Establishment of the International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (The Blue Nile)

 

Press release

On June 22nd 2013 Ethiopian scholars and experts working in different disciplines across different continents have established an international Association called International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (IEPSA).

IEPSA’s main objective is to mobilize Ethiopian professionals across the world to provide support in their professional capacity for the successful completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD); it also aims to ensure the continuous utilization of Abay (the Blue Nile River) by Ethiopia based on fair, equitable and other internationally recognised principles and standards. The major factors for the establishment of IEPSA are fivefold: The first concerns the absence of a non-governmental and an independent body to deliver research-based information to the international community about the on-going construction of the GERD and its implications for all concerned. As a second factor, the majority of the Egyptian people only know what they are told by their politicians and have no information about the significance of the GERD for both upstream and downstream countries. This is because Egyptian politicians, although not necessarily all, do not appreciate and accept the rights of other riparian states and peoples on the use of the tributaries of the Nile; as a result of this, their attitude towards upstream water development projects is very biased and hostile.  As a third point, there are also questions in the minds of Ethiopians about the size, location and other aspects of the GERD which need to be dealt with in a transparent and accountable manner. Fourthly, there is no formal arrangement or a framework through which experts and professionals of all riparian countries could come together to play a constructive role regarding the GERD and other crucial issues pertaining to the use and utilisation of Nile River waters and resources. Finally but most importantly, there has not been any platform or mechanism through which all Ethiopian professionals across different countries could be brought together to professionally contribute to the efforts of Ethiopia on water and related projects.

With the aim of addressing and mitigating the aforementioned gaps and problems and with a clear focus on the ongoing project on Abay (the Blue Nile), IEPSA aspires to achieve the following specific objectives:

  • Conducting scientific, reasoned and research-based assessment in aspects of the GERD and sharing the results thereof with concerned entities and experts at home.
  • ·         Providing professional support to the National Committee for the Construction of the GERD and cooperating with those working on the Dam itself.
  • ·         Maintaining and protecting Ethiopia`s national interest on the international stage through disseminating realistic information, establishing a data-base and through other appropriate methods about the Blue Nile River in general and the GERD in particular.
  • Supporting the Dam’s National Committee to mitigate and address the critical questions raised by some international environmental organizations on the GERD, in an informed, scientific and civilised ways.

IEPSA consists of professionals from different disciplines who are working for universities, research institutes, multinational companies and foreign government bodies as recognised experts in their respective fields. The participants of IEPSA include engineers of various types, economists, environmental and conservation scientists, experts and researchers of water resources, trans-boundary water management, international law, international relations, information technology and hydro-politics. Doctoral students and university graduates from America, Europe and Canada are also vital participants of IEPSA. We have no a slightest doubt that the field of expertise and geographical coverage of participants in IEPSA will be much broader than today.

It is with great privilege we invite all Ethiopian professionals and scholars to join the ‘International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay’ .Your contribution and participation in this timely issue would be greatly appreciated. You can reach us by email: abayipsa@gmail.com

ዓለምአቀፍ የኢትዮጵያ ባለሙያዎች  ድጋፍ ለአባይ (ኢፕሳ)

International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay (IEPSA)

Email: abayipsa@gmail.com

 

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CFA: Uganda to ratify new River Nile agreement

Uganda is to ratify the CFA according to News Vision from Uganda. The CFA to be binding it needs six riparians` ratification to the minimum. So far six states have signed and Ethiopia had take the lead of ratifying it. Recently South Sudan has reaffirmed to sign the CFA and D R Congo is likely to sign and ratify the Agreement. The CFA is the first multilaterally negotiated and signed Nile Treaty in the entire history of the Nile Basin. By so doing it will declare equitable and reasonable utilization of the Nile waters and nullify the so-called previous bilateral or colonial agreements which favors water recipient states in the downstream.

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News Vision 

24/06/2013 Monday

By Gerald Tenywa

Uganda is to ratify the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), a new treaty that is seeking to replace the controversial colonial agreements governing the Nile, according to Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, the minister of water and environment.

Kamuntu told New Vision that the old agreements of the Nile were being used to block development of hydro-electric power and irrigation agriculture that would enhance energy security and food security.

He also said the old agreements were archaic because they addressed only the interests of the users and ignored the contributors of the water.

“The CFA was signed by member countries including Uganda,” Kamuntu told New Vision. “By law the CFA has to be ratified and that is under the Ministry of foreign affairs who will then submit to Cabinet and finally to Parliament.”

He added, “The Ministry of Water and Environment has already submitted to the Ministry of Foreign affairs and the process of ratification is on track.”

The upstream states did not participate in the negotiations of the 1929 (between Egypt and Britain-Uganda’s former colonial master) and 1959 agreement (between Egypt and Sudan).

“We were not consulted and we did not negotiate or sign the colonial era agreements,” said Kamuntu, adding, “Egypt should accept the CFA because shared resources can only be secured if the affected countries cooperate for mutual benefit.”

For two decades, the CFA was discussed by countries of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) namely Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.  Eretria participates as an observer. South Sudan is the newest member of NBI.

 

“ዓለምአቀፍ የኢትዮጵያ ባለሙያዎች ድጋፍ ለአባይ (ኢፕሳ)” የሚል ተቋም ተመሰርተ

ከመላው ዓለም በተወጣጡ ኢትዮጵያውያን እና ትውልደ ኢትዮጵያዊያን በሰኔ 15 ቀን 2005 ዓ.ም. (22nd June 2013) በአባይ ጉዳይ ላይ ስብሰባ አደርጉ። ስለ ጉዳይ ቀድሞ በተዘጋጀ መነሻ ሃሳብ ባለሞያዎቹ ሰፊ ውይይት ካአደርጉ በኃላ “ዓለምአቀፍ የኢትዮጵያ ባለሙያዎች  ድጋፍ ለአባይ” የተሰኘ በእንግሊዘኛው “International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay (Nile)-IEPSA” ትኩረቱን በአባይ ወንዝ ላይ በሚሰሩ እና በታቀዱ ፕሮጀክቶች ያደረገ የባለሙያዎች የጥናት ተቋም አቋቋሙ፡፡

ይህ ተቋም በዋናነት በአሁኑ ወቅት ያሉትን ነባራዊ ሁኔታ ከተመለከተ በኃላ በዓለም ዙሪያ ያሉ ባለሞያዎች በየሞያቸው ለታላቁ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዳሴ ግድብ እና ተያያዥ በሆኑ በአባይ ላይ በሚሰሩ ቀጣይ የኃይል ማመንጫም ሆነ የመስኖ ግድብ ስራዎች ዙሪያ አስተዋጽኦ በተጠናከረና በተሰባሰበ መልኩ እንዲያደርጉ እና አገር ውስጥ ያለውን የሕዳሴ ግድብ ብሔራዊ የባለሞያዎች ቡድን በሙያ ለማገዝ በበጎ ፈቃደኛ ኢትዮጵያውያን እና ትውልደ ኢትዮጵያዊያን  የተቋቋመ ነው፡፡

በአሁኑ ወቅት ኢፕሳ እንዲቋቋም ከአስገደዱ ምክንያቶች ዋና ዋናዎቹ አንደኛ ኢትዮጵያ እየሰራች ያለችው የሕዳሴው ግድብ እና በፕሮጀክቱ ዙሪያ ለሚነሱ ጥያቄዎች በሰይንሳዊ ትንተና የተደገፈ መረጃ በተለያዩ ቋንቋዎች በተጠናከረ መልኩ ለዓለምአቀፍ ማኅበረሰብ የሚያደረስ መንግሥታዊ ያልሆነ ተቋም አለመኖሩ፤  ሁለተኛ የግብጽ ሕዝብ ፖለቲከኞች ከሚነግሩት መረጃ በስተቀር ኢትዮጵያ የምትገነባዎ ግድብ ለግብጽ እና ሱዳን ያለውን ጥቅም፣ ሌሎች ሀገሮች በአባይ ወንዝ ላይ ስላላቸው መብት እና ሌሎችም መረጃዎችን አለማግኘታቸው እና ይህም በራስጌ ሀገራት የውሃ ስራዎች በተለይ ኢትዮጵያ ላይ ያለቸው አመለካከት የተዛባ በመሆኑ፤ ሶስተኛ ኢትዮጵያዊያን በሕዳሴው ግድብ ዙሪያ – ለምን ግድቡ አሁን ባለበት ቦታ ተሰራ? ለምን አንድ ግዙፍ ግድብ መስራት አስፈለገ? ሁለት ሶስት መካክለኛ ግድብ በተለያያ ቦታ መስራት አይቻልም ነበር ወይ? ከኤሌክትሪክ ሃይል ከማመንጨት በተጨማሪ ኢትዮጵያ ከግድቡ ምን ትጠቀማለች? የሚሉ እና ተያያዥ ጥያቄዎች ማንሳታቸው እና ለዚህም የጠራ መለስ ስለሚያሻ ፤  አራተኛ በውጪ ዓለም ያለውን ኢትዮጵያዊ እና ትውልደ ኢትዮጵያዊ በአንድ ላይ አምጥቶ የራሱን ሞያዊ ድጋፍ እንዲያደርግ የሚረዳ አካልም ሆነ የተመቻቸ ሁኔታ አለመኖሩ ናቸው፡፡

ከላይ ከተጠቀሱት ከፍተቶች በመነሳትም ኢፕሳ የተለያዩ ዓለማዎችን እና ግቦችን የቀረጸ ሲሆን በዋናነትም ከሁኔታው አንግባጋቢነት እና የተቀናጀ ስራ አስፈላጊነት አንጻር በአባይ ወንዝ አጠቃቀም ዙሪያ በተለይ ለህዳሴ ግድብ ትኩረት በመስጠት ይንቀሳቀሳል፡፡ ስለሆነም ሳይንሳዊ ጥናትን መሰረት ያደረገ መረጃ ለሚመለከታቸው ክፎሎች ማድረስ፣ የህዳሴ ግድቡን ያጠናዊ አለም አቀፍ ኮሚቴ  ግድቡ በግርጌ አገሮች ላይ ያለውን አካባባዊ ተጽኖ ተጨማሪ ጥናት እና ሌሎችም ጉዳዮች ለህዳሴ ግድብ ብሔራዊ ኮሚቴ ሙያዊ ድጋፍ እና ትብብር ማድረግ፣ የኢትዮጵያን ጥቅም ለማስጠበቅ በዓለምአቀፍ ደረጃ የህዝብ ግንኙነት ስራ እና የማግባባት ስራ መስራት፣ ስለ አባይ ወንዝ እና እንዲሁም ስለ ህዳሴ ግድብ የተሟላ የመረጃ ቋት ማዛጋጀት እና በወንዙም ሆነ በግድቡ ዙሪያ ለሚነሱ ጥያቄዎች መልስ ይሰጣል፡፡ በተጨማሪም በዓለም አቀፍ ሚዲያዎች የሚወጡ ሃሳቦችን ማየት፣ መተንተን፣ ካስፈለገ መልስ መስጠት  እና በውሃ አጠጠቃቀም ፣አከፋፈል እና ተዛማች ሞያዎች ዙሪያ ለኢትዮጵያዊያን ተማራማሪዎች የስኮላርሺፕ እድል ያፈላልጋል።

 

ኢፕሳን ያቋቋሙት ባለሙያዎች ከተለያየ የትምህርት እና የሙያ መስክ የተውጣጡ ሲሆን በዋናነትም ከአውሮፓ፣ ሰሜን አሜሪካ እና ካናዳ ዩኒቨርስቲዎች የሚያስተምሩ ፕሮፌሰሮች፣ ዶክተሮች እና የጥናት ባለሙያዎች፣ በተለያዩ ትልልቅ ኩባንያዎች የማሰሩ እና የረጅም ጊዜ ልምድ ያላቸው ባለሙያዎች እና የድህረ ምረቃ ተማሪዎች ናቸው፡፡ ስብጥራቸውም በዋናነት ከተለያዩ ምህንድስና ሞያዎች፣ አካባቢ ሳይንስ እና አካባቢ ጥበቃ፣ ህግ፣ ምጣኔ-ሀብት፣ በውኃ እና በተሻጋሪ ወንዞች አስተዳደር፣ ዓለምአቀፍ ግንኙነት እና ኢንፎርሜሽን ቴክሎጅ ትምህርት ክፍሎች የተወጣጡ ናቸው፡፡

ዓላማዎቹንም ለማሳካት ኢፕሳ በዳይሬክተር የሚመራ ሲሆን በዋናነትም የምጣኔ ሐብት፣ ምህንድስና፣ አካባቢ ጥበቃና እርሻ፣ ህግ እና ዓለምአቀፍ ጉዳዮች፣ መረጃ እና የኢኒፎርሜሽን ቴክኖሎጅ፣ የህዝብ ግንኑነት እና የማግባባት  እና የወሰን ተሸጋሪ ወንዞች አስተዳድር ክፍሎች የተዋቀረ ነው፡፡ ዳሬክተሩ፣ ጸሐፊው እና የየክፍሎች ሃላፊዎች በየስድስት ወሩ ይቀየራሉ። በቅርብም ተቋሙ ለተማራማሪዎች ጥሪ በማቅረብ በሎንደን በአባይ ወንዝ ላይ ታላቅ አውደ ጥናት ያካሄዳል።  ለዚህ ታሪካዊ ክስተት ማንኛውም ኢትዮጵያዊ እና ትውልደ ኢትዮጵያዊ ባለሙያ ሁሉ አባል በመሆን በተዋቀሩት ክፍሎች በመግባት የራሱን አስተዋጾዖ እንድታደርጉ እና እንድስተፉ ጥሪያችንን እንስተላልፋለ። በ abayipsa@gmail.com በሚለው ኢሜይል ሊያገኙን ይችላሉ።

 

ዓለምአቀፍ የኢትዮጵያ ባለሙያዎች  ድጋፍ ለአባይ (ኢፕሳ)

International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay(IEPSA)

Email: abayipsa@gmail.com

News: International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (Nile)- IEPSA Established

Ethiopian experts, professionals, university professors, doctors, doctoral students and graduate scholars in Europe, USA and Canada established a group named International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (Nile)- IEPSA. The group which is composed of more than 25 Ethiopian experts is drawn from different fields of studies that are directly and indirectly related with water issues both from the hard sciences and the social sciences. The following is the full press release of IEPSA.

===============================

Establishment of the International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (Nile)

Press release

On June 22nd 2013 Ethiopians composed of experts from different disciplines across different continents establish an international organization called International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (IEPSA).  .

IEPSA’s main objective is to mobilize Ethiopian professionals across the world to provide support in their professional capacity for the successful completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD); and for ensuring the continuous utilization of Abay (Nile) River by Ethiopia based on fair, equitable and internationally acceptable principles.  The major factors for the establishment of the IEPSA are: firstly, there is no other non-governmental body to deliver researched and organized information to the international community about GERD which is currently under construction. Secondly, the majority of the Egyptian people know only what they are told by their politicians and have no information about the significance and importance of the GERD for upstream countries. Furthermore, the people of Egypt do not understand the rights of other riparian states on the Nile and as a result their attitude to upstream water development projects is very biased and negative. . Thirdly, there are also questions raised by Ethiopians about the size and location of the GERD-which needs clear answers. Fourthly, there is no formal arrangement made to bring the professionals of other riparian states so that they can play a constructive role regarding the GERD. And fifthly, there has not been any platform or mechanism to bring Ethiopians across different countries together so they could professionally support the efforts of Ethiopia on water and related projects.

With the aim of filling the aforementioned gaps and the necessity of focusing on the ongoing projects on Abay (Nile) River, the IEPSA aspires to achieve certain objectives mainly providing scientifically conducted and research based information about the GERD to the concerned entities, provide  professional support and work in cooperation with the National Committee for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on different issues which need expertise, working towards maintaining and protecting Ethiopia`s national interest on the international stage through strengthening public relation works and lobbing, establishing a database to make any information on the Nile River, in general and the GERD in particular, available for the public and answering all questions regarding the Nile in general and the GERD in particular. IEPSA will also support the national committee to mitigate and answer the critical questions raised by the international environmental organizations on the GERD.

IEPSA is composed of professionals from different disciplines who are mainly university professors, doctors, researchers, expertise in different fields working in big companies; and doctoral students and university graduate scholars mainly from America, Europe and Canada. The composition includes engineers from different disciplines, economists, environmental scientist and conservation professionals, water management experts, and trans-boundary water management professionals, international law experts, information technology professionals; and international relations/hydropolitics researchers.

It is with great privilege we invite all Ethiopian professionals and scholars to join us the ‘International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay .Your contribution and participation in this timely issue would be greatly appreciated. You can rich us by email: abayipsa@gmail.com

ዓለምአቀፍ የኢትዮጵያ ባለሙያዎች  ድጋፍ ለአባይ (ኢፕሳ)

International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay (IEPSA)

Email: abayipsa@gmail.com

News: International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (Nile)- IEPSA Established

Ethiopian experts, professionals, university professors, doctors, doctoral students and graduate scholars in Europe, USA and Canada established a group named International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (Nile)- IEPSA. The group which is composed of more than 25 Ethiopian experts is drawn from different fields of studies that are directly and indirectly related with water issues both from the hard sciences and the social sciences. The following is the full press release of IEPSA.

===============================

Establishment of the International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (Nile)

Press release

On June 22nd 2013 Ethiopians composed of experts from different disciplines across different continents establish an international organization called International Ethiopian Professionals Support for Abay (IEPSA).  .

IEPSA’s main objective is to mobilize Ethiopian professionals across the world to provide support in their professional capacity for the successful completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD); and for ensuring the continuous utilization of Abay (Nile) River by Ethiopia based on fair, equitable and internationally acceptable principles.  The major factors for the establishment of the IEPSA are: firstly, there is no other non-governmental body to deliver researched and organized information to the international community about GERD which is currently under construction. Secondly, the majority of the Egyptian people know only what they are told by their politicians and have no information about the significance and importance of the GERD for upstream countries. Furthermore, the people of Egypt do not understand the rights of other riparian states on the Nile and as a result their attitude to upstream water development projects is very biased and negative. . Thirdly, there are also questions raised by Ethiopians about the size and location of the GERD-which needs clear answers. Fourthly, there is no formal arrangement made to bring the professionals of other riparian states so that they can play a constructive role regarding the GERD. And fifthly, there has not been any platform or mechanism to bring Ethiopians across different countries together so they could professionally support the efforts of Ethiopia on water and related projects.

With the aim of filling the aforementioned gaps and the necessity of focusing on the ongoing projects on Abay (Nile) River, the IEPSA aspires to achieve certain objectives mainly providing scientifically conducted and research based information about the GERD to the concerned entities, provide  professional support and work in cooperation with the National Committee for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on different issues which need expertise, working towards maintaining and protecting Ethiopia`s national interest on the international stage through strengthening public relation works and lobbing, establishing a database to make any information on the Nile River, in general and the GERD in particular, available for the public and answering all questions regarding the Nile in general and the GERD in particular. IEPSA will also support the national committee to mitigate and answer the critical questions raised by the international environmental organizations on the GERD.

IEPSA is composed of professionals from different disciplines who are mainly university professors, doctors, researchers, expertise in different fields working in big companies; and doctoral students and university graduate scholars mainly from America, Europe and Canada. The composition includes engineers from different disciplines, economists, environmental scientist and conservation professionals, water management experts, and trans-boundary water management professionals, international law experts, information technology professionals; and international relations/hydropolitics researchers.

It is with great privilege we invite all Ethiopian professionals and scholars to join us the ‘International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay .Your contribution and participation in this timely issue would be greatly appreciated. You can rich us by email: abayipsa@gmail.com

ዓለምአቀፍ የኢትዮጵያ ባለሙያዎች  ድጋፍ ለአባይ (ኢፕሳ)

International Ethiopian Professional Support for Abay (IEPSA)

Email: abayipsa@gmail.com

president Al Bashir Supports the GERD

Sudan Tribune

June 21, 2013

DAM BENEFICIAL to EGYPT

In his first public endorsement for the controversial Ethiopian renaissance dam, Bashir said that the dam “will not stop the water from Egypt” and added that it will only be used for electricity generation, calling for continuation of consultation among all concerned parties.

He acknowledged the “sensitivity” of the water issue for Egypt, saying that Sudan and Egypt’s water shares will not be impacted during the dam filling period.

The Sudanese president also expressed doubt the Nile Basin Initiative (Known as Entebbe agreement), which he said “ came from the World Bank not from the Nile Basin countries.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile 40km from the Sudanese border.

Egypt and Sudan had previously argued that the construction of the dam would negatively affect their water shares and insisted the project should be blocked, calling on international donors against funding it.

Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.

But a new deal (Entebbe agreement) was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.

(ST)

 

 

Atlantic Council on Conflict and Opportunity on the Nile

J. Peter Pham | June 19, 2013

Atlantic Council 

Last week, Ethiopia’s parliament unanimously ratified a treaty with five of its neighbors that opens the way for broad regional cooperation on the use of the waters of the Nile River. In response, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, whose government was not part of the pact, angrily declared that “all options are open,” implying that force might be used to prevent Ethiopia from completing a dam across the Nile’s main tributary that would be Africa’s largest hydropower project.

The Nile is the longest river in the world, with a length of over 6,650 kilometers from its remotest source in Burundi’s Luvironza River. Most of the water flowing through the great lakes of equatorial Africa to eventually form the White Nile is lost to evaporation in the Sudd, the vast swamp of southern Sudan. Thus by the time it joins the Blue Nile at Khartoum, the White Nile contributes barely 10 percent of the total flow. Together, the shorter Blue Nile, whose remotest source is the Felege Ghion spring held sacred by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Nile’s other major tributary, the Atbara River, which likewise originates in the heart of the Ethiopian highlands near Lake Tana, account for nearly 90 percent of the water and over 95 percent of the sediment carried by the Nile proper. The combined drainage basin of these river systems covers one-tenth of the area of the African continent.

While the Nile has provided for the livelihoods of the peoples along its banks from time immemorial, rapidly expanding population (the slightly more than 400 million people who live in the river basin are expected to double in number by 2025) combined with industrialization and urbanization—to say nothing of the effects of climate change on Africa—will place unprecedented demands on the river’s fixed supply of water. This, in turn, has led to increased tensions between the eleven independent countries in the Nile Basin—Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda—which together constitute the largest number of sovereign states in any river basin in the world. Each of these states has a distinct interest in the river’s waters as well as varying capacities to exploit the resource. The Egyptians, for example, rely on the river for more than 97 percent of their freshwater; as the late historian Robert O. Collins noted, “Without the annual flood of the Nile waters cascading down, Egypt would consist of only sand and rock and wind.”

Given this context and the fact that they currently also faced with a collapsed economy and growing restiveness among the populace, it is no surprise that Morsi and other politicians in Cairo would find it expedient to respond to the move by Ethiopia and its neighbors with nationalist rhetoric and threats of violence. At a certain level, bombast may be all they have.

First, insofar as it has a legal case at all, Egypt’s claims rests on rather weak foundations. During the colonial era, a May 1929 exchange of notes between Egyptian Prime Minister Muhammad Mahmoud Pasha and the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Lord Lloyd of Dolobran, stipulated that no projects affecting the Nile flow would be undertaken in Sudan, then under the Anglo-Egyptian “condominium,” or any other territory then under British rule without the agreement of the Egyptian government which asserted its “natural and historical rights” over the river. Following Sudan’s independence, that country signed the Nile Waters Agreement with Egypt in 1959, which allocated 55.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water annually to the Egyptians and 18.5 bcm to the Sudanese. The problem is these deals are probably legally null and void—which probably explains why no Egyptian government has ever submitted the Nile issue for even an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. After all, a bedrock principle of classical international jurisprudence is nemo dat quod non habet (“you cannot give what you do not have [or own]”). The lack of reference to other riparian countries and their interests leaves open the question of the Nile Agreement’s legal validity to bind any parties other than Egypt and Sudan which, moreover, contribute virtually nothing to the river’s flow. Ethiopia, the source of an overwhelming part of the Nile’s water, was never a party to either of the agreements, although it was an independent state at the time of both—in fact, at the time of the 1929 accord, Ethiopia had been a full member of the League of Nations for some six years, while Egypt, then under a quasi-protectorate, was not accepted into the organization as a full-fledge sovereign member of the international community until 1937. Moreover, Burundi, the Congo, Eritrea, and Rwanda, are likewise not parties to the accords, having been ruled by other colonial regimes—thus the British did not have any pretext by which to sign away the water rights of those territories.

Second, for all the talk in Cairo about not ruling out any options and the cottage industry that has cropped up to speculate about possible attacks against the $4.3 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Morsi regime’s threats are as empty as its treasury: quite simply, the Egyptian military does not have the aerial refueling capability for its aircraft to even make it into Ethiopian airspace, much less to inflict sufficient damage to stop work on the GERD project and then return home. (It is another matter entirely whether the Egyptian regime, unable to achieve its goals any other way, might resort to covert action, such as supporting and even arming dissident groups seeking the overthrow of the Ethiopian state, irrespective of their prospects for success. It is certainly possible to interpret along such lines the visit two weeks ago of a high-level Egyptian military delegation to Mogadishu where its members were reported to have expressed interest in equipping and training the latest Somali regime’s forces for possible action against the unrecognized, but de facto independent Republic of Somaliland—which, coincidentally, is one of landlocked Ethiopia’s vital accesses to the sea.)

Fortunately, despite the tensions, even as it was ratifying the new treaty with its upper riparian neighbors, the Ethiopian government went out of its way to reach out to downstream countries, including representatives from Sudan and Egypt as well as international members in the International Panel of Experts that recently reported on the impact of the GERD. This unprecedented openness on a question of core national interest is a most welcome development, as is the new agreement, reached on Tuesday following the Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr’s visit to Addis Ababa, for the three countries to conduct further impact studies.

While the environmental, economic, political, and other benefits to be obtained through cooperation by the countries of the Nile is evident, before that comes about, a more satisfactory, permanent legal settlement of the dispute between Egypt, Sudan, and the upstream riparian states is needed. Thus the countries find themselves on the horns of a dilemma. The current water usage is unsustainable, but without a formal accord there can be no rational management, much less reallocation, of a resource whose ownership is so hotly contested. Increasingly, securing their access to water will be a vital component of the national security of the riparian states and, given the geostrategic significance of this subregion at the crossroad between the Middle East and Africa, all the more greater importance to global security in general.

Given the enormous stakes which it has in both Cairo and Addis Ababa, it behooves the United States to see the current conflict defused and the parties resolve their dispute through diplomatic negotiations. Thus far, however, there has been little political appetite in Washington for tackling a problem that does not seem to be immediate, even if the damage that US interests would suffer should two of America’s most important partners in Africa—Egypt and Ethiopia—come to blows is incalculable. This shortsightedness is even more regrettable given the significant opportunities for US diplomacy and American private-sector firms to help the two countries work together to develop the Nile as a whole—to say nothing about how such engagement would not only be the right thing to do by the peoples of the region, but also advantageous to the nation’s own security and global standing.

J. Peter Pham is director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.