Ethiopia’s dam: a lifeline or a show of power?

The North African country was also praised by South Sudanese President, Silva Kirr for supporting stability in the nascent country. Kiir additionally hailed the developmental initiatives and scholarships provided by Egypt to the South Sudanese. As for other Nile Basin countries, Egypt’s intelligence has assumed a number of posts there. Egypt has also repeatedly supported both Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo in their presidents’ endeavours to seize control unconstitutionally through rejecting the UN’s call for sanctions.

But the most powerful relationship Egypt is refining is with Uganda, an unannounced adversary of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s powerplay isn’t dimming, especially after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s win of the Nobel Peace Prize this year. The 42-year-old and youngest African leader is being given the prestigious award in recognition for his peaceful efforts with the neighbouring country, Eritrea and reaching a peace deal to end an almost 20-year border conflict.

The recognition won him wide regional and international praise. It also shed light on his internal reforms, from distancing his administration from theabuses of former ones to giving competent women high posts within his government.

Abiy’s sweeping political and economic reforms garnered a set of interests and investments from the United States and China. And, akin to Egypt’s attempts to cosy up with other Arab countries, Abiy announced in November, 2018 the implementation of visa-on-arrival regimes for African travellers.

That along with Abiy’s attempts to alleviate ethnic tensions has moved the country’s ranking up enough to gain major global and regional clout. But are Egypt’s vetoes against filling the GERD as well as its operation trampling said clout?

Egypt has historical precedents treating the River Nile as its own, from treaties with then-colonial power, Great Britain and Sudan, to direct military threats against Ethiopia. In fact, Egypt aggressively pursued a higher share in its 1959 treaty with Sudan from 48 billion cubic metres to 55.5 billion cubic metres.

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