What’s the Arab League’s position on Ethiopia’s Nile dam?

The latest round of talks over the filling of Ethiopia's controversial Nile dam have foundered and the Arab League has…

The latest round of talks over the filling of Ethiopia’s controversial Nile dam have foundered and the Arab League has made its position clear.Tuesday’s extraordinary meeting of Arab League Foreign ministers over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in Doha provided the chance for the AL to signal whose side its on.

A resolution from the meeting stated the Arab League’s categorical rejection of policies that would compromise Egypt and Sudan’s share of water from the Nile, Africa’s longest and most important river. 

It even calls on the United Nations Security Council to intervene before the crisis brought by competing claims of the Nile’s resources could degenerate into tensions and open conflict in the region.

North African neighbour Tunisia has been more vociferous in its opposition to Ethiopia’s Nile ambition aside from Egypt and Sudan. 

Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi spoke about “defending the Egyptian and Sudanese rights” to the Nile waters.

Although the expressed aim of the League of Arab countries is for the furtherance of the interests of its member countries, the 76-year old organisation is notorious for its lack of unity over the years.

Its members hardly “sing from the same hymn sheet” on issues of common interests.

But the vexed issue of the Nile seems of late a unifying factor for the Arab League’s Arabic-speaking African and Asian nations.  

The league is particularly incensed by Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to fill the dam for the second year running.

Arab League members led by Egypt and Sudan hold the view that Ethiopia should be signatory to a binding legal arrangement with its downstream neighbours over the filling of Africa’s most expensive hydroelectric dam project valued at $4.8 billion.

The dam is set to produce 6,000-megawatt of electricity which Ethiopia intends to commercialise and supply to its Horn of Africa neighbours such as Djibouti and Eritrea willing to buy.

Tunisia’s FM Jerandi put it bluntly to his peers when he said the water interests of its neighbours are an existential Arab security challenge.

Ethiopia’s insistence that its Nile dam project is a a lifeline for its emerging economy has always met with vociferous opposition from its downstream neighbours who sometimes resort to tough warnings.

In April Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi warned that his country would never bow to Ethiopian interests on the Nile and compromise its water security.

Although he stopped short of beating the drums of war, the Egyptian leader made oblique references to it.

A few days ago the latest round of talks sponsored by the African Union (AU) had failed.

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