5/24/10 PUBLICATION: analysis/background
ATTRIBUTION: STRATFOR sources
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: 2 sources – Egyptian diplomatic source; well-connected owner of Arab political magazine
SOURCE Reliability : C
ITEM CREDIBILITY: 3
SOURCE HANDLER: Reva
** Note bolded part below in response to my questions– they really emphasize the diplomatic approach and then throw in the contingency plan of setting up Egyptian commando units in Sudan
Egypt is responding diplomatically. There is no other way except to seek the cooperation of the countries along the Nile Basin.
The Egyptians are keen on maintaining their cool. They want to avoid repeating former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s threat to dombard Ethiopia. Sadat’s unfortunate remarks have had soured the two countries’ relations since then. The Egyptians believe the Ethiopians are mainly aiming at causing Egypt to respond wrongly by calling for postponing the construction of dams and hydraulic power plants instead from returning to the negotiating table to resume the search for an agreement.
Certainly. Umar Suleiman accompanied prime minister Ahmad Abu
al-Ghayt during his visit to Khartum last week. The Egyptians do not want to see the southern Sudan becoming independent. They feel that the independence of the south will increase Egypt’s problems with regard to to the waters of the Nile. The Egyptians are also interested in ending darfur’s crisis and stabilizing the Sudan. They see the stability of Sudan extremely vital for Egypt’s national security. The Egyptians believe the solution of the Nile crisis must be diplomatic and inculde the head water and riparian countries. They believe joint developmental programs provide the ultimate answer to sharing the waters of the Nile. The problem is that most of these countries are very unstable and are not ready for serious and long term regional cooperation. Umar Suleiman wanted to see if Umar al=Bashir was willing to allow Egyptian troops, including commando units, to be quietly stationed in Sudan for the unlikely possibility of surgical action such as blowing up dams under construction. I might want to emphasize that these sources insist the Egyptian government will do all it could to avoid this type of action to resolve the crisis. They argue that Egypt needs more water from the Nile and less and that the only way to get more water is through regional cooperation that includes the provision of more technical assistance to them by Egypt.
These dams will have no impact on the water shares of Egypt and Sudan since the waters that will be stored behind the dams for power generation will eventually be returned to the river. A source says Ethiopia has pledged, and submitted documents to that effect, that it would never store water behind the dam for irrigation purposes. He also says that when Ethiopia builds all 40 dams (this will need many years before completion since it does not have the money or the financing), the shares both of Egypt and Sudan would be reduced by about eight billion cubic meters of water.
Egypt cannot deny Ethipoia’s right to develop and build dams for power generation and irrigation. This is the reason why they are playing a very calculated diplomatic game. They do not want to make mistakes.
Many Egyptians are seeing a calamity in the making. Its effects will be felt in 20-50 years. Diplomacy is the best approach they can pursue. Nevertheless, they are making contingency plans for the worst, including surgical commando operations. It is most unlikely that they will resort to them in the foreseeable future. The Egyptians are confident that international donors will not invest in controversial water projects along the Nile unless the concerned countries reach unanimity on the matter. Egypt is proposing long term polans that include the development of African countries along the Nile so that Egypt could purchase its food and cattle from them.