The Ethiopian Great Renaissance Dam (GERD), which ETHIOPIA regards as a source of national pride, has brought 110 million people to the brink of military conflict. While the Addis Ababa administration announced that it would begin the second phase of the impoundment of the dam it built on the Blue Nile, the most important tributary of the Nile, in a few days, Cairo openly threatened of war. So what is the reason for the conflict, can three countries with a total population of 255 million people really fight?
The GERD has been a source of tension since its founding in 2011. Last year 4.9 m3 of water was retained in the 74 billion m3 dam lake. The goal this year is to add an additional 13.5 billion m3. Ethiopia wants to take advantage of the rainy season, June-August, which means that the impoundment will begin this month. In this process, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah es-Sisi has stepped up the tone of his messages to Ethiopia. Sisi threatened the war with his statement: “Try to take a drop of water and let’s see.” Cairo and Khartoum, almost entirely dependent on the Nile for water, want Ethiopia’s water supply process to be slowed down.
SOLDIERS ON THE GROUND
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Egypt, which took a series of measures to deter Ethiopia, first signed military agreements with the river’s other hosts, Uganda and Burundi, then staged a 6-day war game with Sudan called “Guardians of the Nile”. In other words, Ethiopia, once weakened by conflicts in the separatist region of Tigray neighboring Sudan, is now isolated from the continent. Even though Ethiopian Water Minister Seleshi Bekele said “There is no need to wage an unnecessary war”, earlier this week the Ethiopian military said the number of forces around the dam had increased. “The air force is monitoring GERD closely and is committed to protecting it from all attacks,” said the commander of the Ethiopian air force. While it is indicated that planes approaching the area without authorization will be seen as a target, local press and social networks mention the “detonated the dam”.
Egypt and Sudan want an international agreement to determine how quickly Ethiopia will withhold water. The parties failed to come to an agreement in the negotiations, the last of which ended in April.
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THE BIGGEST IN AFRICA
The dam, which is currently 80% complete, is expected to operate at full capacity in 2023. The dam is located about 20 km from the Sudanese border. Astaldi’s roofing company Italian Webuild constructed the building, which cost $ 4.6 billion.