Security Council of the United Nations has backed the African Union’s bid to mediate in the fiasco between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as it is wary of setting a precedent on water issues.
In its meeting on Thursday, the UN Security Council addressed the issue as it was called by the Egyptian and Sudanese government to wade into the matter in order to avoid tension among the countries involved.
Ethiopia this week, began the filling of the reservoir behind the dam for the second year, in a process that will greatly affect Egypt’s water supplies from the Blue Nile and impinge on Sudan’s reservoir flow and its other dams.
The U.N Security Council has pleaded with the countries involved to seek a political settlement into the issue.
“A balanced and equitable solution to the filling and operation of the GERD can be reached with political commitment from all parties,” said American Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
“This begins with the resumption of productive substantive negotiations. Those negotiations should be held under the leadership of the African Union, and should recommence with urgency,” she said, adding that the African Union “is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute.”
The council has been skeptical with its readiness to wade into the issue as it fears setting a precedent (on water issues) it will struggle to maintain.
As none of the involved nations seeks a compromise, the Tunisian government sought the Security Council’s approval for the nations to reach a binding agreement that will regulate the operation of the $5bn dam and not leave any of the affected parties feeling damned.
“We do not expect the council to formulate solutions to the outstanding legal and technical issues, nor do we request that the council impose the terms of a settlement,” he said. “This resolution is political in nature and its purpose … is to re-launch negotiations,” said Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Foreign Minister.
Ethiopia has also expressed its displeasure with the Egyptian and Sudanese governments for seeking the indulgence of the Security Council over an issue it says is “within reach”.
He said the Security Council will not help forge a solution except all the affected nations have a common ground.
“We urge our Egyptian and Sudanese brothers and sisters to understand that the resolution to the Nile issue will not come from the Security Council. It can only come from good faith negotiations,” he told the council.
Water-ways And A Water War
In February, Sudan proposed tabling the issue before an international quartet including the European Union, the African Union, the American government and the United Nations. So far, all have failed to convince a defiant Ethiopia to reach a binding agreement on the supply of water.
The main fears of Egypt and Sudan is the operation to be adopted and the volume of water to be shared by Ethiopia during the period of drought.
Ethiopia insists it’s in control and will give its coastal neighbours a good portion of the Blue Nile flow.
The Blue Nile meets the White Nile in central Sudan from and winds up north through Egypt before flowing the Mediterranean Sea. Ethiopia sees the Blue Nile as the soul of its future economic projections while Egypt is protecting its irrigation supply, and its main source of power.
All the nations involved have doused fears of going to war over their current imbroglio but have also not written off such eventuality as seen in their preparation.
Some days ago, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a unilateral ceasefire in their northernmost Tigray region where they’ve been on rampage for 8 months. He said they had to leave Tigray because it’s not their most important issue at the moment.
The Egyptian and Sudanese governments have also been seen making military advances in recent time, holding joint war games in May, as Ethiopia insisted on its previous decision. The A.U is however expected to stop any of such possibilities from ensuing, and in good time.
Saudi Arabia has also expressed its support for Egypt and Sudan’s efforts at protecting their water rights and ensuring the issue is solved using proper international laws.