Saudi Arabia has pulled its weight behind Egypt and Sudan in its bitter dispute with Ethiopia over a massive hydroelectric dam built by the latter on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the river. Nile.
The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is the source of a nearly decade-long diplomatic clash between Ethiopia and the nations downstream of Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia says the project is crucial to its development, but the governments of Cairo and Khartoum fear it could limit access to water for its citizens.
Tuesday, a day after Ethiopia began to fill the dam’s reservoir, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA said the kingdom supports Egypt and Sudan in “preserving their legitimate water rights,” as well as their efforts to contains this crisis and its demands to resolve it in accordance with the rules of international law ”.
“The kingdom calls on the international community to intensify efforts to find a clear mechanism to start negotiations between the three countries to get out of this crisis,” he said.
It came when reports said Tunisia had submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council, asking Ethiopia to stop filling the GERD reservoir. The 15-member body is likely to discuss the dispute Thursday.
The draft resolution, obtained by the AFP news agency, calls on Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan “to resume negotiations at the joint invitation of the President of the African Union and the Secretary-General of the The United Nations to finalize, within a period of six months, the text of a binding agreement on the implementation and operation of the GERD. “
The resolution adds that the agreement should “ensure Ethiopia’s ability to generate water energy from the GERD while also avoiding the influence of significant damage to the water security of the valley states.”
It urges the “three countries to refrain from making any statements, or to take any action that could jeopardize the negotiation process, and urges Ethiopia to refrain from continuing to unilaterally fill the GERD reservoir.”
No date has been set for a vote on the draft resolution.
“No unilateral action”
The three countries have been closed for years in inconclusive discussions over GERD, which started the road in 2011.
The dispute centers on the speed at which a planned reservoir is filled behind the dam, the method of its annual supply and the amount of water Ethiopia will release into the valley if a perennial drought occurs. Another point of difference is how the three countries resolve any future disputes.
Egypt and Sudan want a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines.
Late Monday, Egypt said it had been notified by Ethiopia that the second phase of filling had begun at GERD, adding that it rejected the measure as a threat to regional stability. Sudan said Tuesday it had received the same warning.
Ethiopia had previously announced that it would proceed to the second stage of filling in July, with or without an agreement. He argues that adding water to the reservoir, especially during heavy rains in July and August, is a natural part of construction.
Meanwhile, the UN on Tuesday urged the parties involved to resume talks, urging them to avoid any unilateral action.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres supports the role of the African Union in mediating between countries, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
“What is also important is that there is no unilateral action that would undermine any search for solutions. So, it’s important that people commit to engaging in good faith in a real process, ”he said.
Solutions needed to be guided by example, Dujarric said.
“Solutions … have been found for others that share watercourses, that divide rivers, and that are based on the principle of fair and reasonable use and the obligation not to cause significant harm.”
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said the GERD filling in Ethiopia had the potential to increase tensions, as it also encouraged all parties to refrain from unilateral action on the dam.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States has asked all parties to engage in a negotiated solution acceptable to all parties.
Ethiopia says GERD is essential for its economic growth, arguing that the vast majority of its population lacks electricity. The dam will generate more than 6,400 megawatts of electricity, a significant boost to the country’s current production of 4,000 MW.
Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world with more than 100 million people, depends on the Nile for almost all of its water needs. He fears that a rapid flood will drastically reduce the flow of the river, with potentially serious effects on its agriculture and other sectors.
Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on the operation of the dam to prevent flooding and protect its own power generation dams in the Blue Nile.
The Blue Nile meets the White Nile in central Sudan. From there, the Nile turns north across Egypt and empties into the Mediterranean Sea.