Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed Sunday that Egypt’s water rights are closely tied with Arab national security, and personally thanked Iraq and Jordan’s supportive stances towards Egypt on this matter.
This came in a speech delivered by Sisi during the Egyptian-Iraqi-Jordanian tripartite summit held in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Sisi said that Arab water rights are an inherent component of Arab national security, which requires coordination and cooperation to preserve them.
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have disputed over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which Addis Ababa is constructing on the Blue Nile River, one of the tributaries to Nile River, since over a decade.
Ethiopia started constructing GERD on the Blue Nile River in 2011. Egypt considers the GERD to be one of its most serious water issues.
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have held several rounds of negotiations over the past decade, but have ultimately failed to reach an agreement to solve GERD crisis.
Egypt and Sudan say they want a legally binding agreement on filling and operating the GERD, while Ethiopia is trying to evade a binding agreement.
Egypt, which relies considerably on freshwater from the Nile, has voiced fears that the GERD would negatively impact the country’s water supply, and has insisted that measures be put in place to protect downstream countries in case of drought during the dam’s filling process.
Ethiopia, on the other hand, has stressed the importance of the project to bolster its economy, where more than half of the population currently lives without access to electricity.
The Director of the Engineering Department in the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense, Bacha Debele Buta said Friday that his country is prepared in the event of a “military solution” regarding the GERD dispute with Egypt and Sudan, but stressed that this is not something his nation desire.
“For my country, water should not be a reason for war,” he said during an interview with Russia Today.
“Therefore, the solution cannot be military, and the best way is to discuss through the African Union,” he said.
However he said that “Every country is ready to defend the homeland, and we are ready to repel any enemy that tries to undermine our sovereignty. We are ready to defend.”