Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is set to visit Sudan today to discuss military cooperation between Cairo and Khartoum. The
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is set to visit Sudan today to discuss military cooperation between Cairo and Khartoum.
The two North African states signed a defence pact on Tuesday after a conference of their respective military staff. The agreement entails joint military drills and cooperation in training, border protection and counter-terrorism. Mutual ties have deepened recently as a result of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River in Ethiopia, which will substantially diminish both nations’ water reserves. The Nile provides 90% of the water supply for 100 million Egyptians.
Military cooperation will put pressure on Ethiopia to cease gradually filling the GERD reservoir in violation of previous compacts. Sudan and Ethiopia also have their own border dispute in the al-Fashaga region.
In the short-term, conflict is unlikely. Neither Egypt nor Sudan have the capabilities to seriously strike Ethiopia. They still hope to reach a binding diplomatic solution on water usage mediated by the US, EU, UN, and African Union. It is now Addis Ababa’s choice whether to accept this quadripartite arbitration plan. In the long-term, it will be more important to secure agreements on water usage with Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda, especially during droughts, in order to avoid further tensions in the Nile Basin.