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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Dec 4, 2010

The Ethiopian Nile River Water Treaty

Recently, Prime Minister Zenawi made a public statement regarding Egypt and the Nile Water Sharing Treaty. He aid that Egypt can never win a war with Ethiopia and that Egypt is still living in the 19th century, which meant that the 1929 and 1956 treaties between the Nile River Basin countries and Egypt is no longer effective. According to these agreements, Egypt should receive 56.5 billion cu. met. of water per year. Most of that water (85%) comes from the Blue Nile, which starts in Ethiopia. The Nile River basin countries have been meeting over the past ten years to reevaluate the previous water agreements. As of the summer of 2010, no agreement was reached. However, five of the nine Nile River basin countries have signed a new agreement rejecting the previous ones. Ethiopia was among the ones who signed the agreement.

In the meantime, Ethiopia has been building dams to generate electrical power and use Nile water for agricultural irrigation. The International Monetary Funds and other international financial institutions do not support Ethiopia’s request for financial loans to build more dams. Since Egypt depends almost completely on the Nile River for its survival, international financial institutions are taking this into serious consideration. Such policies apparently antagonize the Ethiopian prime minister, which led him to state publicly that Egypt can’t win a war against Ethiopia.

Another factor that also didn’t sit well with the Ethiopian prime minster is the improving of relations between Eritrea and Egypt. Ethiopia and Eritrea have been conducting hostilities against each other for a long time. In addition, some of the Ethiopian opposition political groups to Prime Minister Zenawi have bases in Eritrea. Nevertheless, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak came out and stated publicly that Egypt has no intention of starting a war against Ethiopia. He further stated that there has been a discussion regarding the Nile river water sharing treaty and hopes that the treaty will continue to be the rule that the Nile River Basin countries abide by.

Water experts have already warned that Egypt will start experiencing serious water shortages by the year 2017 and the continuous flow of the Nile River is essential for Egypt’s survival.

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