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Tuesday, 13 July 2021

MPs authorize El Sisi to do whatever it takes to solve GERD

Lawmakers have authorized President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to do whatever is necessary to protect Egypt’s water security from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Youm7 reports. The mandate appears to allow the presidency to take any measure he chooses — up to and including military action — to mitigate the dam’s threat to Egypt’s water supply. MPs quoted by the paper said it is important that El Sisi is able to act at his discretion to solve the crisis, and said that the Egyptian people are against Ethiopia’s filling of the dam and support measures being taken to prevent it.

A dead-end at the UN: The move comes a few days after Egypt and Sudan failed to get the backing of the UN Security Council on the GERD. The two countries spent much of last week lobbying the council to condemn Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the dam and pressure it to return to the negotiating table with different mediators. But in a meeting last Thursday, members declined to take Egypt’s side, instead reiterating their support for the current African Union-led process and calling on all sides to re-enter talks. The president hasn’t made any public statements about the GERD crisis since the meeting.

The Europeans don’t sound like they’re about to flex their diplomatic muscle: In a statement yesterday, EU foreign ministers expressed “regret” that Ethiopia had chosen to continue filling the dam and called its actions “unhelpful,” but refrained from taking a stronger position on the dispute. Ministers appeared to rule out acting as mediators in the dispute, and instead expressed support for the AU process, calling on all three sides to resume talks.

The EU has been Egypt’s latest focus: Shoukry has been in Brussels for the past two days holding talks with European foreign ministers, European Council president Charles Michel, and Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. El Sisi is also scheduled to visit Brussels soon, Shoukry told Al Ghad TV last night (watch, runtime 7:00).

So back to the AU? The AU will present new ideas for resuming the negotiating process and resolving the impasse, Shoukry said during a separate interview on Ala Mas’ouleety last night (watch, runtime 16:18).

Why Russia and China didn’t back us: Al Shorouk Editor-in-Chief Emad El Din Hussein told Al Kahera Wal Nas last night that Russia’s neutral position at the council was surprising, but suggested that its trying to expand its influence in Ethiopia as part of great power competition with the US (watch, runtime 10:11). As for China, Hussein noted that many of Ethiopia’s developmental projects are being carried out by Chinese companies, and that Beijing prefers to keep the GERD issue away from the council because of this.

GERD is getting attention in the foreign press this morning, with articles in the National and the UK Independent warning that Egypt and Sudan are running out of diplomatic options after the UN Security Council last week refused to condemn Ethiopia’s unilateral filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The two countries had few backers on the council, with Russia warning them against “escalation of confrontational rhetoric,” and the US hesitant to get involved in the issue. This, analysts say, may force Cairo and Khartoum to either reenter negotiations on Ethiopia’s terms or take military action.

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