The agency said in a report to independent risk advisor, Timothy Caldas, that an agreement on the dam construction project that the United States brokered had ended in failure, and a “bitter” war of words between Egypt and Ethiopia erupted.
With the world preoccupied with the outbreak of the deadly Corona epidemic, the crisis between the countries involved in the Renaissance Dam – notably Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan – will increase in intensity, as Caldas believes.
Ethiopia is building the Renaissance Dam about 30 km from the eastern border of Sudan with a capacity of 74 million cubic meters, amid Egyptian fears that it will affect its share of the Nile River’s water amounting to 55.5 billion cubic meters.
The negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over the giant Renaissance Dam – hosted by the US Treasury in Washington – seemed somewhat promising at first, as the parties concerned announced in a joint statement issued last January that they agreed on a timetable for filling the dam of the lake on the Blue Nile.
As long as the agreement on a timetable for filling the dam has been a matter of dispute between the three parties (Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan), Ethiopia wants to fill it within three years so that it can generate the electric energy needed for local consumption and export the surplus.
Whereas the filling process will reduce the flows of the Blue Nile towards the downstream countries – Sudan and Egypt – Cairo sees the need to extend the period of time for filling the dam to 15 years, to reduce, as far as possible, the effects of the decrease in the quantities of water reaching it during the process of filling the lake.
Despite the optimism expressed by the US Treasury Secretary, “Stephen Mnuchin,” that a final agreement on the outstanding contentious issues could be reached, Ethiopia surprised everyone by failing to attend the last round of negotiations in Washington last month, and engaged in a war of words with both the United States and Egypt.
The Ethiopians say they will go ahead with the mobilization of Lake Dam without an agreement, but “Mnuchin” warned them not to do so until an agreement is signed in this regard, but the Ethiopian Foreign Minister, “Guido Andargashio” condemned the statements of the American minister and considered his statement “non-diplomatic.”
For its part, Cairo announced that it would use all available means to defend the interests of its people, prompting senior leaders of the Ethiopian army to warn that they would take revenge if the dam was attacked by any military.
Although the details of the US proposal were not revealed – as Timothy Caldas said in his report – some reports indicate that Egypt feels under pressure to make more concessions than it expected.
It is widely believed that the United States proposes 37 billion cubic meters as a compromise.
The renewed dispute between the negotiating parties comes at a time when the US mediator’s attention is diverted to the crisis of the Corona virus, and just two weeks ago, US President Donald Trump pledged to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that the United States would continue “tirelessly” its mediation until an agreement was reached.
But US Treasury’s efforts are now directed toward combating the aftermath of the deadly Corona epidemic, it may not be able to resolve the dispute over the Renaissance Dam.
Cairo fears that Addis Ababa will see Washington’s preoccupation with the Corona epidemic as an opportunity for it to continue its strategy to impose the fait accompli on my downstream country.