There is a political rule that has prevailed since the Cold War, which is that “the conflict of interests is free … that is the nature … As for the arms struggle, it is restricted … and this is the condition for survival.”
This rule, I think, will be one of the most substantial rules governing Egyptian politics and diplomacy in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis. In other words, the conflict of interests will be the winning pressure card to resolve the Ethiopian dam crisis.
Since January 2011, Egypt has lost many political cards after the events and developments that followed this date affected, which limited Egypt’s political and diplomatic ability to move on the ground.
At the same time, the political climate in the region was ready to accept a new political scenario, rising from the ashes of all the political constants that governed that region earlier.
Regional and international interference in this complex political scene became the norm, accompanied by a shift in political attitudes among countries that were considered brotherly during that time.
Thus, it was natural for the consequences of this scene to be catastrophic for the region, as it completely surrendered to the events until it woke up to a nightmare. This is the traditional perspective from which we used to see the crisis with Ethiopia.
However, recent statements by Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia following the last round of GERD talks in Khartoum indicate that change is in the air.
They signal that negotiations have evolved, as the time for courtesies has ended and the time for truth has come.
There is almost unanimity to exclude the military scenario as a solution. Those involved in this file believe that violence is not an option for the two countries, Egypt and Ethiopia, to solve their crises. However, the military build-up could raise the pressure to its maximum.
According to analysts’ opinions, the crisis is now confined to several options, most notably:
– Submitting a complaint to the UN Security Council, and if it is accepted, it will be referred to the International Court of Justice for a decision.
– Resorting to friendly countries such as China and the United States to play the role of mediator.
– Exercising economic pressure from Egypt on Ethiopia by withdrawing its investments from there, and urging allied countries to do the same.
– There is also the African umbrella through the African Union (AU), which can contribute to playing a decisive role in bringing the two points of view closer.
But I think that the most important party in the equation that many overlooked is China, which has relied since it entered into the African continent on giving priority to the language of mutual interest, respect, and equality without interfering in the affairs of others. China adopts a logic different from the Western financial policy in dealing with African countries. Since 2000, China has become the competitor and the next partner to the United States and France in the African continent, because of its tremendous economic power that made it play this role effectively and competently.
I believe that Beijing can play an integral role to deal with this crisis.
Dr. Hatem Sadiq – Professor at Helwan University