The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has expressed its support for Egypt in the long-running dispute between Ethiopia and downstream nations over the Nile River.
The dispute centres on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a hydroelectric dam built on the River Nile. Ethiopia believes the dam is critical to its development, but Egypt and Sudan’s governments fear it could harm their citizens’ access to water.
The GCC’s minister of foreign affairs met Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry in December. Discussing the GERD, the GCC ministers expressed appreciation for Egypt’s pivotal role in Arab security and stability, and their support for the steps Egypt needs to make to defend its security, including water rights.
GCC representatives also emphasised the importance of reaching a legally-binding agreement that ensures no harm to the interests of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
The GCC’s official statement about the meeting with Shoukry did not refer specifically to the GERD, but noted the “necessity of respecting the goodness of neighbours”.
Ethiopia built the GERD to provide power to its population of more than 100 million. The downstream states Egypt and Sudan have complained that Ethiopia has been unilaterally filling the dam behind the GERD, which they believe will dangerously lower the river’s water levels in their nations. Ethiopia filled the dam during the summers of 2020 and 2021, during the rainy season in east Africa. Ethiopia will continue to fill the dam in summer of 2022.
So far, separate attempts at mediation by the AU and the US have failed to secure meaningful progress or produce the legally binding framework desired by Egypt and Sudan.