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'Water war' escalates between Egypt, Sudan

Amid ongoing disputes over Nile water supply, tensions between Cairo and Khartoum escalated after the latter hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and handed Ankara control of a Red Sea island.
A balloon is seen above the Nile River as boats wait for tourists in the port city of Luxor, south of Cairo, Egypt December 14, 2016. Picture taken December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh - RC155D167990

So far, 2018 has been a negative year for Egyptian-Sudanese relations. On Jan. 4, Sudan recalled its ambassador from Egypt. Without providing further details, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry stated that Ambassador Kamal al-Din Hassan Ali was recalled for consultations. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry is weighing how to “take appropriate action.” This diplomatic spat has unfolded in a complicated context in which numerous issues have fueled tensions in bilateral relations for years.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project has contributed to friction in Cairo-Khartoum relations. Egypt sees the project as a major threat to its water interests, while Sudan views it as a valuable opportunity. In November 2017, Cairo officially declared that technical negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia had failed. Then, at the beginning of January, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reportedly sent Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn a proposal to continue talks between Cairo and Addis Ababa over the megaproject, excluding Khartoum. Egypt denies that Sisi sent this proposal to Ethiopia’s leadership. Nonetheless, the Nile's water supply remains a source of much disagreement between Cairo and Khartoum.

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