BY AHRAM ONLINE
Sudan has recently held a series of meetings with foreign ambassadors in Khartoum, including those of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) countries, to discuss the standoff caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has been of concern for Sudan since 2011.
The meetings came because “war is not a choice,” read a news bulletin released by the Sudanese irrigation ministry on Sunday.
The statement added that Sudan wants to place responsibility on the international community to convince Ethiopia to retreat on its intention to embark on the second filling of the GERD in July without reaching an agreement with Khartoum.
The meetings, organised by the Sudanese irrigation ministry, were held over the past week with the ambassadors of US, Russia, France, and the UK — the permanent members of UNSC – in addition to Italy and the Netherlands.
Tension between Sudan and Ethiopia mounted earlier this month after Sudan withdrew from the latest round of African Union (AU)-sponsored talks in rejection of the methodology upon which the negotiations were held in addition to Ethiopia’s intention to start the second filling of the GERD next summer despite a lack of agreement with Sudan and Egypt, another downstream country engaged in the long-running impasse.
Negotiations over the GERD have been put on hold due to Khartoum’s desire to grant a bigger role to the experts involved in the AU-mediated talks instead of holding direct discussions among the three nations. Ethiopia, in addition to Egypt, refuses the Sudanese demand.
Last week’s discussions also included a meeting between Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation, Yasser Abbas, and the ambassador of Congo, the next chair of the AU, which is the current mediator in the GERD negotiations.
“We cannot continue in the vicious cycle of discussions endlessly,” the statement quoted Abbas as saying during last week’s meetings.
Abbas also voiced out his country’s concerns about the direct threat the GERD would inflict on the reservoir of the Sudanese Roseires Dam if Ethiopia went on the second filling without reaching an agreement or daily exchange of information with Sudan.
The storage capacity of the Nile’s Roseires Dam, which is located nearby the GERD, is less than 10 percent of that of the GERD, he said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced last summer his country would start the second phase of filling the controversial dam during the rainy season of August 2021 with 18.4 billion cubic metres of water.
Addis Ababa declared last summer that it had achieved the first filing – estimated at around 4.9 billion cubic metres – during the rainy season flooding of the Blue Nile, a step that angered both downstream countries.
On 30 June 2020, the UNSC held an open session over the GERD dispute upon Egypt’s request after negotiations between the three countries failed to produce an accord, in addition to Ethiopia’s announcement to start the filling of its dam’s reservoir even without the approval of the two downstream countries, a step that was carried out a month later.