President Mohammed Morsi said on Monday that the Nile water dispute is at the top of his priority list. The Egyptian leader was speaking at a conference organised to discuss the issues related to Ethiopia’s decision to build the Renaissance Dam on the River Nile. Morsi called for all political rivals to come together to tackle this treat which faces the water supply of the whole country.
“All options are open to face any threat to Egypt’s water security,” he said. “If a drop is lost from the Nile, our blood will be the alternative.” He pointed out that if Egypt is the Nile’s gift, then the Nile is a gift to Egypt. “We are not calling for war, but we will not allow threats against our water security.”
The president said that this problem is not new; it is a result of a “corrupt” regime. He condemned the “many efforts” made by external agencies to make Egypt a failing, ineffective state, “but this will not happen”.
Morsi addressed the conference about various research projects conducted on the effects of the dam since 2011, including work prepared by an international panel of experts selected to study its impact on Egypt. “Ethiopia’s own data shows that the dam will have a negative effect on the countries downstream.”
Apart from calling on domestic opposition groups to unite against this threat, Morsi directed a message to the ten member states of the Nile Basin group of countries. “We Egyptians have been working to reinforce fraternal relations with all of these countries,” he stressed, “and have highlighted cooperation, development and communication.” Although he insisted that Egypt does not oppose development projects in any of the ten states, surely, said the president, such projects do not have to threaten Egypt’s historical and legal rights to the water of the Nile.
Ethiopia’s unilateral action on the dam appears to ignore the Nile Basin Initiative, a regional partnership formed in 1999 which seeks to develop the river in a cooperative manner for the benefit of all members.