Ethiopia slams Arab League resolution backing Egypt, Sudan in GERD dispute, vows to proceed with second filling

Menna Alaa El-Din , Tuesday 15 Jun 2021

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam. AFP

Ethiopia slammed on Tuesday a resolution by the Arab League backing Egypt and Sudan’s water security amid deadlock in negotiations over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). 

In a statement, the Ethiopian foreign ministry said it is “dismayed” by the resolution of the Arab League following an extraordinary meeting held in Doha, describing the regional organization’s positions on the dam as “misguided.”

“As a result of its egregious support to the baseless claims of Egypt and Sudan regarding GERD, the Arab League has already squandered its opportunity to play a constructive role,” the Ethiopian ministry said.

It said that the “Nile is a shared resource and not an exclusive property of Egypt and Sudan."

“That is why it is perplexing that the Arab League places particular emphases on the water security of the downstream countries in complete disregard to the rest of the Nile riparian countries,” it added, describing the organization’s approach as “unhelpful and misguided.”

The Ethiopian response comes hours after the Arab League said following a meeting of Arab foreign ministers over the dam crisis in Doha that Egypt and Sudan’s water security was an integral part of Arab national security.

In a resolution, the Arab League stressed its rejection of any measures that would undermine the water share of Egypt and Sudan, in reference to Ethiopia’s planned second filling in July despite of the lack of an agreement between the three countries on the filling and operations of the dam.

It has also called for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene in the crisis which risks aggravated tensions in the region.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a press conference following the meeting that the Arab countries will press for the UNSC to hold an urgent session on the dispute.

It expressed its deep concern over Ethiopia’s intention to fill the dam’s reservoir over the summer, describing the “unilateral” measure as one that “violates the rules of international law and the Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed between the three countries in 2015”.

In response, Ethiopia said it “categorically rejects the futile attempt by the League of Arab States to dictate terms regarding the filling of GERD.”

“As a regional organization, it would have been appropriate for the League of Arab States to encourage the three parties to reach a win-win solution instead of its unhelpful, partisan and unreasonable position,” it added.

The statement by Ethiopia comes as it remains defiant over a second filling in the coming weeks even without a deal.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Sileshi Bekele stressed in statements reported by the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) that the filling of the second phase of the dam will go as scheduled.

“The second round filling will continue and it has nothing to do with any other issue. The level the construction of the dam reaches in the coming rainy season will dictate the filling,” he said.

“This is very clear to all the three riparian countries. Nothing will change from that and we will proceed accordingly,” he added.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating for almost a decade now with Ethiopia to reach a legally binding and comprehensive deal on the GERD’s construction, which Addis Ababa started to build on the Blue Nile in 2011.

Ethiopia’s rejection of several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on the negotiation mechanism, which includes international quartet mediation, has led to the collapse of the Kinshasa talks sponsored by the AU in April.

Egypt’s 100 million-plus population depends on the Nile for over 95 percent of its fresh water.

Sudan fears the GERD will put the operation of its Roseires dam and the lives of 20 million Sudanese citizens at “a very high risk” if an agreement regulating the operation and filling of GERD is not reached before the second filling. 

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