ISMAILA, Egypt (AP) – Egypt’s president said on Tuesday that his country’s part of the Nile was “untouchable” by a stern warning that clearly applies to Ethiopia, which is building a huge dam on the Nile’s main tributary.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s comments come amid a stalemate in years of negotiations over the Nile Basin, which includes Sudan.
During a press conference, al-Sisi warned of “instability in the region that no one can imagine” if the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is filled and operated without a legally binding agreement.
“No one can take a drop of water from Egypt. Whoever wants to try, let him try,” he said. “No one imagines that it will be far from our capabilities.”
El-Sissi did not mention Ethiopia in his speech, which was the strongest dispute between the Egyptian authorities in recent years.
The media officer of the Ethiopian embassy in Cairo, LM officer, refused to comment on Al-Sisi’s words.
The Egyptian leader was decisive in discussing the dam dispute at a press conference in the city of Ismailia in the Sumes canal. He visited the Carrow, West-West waterway after it reopened on Monday. It was closed for six days after the corrugated container ship sank.
“I repeat that the waters of Egypt are inviolable, touching them is a red line,” he said.
However, al-Sisi said his country was prioritizing talks to resolve the dispute until Ethiopia continued to fill the dam’s huge reservoir during this year’s rainy season. Andis Ababa began filling the reservoir last July, a move that has been widely criticized by Egypt and Sudan.
“Our battle is a battle of negotiations,” he said, adding that Cairo was seeking a legally binding agreement based on the rules of international law governing transboundary rivers.
“We are serious about making a profit (deal) for everyone, no one is going to get everything alone,” he said.
Al-Sisi said a new round of talks was expected in the coming weeks. He did not specify whether international players would join the talks as mediators, as demanded by Khartoum and Cairo.
Ethiopia has rejected an Egyptian-backed Sudanese proposal to internationalize the dispute, involving the United States, the United Nations and the European Union as mediators in African Union-mediated negotiations.
The dispute focuses on the rate of filling the planned reservoir behind the dam, its annual recharge method, and how much water Ethiopia will release downstream in the event of a multi-year drought. Another point of difference is how the three countries will resolve further disputes.
Egypt and Sudan demand a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, while Ethiopia insists on the guidelines.
Egypt is basically a desert country that depends on the Nile for almost all its water needs. It is feared that rapid flooding will drastically reduce the flow of the Nile, with potentially severe consequences for its agriculture and other sectors.
Ethiopia says a $ 5 billion dam is needed, arguing that the vast majority of its population has no electricity. The dam will generate more than 6,400 megawatts of electricity, which is a big boost for the country’s current 4,000 megawatt generation.
Sudan wants the Ethiopian system to exchange data on the operation of the dam to avoid flooding, to protect its own dams on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile. The Blue Nile meets the White Nile in central Sudan. The Nile winds from there to the north through Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.