Around the World on 21 March
Egypt is “concerned” about the latest developments in the fraught negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said during the high-level meeting on water at the UN General Assembly on Thursday, two days after Ethiopia signaled readiness to return to the negotiating table — just not with international mediators. Madbouly called for effective negotiations sponsored by the African Union and an active participation from the international community to reach a binding agreement before the upcoming flood season. Egypt’s annual share of water is 560 cubic meters per person, well below the 1k cubic meter threshold for water scarcity, he noted.
The situation in Libya and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam were on the agenda for a phone call between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to an Ittihadiya statement.
IN DIPLOMACY: Egypt and the US’ defense relationship is “critical” to the security of the Middle East, Centcom Strategy, Plans and Policy Director Major General Scott Benedict said during a three day visit to Egypt which concluded Friday, according to a US embassy statement. Benedict’s visit came during joint naval exercises in the Red Sea and a month after the US signed off on a USD 197 mn arms sale last month, despite a rhetorical escalation from the Biden administration over Egypt’s human rights record.
Also worth knowing this morning:
- Houthi rebels attacked Saudi Arabia’s Aramco refinery on Friday, the latest escalation in the group’s attempts to damage the kingdom’s energy infrastructure, Bloomberg reports.
- The UAE and Israel are having their first diplomatic rift since normalizing relations last year, with Emirati officials limiting formal contact with their Israeli counterparts and canceling a bilateral summit over Benjamin Netanyahu’s use of the Gulf state in his ongoing election campaign, the Times of Israel and the FT report.