Sisi visits Sudan amid simmering dispute with Ethiopia over Nile dam

Sisi visits Sudan amid simmering dispute with Ethiopia over Nile dam
2 min read
06 March, 2021
Sisi's first visit to Sudan since the 2019 revolution aims to revive the two countries' relations, and address tensions with Ethiopia over its Nile dam.
Sisi made his first visit to Khartoum since the 2019 Sudanese revolution [Twitter]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in Khartoum on Saturday on his first visit to Sudan following the revolution which ousted longtime autocrat Omar Bashir in April 2019.

Sisi met the head of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the two leaders discussed the issue of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam.

The Egyptian presidency published a statement saying that Sisi and Burhan expressed their opposition to "unilateral actions which seek to impose a fait accompli and monopolise the Blue Nile's resources", in a reference to Egypt and Sudan's ongoing dispute with Ethiopia over the Nile. 

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi announced Sisi's visit to Sudan at a joint press conference with her Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo last Tuesday.

The two ministers described Ethiopia's plans to fill the Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) for a second time next summer as a direct threat to the "water security of the two countries.” Both ministers urged more UN, US and EU efforts to mediate the dam dispute. 

Both Cairo and Khartoum have long protested Ethiopia’s nearly completed dam on the Nile river.

Many Egyptians see it as an existential threat that could reduce their country's share of the Nile's waters, with catastrophic consequences. Over 85% of the Nile's waters, which Egypt has always depended on for agriculture, originate in Ethiopia

Sudan says unregulated operation of the dam could potentially put 20 million of its citizens - more than half the population - at the risk of floods. 

Read more: Egypt and Ethiopia's Nile Dam - Negotiating in the shadow of disaster?

Since last December, relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa have further soured amid sporadic clashes between Sudanese forces and Ethiopian Amhara militias in the disputed al-Fashaga border region.

Though negotiations over the dam have been ongoing for years, Sudan and Egypt have repeatedly failed to reach a three-party deal with Ethiopia over the massive new dam.

Sisi also plans to meet with Prime Minister Abdullah Hamduk and other senior officials later on in his visit. They will also discuss ways to boost bilateral ties between the two countries.

During al-Bashir’s era, relations between Sudan and Egypt suffered over various issues, including the revival of a longstanding dispute over a border territory, the Halaib Triangle, which is controlled by Egypt and claimed by Sudan.

Sisi’s visit promoted sporadic calls on social media asking citizens to protest against him, and Sudanese security forces were placed on alert as a result. The Egyptian president seized power after overthrowing Egypt's first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi, in a 2013 military coup.

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