Egypt may withdraw from stalled UAE-based Nile Dam talks with Ethiopia over 'lack of progress'

Egypt may withdraw from stalled UAE-based Nile Dam talks with Ethiopia over 'lack of progress'
Egyptian officials have indicated that Cairo may abandon technical negotiations with Ethiopia over the controversial Great Renaissance Dam that have been going on for over a year.
2 min read
23 March, 2023
Egypt views Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam as an existential threat [Getty]

Egypt may withdraw from technical talks in the UAE regarding the operation of Ethiopia's controversial Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River, sources have revealed.

There have so far been seven rounds of talks in Abu Dhabi between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the operation of the GERD, which Egypt fears may deprive it of essential water resources.

However, a western diplomatic source told The New Arab’s sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Egypt has informed UAE officials that it will withdraw from the negotiations - which focus on preventing an escalation between Ethiopia and downstream Nile states Egypt and Sudan - due to a lack of progress.

Negotiations have been going on for a year and Ethiopia is due to fill the GERD for the fourth time from July to September this year.

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Previous unilateral fillings of the dam by Ethiopia have caused tension with Sudan and Egypt.

An Egyptian technical official, who chose to remain anonymous, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Cairo "had reached the conclusion that the negotiations with Addis Ababa had no value, and were not making any significant progress".

"Egyptian officials had also reached the conclusion that negotiations in Abu Dhabi were negatively affecting the Egyptian position as far as world powers with an interest in solving this crisis - particularly the United States - were concerned," the official added.

After Cairo accused Ethiopia of intransigence on the issue of the dam, Washington appeared to back Addis Ababa by saying the Nile Basin nation was showing goodwill by taking part in negotiations with Egypt in Abu Dhabi, he said.

These talks appear to be going nowhere, sources have indicated.

The GERD has been a particularly contentious issue between Ethiopia and Egypt ever since its construction began in 2011, with Cairo saying that it could deprive it of life-giving water, create severe drought, and destroy domestic agriculture.

Ethiopia says that the GERD is essential for its economic development and poses no threat to downstream Nile states.


Egyptian media personalities and political commentators have even threatened war over the issue in the past.

Last week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned that "all options are open and all alternatives remain available" to deal with the GERD.

"The capabilities of the Egyptian people are endless, and Egypt takes disciplined stances towards Ethiopian intransigence," Shoukry added.

Ethiopia's foreign ministry said that it rejected the statement, adding that "amicable solutions to the Renaissance Dam issue with Egypt and Sudan are possible with goodwill".