Sunday, October 21, 2012

Egypt pushes Ethiopia to scrap Nile dam

Terra Daily via UPI: Egypt increasingly views Ethiopia's plan to build a massive 6,000-megawatt hydroelectric dam on the Nile River as a threat to its national security because it will seriously cut the Arab state's water supplies.

Egypt depends on the Nile for virtually all of its water and is mounting a major diplomatic and economic campaign to scupper the plan. "Even direct military action by Egypt cannot be ruled out," observed the U.S. global security consultancy Stratfor.

Both countries have undergone major political upheavals recently, which have added to the tension in a long-running battle for control of the world's longest river which rises in the Ethiopian highlands. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood now controls the presidency and Parliament following the February 2001 downfall of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak and is locked in a struggle for supremacy with the military.

Longtime Ethiopian ruler, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, as harsh a dictator as Mubarak and whose ethnic Tigray group has long dominated the military, died Aug. 20, leaving a leadership vacuum and internal rivalries.

...There were years or fruitless negotiations between Cairo and the upstream states in the Nile Basin initiative, a forum set up in 1999 by all the Nile states. But in 2010, Egypt found its domination of the river heavily challenged.

Ethiopia and four African states -- later joined by two more -- threw out a 1959 agreement imposed by British colonial rulers that gave Cairo control of 90 percent of the Nile's water and veto power over dam construction upstream that would limit its water supplies....

Map of the course of the Nile by Baumanns, public domain

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