Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over their failure to agree on a filling mechanism and the operation of the Greater Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) are growing. Recently, tensions between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have escalated around Ethiopia`s Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, particularly after Ethiopia announced that it would fill the GERD reservoir, a move contrary to the Egyptian mission to fill the dam not without a legally binding agreement on the fair allocation of Nile waters. Egypt has also degenerated its call for the international community to engage. The United States has already threatened to withhold development aid to Ethiopia if the conflict is not resolved and an agreement is not reached. Abdel-Aty said the tentative agreement signed in Sudan in 2015 had enabled Egypt to reach a fair and balanced agreement that takes into account the interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, but that Ethiopia prevented it. The agreement to resume talks was reached at an African Union (AU) meeting chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Improved relations between Egyptians, Ethiopians and Sudanese can, to a large extent, enable their leaders to negotiate and adopt agreements that reflect the interests of citizens, particularly with regard to economic development and poverty reduction. As a result, Ethiopians and Egyptians understand and appreciate the challenges they face, particularly in the areas of water security, climate change, food production and the fight against poverty, when they regularly interact with each other and participate in bottom-up, participatory and more inclusive approaches to resolving their conflicts. Both citizens and governments should be part of the solution to the water-related conflicts that now threaten peace and security in the Nile Basin. Given that the conflict between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over GERD appears to be one of the most pressing issues in the region, it may be desirable to focus on ensuring a trilateral agreement that will initially guarantee peace between these three countries. Other riparian countries may then be brought into the country either through the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) or another regional framework in order to reach a binding agreement for all states. While Egypt and Sudan are likely to oppose efforts to involve other upstream residents in negotiations or to allow a regional organization such as ICE to serve as an enforcement body, they must understand that the Nile is a regional river and that its management must be approached from a regional perspective. In a statement, the Egyptian presidency said that future negotiations would focus on “the development of a binding legal agreement on the rules for filling and operating” the dam.
Unfortunately, the agreement drawn up by the United States contained provisions that Ethiopia considers very unfair, but Egypt vehemently demands. By giving hope of an agreement that was clearly not acceptable to Ethiopia, the process seems to have amplified the differences and slowed the pace of negotiations. Moreover, the resolution of conflicts on the Nile is most likely more fruitful by improving relations between local residents and not by external interventions.