Egypt backs call to internationalize Ethiopia dam dispute

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt said on Wednesday that it accepted a Sudanese request to internationalize arbitration over its long-term conflict with Ethiopia over a large dam on the Blue Nile, Addis Abeba.

Cairo supports the creation of a "international quartet" comprising the US, the European Union, and the United Nations and even the African Union to promote the agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shukry.

The disagreement depends on how much water Ethiopia releases from downstream in the event of a multi-year drought and how the three countries handle any potential conflicts.

A legally binding agreement on dam filling and its operation is also being asked for by Egypt and Sudan, though Ethiopia insists on guidelines.

Shukry claimed that Egypt needs to build the negotiation process to reach a "legally binding deal" as soon as possible."

He declared the status of Egypt during a Wednesday meeting in Cairo with Alphonse Ntumba Luaba, the Organizer of the new African Union leadership of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

No immediate announcements have been made from Washington, Brussels or the United Nations.

Sudan announced its plan earlier this year, following success in AU-led negotiations.

Since then, Khartoum has been speaking out against Ethiopia's preparations in the next rainy season to commence second filling.

Premier Abdalla Hamdok said earlier this month that the barracks are threatening at least 20 million Sudanese, approximately half the population of the region.

Sudan wants Ethiopia to organize and exchange dam activity data in order to prevent floods and secure its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile, the largest river tributary.

The Blue Nile joins the White Nile in central Sudan from where the Nile runs into the Mediterranean Sea and travels through Egypt to the north.

No comment from Ethiopia left an attempt led by the United States to mediate the dispute, alleging prejudice.

Ethiopia was approved by the administration of former President Donald Trump last year for the first dam completion before finding an agreement with Egypt and Sudan.

On Friday, the Administration of President Joe Biden said that it de-linked the dam dispute sanctions.

Ethiopia is building a Blue Nile dam that joins the Nile river with the White Nile in Sudan, with about 85% of the river flow originating from Ethiopia.

Officials predict that the dam, now built over three-quarters, will hit full power by 2023, helping to get millions out of poverty.

Egypt, with more than 100 million people, the world's most populous Arab country, called the dam an existential threat and is worried that it will reduce the Nile waters.

The nation depends almost exclusively on the Nile to provide agriculture and its citizens with water.