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Egypt uses church to bolster ties with Ethiopia

Egypt is taking advantage of the rapprochement between the Ethiopian and Egyptian Coptic churches in negotiations over the Renaissance Dam, although some criticize the church’s involvement in politics, especially since Ethiopia is moving forward with the dam’s construction.
An Ethiopian Orthodox woman reads her bible during the Good Friday prayer ceremony at Medhanialem Orthodox Church in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa April 18, 2014. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri (ETHIOPIA - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION) - RTR3LTAZ
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CAIRO — At a time when the Egyptian government officially acknowledged that obstacles re-emerged in the negotiations with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam — which is threatening the Egyptian share of the Nile's waters — Egypt is seeking to take advantage of the rapprochement between the Egyptian and Ethiopian Coptic churches. This was shown during the last visit of the Ethiopian patriarch to Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria at Christmas. Egypt is trying to benefit from these ties to improve bilateral ties, drawing on historical relations that have linked both churches since the 14th century until their separation in 1959.

This comes as part of Egypt’s penchant toward using all types of soft power on various levels in an attempt to regain its lost role in Africa and rectify the widespread perception on the popular level in all upstream countries that depicts Egypt as stealing Nile water. This inclination coincides with an expected visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Ethiopia to attend the African Summit at the end of January.

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