Egyptian army says ‘too early’ to intervene in dam crisis

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The Egyptian army spokesman said on Thursday it was too early to intervene in the war of words taking place between Egypt and Ethiopia over the construction of the Renaissance Dam.

"It's early now to engage the army in the problem since the issue is not yet a military one at this point," Colonel Ahmad Mohamed Ali said.

On the other hand, an Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson said Ethiopia is open to dialogue but will not accept any suggestion to halt or delay construction.

Earlier this week, Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi warned “all options are open” in dealing with Ethiopia’s efforts to build the dam, adding Egypt isn’t calling for war, but was willing to confront threats to its water security.

Infographic: Water politics in the Nile Basin (Design by Farwa Rizwan / Al Arabiya English)
Infographic: Water politics in the Nile Basin (Design by Farwa Rizwan / Al Arabiya English)

In reaction to these statements, Ethiopia's foreign ministry said such rhetoric will not deter Addis Ababa from building the dam.

"Ethiopia adopts frankness with neighboring countries, not only with Egypt. Egyptians' fears of building the Renaissance Dam do not have a bases. They are only their own beliefs. The Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will benefit neighboring countries (and not only Ethiopia)," Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson, Dina Mufti, told Al Arabiya.

Egypt's foreign minister, Mohamed Kamal Amr, will visit the Ethiopian capital on Sunday to discuss the issue with local officials.

Egypt in the past has threatened to go to war over its “historic rights”.

“Legal agreements governing the distribution of the Nile waters were all signed between the colonial powers in Africa from 1891 until the Second World War. In 1929, Egypt signed, with Colonial Britain an agreement which admits Egypt’s historical rights regarding the Nile and prohibits the building of dams, irrigation projects and other measures on the river, its tributaries or lakes without prior agreement with Egypt,” Youssef Khazen, African affairs analyst said.

Ethiopia’s latest action appears to ignore the 10-nation Nile Basin Initiative. Egyptian political leaders have caused uproar as they propose Cairo aid rebels seeking to overthrow the Ethiopian government or try to sabotage the dam itself.
Ethiopia has demanded an official explanation.

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