By Brooke Kantor - for Harvard Politics Review
Tigrai Onlne - March 30, 2014
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance DamToday
Since seizing power, Egypt’s army leaders have prioritized tackling this issue. Unlike Morsi, they are currently engaging in diplomatic solutions to the conflict. Just last month, an Egyptian delegation traveled to Ethiopia to discuss the effects of the dam’s construction, as well as Egypt’s demand for a new Panel of Experts with international representatives to reassess the project. However, the delegation returned to Egypt empty-handed. They accuse Ethiopia of being unfair in their refusal to grant legitimacy to Egypt’s demands. Ethiopia maintains that Egypt’s worries about the dam are groundless and that there is no need for outside individuals to be on the Panel of Experts. Recent reports indicate that Egypt intends to internationalize the issue of the dam after failing to come to an agreement with Ethiopia. Whether doing so will eventually attain a diplomatic solution, or whether a stalemate will ensue is uncertain.
Al-Sisi has more riding on this issue than anybody else. The military government must prove to the people that they are capable of protecting Egypt’s vital interests, or they risk losing legitimacy. What Egyptian leaders are failing to realize is that fighting Ethiopia over the dam is not the best way to do this. Rather, the Egyptian army has the most to gain from recognizing the potential benefits the dam offers Egypt, and working with Ethiopia to capitalize on them. By striking a deal with Ethiopia, the army can turn the dam’s construction into an Egyptian success. They would be able to claim that they both secured Egypt’s rights and influence over the Nile River, as well as provided the nation with increased energy and a more efficient water supply. Doing so would allow them to enjoy a much greater claim to legitimacy in the eyes of the Egyptian people.