US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa to conclude diplomatic trip US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa
US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa to conclude diplomatic trip
US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will wrap up his visit to Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan today after a nine-day diplomatic mission. Talks focused on, among other regional issues, the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant.
Long-standing tensions in the region escalated with Addis Ababa unilaterally commencing filling operations last July despite diplomatic gridlock among affected nations. Expected to last between four and seven years, the operation will be severely disruptive to downstream countries. With Egypt relying on the Nile for 97% of its fresh water, Cairo has decried the project as an “existential threat” to agriculture and public health. Sudan shares its neighbor’s concerns, with Khartoum threatening military escalations unless diplomatic solutions are found.
Expect Special Envoy Feltman to push for continued negotiations under the umbrella of the African Union to secure a legally binding agreement with affected parties before the second filling. Ethiopia is showing no signs of backing down after it rejected data-sharing proposals last month. If tensions further escalate, expect Washington to suspend more state aid to Addis Ababa following the $272 million aid cut last September.