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Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to resume talks over dam

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Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to resume talks over dam

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Photo: Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies via REUTERS

Today, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia will resume talks on Ethiopia’s unilateral filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The meeting comes after Sudan boycotted last week’s talks over Ethiopia’s insistence on a Nile water-sharing agreement, which Addis Ababa perceives as a prerequisite to a binding agreement on the terms of GERD’s filling. While Egypt and Sudan object to the dire water shortage that the dam’s filling will create, Ethiopia is keen to assert power over the shared water source.

For Ethiopia, GERD will not only provide electricity to the country’s impoverished rural population but also will assert its position as a regional authority rivalling that of Egypt. So far, Ethiopia has retained the upper hand in negotiations due to its lack of legal obligation; however, this position is increasingly precarious as Egypt continues to build up its military presence in neighbouring territories such as South Sudan and Somaliland. Though Egypt is not likely to follow through on its threats of military force for fear of backlash from US, UAE and Saudi Arabian allies, deterrence remains a powerful weapon that may compel Ethiopia to decelerate GERD’s filling in the short to medium-term.

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