Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sisi Claim Sudan to be apart of Egypt in Khartoum & Bashir retract on Ethiopian Nile Dam

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir met with Egypt's Sisi, who sparked outcry after reports that he said he 'considers Sudan part of Egypt'
President Sisi shakes Sudan's Omar al-Bashir by the hand at Khartoum Airport (AFP)
MEE and agencies's picture
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took a brief stopover in Sudan on Friday on his way back from Equatorial Guinea where he was attending the African Union summit.
Sisi spent a few hours in Sudan, conducting “a short visit to hold talks with President al-Bashir”, according to Sudan’s official news agency SUNA.

‘Limited’ protest

Social media users reported that “tens” of people had protested in Sudan’s capital Khartoum against Sisi's visit.
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تظاهرات محدودة لإسلاميين قرب مطار الخرطوم تنديدا بزيارة الرئيس المصري، عبدالفتاح السيسي إلى السودان

Translation: Limited Islamist demonstrations near Khartoum Airport criticising Egyptian President Sisi’s visit to Sudan [Caption: In the name of restoring democracy and legitimacy]
There were also protests at a downtown mosque in the capital, according to a witness who spoke to AFP.
Some of Sisi’s comments during his visit provoked fierce outcry, after reports that he had described Sudan as “part of Egypt.”
“We consider Sudan part of Egypt, and there are developments in the region that demand co-ordination to achieve shared benefits,” Lebanese television channel al-Meyadeen reported Sisi as saying. 
However, his visit was welcomed by some opposed to Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir, who was brought to power nearly 25 years ago after a military coup. Sudan has a complex relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, with its members making up a large part of the government put in place by a 1989 coup. However, the group was deemed a “terrorist organisation” in Egypt in December 2013.
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الرئيس في ربنا يجعل قدمك قدم الخلع لنظام في .. اهلا وسهلا بالرئيس المؤمن

Translation: President Sisi is in Khartoum. May God help you in the path to deposing the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Sudan. Hello and welcome to Egypt’s pious president.

Co-ordination against ‘terrorist’ threat?

Sisi’s visit to Sudan could be part of an attempt to build regional links in the face of “terrorism”, according to one analyst.
Safwat Fanous, a Sudanese political scientist at Khartoum University, told AFP that, with his visits to Sudan, the Gulf States and Algeria, “Egypt is trying to build a regional alliance to fight Islamic terrorism.”
Egypt “would like to see Sudan as part of this alliance in order to isolate Qatar and Turkey, who are...the main supporters of the [Muslim] Brotherhood."
Sudan has strong ties to Qatar, which in April pledged $1bn to boost the country’s ailing economy.
However, the link does not preclude an alliance between Sudan and Egypt, which accuses politically-isolated Qatar of backing groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that the Sisi government has banned. 
"In politics there are no permanent friends, nor permanent enemies," Fanous said.
"I think it all depends on who will benefit the regime better.

Renaissance Dam

However, another analyst suggested that water could have been at the heart of talks between the leaders on Friday.
Sisi and Bashir discussed a number of topics, “most important among them the Renaissance Dam”, according to Hani Ruslan, head of the Sudan Studies Unit at al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies.
Ethiopia is going forward with construction on the Renaissance Dam, a project on the River Nile which once complete will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam.
It has faced stiff opposition from Egypt, which lies downstream of Ethiopia and is concerned that the dam, which is now 30 percent complete, will negatively affect its water supplies.
According to Ruslan, Sudan had until now been “supportive” of Ethiopia’s right to build the dam, but since Sisi’s accession they have conceded to “look into the issue again.”
Egypt and Ethiopia reportedly signed a deal regarding the controversial dam on Thursday as part of an African Union summit in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea.
Details of the agreement were announced in a joint press conference by the Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shukry and his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Ghebreyesus on Friday.
The agreement saw both sides agree to “abide by the principles of international law”, according to the text published in al-Dostor al-Asly.
A committee of experts from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt was established in 2011 to research the possible impact of a dam sited in Ethiopia on the two states lying downstream.
However, the panel’s work was abandoned in January 2014 amid an escalation in tension between Egypt and Ethiopia.
In early May, Ethiopian security personnel arrested three Egyptian nationals suspected of involvement in espionage near the sites of the Renaissance facility and a dam on the Baro river, which feeds into the Nile.
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

When Sisi Met Desalegn : Nile River Politics- Middle east online

Ethiopia’s self-financed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a major issue among the nations of the Nile basin, and especially for Egypt, notes Nizar Manek.
Middle East Online
The guests had been seated at the tables of the great hall in Addis Ababa, and fanfares rang out as the Emperor Haile Selassie walked in with President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt at his right hand. Nasser was a “tall, stocky, imperious man, his head thrust forward and his wide jaws thrust into a smile,” next to him Selassie’s “diminutive silhouette,” his “thin expressive face, his glistening penetrating eyes” worn by the years. Behind the extraordinary pair, the remaining leaders also entered in their pairs, writes Ryszard Kapuściński in his chronicle of the fall of the Abyssinian monarchy and the intrigues at Selassie’s court. The audience rose; everyone was applauding. “Ovations sounded for unity and the Emperor. Then the feast began.”
Their corresponding persons, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn — a pair less extraordinary, their relations less gregarious —find themselves seated together on June 26 at the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union in Equatorial Guinea. During his presidential campaign, El-Sisi spoke of his interest in travelling to Ethiopia “not once, but ten times” for the mutual benefit of the two countries. As El-Sisi addressed the crowd at his presidential inauguration ceremony at the Qubba Palace in Cairo, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus looked on among Arab royals, the First-Vice President of Sudan, Lieutenant General Bakri Hassan Saleh, and heads of state, from Chad’s Idriss Déby and Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki to Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has held power in Equatorial Guinea even longer than El-Sisi’s military predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. El-Sisi professed to the crowd he would protect pan-Africanism, and he wouldn’t allow Ethiopia’s self-financed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to “cause a crisis or a problem with sisterly Ethiopia.” Over centuries, the Nile has tied the two countries together. Ethiopia’s priority now is power generation, while Egypt, a desert country, prioritises irrigation against the Nile water source countries on the Central African and Ethiopian plateaus, which have greater rainwater.
The GERD is a major issue of peace or war. As he summits in Malabo with Adhanom over Egypt’s Nile water crisis, El-Sisi finds himself confronted with deep and changing historical forces. When Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, Britain immediately understood it had become “ruler of a hydrological society,” and that the irrigation question was central to maintaining stability along its Suez Canal, notes Terje Tved, professor at the universities of Bergen and Oslo and an authority on the Nile. Then everything changed after the First World War, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the Egyptian revolution of 1919, and yet Britain’s strategic interests remained the same. This trickled into a series of colonial treaties, including the 1959 Nile Waters agreement, which contributed to Sudan becoming Egypt’s downstream hydro-political ally, and safeguarded Egypt and Sudan’s over 90 percent share of Nile waters. Ethiopia, the source of the Nile, was left only with ghosts of discord. Selassie himself was left affronted by Nasser’s marginalisation of Ethiopia in the 1959 agreement, and was to be overthrown in a 1974 coup d’état. At the same time, notes a March 21 2011 memorandum from the international businessman and dam engineer Dr Ibrahim Mostafa Kamel submitted to the first post-Mubarak government of Essam Sharaf, since 1969 Egypt has lost an estimated 100 million tons annually of silt, “creating a 4.1 billion silt dump which lies over the Egyptian-Sudanese border.”
Even if he is a diminutive Nasser, El-Sisi’s jaws will not likely be thrust into a smile, even a wry one. It is not even sure whether there will be a feast as in Kapuściński’s tale, or if so, whether it will be sumptuous. Only three days before El-Sisi’s presidential inauguration, the governments of Ethiopia and South Sudan arrested three Egyptians reportedly sent by Cairo to spy on dam projects in South Sudan and western Ethiopia, principal among them the 6,000-megawatt GERD. Egypt fears the GERD is a threat to its lifeline, the Blue Nile at Ethiopia’s Lake Tana upon which Egypt depends for over 85%of its Nile water flow. As the dispute fanned to a flame earlier this year, Egypt boycotted talks over the dam as they ground to an acrimonious standstill, and followed with a diplomatic card game to enlist the support of external stakeholders and African countries keen to capitalise on strategic alliances.
The real threat to Egypt is the reaction of Sudan, given its part in the 1959 agreement; not the GERD itself. If there are signs of a rapprochement between Egypt and sisterly Ethiopia, it is by Egypt’s necessity; it coincides with a growing rift between El-Sisi’s Egypt and Omer Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir’s Islamist regime in Sudan, a former ally of Mohammed Morsi’s government of Muslim Brothers. Egypt courts South Sudan in spite of Sudan, and besides Egypt’s anti-Islamist alliance with Saudi Arabia, there are signs of a rapprochement with Libya’s anti-Islamist leader General Khalifa Belqasim Haftar. While the Sudanese vice-president Bakri Hassan Saleh attended El-Sisi’s presidential inauguration, he has also reaffirmed Sudan’s commitment to the GERD; Ethiopia is also an important strategic alliance for Sudan. One reason is its interests in the six-month long conflict in South Sudan.
The Nile Basin Initiative, which met in Khartoum last Thursday, has called on Egypt to re-involve itself in the activities in the initiative, which both Sudan and Egypt left four years ago in protest over the signing of the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement by four Nile Basin countries (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania). Burundi and Kenya later signed onto the NBI, which removes Egypt’s veto power over upstream irrigation and hydro-power projects. It is bound to reduce Egypt and Sudan’s historically protected Nile water share. After El-Sisi overthrew Morsi, Sudan returned to the NBI. Its new chairman also happens to be Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, Muattaz Musa Abdallah Salim. “I should like to place an appeal to our sister nation Egypt,” Salim said at the meeting of Nile Basin water ministers, according to AFP. “Your resumption of your activities in the NBI will further consolidate our gains and integrity in the region.”
For M. Jalal Hashim, a professor at Comboni University College and a close observer of Nile politics, the flutters of Khartoum’s heart have more to do with Khartoum’s calculations for political survival than technical issues connected with transboundary water management. “If Khartoum stood against the GERD, this may lead Ethiopia to host the military opposition of the regime, and the remaining of the regime in Sudan is a matter of inertia, not strength,” he says. “There is enough opposition to put it out.” During his brief reign, Morsi, who is now languishing behind bars in El-Sisi’s Egypt, showed his readiness to give the disputed area of land at the Egypt-Sudan border called the Halayeb triangle to Sudan, a matter Hashim thinks played a role in his overthrow.
When the Ethiopian delegation brought up the topic of the GERD for the first time, in Kampala according to Hashim, the Sudanese delegation was late by hours due to disruptions in airway programmes. When they joined the meeting, he says, they discovered that the Egyptian delegation had already blessed the project. They were “furious" and made clear their reservations to the GERD being built in an area vulnerable to volcanic eruptions and notified their minister, who, by his turn, notified his Egyptian counterpart in protest. “If such a tremor and earthquake takes place and destroys the GERD that would be disastrous to both Sudan and Egypt,” according to Hashim. “The water will be almost 26-metres high in Khartoum for days. The threat of dam collapse can wipe out Sudan, while Egypt would not be affected directly.”
The Sudanese experts repeatedly warned their government while negotiating with the Ethiopians, “hoping that wisdom would prevail, but in vain,” says Hashim. According to him, Khartoum’s position at the time prompted the Egyptian delegation to withdraw their agreement to the GERD, while Khartoum’s position has now aligned with the rising power of Ethiopia, which Egypt continues to contest. Even while Ethiopia’s award of a no-bid contract to an Italian company to construct the US$4.8bn. dam contributed, alongside Egypt’s earlier protests, to it being left without concessional finance, the World Bank is heavily invested in Ethiopia and region. At the end of last month, the bank approved US$178.5mn. credit and a US$254.5mn. grant to help Ethiopia develop its geothermal energy resources to boost electricity supply. Several electricity export contracts have already been signed, and Yemen’s Minister of Electricity Saleh Sumai and Adhanom have now agreed to begin studying electrical interconnection between the two countries across the Red Sea through Djibouti.
Ethiopia seeks to capitalise on its new economic development, part of which involves the Nile; Egypt faces the winds of an economic and national cohesion crisis. Sounds for unity are growing; but because Egypt is fast running out of alternatives, and faces major change on the Nile. As the late rebel-turned statesman Meles Zenawi said in an interview on Egyptian television, the relationship between the two countries is “like a very old marriage, which has no possibility of divorce. It has its ups and downs, but it is very solid. It is of long standing.” “Sometimes we quarrel, sometimes we agree,” Zenawi told the Egyptian interviewer, radio waves fizzing in the background. “That has been the case for thousands of years.”
Nizar Manek is an independent journalist reporting on Africa.
Copyright © 2014 Le Monde diplomatique—distributed by Agence Global

Egypt and Ethiopia agree that tripartite dam committee will resume its work -Ahram Online

The Egyptian foreign minister along with his Ethiopian counterpart stressed that Ethiopia will understand the importance of the Nile River to Egypt and that Egypt will understand the Ethiopian need for development
Ahram Online, Friday 27 Jun 2014
Ethiopian Prime Minister and Egyptian President
Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi talks to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as they arrive to attend the 23rd African Union Summit (AUS) in Malabo June 26, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt and Ethiopia will form a joint committee in the upcoming three months to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries, the foreign ministers of both countries announced in a joint statement on Friday.
The statement came after Egypt`s new president, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, after the African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo.
According to the statement, the Ethiopian government is committed to avoid any potential damage that could result from the Grand Renaissance dam currently being built on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.
Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister, along with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom, stressed in the statement that Ethiopia will understand the importance of the Nile to Egypt; and that Egypt will understand the Ethiopian plans and need for development.  
The two ministers cited seven main points that El-Sisi and Desalegn discussed during the meeting, including respecting the dialogue and cooperation between the two countries, and the establishment of regional projects for the development of financial resources to meet the growing demand for water and to deal with water shortages.  
The Egyptian government is committed to constructive communication with Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian dam has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May last year, when images of the dam's construction stirred public anxiety about its possible effects on Egypt's share of the Nile's water.
However, Ethiopian officials insisted the dam would not harm Egypt.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible effects of the dam.
But the committee's discussions were halted last December when Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the dam during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Resuming the work of the tripartite technical committee and respecting international legal principles were also among the points on which both sides had reached common ground.
Egypt has demanded that Ethiopia submit the dam's construction plans for assessment by international experts.
Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Alamayo Tegno said his country was already committed to the recommendations of an international committee of experts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ethiopian diplomat: Renaissance Dam will be built 'with its full capacity'

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Ethiopan flag
Ethiopia is moving forward with the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam with its full capacity and according to the original plans despite Egyptian reservations, an Ethiopian diplomat told Arabi 21 website Sunday.

The suspension of an Egyptian anchorwoman from Tahrir TV channel has reopened discussions on the crisis of the dam's capacity, amid reports of a UAE-Israeli mediated initiative in the horizon.
Tahrir anchorwoman Rania Badawy has been suspended after a complaint from the Ethiopian ambassador in Cairo following an argument she had with him during a live call-in with her show. Badawy has hung up on ambassador Mahmoud Dardir after he accused her of arrogance due to her question whether Ethiopia will carry on with the construction of the dam based on the original plan.
Responding to a question by Badawy regarding the dam's current capacity and its impacts on Egyptian water security, the ambassador stressed that this is a sovereign matter, and that Ethiopia has "moved beyond Egyptian dictations and conditions in this regard."
Arabi 21 website asked an Ethiopian diplomat regarding the implications of the ambassador's remarks. The diplomat confirmed that his country had not changed its initial construction plans and would not accept any discussions with Egypt on them.
The diplomat confirmed reports of an Emirati-Israeli initiative that calls for the continuation of the construction according to initial plans, with an Ethiopian pledge not to use the full capacity of the dam in a way that impacts Egyptian and Sudanese share of the water.
The diplomat pointed out that the initiative, if approved, would not resolve the crisis because Addis Ababa would still be able to use the full capacity of the dam whenever it sees fit.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Egyptian president’s visit to Ethiopia: turning a new page in relations? | martinplaut


Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is due to visit Ethiopia in the next two weeks. Ethiopian Ambassador to Cairo, Mahmoud Dirdir is quoted as saying  that the anticipated visit “would open great prospects for cooperation between the two countries.” He went on to describe the visit as positive for both countries.
President al-Sisi’s visit would open the way for further exchanges between the two countries, which have been at daggers drawn in the past. At the heart of the dispute has been the Nile. Egypt depends almost exclusively on the waters of the river for its existence. Any disruption of the flow would be catastrophic, yet this is just what the Grand Renaissance Dam , planned by Ethiopia former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, threatens to do.
Grand Rennaisance Dam In the past Egypt has threatened to go to war if the Nile waters were reduced in any way. President Anwar Sadat, in 1979 said : “The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water.” In June 2013 these viewswere reiteratedby a senior Egyptian adviser and echoed by President Morsi, who told a cheering crowd that “all options are open” in dealing with the crisis.
President al-Sisi, having removed President Morsi, won a landslide election and having the Egyptian military behind him, appears to be in a stronger position to deal with the tricky issue of the Nile. Egypt is back in the African Union  and now – if ever – is a time to settle the issue. President al-Sisi has said he want to cement his African ties and dealing with the issue of the Ethiopian dam is critical in this regard.
Maghawri Shahata, an Egyptian expert on water issues, said that Egypt had repeatedly declared its willingness to resolve the matter  through dialogue before, during and after the presidential elections. Ethiopia needed to prove to Egypt that it did not want to harm its interests, and Egypt needed to show Addis Ababa that it supported its development, he said.“Meanwhile, Ethiopia still needs to provide more information about the design and impact of the dam on Egypt,” Haggag said.
There is a long history of tension and bitterness between Cairo and Addis Ababa over the issue. For generations Ethiopian leaders blamed Egyptians for stoking the fires of rebellion in its territory. Ethiopians argued that Eritrea’s independence only came about because of Egyptian support. The question of the Nile and its waters was at the root of the problem. Now, perhaps, there is a chance for Egypt and Ethiopia to establish a new relationship. If President al-Sisi succeeds in doing this, then he could truly claim an historic achievement.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ethiopia sees Egyptian change of heart on Nile dam | Africa | Worldbulletin News

Ethiopia sees Egyptian change of heart on Nile dam

The remarks came shortly after Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom announced that newly-inaugurated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi would visit Ethiopia within the coming two weeks.

World Bulletin/News Desk
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it had noticed a shift in Egypt's stance regarding its multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam, currently being built on the Nile's upper reaches, which Cairo has long feared would reduce its traditional share of water.
"Egyptians have begun to show willingness… to resolve the Nile water dispute through dialogue and in a spirit of cooperation and good neighborliness," Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told a weekly press briefing.
The remarks came shortly after Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom announced that newly-inaugurated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi would visit Ethiopia within the coming two weeks. 
According to Mufti, al-Sisi will visit Ethiopia "not because he was invited, but to show his desire for amicable relations."
Mufti cited recent remarks by al-Sisi in which he voiced his readiness to visit Ethiopia "not once, but ten times" for the sake of the two nations' shared interests.
The Egyptian government has yet to confirm al-Sisi's visit to Ethiopia.
Relations between Cairo and Addis Ababa soured last year over Ethiopia's construction of a $6.4-billion hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile. The project has raised alarm bells in Egypt, which relies on the river for almost all of its water needs.
Water distribution among Nile Basin states has long been regulated by a colonial-era treaty – which Ethiopia says it has never acknowledged – that gives Egypt and Sudan the lion's share of river water.
During his Sunday inauguration speech, al-Sisi said he would not allow the dam's construction to adversely affect Egypt's relations with Ethiopia or other African countries – a gesture welcomed by Addis Ababa.

Monday, June 9, 2014

President El-Sisi says won't allow rift with Ethiopia - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Egypt's newly inaugurated President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi vows to ease crisis with Addis Ababa after a months-long impasse over Ethiopia's controversial Grand Renaissance Dam project
Ahram Online , Monday 9 Jun 2014

President El-Sisi (Photo: Official El-Sisi presidential campaign)
Egypt's newly elected President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said he would not allow a rift to develop between Cairo and Addis Ababa, who have been locked in a stalemate over access to the Nile water.
Ties between Egypt and Ethiopia have soured since Addis Ababa launched the construction of a controversial hydroelectric dam that Egypt fears will substantially harm its share of the Nile River, the country's main source of potable water.
However, El-Sisi unequivocally stated during his inaugural address at the Qubba Palace on Sunday evening that he would not allow friction to take place with Ethiopia.
"I won't allow the Renaissance Dam to cause a crisis or problem with sisterly Ethiopia," he said in the speech addressed to Egyptian public figures after he was sworn in as president of Egypt.
El-Sisi stressed that Egypt is keen on safeguarding Pan-Africanism which, he said, the country cannot disengage from.
Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom headed a delegation that attended a morning swearing-in ceremony at the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace. Attendees included Arab royals, African leaders and dignitaries from among Egypt's western allies.