Egypt and Ethiopia Might Go to War over Nile River

October 23, 2019

2 min read

Ethiopia is planning to build a massive dam to supply their population with hydro-electric energy. The only problem is that the dam will block a key water source to the Nile River. And the Nile is Egypt’s main source of fresh water. This has caused pro-government journalists to call for war against Ethiopia similar to that of the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel – a war that Egypt lost.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi meet on May 21 in Saudi Arabia. (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Talks between Cairo and Addis Ababa broke down earlier this month over Ethiopia’s nearly finished massive upstream dam. The project entitled the ‘Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’ is about 70% finished reports TOI and is expected to supply it’s 100 million citizens with electricity.

But Egypt, who has almost as big of a population is concerned that the process of filling the resevoir that sits behind the dam will come at the expense of the country’s main source of fresh water – the Nile. That’s because the project could drastically reduce the flow of the Blue Nile, the main tributary to the Nile. The tributary is fed by annual rainfall in Ethiopia’s highlands.

“While we acknowledge Ethiopia’s right to development, the water of the Nile is a question of life, a matter of existence to Egypt,” Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sissi said.

On the other hand, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewude, said that her country believes “the use of the river should be (decided) according to international law and fair and equitable use of natural resources.”

Ethiopia has been making efforts to resolve the issue of the Nile with countries like Ethiopia and Sudan who complain that Cairo enjoys more than their fair share of the world’s longest river. Egypt, to their credit, has south international mediation in an effort to resolve the matter and has reached out to countries such as the United States, Russia, and China.

An Ethiopian official said the packages offered by Cairo so far “were deliberately prepared to be unacceptable for Ethiopia.”

Meanwhile, Egyptian journalists are going as far as to call for a war against Ethiopia. Anwar el-Hawary, who used to be the editor of the Al-Masry Al-Youm new outlet, compared the dispute to the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel, in which Egypt waged a surprise attack into the Sinai Peninsula. “If we fought to liberate Sinai, it is logical to fight to liberate the water,” he posted on his Facebook account. “The danger is the same in the two cases.”


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