Saturday, March 25, 2017

Egypt’s Strategic Water Security: The myth and the truth - Sudan Tribune

By Ermias Hailu

Following to the end of the second world war Egypt’s failure to integrate Eritrea to its territories, due to Emperor Haile Selassie’s superior diplomatic skills, the then Pan- Arab nationalistic President Nasser’s government turned to ethnic and religious subversion against Ethiopia. In 1955 Egypt began working for the instigation of an “Arab” revolution in the then autonomous Ethiopian province Eritrea, to that effect, hundreds of young Muslims from Eritrea, were invited to Cairo to study and enjoy special benefits. Although they were not native Arabic speakers, they absorbed the spirit of Arab revolution and adopted a modern Arab identity. There they also learned how to set up a modern guerrilla ‘liberation front’ and by 1959 they had finalised their training in Egypt and were ready to establish the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and they returned to the Sudanese town of Kassala and become connected to the pro- Egypt Sudanese Al-Mirghaniyya movement. More concretely the ELF launched an open anti-Ethiopian revolt in Eritrea in 1961, claiming and propagating a fake Arab Eritrean identity.

“The Arabism of Eritrean People” remained one slogan of Nasserism to its end and to promote Eritrea’s liberation from Ethiopia, Nasser was also ready to help local Eritrean Christian Tigrians who resisted reunification with Ethiopia. In 1955, the prominent leader of Christian Tigreans in Eritrea, WaldeAb WeldeMariam, was invited to broadcast daily anti-Ethiopian propaganda on Radio Cairo and the Nasserist regime remained the main pillar of support for the Eritrean separatist movement until 1963. The myth of Eritrea’s Arabism, adopted and advanced by Eritrean Muslims, was to survive until 1980’s and the war in Eritrea that was instigated by Egypt lasted 30 years and caused untold human and financial loss both to Ethiopia and Eritrea. As of today, Eritrea is a de facto colony of Egypt and is being utilised as a proxy war front against Ethiopia and it is also the command post of those Ethiopian political groups who opted to ally with Egypt. Hundreds of Eritreans’ industries, hardworking and proud citizens and their children escape the prison and pariah government of Eritrea on daily basis facing any risk on their way.

No less significant was the issue of Nasserist influence on the Somali nationalists and beginning in the mid-1950s Nasserist policy, literature, and agents worked to enhance the anti-Ethiopian dimension of Somali nationalism branded it as “Greater Somalia”. The Somalis encouraged by the potential Egypt backing, claimed about one-third of Ethiopia’s territory and when they united and received their independence in July 1960 and joined the Arab League 1974, they continued to present a serious on-going challenge (two wars fought) to the integrity of the Ethiopian sovereignty until Somalia was disintegrated and engulfed by civil war in 1991. The disintegration of Somalia which has caused the scatter of Somalis throughout the world and death of millions of Somalis by war and famine and wastage of decades of nation building opportunity was a byproduct of the failed Egyptians destabilisation strategy of Ethiopia.

Similarly, after Egypt failed to stop the British from allowing Sudan to declare its independence from Egypt in 1956, it has been constantly interfering into the internal affairs of Sudan including the Sudanese army staged coup d’├ętat in November 1958, overthrowing the civilian government of Abdullah Khalil which had uncompromised and hard negotiation position on the Nile river, in which Egypt friendly Gen. Ibrahim Abboud led the new military government.

The 1959 Nile water share agreement signed between Egypt and Sudan which gave the lion share to Egypt (78% to Egypt and 22% to Sudan on the net annual flow after deducting 10 billion cubic meters for evaporation loss) was agreed with Gen Abboud. Considering the fact that, the flow measuring point is deep in Egypt at the Aswan High dam and the annual hypothetical evaporation loss of 10 billion cubic meters, the share for Sudan is substantially lower than 22%. If the water share allocation was done taking into account “population size and arable land area” as factors, Sudan’s share should have been not less than 40%.

Though Egypt opposed the split of South Sudan from Sudan during the pre-independence conflict time, currently it is the main sponsor of the fragile and corrupt President Kiir government and is prolonging the suffering of the South Sudan people with the objective of getting a foothold near to Ethiopian border to sabotage Ethiopia.

We are also hearing saber-rattling of few bribed government officials from South Sudan and Uganda trying to finger point at Ethiopia in relation to its decision to build the GERD and the speedy ratification of the “The Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement” by its parliament.

The Zero-Sum game that has been played by Egypt to ensure its water security has become unsustainable, out of dated and irrelevant (it is a myth) for the following reasons:

-  Creating jobs and feeding the rapidly growing population in the Horn of Africa and in the countries of the Nile Basin demands governments to generate power for industrialisation and mechanised farming and produce sufficient food to ensure food security which requires more consumption of water. The domestic consumption of water also increases in proportion to the population growth.

-  The Aswan High dam only stores one year flow of the Nile water, whereas, global warming and other unpredictable climate changes could result in a drought that lasts to the biblical-proportion of up to seven years. In that case, the Aswan dam could dry with unimaginable consequences on Egypt’s 94 million growing population and makes Egypt’s water security strategy null and void.

-  The growing population of Egypt also requires more water than the storage capacity of the High Aswan dam. That necessitates the construction of additional reservoir dams either in Ethiopia and/or Sudan (building an additional dam in Egypt looks not practical).

-  The Aswan high dam may be filled by silt within the next 300 to 500 years. How will Egypt manage such unavoidable fact with a huge population that is 95% dependent on the Nile water?

Considering the above points, it is expected that Egyptian water security strategists and the Egyptians government covertly want the construction of more dams in Sudan and Ethiopia as far as their historical share is not significantly affected. They also know that dams built in Ethiopia along the deep Abbay River Gorge could only be mainly used for hydroelectric power generation with lower evaporation loss and lower construction cost per volume. Egyptians are also considering others sources of water such us linking the Congo River with the White Nile and digging the Jonglei Canal in South Sudan which is good ideas but difficult to implement.

Then what is the reason that Egypt has been too nervous and trying to destabilise Ethiopia and sabotage the completion of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance dam(GERD)?

The following could be the main reasons:

-  Fear of the unknown which is a natural reaction considering the historical facts and the strategic importance of the Nile to Egypt’s future survival

-  Fear that Sudan (the potential main Nile water consumer) could use more than its agreed share of the 1959 agreement. This fear is reasonable as any dam built in Ethiopia will regulate the seasonal flow of water in Sudan which will enable Sudan to access more and steady flow of water year-round. This may call for a new Nile water share agreement between the two countries and I do not think Sudan will allow itself to be manipulated by Egypt for the second time.

-  Since Egypt has no water share agreement with Ethiopia, Egypt wants that agreement to be negotiated and agreed with a weak destabilised Ethiopia (exactly what they did to Sudan in 1959). By now Egypt should know “how Ethiopia is strongly founded “and its resilience to come out of crises. Despite the sudden and untimely death of PM Meles Zenawi who championed the concept of Ethiopian Renaissance and started the GERD and the internal instabilities that Ethiopia faced during the last year, the construction of the dam was not stopped for a fraction of a second. Now Ethiopia is already stable and is getting prepared for more rapid economic growth.

-  Egypt’s concern of loss of ground as the main historical geopolitical player in the region to Ethiopia both from Africa, Middle East and Global perspective is also a bitter bill for Egypt to swallow and digest. I do not think Egypt should be emotional and concerned about the rising of Ethiopia which is one of the old civilisations that rivals Egypt and kept its independence and uniqueness during the good and bad time. It is always going to be true that both Egypt and Ethiopia have an irreplaceable and complementary role to play for peace, security, economic integration and social development of the region.

Due to Egypt’s standing strategy of securing the lion share of the water from the Nile river( under the pretext of ensuring water security) at the expense of more than 300 million people around the Horn of Africa, it has been obsessed in sabotaging the peace and stability of Ethiopia and Sudan over the years and as the result the whole of Horn/East of Africa has been unstable and remained one of the poorest regions in the world and major source of migrants to Europe and elsewhere. Since the mid of 20th century, this region has witnessed the death of millions of people, both because of war and famine, aggravation of poverty and wastage of scarce billions of dollars for a war that could have been used for development.

Egypt’s strategy of sustaining its water security through sabotaging and destabilising Ethiopia and Sudan is no more a relevant strategy for Egypt (it is a myth). Egypt needs more water reservoirs to be built both in Sudan and Ethiopia for sustaining its water security. Storing water in the deep Abbay Gorge is the most attractive option as it could store more water at lower cost and less evaporation loss and lower usage of water other than generating hydroelectric power by Ethiopia. However, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt should negotiate and agree a win-win water share tripartite and bilateral agreements. Of course, all other Nile Basin countries like Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan etc. should also agree with both Sudan and Egypt on how to share the White Nile water.

Whatever plot Egypt may try to sabotage and destabilise the main water supplier to the Nile “Ethiopia “and the main potential Nile water Consumer” Sudan” may not be effective now as Egypt is currently economically weak and facing serious external and internal terrorism and war threats. In addition, the main neighbours of Ethiopia, except Eritrea, that Egypt had been historically using as a proxy to destabilise Ethiopia are currently allied with Ethiopia as they are fully aware of the consequences of being manipulated and used by Egypt to conspire against their strategic neighbour. The Eritrean government that has made Eritrea an open-air prison for its citizens is also increasingly being rejected by its people and it will collapse in the very near future. Therefore, Egypt should be ready for a realistic negotiation based on mutual respect and sustainable peaceful co-existence with Sudan and Ethiopia.

It is expected that Ethiopia and Sudan are jointly ready to counter and defend themselves from any uncalled aggression from Egypt!

1. Recommendations

(i) For Egypt

• Stop destabilising Ethiopia and Sudan as a confidence building measure

• Be transparent and open-minded for discussion and be ready to negotiate a win-win water share agreement with both Ethiopia and Sudan

(ii) Ethiopia and Sudan

• Create a united front to counter and defend Egypt’s bad behaviour and habit (I think this is already in place)

• Negotiate with Egypt united and from strength knowing the fact that Egypt badly needs more upstream dams for water reservoir for its future survival.

(iii) Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt

• Work on a strategy to build more dams on the Abbay Gorge that could be used mainly as reservoir and hydroelectric power generation, except for emergency cases.

• If the Abbay Gorge alone could store seven years of Nile annual flow volume-go for it- but share the costs.

Of course, including the cost of GERD.




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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Looming crisis of the much decreased fresh-water supply to Egypt's Nile delta -- ScienceDaily

Date:
March 13, 2017
Source:
Geological Society of America
Summary:
A multi-year study of Egypt's Nile Delta places the country's major breadbasket at serious risk. The soil-rich delta evolved as the result of natural conditions involving the Nile's fresh water flow and transport of sediment northward from Ethiopia, across the Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean.
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FULL STORY

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under construction on the Blue Nile in northern Ethiopia, near the Sudan border. This will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa.
Credit: Jean-Daniel Stanley and Pablo L. Clemente and GSA Today
A multi-year study of Egypt's Nile Delta places the country's major breadbasket at serious risk. The soil-rich delta evolved as the result of natural conditions involving the Nile's fresh water flow and transport of sediment northward from Ethiopia, across the Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean.
About 70% of water flow reaching Egypt is derived from the Blue Nile and Atbara River, both sourced in Ethiopia. Over the past 200 years, rapidly increasing human activity has seriously altered flow conditions of the Nile. Emplacement in Egypt of barrages in the 1800s, construction the Aswan Low Dam in 1902, and the Aswan High Dam in 1965 has since altered water flow and distribution of nourishing organic-rich soil in the delta.
Egypt's population has recently swelled rapidly to about 90 million, with most living in the soil-rich Lower Nile Valley and Delta. These two areas comprise only about 3.5% of Egypt's total area, the remainder being mostly sandy desert. Due to much-intensified human impact, the delta no longer functions as a naturally expanding fluvial-coastal center. Less than 10% of Nile water now reaches the sea, and most of the nutrient-rich sediment is trapped in the delta by a dense canal and irrigation system.
The low-lying delta plain is only about 1 m above present sea level. The northern third of the delta is lowering at the rate of about 4 to 8 mm per year due to compaction of strata underlying the plain, seismic motion, and the lack of sufficient new sediment to re-nourish the delta margin being eroded by Mediterranean coastal currents.
While the coastal delta margin is being lowered, sea level is also rising at a rate of about 3 mm per year. Delta lowering and sea-level rise thus accounts for submergence of about 1 cm per year. At present rates, saline intrusion is now reaching agricultural terrains in central delta sectors -- the coastal 20 to 40 km of delta surface will be underwater by the end of this century.
There is an additional looming danger of considerable importance: Ethiopia, itself energy-poor and undergoing drought conditions, is shortly (in 2017) to complete construction of the largest hydro-electric dam in Africa, its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The large reservoir behind the dam is to be filled over a three- to five-year or longer period, during which it is expected that the amount of Nile flow to the Sudan and Egypt and its delta will be substantially reduced.
This down-river decrease of Nile fresh water will produce grave conditions. The pre-GERD Nile flow now barely supplies 97% of Egypt's present water needs with only 660 cubic meters per person, one of the world's lowest annual per capita water shares. With a population expected to double in the next 50 years, Egypt is projected to have critical countrywide fresh water and food shortages by 2025. It is hoped that some form of arbitration by regional or global bodies will be applied to this rapidly evolving situation, especially with regard to the three East African countries most impacted along the Blue Nile: Egypt, The Sudan, and Ethiopia.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Geological Society of AmericaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Jean-Daniel Stanley, Pablo L. Clemente. Increased Land Subsidence and Sea-Level Rise are Submerging Egypt’s Nile Delta Coastal MarginGSA Today, 2017; DOI: 10.1130/GSATG312A.1

Cite This Page:
Geological Society of America. "Looming crisis of the much decreased fresh-water supply to Egypt's Nile delta." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170313135006.htm>.

South Sudan & Congo child soldiers


Nile Basin ministerial committee concludes meetings in Khartoum - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Nile Basin ministerial committee concludes meetings in Khartoum

Ahram Online , Tuesday 14 Mar 2017
Egypt
File Photo: Egypt's irrigation and water resources minister Mohamed Abdel Ati (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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A committee of water ministers and officials from six Nile Basin countries concluded meetings in Khartoum on Monday, with Egyptian concerns around water share due to be discussed later this month in Uganda, Egyptian state news agency MENA said.
The meetings, which began earlier this week, included "long discussions wherein Egypt presented all its concerns regarding the Nile Basin Initiative and the Entebbe agreement," Egypt's water resources minister Mohamed Abdel Ati was quoted by MENA as saying.
The Entebbe agreement, more commonly known in English as the Cooperative Framework Agreement, has been signed by six Nile Basin countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Egypt and Sudan have declined to sign the treaty, which sets out principles and obligations of member states in regard to the use of Nile Basin water resources, citing concerns about its reallocation of Nile water quotas as well as other provisions.
Historic water-sharing pacts between Egypt and Sudan divide the Nile waters between the two countries. 
The Egyptian minister said that a meeting scheduled to take place later in March in Uganda by the council of ministries of the Nile Basin countries is planned to discuss the results of the Khartoum meetings and Egypt's concerns as well as look at "solutions and alternatives that… guarantee collective benefit and prevent harm," the minister added.
The meetings were attended by water ministers of Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Rawanda as well as representatives from Kenya and Ethiopia. 
The Nile Basin Initiative has ten permanent members -- Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Eritrea has observer status.
The under-construction Grand Ethiopian Dam, which when complete will be Africa's biggest hydroelectric dam, has been a source of concern for Egypt in recent years, with some experts arguing that filling and operating the dam will reduce the water that flows downstream to Egypt.

Concern Mounts in Egypt, Sudan over Ethiopia's Giant Dam on Nile

James Marshall
March 18, 2017
The individuals had traveled from Eritrea to the dam in order to act out their attack, Zadig told.
Ethiopia has foiled an "Eritrean-sponsored terrorist attack" on the multi-billion dollar Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, an official told Anadolu Agency Thursday. Seven other attackers who crossed over into Sudan were later handed back to Ethiopian authorities by the Sudanese government, Abrha said.
Egypt and Sudan continue to express concern over the potential reduction of their share of the Nile water as Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project is about halfway complete and is expected to be operating by July 2017. He said he has "never heard of this group".
The $4.2-billion dam expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts (MW) of power is now under construction on Ethiopia's Blue Nile near the Sudanese border.
Initial investigations appear to show that the detainees are affiliated to the opposition May 7 Movement which is banned in Ethiopia and allegedly supported by Eritrea, Anadolu reported. Eritrea only seceded from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year independence war, and the two countries have regularly clashed on the boundaries of their borders.
On its part, Eritrea's government denied any knowledge of the rebel group and termed the allegations by Ethiopia as preposterous.
The power plant with a capacity of generating 6,450 MW of electricity is slated for completion in 2018.
The project has been a source of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt, with the latter saying that the dam could reduce the amount of Nile water flowing into Egypt.
Ethiopia has received backing for the project from five other Nile Basin countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ethiopia’s GERD dam will make Egypt’s Nile delta sink under the Med, study says -GCR -

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, under construction on the Blue Nile, will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa (http://www.geosociety.org/)

Ethiopia’s GERD dam will make Egypt’s Nile delta sink under the Med, study says

15 March 2017 | By GCR Staff1 Comment

It may be Ethiopia’s symbol of national pride, but the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being built for hydroelectric power on the Blue Nile will have grave and unexpected consequences for its downstream neighbour, Egypt, according to a report published in the US.

The multi-year study of Egypt’s Nile Delta estimates that GERD could reduce the flow of water to Egypt by as much as 25%, restricting its fresh water supply and diminishing its ability to generate power.
These are already matters of contention between the two countries, but the study published by the Geological Society of America (GSA) flags up another, unexpected risk – that of the eventual submerging of parts of the low-lying Nile Delta region under the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
In their paper published in the journal, GSA Today, Jean-Daniel Stanley and Pablo L. Clemente argue that GERD’s restriction of Nile-born silt onto the delta, combined with sinking of the delta due to natural seismic compaction, could mean that parts of delta surface now above sea level will be underwater by the end of this century.
The scientists call for some form of arbitration by regional or global bodies to be applied to the “delicate situation”.
They worry, too, about the wider region, where some 400 million people live in the 10 countries along the Nile, with some now already experiencing severe droughts and unmet energy needs and “a multitude of economic, political, and demographic problems”.
Background
The soil-rich delta evolved as the result of natural conditions involving the Nile’s fresh water flow and transport of sediment northward from Ethiopia, across Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean.
About 70% of water flow reaching Egypt is derived from the Blue Nile and Atbara rivers, both sourced in Ethiopia.
“It is hoped that rather than resorting to threats and military action, some form of arbitration by regional or global bodies be applied to the delicate situation”– Geological Society of America paper
Over the past 200 years, rapidly increasing human activity has seriously altered flow conditions of the Nile. Emplacement in Egypt of barrages in the 1800s, construction of the Aswan Low Dam in 1902, and the Aswan High Dam in 1965 have since altered water flow and distribution of nourishing organic-rich soil in the delta.
Egypt’s population has rapidly swelled to about 90 million, with most living in the soil-rich Lower Nile Valley and Delta. These two areas comprise only about 3.5% of Egypt’s total area, the remainder being mostly desert.
Due to much-intensified human impact, the delta no longer functions as a naturally expanding fluvial-coastal centre.
Less than 10% of Nile water now reaches the sea, and most of the nutrient-rich sediment is trapped in the delta by a dense canal and irrigation system.
Already sinking
The low-lying delta plain is only about 1m above present sea level. The northern third of the delta is lowering at the rate of about 4-to-8mm per year due to compaction of strata underlying the plain, seismic motion, and the lack of sufficient new sediment to re-nourish the delta margin being eroded by Mediterranean coastal currents.
While the coastal delta margin is being lowered, sea level is also rising at a rate of about 3mm per year. Delta lowering and sea-level rise thus accounts for submergence of about 1cm per year.
At present rates, saline intrusion is now reaching agricultural terrains in central delta sectors, and the scientists say parts of delta surface will be underwater by the year 2100.
Ethiopia, itself energy-poor and undergoing drought conditions, is nearing completion of GERD, the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa.
The large reservoir behind the dam is to be filled over a period lasting up to seven years, during which it is expected that the amount of Nile flow to the delta will be reduced by as much as 25%, the scientists say.
This down-river decrease of Nile fresh water will produce “grave conditions”, they add. 
Water and food shortages
Without GERD, the Nile supplies around 97% of Egypt’s present water needs, with only 660 cubic meters per person, one of the world’s lowest annual per capita water shares.
With a population expected to continue surging, Egypt is projected to experience critical fresh water and food shortages.
“It is hoped that rather than resorting to threats and military action, some form of arbitration by regional or global bodies be applied to the delicate situation,” the authors write.
  • “Increased Land Subsidence and Sea-Level Rise are Submerging Egypt’s Nile Delta Coastal Margin”, was written by Jean-Daniel Stanley, Senior Scientist Emeritus, and Pablo L. Clemente, Research Fellow, Mediterranean Basin (MEDIBA) Project, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. It is available to view here.
Image: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, under construction on the Blue Nile, will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa (http://www.geosociety.org/)
Further Reading:

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Egypt sneaky strategy against Ethiopia - South Sudan News Agency





Kampala, March 5, 2017 (SSNA) – In an exclusive interview on Sunday, a former Ugandan intelligence agent told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) that Egyptian government is actively pursuing a sneaky military strategy against Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and that Egypt is also assisting South Sudanese government in its war against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO).
James Moises, the former intelligence operative alleges that Egypt and Uganda mutually agreed last year to achieve what he described as “two different interests. Moises went into details, explaining why Uganda and Egypt joined forces against Ethiopia and South Sudan’s armed opposition.
“First of all, Egypt’s diplomatic campaign to stop Ethiopia from constructing GERD has failed. Secondly, Uganda failed to destroy South Sudanese rebels. These two different interests are the ones uniting Cairo and Kampala,” Moises said. Adding, “Addis Ababa must not believe Cairo and Kampala when talking about anything related to GERD.”
“This is a sneaky strategy against the Ethiopian government,” he asserted.
Moises revealed to the SSNA during the interview that Ugandan President first proposed to the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in December 2016 that if Cairo agrees to give Juba weapons and ammunition it wants to defeat the SPLM/A-IO, then Uganda would support any campaign Egypt wants against Addis Ababa. He further disclosed that Museveni even promised el-Sisi that he has what it takes to bring on board other East African countries to back-up Cairo.
Egypt supplies South Sudan with weapons and ammunition
Moises also disclosed that Egypt is supplying South Sudan with sophisticated weapons, ammunition, and modern military equipment, adding “Kampala manages Cairo military aid to South Sudanese government.”
This is not the first time James Moises make claims like these.
In July 2013, about four months before South Sudan civil war broke out; he wrote an article exposing Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni meddling in South Sudan internal affairs. His piece caused panic in the entire East African region and around the world and widely credited for exposing Uganda’s troops presence  in South Sudan before the war erupted.
Moises also warned in November 2015 that the August 2015 peace deal would not succeed, saying South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and his Ugandan counterpart Museveni had already drawn up a plan to prevent the implementation of the agreement. He then disclosed that Kiir and Museveni’s scheme to frustrate peace implementation would include first agreeing to IGAD and the international community brokered demands, allow rebels to come to Juba, and then start a war in the capital.
Last month, the rebel military command accused Egyptian air force of carrying out air attacks on its positions in Kaka town in Upper Nile.  Cairo denied the allegations.
South Sudanese rebels also alleged in January that  Egypt and South Sudan had strike a dirty deal, alleging the pact between the two countries includes a secret sabotage campaign against Ethiopia’s GERD.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Three Maps Show How Water Access Can Make Or Break A Nation

Water access can impact a country’s geopolitics in many ways. The first (and one of the most obvious) is sea access. Access to the world’s oceans enables a country to use major maritime shipping routes. It also opens an additional route by which a country could project force by having a navy.
The need to gain and maintain ocean access can lead to war. One major factor in the War of the Pacific in South America (1879-1883) was control over access to the southern Pacific. Bolivia lost its ocean access as a result of this war, and to this day, continues to seek ways to recover it.
A more current example is Russia’s invasion of Crimea. The goal here was to create a larger buffer around Russian naval facilities in Sevastopol.
The Mighty Mississippi
Access to waterways also clearly impacts trade. Rivers provide cheaper means of shipping goods to port for export. This makes a country’s exports more competitive.
I’ve written extensively about US strategy as it applies to water access in This Week in Geopolitics (subscribe here for free). One of the most strategic riverways in the world is the Mississippi River system in the US.
Two great rivers, the Missouri and the Ohio, flow into the Mississippi. This river system is navigable and empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
This waterway allows virtually any part of the land between the Rockies and Appalachians to ship goods inexpensively through this river system and on to other countries.
In this case, the US acquired these lands primarily through the Louisiana Purchase. That was followed by a war with Mexico and the annexation of Texas. This led to the expansion of a buffer zone to the west of the Mississippi River.
The Nile
Rivers can also be sources of power in terms of relations between states. This is the case with the Nile River.
Approximately 85% of all water reaching the Nile River in Egypt originates in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile, Atbara, and Sobat rivers. Of these rivers, the most important is the Blue Nile. It accounts for nearly 60% of the Nile’s water in Egypt.
Given that Egypt is mostly a desert climate, the country depends on the river for water and agriculture. At present, Egypt has concerns over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (which should be operational this year). Any moves made by Ethiopia that affect water flow or quality could jeopardize water access downstream.
So far, this concern has been dealt with through diplomacy. But in the mid-1870s, the Khedevite of Egypt invaded Ethiopia via Eritrea in an attempt to gain control of the Nile River. This war lasted for two years.
Syria’s Droughts
The absence of water can indirectly lead to conflict. This map shows areas in Syria where there were six or more years of drought from 2000 to 2010. Prolonged droughts can destroy a region’s agriculture and livestock, exposing local food supplies to great risk.
The Islamic State took control of some of this territory only a few years after the drought. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction published a study in 2011 that looked at this drought. The report implies that social and economic ruin caused by drought contributed to the rise of IS.
Historians have also noted a correlation between major famine due to drought in Ethiopia and the fall of regimes, such as the Derg.
While drought in these cases did not serve as a direct trigger for observed violence, there is a strong correlation between the absence of water and social and economic instability.
The Importance of Access
Water has an underlying geopolitical importance. Access and control over this feature can provide strategic standing to a country. In some cases, it can even enhance this standing in terms of military projection, trade, domestic stability, and leverage over other countries. For this reason, water can be a great source of conflict among nations… conflict that has the potential to rise to the level of warfare.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ethiopia and Eritrea Trade Accusations Over Grand Dam ‘Attack’


The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be the biggest of its kind in Africa.

Eritrea has denied any involvement in an alleged plan to attack an under-construction Ethiopian dam, which is set to become the biggest hydropower dam in Africa.
Ethiopia’s deputy government spokesman, Zadig Abrha, told the state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporation that 20 members of an Eritrean rebel movement—known as the Benishangul Gumuz People’s Liberation Movement—had been apprehended while attempting to attack the site of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Abrha said that Ethiopian security forces killed 13 of the rebels, while seven fled into neighboring Sudan. But the Ethiopian government spokesman said that Sudan had handed the rebels over and they were now in Ethiopian custody.
Ethiopia damConstruction workers are seen in a section of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam in Benishangul Gumuz Region, Guba Woreda, Ethiopia, March 31, 2015. The dam has been a source of regional controversy, especially between Ethiopia and Egypt.TIKSA NEGERI/REUTERS
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel told Bloomberg News that the accusation that his country sponsored the group “is preposterous and peddled for some sinister reason.” Gebremeskel added that he had “never heard of this group.”
Ethiopia and Eritrea have a history of tense relations. Eritrea only seceded from Ethiopia in 1991 after a 30-year independence war, and the two countries have regularly clashed on the boundaries of their borders. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed in a border war focused on the town of Badme between 1998 and 2000.
Ethiopia has also accused Eritrea of sponsoring anti-government protests, led by the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups, which have been occurring regularly since November 2015. Eritrea has denied the allegation.
Construction began on the GERD project, which is being built in the Benishangul Gumuz region close to the border with Sudan, in 2011. The project is set to cost $6.4 billion and is due for completion in 2018, according to Bloomberg.
The project has been a source of tension between Ethiopia and Egypt, with the latter saying that the dam could reduce the amount of Nile water flowing into Egypt. The presidents of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed an initial agreement in 2015 to end the dispute and allow Ethiopia to continue with construction, but Egypt has continued to express its concerns.
Ethiopia has received backing for the project from five other Nile Basin countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The Horn of Africa country wants to do away with a 1929 treaty, orchestrated by the British, that gives Egypt a veto on any projects relating to the Nile by upstream countries.