What does Sudan’s new negotiation effort of GERD imply?

Authors: Yeheys Nardos Hawaz and  Chen Xi

Negotiations on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have risen to a new level, with no agreement made between the Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Sudan is currently actively involved in the diplomatic conflict which had seemed between Egypt and Ethiopia. The African Union (AU) has been leading the talks, but efforts are underway to oust the case from the AU. Sudan’s recent and unique stance calls into question the African Union’s effort.

Currently, Sudan called on the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union to work with the African Union to conduct the Nile negotiations. The Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry African affair team leader in February had also told Khartoum that Saudi Arabia was interested in mediating between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. However, Sudan’s more initial call to the international community does not seem to take into account the diplomatic interests of the Arab League and the Middle East’s influential power. Sudan’s emerging efforts on the GERD have vague implications.

Diverting attention from the border conflict

Sudan is known to be embroiled in a boundary dispute with Ethiopia. This border disagreement was sudden and experienced no former political conflicts. Following the border dispute, it is clear that Sudan’s position on the Renaissance Dam is changing. Sudan’s interest has repeatedly been described as a third-party mission. Despite the Sudanese opposition, the Ethiopian government has repeatedly stated Sudan is engaged in another mission .

The Sudanese government on the one hand is wearisome to show the boundary is unrelated to the Renaissance Dam mediations. While on the one hand, trying to inform the dialogues on the border and the Renaissance Dam is genuinely from Sudan’s political interests but not from foreign forces. Nevertheless, the critical question is how balanced these efforts are.

The Sudanese government’s stance on the Renaissance Dam negotiations before and after the border dispute is different. The suddenness of the frontier is indicative of an intimate connection between the negotiations and the border. Sudanese opposition to the Renaissance Dam in the aftermath of the border dispute, as it has been actively expressing conflicting views, further underscores the relevance of the issue.

Egypt appears to have been relieved by Sudan’s recent involvement in the Renaissance Dam. Moreover, the recent involvement in the Nile diplomatic dialogue, rather than Egypt, seems to conceal the boundary disagreement and, at the same time, look to be trying to cover up a third-party conspiracy as the border dispute has been extremely described as third party’s role. Sudan’s frequent diplomatic affair on GERD seems to continue an attempt to cover the wide accusation of the Ethiopian government on third-party intervention.

Widening diversity rather than narrowing it down

Ethiopia’s idea of the GERD was to resolve Africa’s problems with Africans, which Sudan remain a proponent of. However, It was purely after the border dispute that Sudan’s views became clear. Sudan had mentioned that the AU negotiations were unreliable, as traditional fashion which is no longer feasible.  Efforts to make the issue more global have continued since then and another aspect of this is to show Ethiopia as stubborn in the international relations arena.

Both Sudan and Ethiopia’s efforts to address Africa’s problems in the continent were because they perceived the role of the West as inseparable from pressure. This was noted by the United States effort. It is comprehensible; therefore, that Sudan’s desire is for the international community is presently to put pressure on Ethiopia, not to mediate. This current position seems to be to widen the gap rather than narrow it.

Remarks: Stick to African Union

It is worthier to stay on the continent. It is more capital to solve the problem at home. There is no such thing as self-judgment among each other. External intervention may continue remaining a threat in the future. It is significant to eradicate the negative aspect of Africans who seem unable to stand on their own and are always leaning on support to face challenges.

Sudan’s current position,  keeps a desire to approach things out of Africa. Specifically, inviting foreign powers to the mediation represent not a sign of impartiality. If the GERD negotiations come out of the African Union, it is already possible the reconciliation process will be difficult. Sticking to that option will strain a conflict. This idea needs being cautious as it seems to be in an inconsistent position from the peace process that Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia have repeatedly committed to.

Sudan’s ideological movement can pose an obstacle in other ways. The state is trying to demonstrate international presence, commitment to peace in the region and readiness to cooperate. Nevertheless, considering the foreign powers in the aftermath of the break-up of the US mediations, this call could however terminate the negotiations. Particularly, as Ethiopia’s second-round filling of water approaches, it appears that the negotiations are aimed at advancing the delay of the agreement and denigrating Ethiopia in international relations.

If the Renaissance Dam negotiations continue to be free from interference, it will be more substantial for the development of the three countries and peace in the region. Sudan’s call to the international community, if it had been as an observer, would have demonstrated her determination to negotiate. On top of that, it would not have also undermined the African Union’s institutional negotiating capacity. Therefore, Sudan should reinforce her commitment to overcoming African issues in Africa.

Yeheys Nardos Hawaz
Yeheys Nardos Hawaz
Yeheys Nardos Hawaz(PhD) narir[at]gmu.edu.et Assistant professor Gambella university