Sisi sought new allies in the war over the Nile’s waters with Ethiopia.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited Egypt for three days this week at the request of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, seeking deeper cooperation with Cairo in a variety of areas, including infrastructure, energy, health, and agriculture.
Although the visit seemed to be mostly for commercial purposes, it demonstrated the Egyptian strongman’s expanding clout in the area as he seeks new friends in the war over the Nile’s waters with Ethiopia.
According to Horn of Africa analysts, Egypt’s strong outreach in eastern Africa is mostly about regaining lost diplomatic ground and ensuring good ties with upstream riparian nations.
During the tenure of Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa from 1991 to 1995, the Egyptians were generally isolated and outmanoeuvred in the area after Mr. Meles assembled a wide coalition in support of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (Gerd): Reversing the isolation has been a priority for the Sisi government.
Egypt is now eager to have the East African Community members, who are also Nile Basin nations and parties to the 2010 Co-operative Framework Agreement (CFA), commonly known as the Entebbe Agreement, on its side. Six of the ten Nile Basin Initiative countries signed the CFA: Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Burundi. Cairo refused to acknowledge it.
To accomplish his aim, the Egyptian leader seems to have chosen soft power, cultivating increased commercial, military, and infrastructural cooperation with the target nations.
According to a communiqué from the Egyptian presidency, the Gerd was at the top of the agenda of conversations this week between presidents Sisi and Samia, who promised to “improve collaboration” between Egypt and Tanzania on the problem.
President Sisi said at a joint news conference that Egypt is seeking to safeguard its water rights via a fair and legally enforceable deal with Ethiopia. He said that he is seeking a settlement in line with international law and the September UN Security Council mandate for the restart of discussions between the protagonists, Ethiopia on the one hand and Egypt and Sudan on the other.
An deal on the GERD, according to President Sisi, will “improve security and stability for all nations in the area and create new vistas for cooperation among Nile Basin countries.”
President Samia commended Egypt’s involvement in Tanzania’s ambitious development plan, which includes the $2.9 billion Julius Nyerere dam on the Rufiji River, which is being built by two Egyptian businesses in collaboration with the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco).
While Egyptian diplomats refused to discuss Cairo’s East African strategy (questions to them went unanswered), President Sisi stated unequivocally that the Tanzania project “is an example of Egypt’s support for the rights of Nile Basin countries to make the best use of their water resources in a way that does not impact other countries.” “..
Egypt and Tanzania inked a deal in January 2018 to create the $2.9 billion project, which is estimated to produce 2,115MW of electricity. Arab Contractors and El-Sewedy Electric, both Egyptian firms, began building in mid-2019, and the project is expected to be completed by 2022.
The project comprises the building of the concrete portion of the main dam, as well as four supplementary dams that create a 33 billion cubic metre water reservoir and a hydroelectric power producing facility.
According to experts, President Sisi’s soft power strategy in the Gerd case is driven by the realization that sabre-rattling would no longer be effective in stopping the project. Ethiopia has continued to build the dam and is determined to finish it, and Cairo may not be able to rely on its friends, America and the Gulf nations, on this issue.
For the United States and Europe, Ethiopia is the key partner in East Africa in the fight against terrorism. Kenya is another example.
Despite its condemnation for its dismal human-rights record, the United States has been an ally of President Sisi, with former President Donald Trump referring to him as his “favorite dictator.” According to the Washington Post, the US State Department authorized the sale of $200 million in missiles to Egypt’s military in February.
For over a decade, the US Secretary of State has waived parts of a statute that condition the delivery of $300 million in Egyptian military funding on substantial human rights improvement in Egypt – a portion of the $1.3 billion in foreign military finance Washington provides Cairo each year.
According to the Post, authorities stated that $170 million would be transferred to Egypt under a legal exemption for counterterrorism, border security, and non-proliferation goods. Activists urge the Biden administration to put the proposal on hold. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both Gulf allies, have business interests in Ethiopia’s agricultural industry and import food from the area. According to Tobias von Lossow and Stephan Roll of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in their paper Egypt’s Nile Water Policy under Sisi: Security Interests Promote Rapprochement with Ethiopia, political pressure on Addis Ababa to abandon its water infrastructure expansion cannot be expected from those quarters.
As a result, they argue, there is no benefit for Egypt in internationalizing the struggle. That means the negotiation table is no longer available.
“By adopting a moderate stance on the Nile, Sisi intends to establish bilateral ties [with Addis] in other policy sectors.” Egypt has consistently highlighted the possibilities for further economic cooperation in recent months. And, at least since 2010, there has been a rise in trade and investment flows. Politically powerful Egyptian firms such as Qalaa Holdings and El-Sewedy Electric have made major investments in Ethiopia and are therefore likely to press in Cairo for an improvement in political ties,” the two analysts believe.
According to Egypt’s State Information Service, Egypt and Tanzania have enjoyed significant connections since 1964. Tanzania, led by Jakaya Kikwete, declared political support for the June 30, 2013 revolution that overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood’s authority. Tanzania, represented by then-Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, also attended President Sisi’s inauguration ceremony in June 2014, and President Sisi’s visit to Tanzania in August 2017 was a watershed moment in their relationship since it was the first visit by an Egyptian official since 1967. He’d been to Kenya earlier that year.
President Sisi has directed Arab Contractors and El-Sewedy to finish and execute outstanding work on the Julius Nyerere dam and hydropower station. Observers are aware of his enthusiasm in the project, notwithstanding the halted Gerd discussions. Ethiopia views the dam as a critical project for economic growth. Egypt is concerned that the GERD would have an impact on its portion of the Nile River, which provides more than 90 percent of its potable water and irrigation requirements.
The disagreement was brought before the UN Security Council earlier this year as the two nations sought international assistance to put pressure on Addis Abeba to address the matter, which has stoked regional security worries, but discussions have stagnated. Ethiopia is slated to begin the third stage of Gerd filling this month, but the present political upheaval may disrupt preparations, offering Sudan and Egypt respite – for the time being.
Egypt has been recognized as a shadow in the Horn of Africa problems, particularly in Ethiopia — and even in Sudan. According to Magdi el-Gizouli, a Sudanese analyst at the Rift Valley Institute, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have supported Sudan’s coup leaders, commanded by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. In 2013, the two Gulf monarchs played a critical role in bolstering President Sisi’s government. According to experts, any possibility of restoring Sudan’s democratic prospects may include placing pressure on Arab nations.
“The Gulf monarchies and Egypt, which have built the closest connections with Burhan and the military of any foreign countries, should push authorities to exhibit moderation rather than resort to indiscriminate force,” the International Crisis Group recently said in a policy statement.
Since then, the two Arab countries have joined the United States in condemning the military takeover of power on October 25, which disrupted a fragile transition to democracy in which power was shared with a civilian arm led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was deposed, detained, and placed under house arrest.
The Tigray crisis
However, Cairo is also facing charges of involvement in the Tigray unrest in northern Ethiopia, which threatens to destabilize reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. In 2016 and this year, Addis accused Egypt of supporting insurgents, claims that Cairo rejects.
Ethiopia’s ambassador to Egypt, Markos Tekle, indicated in October that the embassy in Cairo will be closed for “the next three to six months to minimize expenditures.” “..
He said the decision had nothing to do with Ethiopia’s long-running conflict with Egypt and Sudan over the project. Ethiopia flooded the dam for the second time in July, despite warnings from Cairo and Khartoum.
Since Ethiopia commenced ground on the Gerd in 2011, it has been in the center of a regional debate. Because of their reliance on Nile freshwater, Egypt and Sudan see the project as a danger, but Ethiopia sees it as critical to its electrification and prosperity. The $4.2 billion project will generate more than 5,000MW of power, making it Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam and more than tripling Ethiopia’s electrical production.
Ethiopia had projected an initial production of roughly 6,500MW but eventually decreased its objective.
According to Addisu Lashitew of the Brookings Institution in Washington, the dam serves as a uniting symbol.
“It’s one of the few things in Ethiopia that brings people from all walks of life together.” “He told the Washington Post about it. “Definitely”
Coiled from The East Africa