EGYPT PULSE of Al-Monitor of September 24, 2019, reports that Ethiopia again rejects Egypt’s vision for Renaissance Dam. It is written by Ayah Aman. In the article summary, the author explains how “After more than a year of stalled negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Egypt’s diplomatic moves at the regional and international levels seem to have led nowhere.”
CAIRO — Egypt has initiated several international diplomatic moves expressing its deep concern about what it says is Ethiopia’s stalling and failure to reach a comprehensive agreement on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which it sees as a threat to its water supply.
This comes after a year and four months’ lull in negotiations, since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Cairo in June 2018 and repeated after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the famous oath, “I swear to God, we will not cause any harm to Egypt’s Nile water.”
Technical, political and security negotiation rounds have been taking place for more than four years now, since the presidents of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed the Declaration of Principles in March 2015. At the time, the declaration was seen as a breakthrough in the crisis, which continues to go unresolved. Since then, Sisi has made many statements seeking to allay the Egyptian public’s fears about the dam. In January 2018, he announced the crisis with Ethiopia was over and said there were several paths to a solution.
Yet just this month, on Sept. 14, his statements at the annual National Youth Conference were alarming. Speaking of the dam construction that started in 2011, Sisi said Egypt has been “paying since 2011 for one mistake … a price we’ve paid and will continue to pay.” He asserted, “Dams would not have been built on the River Nile … was it not for 2011,” in reference to the January 2011 Revolution.
Responding to a question concerning the dam at the “Ask the President” session held on the sidelines of the Youth Conference, Sisi recalled the Iraqi water shortage after the fall of the Iraqi state. He said, “Iraq in 1990 received 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water, but now it only receives 30 bcm.”
In early September, Egypt had launched official diplomatic efforts with other countries.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry briefed foreign ministers attending a Sept. 10 Arab League meeting in Cairo on the difficulties marring the dam negotiations. He said Ethiopia has been inflexible recently and has even attempted to manipulate the situation. Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said at a press conference that day that the Arab ministers had expressed solidarity in protecting Egypt’s water supply, which they agree is an integral part of overall Arab security.
As well, during a Sept. 12 meeting with ambassadors of European countries to Cairo, Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs Ambassador Hamdi Loza briefed them on the latest developments regarding the dam and stressed Egypt’s uneasiness over the extended length of negotiations. A statement by the ministry after the meeting said Ethiopia has demonstrated “an insistence to impose a unilateral vision while disregarding the interests of others’ interests and without giving due diligence to avoiding damages to two estuary countries, especially Egypt, which depends on the Nile as the lifeblood of the Egyptian people.”
After a round of technical negotiations, Sept. 15-16 with Sudan in Cairo, Ethiopia and Egypt remain at odds.
Despite Egypt’s diplomatic mobilization ahead of the meeting, Ethiopia did not respond to any diplomatic pressure to approve or even discuss the Egyptian vision. Egypt had proposed filling the dam’s reservoir within seven years and releasing 40 bcm of Nile water annually to downstream countries.
Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy Seleshi Bekele voiced his country’s rejection of Egypt’s requests. Ethiopian news website Addis Standard cited a classified document outlining Ethiopia’s rebuke of Egypt’s proposals. The Egyptian vision would “prolong the filling of GERD indefinitely” and “compensate for the Egyptian water deficit by serving as a second backup reservoir to High Aswan Dam,” according to the document. Egypt’s plan would mean the dam wouldn’t “deliver its economic return to Ethiopia … [and would] infringe on Ethiopia’s sovereignty.”
The document added, “Ethiopia [would] forfeit its rights to equitable and reasonable utilization of the Blue Nile water resources.”
Shoukry summarized Egypt’s position in dealing with the dam crisis by not yielding to the de facto policy that Ethiopia has been imposing since 2011. In remarks at a press conference Sept. 15, he said, “The will of one party will not be imposed by creating a concrete situation that is not being dealt with within the framework of consultation and understanding.”
Days later, Shoukry spoke about the dam in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview Sept. 21 with Al-Monitor at the United Nations in New York, where he emphasized the “life and death” nature of the negotiations. “I don’t think anybody would agree that the Ethiopian development should come at the expense of the lives of Egyptians,” he said.
A diplomatic official familiar with the Renaissance Dam negotiations told Al-Monitor in a telephone interview, “The continued stumbling of the negotiations and the failure of commitment or implementation of any of the items of the agreements reached in the previous meetings at the political, technical and security levels have become a source of grave concern. It’s not easy, but the Egyptian negotiators have offered many solutions and middle ground visions to achieve the best interest of all parties by filling the dam reservoir in a way that doesn’t harm Egypt and benefits Ethiopia.”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of this topic, added, “Egypt [gave up] many of its demands so as not to disrupt the course of negotiations, such as the World Bank intervention, which Ethiopia had rejected. Cairo has been dealing in good faith with all proposed visions and solutions, but the continued Ethiopian refusal, without offering any realistic alternative that reduces the risk of damages caused by the dam filling and operation, makes it difficult for negotiators to work [and] is a mere waste of time.”
The source went on, “Egypt will knock on all doors and use all international and regional diplomatic methods to guide the Ethiopian side to find a serious and comprehensive agreement on the filling, operation and management of the dam to safeguard the interests of the three parties (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia) and make the dam damage tolerable.”
Regarding the preliminary results of Egypt’s international efforts, the source sees a strong understanding and support at the Arab and European levels for Egypt’s concerns. “Egypt will take other measures in other international forums, including the United Nations General Assembly meetings,” said the source.
The water ministers of the three countries will meet again Oct. 4-5 to again discuss terms of the agreement on filling and operating the dam.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded the latest high-level Belt and Road gathering of world leaders in Beijing last month, China’s signature project has seemingly entered a new phase: worldwide acceptance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a fact of international life (like it or not). So, with the wind at its back, is China doubling down on its investments worldwide? Not exactly. The total value of China’s global investments and construction contracts actually fell by $100 billion in 2018, according to data analyzed from the American Enterprise Institute’s China Global Investment Tracker. Just about every region saw a significant decline in Chinese investment or construction projects except, surprisingly, for one: the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
A flurry of Chinese investment and construction projects in the MENA region over the last three years has made it a key geoeconomic partner for Beijing. But surely, in pure volume terms, the MENA region could not have attracted as much Chinese economic activity as sub-Saharan Africa or East Asia, right? Think again. The MENA region ranked as the second-largest recipient of investment and Chinese construction projects worldwide after Europe in 2018, as the chart below shows.
MENA’s Growing BRI Clout
In 2018, the Middle East and North Africa leapfrogged other emerging markets as a destination for BRI projects.
The MENA region ranked ahead of traditional BRI stalwarts East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa last year, recording $28.11 billion in new projects. The region still lags behind both those regions as a whole since the launch of BRI in 2013 and dating back to 2005, but a three-year surge has brought it in closer proximity to the top of the table. That could mean a windfall for Chinese state-owned construction companies as the majority of MENA projects involve construction, rather than foreign direct investment.
Of the 2018 MENA total, nearly three-quarters was targeted at Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Those three countries also make up half of the “$20 billion club”—the group of countries with more than $20 billion worth of projects from China dating back to 2005.
Chinese Investment in MENA Countries
MENA countries with more than $20 billion worth of investment and construction projects by Chinese firms since 2005.
The list here is heavily skewed toward regional oil producers, with the exception of Egypt, and most of China’s projects in the region involve construction rather than investment. Despite a recent setback, Chinese state-owned enterprises will likely play a prominent role in Egypt’s ambitious infrastructure program, including the building of a new, gleaming capital city just outside Cairo. Chinese construction companies were vitalin President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s ambitious Suez Canal economic zone project.
At the Belt and Road Forum last month, Chinese enterprises also announced a new $3.4 billion investment to build a trade hub for Chinese goods in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port, as well as a manufacturing and processing hub for animal and agricultural products for the food industry. China’s dramatic ramp-up of projects in the UAE suggests that it sees the country as an important piece of its Belt and Road logistics network.
Other significant nodes of China’s economic footprint in the region are Israel ($12.19 billion), Kuwait ($10.43 billion), and Qatar ($7.27 billion), according to data analyzed from AEI’s China Global Investment Tracker for the years 2005-2018.
China is pouring a lot of concrete and cement into construction projects in the region but what of Middle East exports to China? How is China affecting the bottom line of key MENA states?
The answer broadly: If you have oil or gas, China is likely to be a major export destination.
Exports to China From MENA Countries
China has emerged as a vital export destination for several countries in the Middle East and North Africa. For these countries below, China made the top five in 2018.
Major oil and gas producers generate significant revenues from Beijing, and China ranks as the top export destination for Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and Oman, according to an analysis of data from the International Monetary Fund’s Direction of Trade Statistics.
In some cases, key U.S. allies such as the UAE send nearly three times more exports to China than to the United States, and for Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, the gap is even starker, with nearly eight times, nearly nine times, and nearly 28 times, respectively, more goods exported to China than to the United States.
For Saudi Arabia, the difference in 2018 was less stark, sending some 30 percent more exports to China than to the United States, according to an analysis of IMF data. Expect this gap to widen as the United States continues to ramp up domestic oil production.
Meanwhile, most North African countries still maintain an export profile heavily dependent on Europe rather than on China, and Israel sends four times more goods to the United States than to China.
You can expect this map to get to darker shades of red over the next decade, particularly as China’s demand for energy—especially natural gas—continues to grow.
Afshin Molavi is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the editor and founder of the New Silk Road Monitor blog.
The importance of the scheduled people’s gathering on Climate Change is vital for the world generally and for more specifically for the MENA region. Excerpts of this article on the forthcoming ‘COP 24’ UN climate change conference is reproduced here below for their obvious meaning and then from whom better than Sir David Attenborough to receive an invitation from. Please share and pass on.
IOM/Amanda Nero | A boy watches the shore from a boat near Sirajganj, a community affected by severe erosion that has left many displaced. Sirajganj, Bangladesh. October 2016
As global temperatures continue to rise, climate action is lagging and the window of opportunity is closing. On Sunday, the United Nations will kick off critical negotiations on how to address the problem collectively and urgently, during a two-week climate change conference in Katowice, Poland, known as “COP 24”.
Thousands of world leaders, experts, activists, creative thinkers, and private sector and local community representatives will gather to work on a collective action plan to realize critical commitments made by all the countries of the world in Paris, three years ago.
UN News put together this guide to COP 24 to answer some of the biggest questions you may have and make sure you’re all caught up, with a ringside seat on the action.
1. The basics: UNFCCC, UNEP, WMO, IPCC, COP 24, Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement… can someone please make sense of all this?
These acronyms and place names all represent international tools and terms that, under the leadership of the UN, were created to help advance climate action globally. They all play a specific and different role in focussing us all on achieving environmental sustainability. Here’s how it fits together:
In this treaty, nations agreed to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” to prevent dangerous interference from human activity on the climate system. Today, the treaty has 197 signatories. Every year since the treaty entered into force in 1994, a “conference of the parties” – a COP – is held to discuss how to move forward and, since there have been 23 COPs so far, this year’s will be the 24th, or “COP 24”.
Because the UNFCCC had non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and no enforcement mechanism, various “extensions” to this treaty were negotiated during these COPs, including: the famous Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which defined emission limits for developed nations to be achieved by 2012; and the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, in which all countries of the world agreed to step up efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures and boost climate action financing.
Two agencies support the scientific work of the UN on climate change: the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Together, they set up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, which is made of hundreds of experts, dedicated to assessing data and providing reliable scientific evidence for the climate action negotiations, including the upcoming ones in Katowice.
8. How can you participate in the discussion and do your part for climate action?
You can join the Climate Action ActNow.bot which will recommend everyday actions to save the planet and tally up the number of actions taken to measure the impact that collective action can have.
By sharing your climate action efforts on social media, you can help encourage more people to act as well.
In addition, the People’s Seat initiative, launched by the UNFCCC Secretariat, ensures you can contribute directly to the conversation at COP 24. So make sure to #TakeYourSeat and speak up!
10. Why is the UN also planning a Climate Change Summit in 2019?
To build on the outcomes of COP 24, and to strengthen climate action and ambition at the highest possible levels, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is convening a Climate Change Summit next September. In advance of the 2020 deadline for countries to finalize their national climate plans, the Summit is designed to focus on practical initiatives to limit emissions and build resilience.
The Summit will focus on driving action in six areas: transition to renewable energy; funding of climate action and carbon pricing; reducing emissions from industry; using nature as a solution; sustainable cities and local action; and climate change resilience.
The “Qatar vs GCC + Egypt” crisis carries on at not only the expense of Qatar but to also all concerned such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. We elaborated on this last aspect in our Latest Diplomatic Crisis impacts Dubai City where we anticipated significant losses for Dubai, Riyadh and Manama alike. Life carrying on unabated, there must surely be drawbacks for everyone during and after this semi-political upheaval between the parties. The Qatar crisis impacts on the rest of the MENA region have yet to be measured and accounted for.
Following is a Chatham House conference of Qatar’ Foreign Affairs Minister’s response to the 13 points demand of Saudi Arabia and its allies.
The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, State of Qatar
Chair: Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House
The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Crisis in the Gulf: Qatar Responds The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Play 0:00 / 1:09:37 Fullscreen Mute Share 05 July 2017 HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, State of Qatar Chair: Dr Robin Niblett CMG, Director, Chatham House 01:09:37 Overview The foreign minister of Qatar outlined his country’s position and response to the accusations made and diplomatic measures taken against Doha by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More information at The Crisis in the Gulf: Qatar Responds
According to Fresh Business Thinking. an online resource for business owners, directors and entrepreneurs May 17th will see the next Iranian presidential election – and the result really matters to us in the west more than that of the recent one in France, etc. In this context of Iran elections bearing on renewed business enthusiasts, we would like to propose this article of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs who Emailed me this note on what’s going on in Iran’s presidential elections. It does elaborate fairly well on what matters most not only for the country’s citizens but also for everyone around.
This time next week we will know – we know whether the President of Iran is the reformist current president Hassan Rouhani, or someone else, most likely Ebrahim Raisi, a former judge who sat on what was called ‘death commissions.’ There is a third serious contender, the debonair Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
In the run up to Iran’s presidential election on 19 May, the idea of ‘resistance’ has become a key theme. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei set the tone in his annual Persian New Year address in March by declaring the coming year the ‘Year of the Resistance Economy’, a term that has been reiterated by conservative candidates who also speak of ‘the axis of resistance’ and ‘Islamic resistance’. But exactly what is Iran supposed to be resisting?
Resistance is not a new concept in the Islamic Republic. Indeed, since the 1979 revolution, conservative politicians have continued to invoke the concept of ‘resistance’ to exploit popular fears of Western meddling in Iranian affairs. The narrative of resistance has also stoked the spirit of Iranian nationalism and independence inspired by the words of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for Iran to be dependent on ‘neither East nor West’. The Supreme Leader and conservative politicians have long used the narrative of economic and political resistance as a means to preserve Iranian autonomy.
Enmity with the United States and by extension Israel is also tied to a national concept of resistance. Over the years, this national spirit has been used to justify Tehran’s unconventional foreign policy of supporting proxy groups as well as to provide support for its nuclear program. Resistance takes the form of political, revolutionary, social, cultural, economic and foreign resistance to change and interference from abroad all of which would result in the erosion of power. Ultimately, resistance is about protecting and preserving the Islamic Republic and its revolutionary ideals that have been gradually loosing sway and giving way to notions of reform from within.
In the upcoming election, this notion of reform is personified by the incumbent president centrist Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani’s main achievement in office has been the nuclear pact with the P5+1, which compromised on developing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from grueling economic sanctions, including an embargo on Iranian oil sales. But while investment has trickled in and economic growth has returned, albeit at a limited rate, Rouhani has struggled to translate growth into tangible popular economic gains. This has left him vulnerable to conservative attack…
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Originally posted on Imen Bliwa Blog: Abib, Sierra Leone’s immigrant helping a friend’s child while camping in front of UN building in Tunisia Along with many of his friends and neighbors, Abib had to spend days and nights in front of the UN building (IOM). A calm fancy neighborhood next to Tunis Lake turns into…
Originally posted on Mackneen, The Algerian Goldfinch: It’s Spring, like the season then, twelve years ago. Time flies, like a bird. On this day, twelve years ago, I created this blog and I gave it a name: Mackneen,The Algerian Goldfinch. On that day I went to Algiers for a visit to my mother, and to my…
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