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Unlocking GERD diplomacy

Unlocking GERD diplomacy

This week, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) achieved another milestone—first stage of reservoir filling. This is perhaps the most important landmark with regard to the diplomatic effort between Ethiopia and the downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt. GERD diplomacy has increased in tempo in the past few months, mainly owing to the progress of the construction of the Dam, three-quarter of which is reportedly completed. Towards the end of last year, Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-sisi, went to the United States to request the intervention of President Donald J. Trump to help mediate the matter. The President did not only take on the GERD issue, but openly showed his appreciation of Al-sisi. In spite of scandalously calling Egyptian leader “My favorite dictator,” in front of presidential aides of both nations, Trump-Al-sisi cordial relationship resulted in one of the most one-sided mediation in the era international diplomacy. The negotiation now is in hands of the African Union and its current chairperson, South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa. It was in this backdrop that, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) announced, on Wednesday, that the most fought after first filling of the reservoir behind GERD has been completed, to the extent that the water has “topped over”. According to him, this has shifted the course of the negotiation significantly, since it has eliminated one of the most difficult conversations to have among three countries off the table. The video conference negotiation held on Monday, hence, is reported to have achieved a breakthrough by a establishing that the nations would continue the talks to resolve technical matters on the second and third stage reservoir filling.