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Egypt welcomes US mediation to help break high-stakes deadlock over Nile dam

Motaz Zahran, Egypt’s ambassador to the United States, welcomed US and international mediation of a dangerous dispute over the Nile’s waters between Egypt and its upriver neighbor, Ethiopia. Zahran said Addis Ababa is showing “no political will whatsoever” in reaching agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is why US and international intervention is needed, and welcome, to break the deadlock.

  • In his confirmation hearing last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that the stalled GERD talks could “boil over,” and promised that the United States would be “fully engaged” in the region.
  • “We certainly encourage the new administration to be fully engaged in shepherding” a resolution of the stalled talks, Zahran said in an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor.
  • Egypt depends on the Nile for 95% of its water. If that water source isn’t carefully managed, Zahran warns, there is the “potential to disrupt the livelihoods for over 150 million Egyptians and Sudanese”; all this could “create an avalanche of socioeconomic turbulence.”

Zahran also discussed:

• Why the US-Egyptian relationship “transcends local politics” in both countries.

• The Egyptian economy’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic (see below).

• Egypt’s role in Israeli-Palestinian and Libyan peace efforts.

• Egypt’s support for the governments of Sudan and Iraq.

• Turkey’s “extremely destructive role” in Libya, which is creating “another Syria.”

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