call to form a fact-finding committee to prove the dangerous impact of the dam on Egyptian water security, as stipulated by the regional dispute settlement mechanisms, the UN pact and theAfrican Union Peace and Security Council,” Allam added.
Allam also affirmed, “The memorandum will call for the immediate halt of all construction works at the site until the fact-finding committee fulfills its task.”
Despite the warning messages Egypt is conveying to affirm it will not give up on protecting its share of Nile water, the Egyptian prime minister was optimistic about the possibility of negotiating again and resolving the crisis. He said during a press conference on Jan. 9, attended by Al-Monitor, “Negotiations do not end in one session. Things will continue to progress, and the issue of the dam remains until now open for discussion.”
A technical source who attended the latest negotiations commented on the prime minister’s statement, telling Al-Monitor, “Negotiations reached a deadlock. The Ethiopian water minister publicly refused during an official meeting the request of Egypt to host negotiations in Cairo, claiming that the security situation in Egypt was the reason for his refusal.”
“Egypt is now wasting its chance. Calling for more negotiations is time-consuming because Ethiopia is proceeding with the constructions as a de facto situation,” the source warned.
For his part, Ethiopian Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu said in a statement on Jan. 13: “The construction of the Renaissance Dam is taking place without any hassles or difficulties. The project will be finalized according to the decided time frame,” reiterating that “the project is not facing technical or funding problems.”
The escalation and crisis involving trust continues to prevail among Egyptian and Ethiopian officials. Every party is trying to show a strong stance. This time, however, the balance is tipping in favor of Ethiopia since it is completing the project while Egypt is preoccupied with its internal problems, despite Egyptian officials talking about adopting all security and political measures to preserve the rights of Egypt to the Nile water.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ethiopia Rejects Egypt Proposal on Nile as Dam Talks Falter (1) - Bloomberg

January 08, 2014

Ethiopia rejected a proposal that would guarantee Egypt the rights to most of the Nile River’s water, as disagreements cast doubt over future talks about Africa’s biggest hydropower project.
The 6,000-megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River, set to be completed in 2017, has raised concern in Cairo that it will reduce the flow of the Nile, which provides almost all of Egypt’s water. The Blue Nile is the main tributary of the Nile.
The $4.2 billion dam 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Sudan’s border will benefit agricultural and power interests in the region and not cause water losses downstream, Ethiopia says. Sudan supports the hydropower project designed to produce electricity for much of East Africa that began in April 2011.
Egyptian officials at a Jan. 4-Jan. 5 meeting that also included representatives from Sudan, introduced a “principles of confidence-building” document asking Ethiopia to “respect” Sudan and Egypt’s water security, said Fekahmed Negash, the head of the Ethiopian Water and Energy Ministry’s Boundary and Transboundary Rivers Affairs Directorate. Discussing the issue would contravene an agreement signed by six Nile countries, he said in a phone interview on Jan. 6.
“We will not negotiate on this issue with any country,” Fekahmed said from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “That is why we say take it to the right platform” that includes other members of the Nile Basin, he said.

1959 Accord

Egypt argues its 1959 agreement with Sudan that gave Egypt the rights to 55.5 billion cubic meters out of a total of 84 billion cubic meters is the governing document on the Nile’s water. The rest of the river’s flow was for Sudan or lost to evaporation. Ethiopia and other upstream nations reject the accord they were not signatories to and say Egypt’s domination of the Nile has unfairly deprived them of a vital resource.
Ethiopia also rejected an Egyptian suggestion to immediately form a panel of neutral experts to adjudicate any disputes arising from planned studies of the dam’s hydrological and environmental impact, Ethiopian Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu said. Experts can be hired if they’re needed, he said in an interview Jan. 5 in Khartoum.
Egypt won’t send a delegation to Addis Ababa unless Ethiopia’s government signals its intent to resolve the areas of dispute, Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Moteleb as saying on Jan. 6.

Talks Impasse

“We have exhausted all opportunities to negotiate with Ethiopia because of the intransigence of Addis Ababa,” Abdel-Moteleb said.
Discussions will “continue,” Ethiopia’s Alemayehu said yesterday on his official Twitter account.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan decided on Dec. 9 to form a committee comprising four members from each country to oversee the studies. The initiative was recommended by a panel of international experts who concluded in May that insufficient work had been done on the dam’s downstream impact while the reservoir is filled and during operation.
Ethiopia has repeatedly refused Egyptian requests to pause construction of a key national project. “There is nothing that will stop it,” Gideon Asfaw, head of Ethiopia’s technical team in Khartoum, said about the dam.
Egypt “has escalatory steps to assert our historic rights to the Nile waters,” Abdel-Moteleb was quoted as saying, without elaborating.

Equitable Principles

A Cooperative Framework Agreement has been signed by Ethiopia and five other Nile nations that adopts principles of “equitable and reasonable” use of waters that do not cause “significant harm” to other states. Once ratified by six legislatures, the accord paves the way for the creation of a Nile River Basin Commission that will manage water rights and development projects on the Nile.
Egypt considers preserving its claimed rights to the Nile a matter of national security and says it needs more than its 1959 share because of its growing population. In June, in a televised meeting with former President Mohamed Mursi, Egyptian opposition politicians discussed tactics to prevent Ethiopia finishing the dam, including the use of force.
“We need 80 billion cubic meters,” Abdel-Moteleb said. “We will not let go of one drop of water.”
To contact the reporters on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at wdavison3@bloomberg.net; Ahmed Feteha in Khartoum at afeteha@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Egypt-Ethiopia dam impasse remains as talks reach dead-end | The Muslim Times

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan failed to reach an agreement in the tripartite negotiations regarding the construction of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance dam, state news agency MENA reported.
MENA reported that Ethiopia has refused to discuss the terms of “confidence-building measures”, which Egyptian officials say must be changed in order to avoid reduction of Egypt’s Nile river water share.
Also, Ethiopia insisted on special conditions to an international conflict-resolution committee that Egypt believes “would deplete it from its original purpose of being an impartial moderator between the three countries,” according to a statement released by Egyptian authorities.
The Khartoum talks, which lasted for two days, ended by leaving an open door for any suggestions that might arise between the three countries.
The planned Grand Renaissance Dam is a $4.2 billion hydro-electric dam – the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa – and a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May, when images of construction stirred public concern over Egypt’s share of Nile water, the main source of potable water.
Egypt has demanded that Ethiopia submit construction plans for the dam for assessment by international experts.
In the opening of the conference on Saturday, Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Alamayo Tegno said his country is committed to the recommendations of an international committee of experts.
Tegno added that the Grand Renaissance Dam represents a strategic priority for Ethiopia that will have a vital role in eradicating poverty.
He also stated that the dam would have great and positive effects for Nile Basin countries, emphasising the need for cooperation and transparency during the tripartite talks.
In June, Ethiopia’s parliament ratified a treaty allowing upstream countries to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt’s approval.
The deal replaces a colonial-era agreement formerly granting Egypt and Sudan the majority of Nile River water rights

Friday, January 3, 2014

Khartoum to host new round of Nile dam talks on Saturday - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt will meet to discuss Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance dam, currently under construction

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Photo: Reuters)
The Sudanese capital Khartoum will host a new round of tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on Saturday to discuss issues related to Ethiopia’s new Nile dam, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported Wednesday.
The talks -- which will include ministers of electricity, irrigation and water resources, as well as technical experts -- represent the third round of negotiations between the three states in an attempt to reach a settlement over Ethiopia's controversial Grand Renaissance dam project on the Blue Nile.
MENA stated that the three Nile Basin countries will issue a statement following the conclusion of the two-day talks.
The last negotiating round on 8 December led to the establishment of a tripartite committee to supervise the construction of the dam in a manner that guarantees the water interests of the involved parties to the crisis.
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the dam, currently under construction in Ethiopia, during a meeting with the country's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn last month.
The pair signed 14 new agreements, covering security, a free trade zone, investment and electricity, and an agreement to build a railway line linking the two countries to enhance trade and economic relations. 
In June, Ethiopia's parliament ratified a controversial international treaty to ensure its access to Nile water resources. It allows upstream countries to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without first seeking Egypt's approval. The deal replaces colonial-era agreements that granted Egypt and Sudan the majority of water rights.
Egypt and Sudan have not signed the treaty led by the Nile Basin Initiative, but six upstream nations have.
Ethiopia inked the deal in May 2010, and its ratification by parliament came amid rising tensions between Addis Ababa and Cairo over Ethiopia's construction of the dam on the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May, paving the way for the construction of the $4.2 billion dam, set to become Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam when completed.