Putting Egypt’s national security in harm’s way is a red line that cannot be crossed regardless of what anyone thinks, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a message to Ethiopia.
His remarks came as he called on Ethiopia to sign a legally binding agreement with Egypt and Sudan on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“Embracing wisdom and preferring peace does not in any way mean allowing harm to come to this nation’s interests,” Al-Sisi stressed.
The Egyptian President statements came during the inauguration of the Decent Life initiative at Cairo Stadium on Thursday night.
Egypt’s President remarks come a week after the issue of GERD was discussed in a UN Security Council meeting last week.
Egypt’s Al-Sisi message to Egyptians
Al-Sisi stressed that Egypt has the economic and military power to impose its will and defend its interests.
“I and the army will have to perish first before any harm comes to Egypt,” the Egyptian president told the crowd of around 50,000 people.
President Al-Sisi emphasised that Egypt made it clear that it wants cooperation and partnership for the Nile River with the Sudanese and Ethiopian brothers.
In a message to Egyptians, Al-Sisi said: “Your concern is legitimate, but there is no need to worry about a thing. Please, live your lives. Egypt’s is a big country, it is unbecoming for us to worry so much.”
Earlier this month, Egypt criticized Ethiopia’s decision to proceed with the second phase of filling GERD reservoir, warning of the consequences of exacerbating tensions in the region.
Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Aty said that Cairo had received official information from Addis Ababa about the commencement of the filling process, which Egypt categorically rejected.
Ethiopia Nile dam dispute
The construction of Ethiopia’s dam on the Nile River has sparked a conflict between Addis Abbaba on one side, Cairo and Khartoum on the other, as they are concerned over its impact on their water resources.
A statement issued by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry warned that Addis Ababa’s pursuit of its plans is a “dangerous development that once again reveals Ethiopia’s bad faith and insistence on taking unilateral measures to impose a fait accompli.”
Cairo and Khartoum embarked on a diplomatic mission to establish a legally binding agreement on GERD filling and operation, but the talks stalled multiple times.
Egypt and Sudan want Ethiopia to wait until a binding agreement is reached on the management of the dam.
The Ethiopian government maintains that the project is required to provide electricity to roughly 60% of the country’s population. Egypt considers the dam’s construction to be a threat to the country’s water supply.
Saudi Arabia has showed support to Egypt and Sudan Stance. On Tuesday, following the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers chaired by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi government asked for a straightforward procedure to start negotiations over Ethiopia’s Nile dam.
The Saudi government advocated for establishing a clear structure to begin negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over GERD.
The cabinet examined the current developments in the region and around the world. According to Issam bin Saad bin Saeed, Saudi Arabia’s Acting Minister of Information, it renewed the Kingdom’s support for Egypt and Sudan in safeguarding their lawful water rights.
The rapid filling of the giant Nile dam at the headwaters of the Nile River — the world’s biggest waterway, supporting millions of people — could reduce water supplies to downstream Egypt by more than one-third, new USC research shows.
A water deficit of that magnitude, if unmitigated, could potentially destabilize a politically volatile part of the world by reducing arable land in Egypt by up to 72%. The study projects that economic losses to agriculture would reach $51 billion. The gross domestic product loss would push unemployment to 24%, displacing people and disrupting economies.