Arab states have called on the UN Security Council to discuss a dispute over Ethiopia’s plan to fill a giant dam it is building on the Blue Nile.
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit was speaking on Tuesday after a foreign ministers’ meeting and amid concerns from Egypt and Sudan over the impact of the dam on their own access to Nile waters.
“What is the role of the Security Council? The decision does not only refer the issue to the Security Council.
The Egyptian and Sudanese message was clear that the Security Council must fulfil its responsibility, but the decision also calls for urgently holding a session to discuss the dispute.”
Ethiopia is pinning its hopes of economic development on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 90% of its fresh water supply and sees the dam as an existential threat, and Sudan is worried about the operation of its own dams and water stations.
Gheit described the issues as an integral part of Arab national security.
In a statement, the Arab League called on Ethiopia to refrain from unilateral steps – such as completing a second phase of filling the dam’s reservoir without an agreement.
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the Arab states had agreed to on “steps to be taken gradually” to support Egypt and Sudan.
“We always call for a diplomatic resolution based on international law. And we hope that the other party can come around, on the basis of international law, to reach a solution that would satisfy everyone.”
Ethiopia rejected the Arab League’s resolution in its entirety, the foreign ministry said.
Coletta Wanjohi reports on tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia over the Nile dam: