Last Night’s Talk Shows on 24 March 2021
Diplomacy and foreign policy matters took center stage on the airwaves last night, as the talking heads fixated on the growing urgency to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam impasse. We have more on this in Around the World, below.
The consensus: Addis Ababa is buying time by dragging out the negotiations with Sudan and Egypt until it completes the dam’s second filling, which will essentially make the dam an unchallengeable fact on the ground for its downstream neighbors. Among those expressing this view: Political commentator Mostafa El Fekky in his weekly policy discussion with Yahduth fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 3:34).
Ethiopia is also conflating its tensions with Sudan over their border with the GERD negotiations and is trying to provoke Khartoum into an open conflict, which is a real possibility, El Fekky said (watch, runtime: 4:33). Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed claims he’s not looking for conflict with Sudan, says Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 9:01). Sudan, meanwhile, has only recently shifted its position on the dam to align with Egypt, after previously taking Ethiopia’s side, head of the Nile Basin research division at Al‑Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Amer. Khartoum’s policy shift is largely because of Ethiopia’s recent moves to fill the dam unilaterally, which led Sudan to realize the magnitude of the dam’s threat (watch, runtime: 4:14).
Is Egypt looking to launch a media campaign on the matter? The Supreme Media Council hosted a roundtable discussion yesterday with Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty and media representatives to reiterate that Egypt has been “flexible” with Ethiopia so far and does not want to stand in the way of its development plans. The two sides agreed to set up a permanent committee mandated with issuing statements on the dam and surrounding negotiations. Among those taking note: Ala Masouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 4:15), Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 2:35), and Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan (watch, runtime: 3:17).