By Daniel Berhane,
Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Dr. Mohamed Bahaa El Din, has dismissed recent news reports that his country is preparing for an air strike to stop Ethiopia from its construction of the controversial dam at its borders with Sudan.
In an interview he conducted with Al-Jazeera on Saturday, the Minister claimed that the news is entirely baseless as there are no such discussion taken place within his government.
He rather emphasized that he personally wouldn’t recommend military option against commitments to negotiation and dialogue for handling the issue of the Renaissance dam as talks of war and threat only brings negative results.
Former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Dr. Mohamed Nasr Allam, has also ruled-out the military option to prevent Ethiopia from completing the dam, claiming that there are other effective measures – far from the use of violence – to pressure Ethiopia.
According to his interview with Egyptian newspaper last Friday, the former Minister outlined the rest of the options including convincing Ethiopia to reduce the dam’s reservoir capacity from 74 billion cubic meters to 4 billion or else build only smaller dams.
Dr. Allam suggested that there are many political measures which can be applied in coordination with “the brotherly State of Sudan” to pressure Ethiopia.
“Refusing to buy electricity from Ethiopia could be one of such measures”, he added. “Egypt will work hard with all the donors to prevent the provision of any financial and technical support towards the construction of the dam.”
He also recommended strengthening ties with countries in the region such as Eritrea will help put enough pressure on the Ethiopian government.
Dr. El Din, on the other hand, hopes that South Sudan will not rush to sign of the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), noting that the signing would not add anything as it is already signed by 6 countries. The Minister is apparently saying that the CFA’s requirement of the signature of 6 countries is fulfilled and they can start ratification process with or without South Sudan anyways.
“This is by no means a weakness from Egypt“, the Minister noted, “rather a commitment to negotiation and the language of dialogue, which are certain to bring much better results“.