‘Sisi must step down over Ethiopia dam crisis’, ex-Ahram editor says

Former Editor-in-Chief of Egypt’s Al-Ahram government-owned newspaper, Abdel Nasser Salama has called on Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to step down, blaming him for the “heavy defeat” suffered by the country before Ethiopia in the dam crisis.

In an unprecedented article published on Facebook, Salama said that Al-Sisi is responsible for “wasting Egypt’s historical right to the Nile River when he granted legitimacy to the dam by signing the ominous 2015 (Declaration of Principles for the Renaissance Dam project) agreement” despite being fully aware of the consequences.

The Egyptian writer added that Al-Sisi granted the Declaration of Principles legitimacy again by resorting to the UN Security Council without preparing for the step, in addition to his inability to take a military decision that “brings the conspiring Ethiopian leadership back to its senses”, despite spending billions of dollars on buying weapons.

Salama pointed out that Al-Sisi has already ceded the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, gave up two gas fields in the Mediterranean to Israel, and wasted Egypt’s wealth on useless armaments; tying up the country to exorbitant debts that it will never be able to repay.

Salameh accused the Egypt’s Sisi of spreading a state of terror and fear among Egyptians, creating an unprecedented state of polarization, imprisoning and arresting tens of thousands of people, and turning Sinai into a cemetery for soldiers and officers.

On Thursday, 8 July 2021, the UN Security Council, based on a draft resolution submitted by Tunisia regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, held a session to discuss the repercussions of the dam crisis, which can be summarized as follows:

– The UN Security Council stressed that the dispute can only be resolved through diplomatic means.

– Some countries have expressed concern over the growing threatening rhetoric in the GERD crisis, with the Russian Federation at the forefront.

– The US representative to the UN Security Council stressed that Washington believes that “the African Union is the most appropriate venue to address this dispute”.

– The French representative to the UN Security Council expressed his conviction that Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan “should demonstrate the political will to resolve their differences through dialogue, with the support of the African Union…,”  praising the African Union’s leadership, by stressing that: “These efforts must continue and be strengthened.” China’s representative said that Beijing is “encouraging them (Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan) to resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation.”

– In his statement, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry described the problem as a “political” crisis, saying, “The repeated failure of negotiations is not due to lack of scientific legal expertise, but rather to Ethiopian intransigence, Shoukry said, adding “The cause of this crisis is political,” he said. He considered that Ethiopia’s intransigent position has undermined all attempts to reach a political agreement. “Ethiopia refuses to sign a legally binding agreement and has instead proposed to designate the text as mere guidelines and rules.” He called upon the Security Council “to prevent the dam from becoming a threat to Egypt’s existence,” and that it should call on parties to reach an equitable agreement within a defined timeline, recognizing the gravity of the situation and fulfilling its duty to maintain international peace.” Shoukry also said Egypt does not object to Ethiopia’s right to benefit from the waters of the Blue Nile, but rather demands that it should respect its international obligations.

– The statement of Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi confirmed that “Sudan has supported the dam’s construction from an understanding that its advantages would not be restricted to Ethiopia and that it would operate according to a legally binding agreement that considers the equitable, reasonable use of cross-border resources without inflicting harm on downstream States,” stressing that “Khartoum could ‘in no way’ allow the dam’s filling and operation to be determined unilaterally, as Ethiopia has done,” adding that “the Council must call upon all three States to resume the African Union-led talks, with the involvement of international mediators, to ensure Ethiopia abstains from unilateral moves.” 

– The statement of Ethiopian Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele during the session UN Security Council directly objected to the Council considering the matter, saying that “it is unfitting of the Council’s time and resources to hold discussions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” describing the matter as “unprecedented”, adding that the Security Council is a political body concerned with security and that it is not useful to raise a technical issue on it. He regretted that Egypt and Sudan resorted to submitting the GERD file to the Security Council. The Ethiopian Minister of Irrigation considered that the dam would store water in line with what was agreed upon with Egypt and Sudan within the 2015 Declaration of Principles, stressing that “Ethiopia does not respond well to undue political pressure and interference,” adding that “Addis Ababa will continue to negotiate under the auspices of the African Union.”