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Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The big red line

El Sisi issues a sharp warning to Ethiopia on GERD: Threatening access to the Nile’s water is a “red line” for Egypt, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi warned Ethiopia yesterday, as it plans to go ahead with the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in a few months’ time. Speaking during a presser to mark the freeing of the Ever Given container ship, El Sisi said that Ethiopia will not be allowed to take “a single drop” of water from Egypt, and warned that further attempts to disrupt the Nile’s flow will cause “inconceivable instability” in the region (watch, runtime 2:29).

The region’s stability is “dependent on Egypt’s response to Ethiopia’s intransigence” on the issue, the president stressed, saying he’s not making threats but is rather reiterating the importance of reaching a binding agreement.

Addis Ababa reiterated in recent weeks that it will go ahead with the second phase of filling the GERD during the rainy season in July and August without an agreement with Egypt and Sudan. It also continued to oppose Cairo and Khartoum’s proposition to bring in the EU, US, UN, and African Union to help mediate an agreement.

We’re not out of ammo, pundits say: Egypt hasn’t been “backed into a corner” and still has other options to resolve the impasse, political commentator Mostafa El Fekky told Yahduth fi Misr’s Sherif Amer. El Fekky declined to say what these options could entail, but pointed out that Egypt has shown patience in the entire negotiating process and doesn’t particularly want to resort to a military confrontation (watch, runtime: 5:19). Meanwhile, we have the backing of much of the international community, in large part thanks to El Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s ongoing campaigns to rally international support by meeting with international leaders over the past several months, former diplomat Hany Khalaf tells Al Mashhad’s Amr Abdel Hamid (watch, runtime: 3:19).

Foreign press coverage: El Sisi’s remarks were one of his “strongest” in response to the issue, Bloomberg and the Associated Press said. Reuters also took note of the story.

The talking heads said much of the same, with Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi saying El Sisi’s statement was “the most important” one he has made on the matter to date (watch, runtime: 7:03), while Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa lauded the president for signaling to Ethiopia that Egypt doesn’t respond well to threats (watch, runtime: 8:50).

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