Egypt's 'misuse' of the Arab League only escalates Nile dispute, Ethiopia warns  

A section of River Nile passing through Jinja in Uganda.

Ethiopia says that a resolution adopted by the recent Summit of the League of Arab States would only escalate the long-standing Nile water dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt.

In a statement, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that "Ethiopia notes with dismay that the resolution adopted by the recent Summit of the League of Arab States echoed Egyptian hostile rhetoric regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)"

Addis Ababa's response comes few days after leaders of the Arab League States meeting in Saudi Arabia told Ethiopia to refrain from taking unilateral actions that would harm water interests of Egypt and Sudan.

The Arab leaders told Ethiopia to halt filling and operation of the dam untill they have a binding agreement.

The league warned against any action that would affect the two downstream countries' rights to the Nile, stating that "Egypt and Sudan's water security is part of the Arab water security."

Ethiopia said the league's decision undermines the African Union and its member states ongoing efforts to resolve the Nile dispute.

"The resolution is an affront to the African Union and its Member States, which are working to bring an amicable negotiated resolution to the long standing nile dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan" 

"It also runs contrary to the cherished and shared history of the peoples of Africa and the Arab world" the Ethiopian statement added.

According to Ethiopia, the details of dam filling, including the volume and duration, have been agreed upon between the experts of the three countries.

"Throughout the process, going out of its way, Ethiopia has catered to the concerns of Egypt and Sudan.  Ethiopia is and will continue to act respecting the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of the waters of the Nile" said Ethiopia.

Thus, the ministry stated that the allegation that Ethiopia has taken unilateral measures is a deliberate mischaracterisation.  

"Egypt's attempts to exert pressure on Ethiopia by using the Arab League forum represent its lack of good faith and violation of the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles it concluded with Ethiopia and Sudan"

According to the statement, Ethiopia works closely with Sudan on all bilateral matters, including regarding the GERD.

Ethiopia commended those Member States of the League of Arab States that cautioned against Egypt's attempts to escalate the matter.

"Ethiopia is confident that members of the League, particularly the Member States of the African Union, will disassociate themselves from this resolution.  They should prevent Egypt's further misuse of the League that could potentially create a rift in the longstanding African-Arab friendship and historic relations," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlined.

Ethiopia further called upon Egypt to abandon its unlawful claim to the monopoly of the Nile River, citing defunct colonial agreements and a colonial-mentality-based position to negotiate in good faith and reach a win-win outcome.

"Egypt should also act responsibly to lay the foundation for future generations of all the Nile River basin countries to nurture friendship and cooperation based on mutual respect" the statement said.

Despite Egyptian concerns and repeated warnings, Ethiopia, however, vows to continue filling the massive multi-billion dollar dam, which would be Africa's largest once completed.

Ethiopia is preparing to conduct the fourth filling of the dam's 74 billion cubic meters reservoir during coming rainy season which begins next month.

In March, Addis Ababa said that it will continues to fill and operate the GERD in accordance with the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles of March 2015 signed between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan, with full respect to the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization of transboundary water resources.

Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in talks for about a decade over the dam, after Addis Ababa broke ground on the project in 2011.

Cairo and Khartoum fear that the mega-dam project would eventually diminish their historic water shares from the Nile River hence consider the Ethiopian dam as a threat to their water security.

They insist Ethiopia halts water filling operations until the parties reach a legally binding agreement with Ethiopia on the overall operation of the dam.

Addis Ababa, however, argues that the dam will not have a significant impact on the natural water flow into the downstream countries.


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