Trump warns Ethiopia

For years Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been fighting over a dam on the Nile. US President Trump accuses Ethiopia of violating an agreement. However, it is unclear what agreement Trump means.

US President Donald Trump has accused Ethiopia of breaking an already negotiated compromise with Egypt and Sudan on a controversial dam project. Without an agreement on the hydropower plant on the Blue Nile, Egypt, which lies downstream, would be in a “dangerous situation,” Trump said in the White House. Ultimately, Cairo could be forced to “blow the dam,” he warned.

His comment points to an escalation of the dispute, which has been going on for years, as Ethiopia could view an attack on the dam on its territory as a declaration of war. However, many experts consider an Egyptian military strike against the dam to be unlikely, as the country would endanger the important water supply through the Nile.

It was initially unclear which “deal” Trump was referring to. The conflicting parties had not publicly announced a breakthrough in their talks. Since the end of last year there had been several talks in Washington between ministers of the countries concerned, the World Bank and the US government. The conflicting parties are said to have been on the verge of a breakthrough in January.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been fighting for years over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa wants to use the hydropower plant to generate electricity that is urgently needed for economic development. For Egypt – the most populous country in the Arab world – the dam is an existential threat: Cairo fears that the dam will impair its water supply and is aiming for a legally binding agreement before it goes into operation, which among other things guarantees an adequate water flow.

Trump said the US government has now cut aid funds from Ethiopia. “They shouldn’t have done that, it was a big mistake,” he said, referring to the failure of the negotiations. “It’s a dangerous situation,” he said. Trump raised the issue on Friday in a phone call that was attended by government officials from Sudan. The conversation was actually about establishing diplomatic relations between Sudan and Israel. The Sudanese representative said that Khartoum would continue to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict that would be beneficial for all countries.