“Entebbe Scandal”.. Egypt Accepted Entebbe To Resume Its Negotiations With Ethiopia

A fisherman travels on a boat with his family during low water levels on the river Nile in Cairo, April 19, 2014. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (EGYPT - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

An Egyptian newspaper unveiled what it considered as “Entebbe Scandal” pointing that Israel has mediated between Egypt and Ethiopia in the negotiations regarding the “Renaissance Dam”. The mediation was within the framework of a deal that would end up with Egypt’s abandoning of its historical rights in the Nile River by its acceptance to the Entebbe agreement that was previously rejected by the overthrown President Hosni Mubarak, reported Arabi 21.

Veto newspaper said this week that 5 months were enough for Ethiopia to end its “tug of war” game with Egypt during its latest negotiations in February, ending in favor of Ethiopia as usual as Egypt expressed its surprise that the first phase of the Renaissance Dam had ended, but finally surrendered.

According to the newspaper, Egypt’s surrender was clear when Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail  held a meeting of the Egyptian water committee last month, deciding that Egypt will attend the meeting of the Nile basin countries after six years of absence. Many observers were surprised but what happened afterwards explained the real picture of what can be called, “the deal for resuming Renaissance dam negotiations”, according to the newspaper.

The newspaper unveiled that the first condition in the deal was Egypt’s presence in the Nile basin countries meetings which it previously boycotted  in protest against Entebbe agreement. Entebbe agreement calls for dividing the Nile water shares regardless of the historical background, which was considered at that time by the overthrown President Hosni Mubarak as a declaration for Egypt’s loss of its water rights.

According to Entebbe agreement, the Nile water should be divided fairly between the Nile basin countries, which Egypt-which controls 90% of the Nile River together with Sudan, to insist on boycotting the meetings of the Nile basin countries.

The newspaper continued,” It wasn’t only a political boycott but also an economic one, as Egypt’s absence means that it won’t provide any financial grants to these countries, the condition that panicked the Nile basin countries. However, they have found the negotiations on the Renaissance dam paper as means for forcing Egypt to return to Entebbe without conditions or any changes as Egypt has previously wanted.”

According to the sources inside the technical committee of the Renaissance Dam, the return of Egypt to Nile basin countries meetings was highlighted during the last technical negotiations. At that time, the former Minister of Irrigation Hossam Moghazi announced at the time that Egypt had the will to return to the Nile basin meetings, which angered  Sameh Shoukry-Egypt’s Foreign minister who asked the minister to be cautious in his statements.

However, Moghazi was dismissed in the latest ministerial changes in March, whereas the deal is still there but this time from the foreign ministry itself according to the same sources.

The sources said that the Egypt withdrew from its previous stance and accepted its return to the Nile Basin countries meetings after the executive steps that have been taken by Ethiopia to end the first phase of the dam. As a result, Egypt had no choice but to accept.

The same sources said that the return to Entebbe was not surprising pointing that Egypt always sought mediation with Ethiopia to push the negotiations that have been in stalemate for months and to end the technical studies before Ethiopia ends the second phase of the dam.

The second phase of the Renaissance dam is considered a real catastrophe to Egypt as it will work on storing 64 billion cubic meter of the Nile River.

According to the newspaper, “Egypt hopes to finish the technical studies in 8 months, in order to agree on the conditions of filling the dam in a way that won’t harm Egypt or Sudan withou affecting the Renaissance project at the same time.

In this context, the sources pointed that one of latest mediation efforts came from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his last tour to Africa. Netanyahu has asked Addis Ababa to resume the negotiations with Egypt, as Tel Aviv doesn’t want to lose its relations with Cairo, according to some Israeli media reports.

Veto newspaper confirmed that Cairo didn’t  show all its papers and this what has occurred during the presence of the current Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abd Al-Atti in the Nile basin countries meetings when he said that Egypt will not agree on Entebbe agreement with its current articles, pointing that Egypt still has a strong stance.

Moreover, these preparations have paved the road for al-Sisi  during his presence African Summit, in Rwanda to meet with some African leaders of the Nile basin countries, to announce later that the Renaissance dam technical contracts will be signed before the end of this month, according to the Minister of Irrigation statements.

However, strong words have been stated by the member of the technical committee for the Renaissance Dam, Diaa al-Deen al-Qusi, who said that Egypt’s presence in the Nile Basin countries’ meeting is a kind of recognition of Entebbe agreement’s legitimacy to pave the road for other practical steps in the coming time. One of these steps is signing the agreement and this what Addis Ababa has been seeking,  as it is leading the Nile basin countries in this regard. Al-Qusi added that Egypt will pay financial grants during the coming period to some Nile basin courtiers as an evidence of its participation in the development projects, and this is what the Nile basin countries want at present, according to Veto newspaper.