Egypt, Uganda sign security cooperation agreement as Sisi warns Ethiopia over Nile dam
Uganda and Egypt signed a military intelligence sharing agreement on Wednesday, Reuters has reported.
It comes as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned Ethiopia regarding the controversial Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), saying there were "many Egyptian options to deal with the crisis" following the failure of talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Major-General Sameh Saber El-Degwi, an intelligence official, headed an Egyptian delegation to the Ugandan capital Kampala to sign the intelligence sharing deal.
"The fact that Uganda and Egypt share the Nile, cooperation between the two countries is inevitable because what affects Ugandans will in one way or other affect Egypt," he was quoted as saying in a Ugandan army statement.
The White Nile, one of the Nile river's two main tributaries originates in Uganda. Ethiopia has built the GERD on the Blue Nile, which originates on its territory and is the source of 80 percent of the water reaching Egypt.
Egyptians fear that the GERD could severely reduce their supply of life-giving water, with catastrophic consequences.
The signing of the intelligence-sharing agreement came as something of a surprise, however, because Uganda has previously opposed efforts by upstream countries such as Egypt and Sudan to control the flow of Nile water.
According to the Ugandan army statement, Egypt and Uganda will from now on "share resourceful intelligence on a regular basis".
Last month, Egypt signed an unprecedented military cooperation agreement with Sudan and the two countries have recently conducted dramatic military exercises, codenamed "Nile Eagles 2" which were widely considered to be a warning to Ethiopia.
Sudan has also expressed opposition to the GERD, saying that unilateral Ethiopian filling of the dam would expose millions of its citizens to the risk of flooding.
All options on the table?
Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan ended on Tuesday evening without any progress in solving the bitter dispute over the massive dam and mutual accusations of intransigence.
In a speech at an event on Wednesday Egyptian President Sisi issued a new warning to Ethiopia over the dam.
"I say to our brothers in Ethiopia, we must not reach the point where Egypt's water security is threatened, because all options are open, and cooperation between the two sides is better.”
"Egyptian concerns over water is legitimate and justified," he added.
However, the Egyptian leader also said that his country would have to pay "a high price" if it came to military confrontation, reminding his audience of previous Egyptian military engagements, such as the 1967 war with Israel and the intervention in Yemen, which ended in defeat or stalemate.
Sisi, who came to power following a 2013 military coup, has come under a lot of criticism from Egyptians over his previous handling of the crisis.
On Wednesday, the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, an opposition group, issued a statement saying that Sisi had "betrayed" Egypt by signing a 2015 Declaration of Principles with Ethiopia over the dam.
It called for the GERD to be "neutralised completely" if Ethiopia didn't agree to a reduced share of water, in order to save the lives of "millions of Egyptians".