Egypt says ‘all options are open’ in dealing with Ethiopian dam

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“All options are open” in dealing with an Ethiopian dam seen by Egypt as a threat to its historic rights to Nile waters, an adviser to Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi warned on Wednesday.

“It is Egypt’s right to defend its interests, and other people have a right to follow their own interests. But there must be assurances the Ethiopian dam will not affect Egypt, otherwise all options are open,” Ayman Ali said, according to Egypt’s media.

Pakinam el-Sharkawy, another presidential adviser, told the official MENA news agency that Egypt would demand that Ethiopia cease the construction of the dam, AFP reported.

The presidency considers the dam as a “national security” issue for Egypt, Sharkawy added.

“Demanding of Ethiopia to stop construction of the dam it intends to build on the Blue Nile will be our first step,” she said, according to MENA.

During a meeting on Tuesday with President Mursi several politicians proposed plans to carry out covert attacks against Ethiopia, with some suggesting the bombardment of the Renaissance Dam.

The politicians made their suggestions not knowing that their meeting with the president was being aired live on television.

Egypt believes more studies are needed on the dam’s impact on its water supply which is almost entirely dependent on the Nile, although far more on the flow down the White Nile from the Great Lakes of East Africa, than that down the Blue Nile from the Ethiopian highlands.

Ethiopia has begun diverting the Blue Nile 500 meters (yards) from its natural course to construct a $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) hydroelectric project known as Grand Renaissance Dam.

The Blue Nile joins the White Nile in Khartoum to form the Nile which flows through Sudan and Egypt before emptying into the Mediterranean.

The first phase of construction is due to be finished in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts. Once fully complete, the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts.

Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.

But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.

(With AFP)

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