The assembly of a limited African Union (AU) summit on Tuesday afternoon, via videoconference, seemed to hold little hope of reassuring Egypt over its water security concerns. The Blue Nile is the source of by far the largest part of Egypt’s annual share of Nile water, and it is across the Blue Nile that Ethiopia has built the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), with its 74 billion cubic metre (bcm) reservoir. The limited summit convened in the wake of what Egyptian negotiators said were major differences on technical and legal issues related to the filling and operation of GERD. According to an AU source who spoke briefly on the phone on condition of anonymity, the reports that Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt presented following two weeks of negotiations conducted through videoconference under the auspices of the AU reflect major differences in what the three countries perceive to be their “legitimate rights”. Ahead of the mini-summit Egyptian, African and other sources close to the file expected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chair of the AU, to present Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa with “possible alternative solutions” to their outstanding differences, and to ask them to give negotiations another go, this time aided by legal and technical assistance panels provided by the AU. While Egyptian officials had been maintaining that Cairo would not continue to negotiate in a vacuum, this week they sounded more reconciliatory, arguing that Egypt could well give the AU a chance to deliver by considering “a limited extension” of the talks. Egypt had demanded Ethiopia to refrain from “officially inaugurating the first filling of the dam” for as long as the negotiations unfold. It also requested that the AU compile a precise schedule for the participating countries to meet. Cairo is keen to secure the support of the AU presidency. The same officials say agreeing to an extension to negotiations is one thing, and agreeing to an open-ended exercise another. Officials who spoke to Al-Ahram Weekly on the possible length for an extension to the negotiation process put it at between three and five weeks. The wet season for the Blue Nile began last week. It usually continues for 10 consecutive weeks. Last Wednesday, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Service quoted the Minister of Irrigation Seleshi Bekele as saying Ethiopia had started the first filling and that the time had arrived for the people of Ethiopia to celebrate. The news came while consultations were underway between South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to set a date for the limited African summit that is supposed to review the disagreements contained in the reports Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia submitted to the AU following two weeks of negotiations. Initially, officials in Cairo said Egypt would recall ambassadors from Addis Ababa and Pretoria to protest against the breach of the negotiating rules, and head back to the UN Security Council that in June, on Egypt’s request, discussed the GERD dispute and asked the AU to facilitate talks and to report on the outcome of the negotiations. A round of phone calls by Foreign Ministry officials and a couple of phone calls between the Egyptian president and his South African counterpart managed to contain the crisis. Ethiopia also backtracked, with its minister of irrigation saying his words had been taken out of context. Sudan was sceptical about Addis Ababa’s backtracking: Khartoum had already announced a decline in the level of the Blue Nile. It did, however, opt to give Ethiopia the benefit of the doubt. For its part, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry requested clarification from Addis Ababa on the confusion surrounding the start of the first filling. According to a political source in Cairo, Ethiopia’s reply to both Egypt and Sudan was vague: Addis Ababa said the “deliberate filling” had not been initiated, and that Bekele was referring to the natural flow of Blue Nile water to the GERD reservoir. The same source said Ethiopia told South Africa that it had allowed water to gather behind the low-level gates of GERD to test the dam. On Tuesday following the limited AU summit, the office of the prime minister of Ethiopia issued a statement stating that the first filling was already done. “The current rainfall and runoff situation in the region have made it conductive to fill the dam,” and that “it has become evident over the past two weeks in the rainy season that GERD’s first-year filling is achieved and the dam under construction is already overtopping,” the statement said. The statement of the Ethiopian prime minister, meanwhile, announced that the three riparian countries would continue to negotiate in the pursuit of an agreement. To the chagrin of Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopian officials had maintained during negotiations that the first filling, of less than 5bcm, was part of the testing of the hydrological functions of the dam and did not contradict the 2015 Declaration of Principles. The crisis appeared to have been put on ice, without being resolved, to allow the Tuesday summit to convene as Ethiopia continued to refuse to commit to halting the first filling during the current rainy season. After the summit, an Egyptian government official said that Cairo and Khartoum accept that Addis Ababa projected the matter as “natural filling”. He added that it was important that Ethiopia refrained from acting defined and that it was the “high-level” decision in Cairo that it is in the interest of Egypt to keep the negotiations going. According to one official, speaking in advance of the summit, “the next step depends on the ability of South Africa to secure a commitment from Ethiopia that it will negotiate in good faith and refrain from any unilateral action.” After the summit he said that the AU chair promised to invest every effort to make sure that the three countries walk their way towards a fair agreement that should accommodate the demands of all parties. Neither Egyptian nor Sudanese sources are particularly hopeful. Sources from both countries say the Ethiopian prime minister lacks the political capital to suspend the first filling pending the conclusion of talks, though a Sudanese source did not exclude the possibility for a reconciliatory deal “provided there is a political will on all sides”. Egyptian sources were more pessimistic, pointing to years of evidence that Ethiopia lacked the will to negotiate a fair deal. Ethiopia, they argue, is negotiating in an attempt to pressure Egypt and buy time. Had Ethiopia been serious about reaching a deal it could have struck one earlier this year on the text its delegation negotiated in Washington with the support of the US and the World Bank. After the summit, Sudan sounded less upbeat than Ethiopia. It just said that the Tuesday summit was productive. For its part, Egypt in a statement issued by the president’s office said it is sticking to its demands of a fair and legally binding agreement. Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent a special envoy to meet with Turkey’s foreign minister to discuss cooperation. The visit came as tensions between Cairo and Ankara over Libya reached boiling point. A day later Ahmed arrived in neighbouring Eritrea for talks with his counterpart Isaias Afwerki who had met with Al-Sisi in Cairo a few days earlier. The Egyptian-Eritrean talks were interpreted in Addis Ababa as an attempt by Cairo to build alliances with Ethiopia’s regional rivals. According to Hani Raslan, a political commentator who has followed the GERD dispute closely, this “does not at all seem to be a scene set for deal-making”. “Talks might continue because Egypt wants to exhaust every possible chance of negotiations but clearly the gap is really wide.” On Monday, Al-Sisi addressed unfolding political developments in a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump. In addition to facilitating three-way talks late last year, the US supported Egypt’s request for a UN Security Council session to discuss the GERD dispute. Officials say Cairo is likely to repeat its request for the US to help secure another UN Security Council session on GERD if the extended talks under the supervision of the AU hit “the expected impasse”. The US, the same officials say, has been also “encouraging Ethiopia to come round to an agreement” in return for economic and political support from Washington. Egypt is also lobbying the support of other permanent members of the UN Security Council, though Russia and China are both wary of the council becoming a venue for transboundary river disputes. If the talks go nowhere, then Cairo is hoping to get a UN Security Council position — “a resolution or a presidential declaration” — to protest the filling and call on Ethiopia to suspend any action pending an agreement. “The first filling is less than 5bcm,” Raslan said, which is a violation of the negotiating terms but far from being the worst thing that Egypt may have to swallow. That, Raslan added, lies 12 months away, during the 2021 rainy season, when Ethiopia will move towards a second filling of 18+ bcm. “By which time,” Raslan stated, “Egypt would have to have made its mind on how it will handle Ethiopian intransigence.”
Egypt’s parliament on Monday unanimously approved the deployment of armed forces abroad to defend Egypt’s national security, it said in a statement, amid the expansion of Libya’s Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) which has moved fighters to capture the key coastal city of Sirte. In an official statement following a closed-door session, the parliament said it "unanimously approved sending elements of the Egyptian armed forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state to defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic front against the acts of criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements until the forces mission ends." The decision came days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt “will not stand idle” in the face of any attack on Sirte, which he earlier described as a “red line” for Egypt’s national security and warned it could prompt military intervention by Cairo. "The Egyptian nation, throughout history, has advocated for peace, but it does not accept trespasses nor does it renounce its rights. Egypt is extremely able to defend itself, its interests, its brothers and neighbours from any peril or threat," the statement said. "The armed forces and its leadership have the constitutional and legal licence to determine when and where to respond to these dangers and threats," it added. The MPs on Monday supported the military’s efforts to maintain the national, Arab and regional fundamentals, the statement said, adding that "neither has the [Egyptian] people let the army down, nor the army ever let the people down. The parliament reviewed the outcomes of a meeting on Sunday of the country s National Defence Council (NDC) headed by El-Sisi, which discussed threats to Egypt s western front. The NDC said in a statement following the meeting that Egypt seeks to stabilise the current situation and ensure the declared lines of the Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jafra are not crossed to achieve peace between all Libyan parties. The closed-door session was attended by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad and Major General Mamdouh Shaheen, assistant minister of defence. Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal only allowed MPs and the prime minister to attend the plenary meeting, and ordered photographers, guards and staff to leave the meeting hall, and MPs to close their mobile phones. Abdel-Aal also urged MPs not to divulge the content of the meeting. Monday’s mandate comes a few days after El-Sisi met with Libyan tribal leaders in Cairo, where they called on the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt.”The central city of Sirte and the Jufra military airbase are currently controlled by the eastern-based forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by military commander Khalifa Haftar, which have retreated eastward after a series of gains by the government in Tripoli last month. President El-Sisi has said he would take military action in Libya after securing the approval of the Egyptian parliament. Under Egypt’s constitution, the president, who is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, shall not declare war or deploy troops outside the country without seeking the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs. The eastern parliament called on Egypt last week to directly intervene in the country’s conflict to counter what it termed a Turkish “occupation.” Egypt, the UAE and Russia are backing Haftar in eastern Libya, while Turkey and Qatar support the Tripoli-based GNA. The GNA, with the support of Turkey, recently extended control across most of the territories held by the LNA in northwest Libya, repelling a 14-month offensive by Haftar’s forces to capture Tripoli, and forcing them to pull back east towards Sirte. It vowed to advance to capture Sirte and the inland Al-Jufra airbase. Turkey began earlier this year to bring thousands of mercenaries from Syria into Libya to bolster the GNA government. The latest tensions come one month after El-Sisi had warned that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the neighbouring country, and stressed that the frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security. He said any Egyptian intervention in the neighbouring country would aim to preserve the national security of Egypt, Libya and the region, securing Egypt’s western border and restoring stability in Libya.
Egypt’s parliament has delayed to Monday a session to vote on a mandate for President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya amid escalating tensions, a leading MP said. Mostafa Bakri, an independent MP and journalist, said there were demands that discussions on the mandate be held in a closed session. The postponement comes one day after informed sources told Ahram Online that parliament is expected to hold a plenary meeting this week to discuss the political and military situation in neighbouring Libya. The sources said the discussion is to be followed by a vote to mandate President El-Sisi to intervene militarily in Libya to help defend the western neighbour against Turkish aggression. El-Sisi met on Thursday with leaders of Libyan tribes in Cairo, where they called on him to authorise the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt if they see an imminent danger to both countries.” President El-Sisi said he would do so after obtaining approval from the Egyptian parliament. MPs told Ahram Online that El-Sisi s words go in line with Article 152 of Egypt s constitution, which states that “the president of the republic is the supreme leader of the Armed Forces. He shall not declare war or send the Armed Forces outside the state s borders to undertake fighting missions unless he first seeks the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs.” Egypt, the UAE and Russia are backing military commander Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya, while Turkey supports the Tripoli-based GNA. The tensions come one month after El-Sisi had warned that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the neighbouring country to restore security and stability after GNA-affiliated forces pushed back Haftar’s forces in the capital. El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces “would be led by the Libyan tribes,” stressing that the Libyan frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security. The Egyptian president’s statements came weeks after El-Sisi, Haftar, and the speaker of the Libyan parliament Aguila Saleh announced a peace initiative, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, to end the civil war in Libya through a ceasefire and an elected leadership council. The Cairo plan was drafted after the collapse of an offensive launched by Haftar in April 2019 to capture the Libyan capital, further extending the rival GNA’s control over most of northwest Libya.
Egypt s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi chaired Sunday a meeting of the country s National Defence Council (NDC) to discuss pressing political, security and military situations on all strategic fronts, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue and the crisis in Libya. El-Sisi reviewed the council on trilateral negotiations on GERD between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia and efforts aiming to reach a comprehensive agreement that fulfils the three countries aspirations and demands and preserve riparian rights in a fair and balanced manner, El-Sisi s spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement. The council emphasised that Egypt will proceed to reaching a comprehensive deal on the outstanding points of the GERD issue, especially the rules for filing and operating the dam, in a way that secures the three countries water and development interests and maintains regional security and stability. A mini-African summit will be held Tuesday to continue discussing the dispute around GERD after the recent round of negotiations mediated by the African Union (AU) saw no resolution of differences on major issues of contention over the hydropower project Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile, one of two tributaries of the Nile River. The statement added that the NDC s meeting also touched on the developments in Libya as Egypt seeks to stabilise the current field situation and not to cross declared lines — referring to the Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jafra — with the aim of bringing about peace between all Libyan parties. "Egypt will spare no efforts to support the sister Libya and help its people to bring their country to safety and overcome the current critical crisis, grounded in the fact that Libya is one of the highest priorities for Egypt s foreign policy, taking into account that Libyan security is inseparable from Egyptian and Arab national security," the statement stressed. The NDC affirmed commitment to a political solution to put an end to the Libyan crisis, in a manner that maintains its sovereignty and national and regional unity, eliminates terrorism, and prevents the chaos of criminal groups and extremist armed militias. Sunday s meeting asserted the importance of limiting illegal foreign interference that contributes to aggravating the security situation and threatens neighboring countries and international peace and security, Rady noted. It also assured the importance of guaranteeing a fair and transparent distribution of the wealth of Libyan national resources, and preventing any extremist groups from having power over these resources. Last month, President El-Sisi threatened to send troops into Libya if the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and allied Turkish forces tried to seize Sirte, which is located around 900 kilometres from the Egyptian-Libyan border. El-Sisi in June called Sirte a "red line" for Egypt and said any intervention by Egypt would mainly be aimed at protecting Egypt s western border, achieving a ceasefire, and restoring stability and peace in Libya. No single government has had full control over the oil-rich country since 2011 when then-leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed. The oil-rich country has since been ruled by two governments, one in the east represented by the House of Representatives, which is the country s only elected body, and one in the west, where the capital Tripoli is located, under the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.
Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron exchanged point of views on the latest developments in Libya in a phone call late on Wednesday, the Egyptian presidency announced. El-Sisi highlighted the country s efforts to settle the Libyan crisis in a manner that honours the will of the Libyan people and preserves Libya s resources, unity, territorial integrity and, at the same time, and protects the national security of Egypt on its western geographical front. Macron also praised Egypt s great efforts to restore security and stability in the war-torn country in light of the Cairo Declaration as an extension to the Berlin path to resolve the Libyan crisis, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi said. The presidents underlined the importance of stopping all illegal foreign interventions in Libyan lands that use armed militias and terrorist organizations to achieve its goals at the expense of stability in Libya and regional security as a whole. They also agreed to continue joint coordination in the coming period to support efforts aiming at reach a settlement for the crisis, Radi added. In early June, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, and Libya s parliament speaker Aguila Saleh announced a new joint Cairo Declaration, a political initiative aimed at ending the conflict in Libya and obliges all foreign parties to “remove all foreign mercenaries nationwide." Egypt, France and the UAE support the government in Eastern Libya while Turkey and Qatar back the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Turkey has recently transferred thousands of Syrian Jihadis and mercenaries to back the GNA in its confrontation with the LNA. Earlier this week, Libya s parliament passed a motion authorising Egypt to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard the "national security" of both countries in light of what it termed a Turkish occupation. On Wednesday, Cairo received a delegation from several Libyan tribes from Benghazi for talks about the current crisis and how to overcome it. Last month, Egyptian President El-Sisi warned that Cairo has a legitimate right to intervene in the war-torn neighbouring country to restore security and stability after GNA-affiliated forces pushed back Haftar’s forces in the capital. El-Sisi said that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces “would be led by the Libyan tribes,” stressing that the Libyan frontline of Sirte and Al-Jufra is “a red line” for Egyptian national security. Meanwhile, Macron has accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria. NATO is investigating French accusations that Turkey s navy failed last month to respond to an allied call to inspect a vessel this month in the Mediterranean, an incident Paris suspects involved Turkish arms smuggling to Libya
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has reiterated the body s rejection of "illegal Turkish interventions" in the internal affairs of Arab countries, specifically in Iraq, Syria and Libya, warning that Ankara s actions are threatening the whole of Arab national security. Aboul-Gheit made the remarks during an interview with Aly Hassan, the editor-in-chief of MENA agency, on Wednesday. He said Turkish interventions are "targeting and impinging on Arab national security" and affirmed that the pan-Arab body rejects any regional interference that "threatens the security, safety and stability of the Arab countries." On 23 June, the Arab League held an extraordinary session via video conference to discuss developments in Libya, and issued a 14-article resolution in which the league emphasised “the need for restoring the Libyan state and the role of its institutions in serving the Libyan people, away from foreign interventions.” The resolution also referred to the “central role of Libya s neighbouring countries in ending the Libyan crisis,” and urged combating “foreign interventions—regardless of their source and nature—that facilitate the transfer of terrorist, foreign fighters into Libya” and rejected the violation of international decisions on an arms embargo. Aboul-Gheit stressed the importance of an Egyptian initiative for Libya, dubbed the Cairo Declaration, saying it lays out a comprehensive roadmap for settling the Libyan crisis and provides executive steps and mechanisms to deal with the military, security, political and economic aspects of the crisis in the conflict-torn country. The oil-rich country has been divided between rival administrations in the east and west since 2014, and the fissure is growing due to political stalemate and the failure of international diplomatic initiatives to reach a truce. The Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli, is backed by Turkish troops and Qatar in its war against the eastern-based LNA and its leader Haftar, who is supported by Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The Egyptian initiative was announced on 6 June by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Haftar, and Libya s parliament speaker Aguila Saleh. It involves a ceasefire, an elected leadership council and a longer-term peace plan. The Egyptian initiative is based on the Libyan political consensus, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the outcomes of the Berlin conference, which resulted in a comprehensive political proposal that includes clear implementation steps in the political, economic and security fields and positive engagement from all Libyan parties with these initiatives. The initiative “encourages the Libyan parties to stop fighting and engage in the required political process," Aboul-Gheit told MENA, saying the Arab League “fully supports" the proposed plan, which has been welcomed by Arab, regional and Western powers. Earlier this week, Libya s eastern-based parliament, which backs Haftar, passed a motion authorising Egypt to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard the "national security" of both countries in light of what it termed a Turkish "occupation." Last month, El-Sisi said his country has a legitimate right to intervene in Libya and ordered the armed forces to be prepared to carry out any mission outside the country if necessary. He said any intervention by Egypt would mainly be aimed at protecting Egypt s western border, achieving a ceasefire, and restoring stability and peace in Libya, stressing that crossing the Sirte-Jufra frontline is a “red line” for Egypt. Forces allied with Haftar have recently pulled back east towards Sirte and Jufra airbase in central Libya after forces loyal to the rival government in the west extended control across most of northwest Libya and advanced further south. Regional and international interventions in Libya On the Arab League s stance on the regional and international interventions in Libya, Aboul-Gheit emphasised that the league position has always been “clear and consistent,” rejecting all forms of foreign interference in the Libyan crisis. “Libya is an important Arab country and an active member of the Arab League. The league cannot accept turning Libya into a scene for foreign military interventions or an outlet for achieving external agendas or regional ambitions," the secretary-general said. Aboul Gheit had told a League emergency ministerial meeting, held last month at the request of Egypt, that the situation in Libya has become "extremely dangerous.” He attributed this to the mounting “internationalization” of the Libyan conflict,” the increase in “foreign military interventions in the conflict,” the “recurrent violations of the arms embargo” and the “systematic recruitment of mercenaries and foreign fighters.” Calling for an end to the clashes, especially around the Libyan city of Sirte, Aboul-Gheit said a truce will only be achieved if there are clear rules and commitment to the exit of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya and the dismantling and demobilising of armed groups. "No one wants to repeat the Syrian scenario in Libya, and certainly there is an absolute Arab commitment to preserve the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Libyan state and its national unity," Aboul-Gheit said.
New satellite imagery shows the reservoir behind Ethiopia s disputed hydroelectric dam beginning to fill, but an analyst says it s likely due to seasonal rains instead of government action. The images emerge as Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan say the latest talks on the contentious project ended Monday with no agreement. Ethiopia has said it would begin filling the reservoir of the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam this month even without a deal, which would further escalate tensions. But the swelling reservoir, captured in imagery on July 9 by the European Space Agency s Sentinel-1 satellite, is likely a "natural backing-up of water behind the dam during this rainy season, International Crisis Group analyst William Davison told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "So far, to my understanding, there has been no official announcement from Ethiopia that all of the pieces of construction that are needed to be completed to close off all of the outlets and to begin impoundment of water into the reservoir have occurred, Davison said. But Ethiopia is on schedule for impoundment to begin in mid-July, he added, when the rainy season floods the Blue Nile. Ethiopian officials did not immediately comment Tuesday on the images. The latest setback in the three-country talks shrinks hopes that an agreement will be reached before Ethiopia begins filling the reservoir. Ethiopia says the colossal dam offers a critical opportunity to pull millions of its nearly 110 million citizens out of poverty and become a major power exporter. Downstream Egypt, which depends on the Nile to supply its farmers and booming population of 100 million with fresh water, asserts that the dam poses an existential threat. Years of talks with a variety of mediators, including the Trump administration, have failed to produce a solution. Last week s round, mediated by the African Union and observed by U.S. and European officials, proved no different. Experts fear that filling the dam without a deal could push the countries to the brink of military conflict. "Although there were progresses, no breakthrough deal is made, Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia s minister of water, irrigation and energy, tweeted overnight. "All of the efforts exerted to reach a solution didn t come to any kind of result, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Monday in an interview with Egypt s DMC TV channel. Shoukry warned that Egypt may be compelled to appeal again to the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the dispute, a prospect Ethiopia rejects, preferring regional bodies like the African Union to mediate. Meanwhile the countries agreed they would send their reports to the AU and reconvene in a week to determine next steps. Between Egypt and Ethiopia lies Sudan, which stands to benefit from the dam through access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding. But it has also raised fears over the dam s operation, which could endanger its own smaller dams, depending on the amount of water discharged daily downstream. In a press conference on Monday, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said the parties were "keen to find a solution but technical and legal disagreements persist over its filling and operation. Most important, he said, are the questions about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Hisham Kahin, a member of Sudan s legal committee in the dam negotiations, said 70% to 80% of negotiations turned on the question of whether an agreement would be legally binding.
Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ratified the appointment of new ambassadors to several foreign capitals, including Washington, local media reported on Monday. The president ratified the appointment of ambassadors Motaz Zahran to Washington, Alaa Youssef to Paris, and Mohamed Idris as Egypt s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. Zahran was Egypt s ambassador to Canada, while Youssef served as a presidential spokesman (2014-2017) before heading to Geneva as Egypt s permanent representative to the UN s European headquarters. Idris was Egypt s ambassador to Ethiopia before being named as the foreign minister s assistant for African affairs. He has served as Egypt s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York since 2018 and will remain in his post. Ambassador Ehab Gamal El-Din was also appointed as Egypt s Permanent Representative to the UN s Geneva headquarters, and Ambassador Yasser Hashem was appointed as consul to Melbourne, Australia. The reshuffle included the appointment of new ambassadors to Hong Kong, Uruguay, Poland, Peru, Thailand, Iraq, Singapore, Nepal, Panama, Cuba, Uganda, Nigeria, Guatemala, Switzerland, Mauritius, Finland, Cyprus, Ukraine, Austria, Netherlands, Tunisia, Zambia, Gabon and Burkina Faso.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi opened on Sunday the third stage of Al-Asmarat housing project in Moqattam, Cairo, which is being constructed as part of continued government efforts to combat informal settlements. Al-Asmarat 3 would become home to thousands of residential units with full utilities and facilities and a service complex that would serve around 100,000 people living in all three stages of the housing project. The third stage includes 7440 units and several facilities, including playgrounds, health units, a parking space accommodating 9,000 cars as well as plans to construct a church and mosque.
Egypt will not accept any incomprehensive deal over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that may disregard Egyptian concerns or fail to resolve major differences, Egypt s irrigation ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have been engaged in online talks sponsored by the African Union for nearly a week with the aim of reaching an accord over the mega-dam on the Blue Nile. Ethiopia announced it will begin filling the GERD reservoir this month. The Egyptian delegation told observers at the talks that Cairo “will not accept any incomplete phrasing [of a deal] that would not take into account Egyptian concerns or postpone discussion of contentious issues between the three countries,” the ministry said, adding that Egypt has presented multiple alternatives that had been rejected by Ethiopia. The ministry added that Ethiopia s continued adherence to its “rigid” stances on both the technical and legal aspects of the differences over the hydropower project shall “reduce the chances of reaching an agreement.” Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resumed talks last week in response to a call by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current AU chairperson. Observers representing the EU, the US, the AU and South Africa are attending the talks. The delegation of each country on Wednesday held bilateral meetings with the observers to discuss points of contention. The Egyptian negotiators voiced their concerns about Ethiopia s failure to address rules regulating the filling and operation of the GERD during drought, prolonged drought, and dry years. The fundamental points of differences also include the rules of the re-filling following prolonged drought, and the annual operation of the giant dam, which is being built near the Sudanese border. Egypt is also concerned about future projects on the Blue Nile, a main tributary of the Nile, and demands binding dispute settlement mechanisms, things that Addis Ababa has refused to include in a deal. Egypt says these points represent the “backbone of the technical and legal parts of the deal” for Cairo. Ethiopia is “holding on to the unilateral change of the operating rules [of the dam] in a unilateral manner and with an individual will, and these points remain a source of contention until now,” the ministry said. A government source speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly earlier this week said “the possibility of a deal emerging is unlikely”, while a negotiator in the Egyptian team said “no deal is better than a bad deal — we cannot sign to a deal that would compromise a strategic interest like water security.” The talks are scheduled to resume on Thursday before a final report on the outcomes is submitted to the African Union. Egypt s irrigation ministry spokesman Mohamed El-Sebai earlier said the talks may continue into Friday or Saturday.
Egypt s Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday that the recovery rate for coronavirus patients in isolation hospitals has risen to 28.1 percent, marking the highest level since the epidemic hit the country on 14 February. The ministry said that the total number of coronavirus recoveries nationwide has reached 21,718 so far. The health ministry s statement added that the country is currently witnessing a stable death rate of 4.5 percent for coronavirus patients. The first coronavirus fatality announced in Egypt was on 8 March. While it took the respiratory virus almost a month to reach 94 fatalities on 7 April, it took only 24 hours for the virus to claim 97 lives, the highest single-day death toll to date, on 15 May. The health minister said in a statement on 16 June that Egypt is among the countries with the lowest coronavirus death rates, adding that patients with chronic diseases have had the highest mortality rate. The minister added that 60 percent of the coronavirus fatalities in Egypt are in patients who are over 60 years old. Driven by economic concerns, Egypt began on 27 June to ease lockdown measures more than three months after they were imposed, lifting a nighttime curfew and allowing more businesses to reopen, including restaurants, coffee shops and cinemas.
Egypt, France, Germany and Jordan on Tuesday warned Israel against annexing parts of the Palestinian territories, saying that doing so could have consequences for bilateral relations. In a statement distributed by the German Foreign Ministry, the countries, including Israel s two leading partners in the Middle East, said their foreign ministers had discussed how to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. They, along with most other European countries, oppose Israeli plans that envisage annexing parts of the occupied West Bank as part of a peace deal that is promoted by the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump. The Palestinian Authority, which wants the West Bank for a future Palestinian state, opposes the move. The United States has yet to give its approval to the annexation plans. "We concur that any annexation of Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 would be a violation of international law and imperil the foundations of the peace process," the European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers said after their video conference. "We would not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders that are not agreed by both parties in the conflict," they added. "It could also have consequences for the relationship with Israel." Israel had no immediate response. But in a separate statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu s office said he had told British counterpart Boris Johnson on Monday that he was committed to Trump s "realistic" peace plan. "Israel is prepared to conduct negotiations on the basis of President Trump’s peace plan, which is both creative and realistic, and will not return to the failed formulas of the past," the statement said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will hold bilateral talks with his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki in Cairo on Monday, Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Rady said. Rady said El-Sisi and Afwerki will exchange viewpoints on developments in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea. They will also mull bilateral cooperation as part of special relationships between Egypt and Eritrea, Rady added. The Eritrean President arrived in the Egyptian capital late on Sunday for a three-day visit.
The newly-appointed heads of Egypt s press and media organisations were sworn in before parliament on Sunday. The list of heads, who were named by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on 22 June, include Karam Gabr, head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation; Abdel-Sadeq El-Shorbagi, head of the Higher Press Organisation; and Hussein Zein, head of the Higher Media Organisation. Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the procedure comes in line with the media and press laws, which stipulate that these heads take the constitutional oath before parliament ahead of exercising their duties. Abdel-Aal said the appointment of the new heads come at a very difficult time for Egypt’s national media and press organisations. "We have the coronavirus crisis which hit the national media and press organisations very hard, not to mention that Egypt faces very severe hostile media attacks and this requires the national media to stand firm in the face of these attacks,” said Abdel-Aal, telling the new media heads that “I think this is not an easy job but I am sure that you will do this job very sincerely and honestly.” Abdel-Aal described Gabr as one of the journalists who declared war against “the terrorist group,” a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, very early on. “This came through the weekly magazine of Rose El-Youssef which led the battle against the terrorist organisation,” he said, expressing hope that “the Egyptian national television and press organisations will be back playing a pioneering role in shaping in Arab public opinion.” “We need Egypt’s soft power to be used again to stand up to the media war we face,” said Abdel-Aal, adding that “I also hope that Egyptian radio stations broadcasting in African languages will come back.” Gabr commented: “Egypt needs the unity of all national forces because we are all partners in correcting misguided conceptions and enlightening the public opinion.” “I assure you that we will do our best to stand up to all negative practices and make sure that there is no media chaos in Egypt,” said Gabr, adding that “the coming period is very critical because Egypt will see the election of a new parliament and a new Senate.” Information Minister Osama Heikal said there will be greater cooperation between the state and press and media organisations in the coming period. “The problems facing the Egyptian media are at the top of the state’s priorities and we hope that we all will be able to solve them,” said Heikal. The minister also said that he and his family have fully recovered from the coronavirus. He had been in self-isolation after contracting the disease.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified Thursday four laws governing legislative elections, including a law on the formation of the Senate, the country’s new Upper house of parliament. The ratified laws include House of Representatives Law 46/2014, and two other laws on the Exercise of Political Rights (Law 45/2014) and the Performance of the National Election Committee (Law 198/2017). According to the Senate law, two thirds of the chamber will be elected in a direct secret ballot through a closed-list system and individual system, while the remaining third will be appointed by the president. The senate’s term lasts for five years. The Senate law also stipulates that women should have no less than 10 percent of Senate seats. The amendments to the House of Representative Law states that the number of the House s elected MPs shall stand at 568, instead of 540, in line with Article 102 of Egypt s 2019-amended constitution. According to Article 3 of the 2019 amendments to the House law, 50 percent of this number (284 MPs) will be elected via the individual system, and 50 percent (284 MPs) will be elected through the closed list system. The article also stipulates that 25 percent of the total number of the House s seats shall be reserved for women. The president shall be authorised to appoint no more than five percent of the total number of MPs. Meanwhile, Article 4 states that the individual candidacy system shall be implemented in a number of electoral districts, while the closed list system will be in application in four districts, two of which will elect 84 MPs (42 each) and two will elect 200 MPs (100 each). The House saw disagreements among representatives of political parties over the amendments to the election system that will regulate upcoming parliamentary elections before the changes were passed by a majority of MPs. The amendments to the laws on the Exercise of Political Rights and the Performance of the National Election Committee (NEC) state that the NEC shall decide on appeals filed on the results of the election within 24 hours, and in doing so it shall observe the requirements of integrity, neutrality and fairness of the ballot process. The sitting House of Representatives was elected in late 2015 for a five-year term. The final drafts of the laws governing legislative elections were drafted and submitted to the House for a vote in June by the parliamentary majority ‘Support Egypt’ coalition.
The official gazette on Tuesday published a decision by the prime minister for the establishment of a joint stock company for metro lines and rail transport management, operation and maintenance. Under the decision, the Ministry of Finance, the New Urban Communities Authority, the National Investment Bank and the National Authority for Tunnels, will establish the company together.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said in a statement on Tuesday that he vows to continue the battle for comstruction and to face domestic and external challenges “with the same determination” displayed during the 30 June Revolution. In a post on Facebook commemorating the seventh anniversary of the revolution, El-Sisi stressed that “Egypt is a nation that has made history and continues to make history on various fronts,” and said the country serves as an “inspiration for humanity.” The president also said that the revolution would “live in the memories of all generations due to what it instilled in terms of pride, dignity and patriotism, and for safeguarding the country’s identity from abduction.” “I renew the vow to continue our honorable battle to achieve development and face challenges both at home and abroad,” he said. On 30 June 2013, millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest the tumultous rule of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who had come to power in June 2012. Amid the mass protests against his rule, Morsi was removed from office on 3 July by a wide coalition of political forces, which set a roadmap for amending the country s constitution and holding new elections. Thursday, 2 July, will be a fully paid day off for governmental and private sector workers on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the 30 June revolution.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will inaugurate on Monday a number of national projects, including the new Sphinx International Airport as well as Heliopolis landmark Baron Empain Palace following the completion of its first-ever restoration. The ceremony, which El-Sisi is attending at Al-Galaa Theatre in Heliopolis, will also see the inauguration of the New Administrative Capital Airport and a number of projects in eastern Cairo. Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly presented plans for the development of Khedivial Cairo, which began with the renovation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other areas, including the Maspero Triangle and the Magra El-Oyoun aqueduct, which is set to serve as a tourist attraction. Madbouly said that the size of development projects carried out by Egypt in the past six years totaled EGP 4.5 trillion ($278 billion). The PM said that Egypt continues to achieve the best growth rates in the Middle East and North Africa despite the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic on global growth rates. He said the global economy is seeing a recession due to the pandemic, with a negative growth rate amid a plunge in tourism traffic globally. Madbouly said that Egypt’s growth rate had reached 5.9 percent before the crisis, but the forecasted growth rate now stands at 4 percent by the end of fiscal year 2019/2020, which is still the highest in the region. The PM said that the size of government investments in fiscal year 2020/2021, which begins on 1 July, is estimated at EGP 400 billion, adding that the state also seeks the restoration of around 1.2 million feddans in the upcoming period to help achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural resources. The state has allocated EGP 15 billion in the telecommunications sector in the upcoming financial year to upgrade the sector’s infrastructure and scale up the services provided to citizens, Madbouly said. By August, more e-services will be provided to citizens through the government’s digital portal, he said, adding that the government aims to provide 155 online services by the end of 2020. Revival of the Baron Empain Palace President El-Sisi attended the inauguration of the long-dormant Baron Empain Palace in Heliopolis following a restoration process that took over two years. The palace is designated as a tourist destination as well as a historical exhibition on the history of Heliopolis. The restoration work on the mansion, originally built in 1911, was carried out in collaboration with the Armed Forces Engineering Authority and the Arab Contractors Company on a budget of more than EGP 100 million. Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany said the inauguration of the palace is important for the country’s tourism sector, adding that the opening reaffirms that “Egypt does not forget its history.” Egypt will gradually resume regular international flights at all its airports starting 1 July. Foreign tourists will only be allowed into three coastal governorates as part of tour groups, which aims to make up for the losses the vital sector has suffered amid the pandemic. Egypt hopes that the resumption of regular flights starting next month will boost its ailing tourism sector, an essential source of foreign currency. Minister El-Anany said that the country is currently bracing for the gradual resumption of tourism on Wednesday to three governorates under strict preventive measures. El-Anany said 400 hotels nationwide have received the necessary health safety certificates to reopen and receive tourists at a reduced occupancy, praising support provided by the finance ministry and the Central Bank of Egypt to help aid a sector hit heavily by the pandemic. New airports inaugurated The Egyptian president also attended the inauguration of two new airports: Sphinx International Airport (SPX) and the New Administrative Capital Airport, both of which aim to alleviate pressure on Cairo International Airport, which is in the eastern side of the capital. The SPX, which is part of the government s plan to stimulate tourism to the country, had opened its doors in 2019 as part of a trial operation. The airport aims to serve the Greater Cairo districts of 6 October and Sheikh Zayed, as well as the governorates of Fayoum and Beni Suef. It also aims to serve tourists coming to visit the pyramids and the anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which is around 90 percent complete. The SPX, built with a budget of EGP 300 million, has been dubbed the “300 passenger airport” in reference to its accommodation capacity per hour. The New Administrative Capital Airport was also inaugurated under a plan to connect the areas of East Cairo, Shorouk and Badr cities, as well as the Suez Canal cities. The airport will have the capacity to accommodate 300 passengers per hour, with 45 buildings around the place and a main terminal of over 5,000 square meters of space, which will help ease the load on the capital’s main airport.
Two Egyptian members of parliament were diagnosed with coronavirus on Saturday and Sunday, including Abdel-Rehim Ali, an independent MP representing Dokki, Giza, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 while on a trip to Paris. Ali, a researcher on political Islam, left Cairo for Paris last week to attend a conference on the Libyan crisis. A statement issued by Abdel-Rehim s office on Sunday morning said he had a high fever on Saturday night and was taken to a private hospital in Paris, where he tested positive for the virus on Sunday morning. "He is currently receiving treatment in the intensive care unit," the statement said. Hiatham El-Hariri, a leftist MP representing Karmouz, Alexandria, has also tested positive for the coronavirus. In a Facebook statement on Friday evening, El-Hariri said "on Wednesday morning, I had mild fever so I did some tests… On Thursday morning, I [suffered from] fatigue and headed to a fever hospital where I tested positive for COVID-19." A total of 11 Egyptian MPs have so far been diagnosed with coronavirus. Parliament spokesperson Salah Hasaballah told Al-Ahram Online that six of the infected MPs have been admitted to isolation hospitals. "They have almost recovered and five of them have left the hospital," said Hassaballah, adding that "we have other three MPs who preferred home isolation and their general conditions are now stable." Hassaballah said "the infection of 11 MPs will not stop parliament from holding its plenary sessions scheduled for next week, on Sunday 5 July." "Despite the infections, we were able to discuss and pass the 2020/21 budget and development plan, as well as five election laws," said Hassaballah, adding that "next week, parliament will discuss new draft laws on taxes, intellectual property rights and other economic issues." Egypt has been witnessing a steady increase in coronavirus cases, with the total infections until Saturday recording 63,923 and deaths reaching 2,708. Starting this week, Egypt has lifted a number of restrictions in place since March, including lifting a nighttime curfew and reopening restaurants, coffee shops, and some cultural and social venues, albeit under new hygiene and safety restrictions.
Sudan said in a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday that it is “deeply concerned” about Ethiopia’s decision to start filling its controversial dam on the Blue Nile without prior agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan. Egypt s southern neighbour urged the international body to "discourage" all parties from any “unilateral action." In its three-page letter, which was seen by Ahram Online, Khartoum said the unilateral filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will put the operation of the Sudanese Roseires dam, whose reservoir is located 15 km away from the Ethiopian dam, and the lives of millions of people living downstream at "a very high risk." "Sudan is deeply concerned about Ethiopia s decision to start filling the GERD reservoir in the absence of an agreement," said the letter by Sudan’s Foreign Minister Asmaa Mohamed Abdallah. Khartoum called upon Cairo and Addis Ababa to adopt a draft agreement it proposed during talks earlier this month as a basis for finalising a deal. The agreement would regulate the filling and long-term operation of the GERD and adopt drought mitigation and safety measures. Sudan s letter to the UNSC came after Egypt sent a letter to the Security Council on 19 June requesting its intervention to resolve the dam dispute with Ethiopia. Egypt s letter to the Security Council came after talks stalled last week and Addis Ababa declared it will go ahead with the filling of the dam in July, even without a deal. In its letter to the UNSC, Khartoum said that despite the potential positive impacts of the Ethiopian dam on Sudan, including increased hydropower generation and better management of the country’s irrigation system, the project can carry “substantial risks” without an agreement regulating its operation and filling. Those negative impacts include threatening the operational safety of Sudanese dams and the flood-plain agricultural system of Khartoum as well as possible socioeconomic and environmental harms, it said. Khartoum believes "there has to be an agreement in place with Ethiopia on how it intends to fill and operate GERD, otherwise the GERD stands to cause substantial risks to Sudan." Sudan said the GERD "will completely change the flow regime of the Blue Nile" by flattening its hydrograph and with its gigantic size it "can poses substantial negative impacts on Sudan if not properly designed, constructed, filled and operated." Such harmful impacts, Sudan says, would "threaten the lives and safety of millions of Sudanese citizens." Khartoum told the UNSC that the draft agreement it submitted on 14 June to Egypt and Ethiopia has successfully brought divergent views closer. The agreement was based on the consensus reached during Washington talks - that stalled in mid-February - as well as the output of previous discussions throughout the past years. Despite what Sudan sees as "significant" technical progress, it emphasised that divergence on some "fundamental legal issues" still persisted. Egypt, however, stated that disagreements were not merely related to the legal terms but also included technical issues, including regulating the operation of the dam during drought and extended drought. Among the legal disputed terms that Sudan mentioned in its letter is the "binding nature of the agreement", Ethiopia’s insistence to include water-sharing issues in the agreement, and a lack of a binding dispute resolution mechanism. Khartoum s proposed agreement of 14 June "ensured that the agreement to be signed will be legally binding and cannot be amended or terminated without the agreement of all three parties." However, Sudan s letter said Ethiopia proposed a document of "guidelines" that can be revised and in some cases terminated. Ethiopia s insistence not to commit to a legally-binding agreement was previously highlighted by the Egyptian irrigation ministry which said Ethiopia insisted on drafting “guiding rules that [it] can unilaterally amend." Egypt said the recent talks between the water ministers of the three countries “have made little progress" due to Ethiopia’s "intransigent positions" on both the technical and legal aspects of the deal. Khartoum proposed at the end of last week s negotiations the referral of pending legal issues to the prime ministers of the three countries to allow the negotiations to resume. Sudan urged the UNSC to call upon the three countries to “demonstrate their political will and commitment by resolving the remaining issues and to conclude an agreement.” "The draft is comprehensive, fair, and balanced and it paves the way for concluding a comprehensive and final deal," Sudan said describing its draft agreement, adding that with the political will and commitment from the parties "we can conclude this historic agreement."
See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. (Jeremiah 21:8) There are two paths before man that he must choose whichever he walks in. The difficult leads to eternal life while the easy way leads to death. HG Bishop Benjamin of Menoufia in his article “The Path Between the Wide and the Narrow” explained to us that the narrow path is the path that the Lord Jesus recommended to us, saying: