I highly appreciate the wisdom, prudence and self-restraint of the Egyptian political leadership and President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi when dealing with the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam during the last five years. They were faced with several challenges including Ethiopian antagonistic declarations obviously designed to draw Egypt into uncontrolled response that would be taken against it in international circles. Egypt wanted to make the situation win-win, with supporting Ethiopian development when saving the Egyptian rights in the Nile River.
Egypt realized that Ethiopia only needs the dam to generate electricity and the only problem was the years of filling the dam, when the waters are indeed representing the lifeblood of Egypt’s 100 million population.
While Egypt acknowledged Ethiopia’s need to fill the dam reservoir, it had a reasonable and legitimate request to negotiate the schedule of filling the reservoir, in order to reach a balance between the amounts of water withheld by the dam and the amounts flowing downstream to Sudan and Egypt. Any unbiased observer would acknowledge Egypt’s demand as a reasonable request that should have never given rise to stubborn resentment or conflict in the first place. Yet, Ethiopia had clear intention to drag Egypt into a hateful conflict, Ethiopia met Egypt’s request with argumentation and rejection, opening the door for five years of procrastination and bargaining on Ethiopia’s part that refused to the US sponsored pact with Egypt and Sudan.
Therefore, I was not at all optimistic about the African virtual mini-summit that was held last month upon invitation of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, current African Union Chief. Due to all previous situations, I doubt the results of the negotiations this time, but I hope I am wrong.