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Nile River Waters Geopolitics Conflicts in Egypt, Research Paper Example

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Words: 3878

Research Paper

The Nile River is the world’s longest river and has its place in the heart of Africa in several countries. It is at the center the lifeline of Egypt that has shaped Egyptian life. The Nile River benefits Egypt in several ways that include geographic, economic, and agricultural, as well as a social benefit of being culturally affixed to Egypt’s identity. As more important as it is to Egypt, the Nile River is home to total ten countries. The Nile River basin is populated with over 160 million people, and over 300 million people live within the countries that lived in the Nile River region. The Nile River serves as the main water source and energy asset of over half of the country of Africa. These countries include some that are economically disadvantaged compared to Egypt. In Egypt alone, the fresh water serves over 60 million people along the banks. The Nile River is the main water source and has provided water to the countries along the Nile River basin. However, it is become scarcely enough to satisfy the increasing demand for some parts of the region. The climate change, along with ongoing developmental activities, and demographic pressure has been contributing factors that have increased the water demands. Times have changed, and in the past, Egypt was unbothered by their dependence on the need for water provided by the Nile, due to the few people that lived upstream, and the situation of the other countries that were not developing as fast. The Nile River has majorly been privileged to Egypt and Sudan as they have held the absolute use of the Nile River’s water. Until 2010, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania, the five upstream Nile nations signed a new treaty in which opposed the British Treaty of 1959, declaring their rights to the Nile River. From this treaty, the demand in water has increased significantly, however, the Nile River has experienced little water stress from the demographic pressure of the upstream nations. The problem lies in now is the water conflict that has been created from the new treaty. The Nile River is faced with problems that stem from new demographic pressures, increase in population, deterioration of the environmental issues, problems of extreme poverty, and deterioration of environmental issues. The struggled between the original claimants Sudan, and Egypt, with the rest of the 8 countries have went into deadlock before 2011. The underlying problem however, is that the tension of conflict is due to building of the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia and the political dimension between the countries. There is a need for a probable and responsible negotiation between the countries that will provide a win-win situation for all nations that use the Nile River. In order to come to a conclusive negotiation is to analyze the political and legal history of the Nile River water usage, economic development and conflict, and national security of the region.

The Nile River

The exact dimensions of the Nile River are that extends for over 6400 km and is the longest river in the world. It begins in the Lake Victoria, to run through the countries of Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt, before flowing into to the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile River provides many benefits and serves a resourceful water line that serves as the only river through the Sahara desert. This source helps to supply water to create the exotic plans, and a source for the inhabitants, human and animals. The Nile river is able is a flowfrom the south to the north by the attributes of the White Nile, the Blue Nile, and the Atbara. (Egyptian Agriculture, n.d) The history of the usefulness of the Nile River dates back to almost 6000 years ago, for the settlement of the first nation state of Egyptians. “By 3100 BC the Nile Valley and Delta had coalesced into a single entity that was the world’s first large nation state.” (Baines 2011) The waters of the river have made the lands of Africa fertile enough for the carelessness of agriculture. The waters bring silt which makes the land allowable for crops to grow for harvesting. At the time in 3500 B.C, they Egyptians were able to harvest twice a year, an agricultural development that was unheard of at the time. This allowed for people to stock up for the dry months while the other products were able to be sold through the markets. The types of plants that were able to be produced were Plax plants whose fibers were used to make linen, which was used to make cloth. Papyrus was also a profitable crop that was grown along the Nile, which was used in several aspects that include to make boats, which provided transportation along the Nile, so trade could be established. The Nile provided the Egyptians the ability to grow resourceful crops that were used to create jewelry, tools, and statues. The workers such as sailors were paid in grains that could be used in order to make or be traded for food and clothes.

The Nile River provided the base for the economic wealth in Egypt as it turned Egypt into the main supplier within the African region. The Egyptians were able to trade with other countries where the Nile River was able to produce exotic and rare guns that were not found in Egypt. These include gold and incense from Nubia a region along the Nile in Sudan. This afforded them with the ability to be a valuable strong trader where they were able to forge strong diplomatic relations with other neighboring countries and avoid conflicts. This helps to instill the leadership and ownership of the Pharaoh, whom people at the time believed were able to control the flooding of the river. This strong belief by the Egyptian people, held over in their fear of control with them building the pyramids and creating the slave labor force. The Nile River influenced almost every aspect of the Egyptian life, these includes their social and spiritual life. The Egyptians developed their calendar that was adjusted with the inundation period so that the New Year was able to be celebrated in the middle of summer. More significantly and surprisingly is that the Nile River played a part in the development of science, as the floods became a basis of geometry, and the development of irrigation systems that helped to increase the productiveness of the water, as it provided water to the palaces and homes. The Nile River afforded the Egyptians to develop a civilization that was an advanced economy. It was from these social, economic, and agricultural importance that the Egyptian people wanted to keep the resources of the Nile River to themselves, as they were many exchanges against Ethiopia, over the sharing of the Nile River. In many instances throughout their history, there have arose conflicts about the fear of water usage, and if the benefits were to be lasting.

The Political and Legal History

The conflict that is most presently began in the 19th century as, the English settlers of Africa, were able to comprehend the benefits of the Nile River to their colonies. (Egyptian Agriculture, n.d) The British took control over parts of the Nile River basin helping to free up the river for passage for travel. They had to make agreements with Ethiopia which owned 80 percent of the Nile River. The British administration and colonialism has reduced the water resource development and increasedconflicts. The political fragmentation of the Nile region began with the formation of the sovereign states. It has increase with the rapid growth of ethnic consciousness, which has resulted in the growing disparities and rivalries among the basin nations. Subsequently, all basin nations presently take a more competitive and nationalistic approach to regional politics. The tensions over Nile waters have colonial underpinnings as reflected in the context of the various Nile Waters Treaties, in which nations with colonial representation like Egypt and Sudan were able to exploit the resources of those without, mainly Ethiopia. Since the end of the Cold War, the Nile has continued to invoke political tension. During the early 1990s, the already strained relationship between Egypt and Sudan were furthered strained following the efforts from the Sudanese government to overthrow Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak. Also, Ethiopia and Sudan formed the Blue Nile Valley Organization and pledged to study with the view to introduce several significant infrastructure projects despite the disapproval by Egypt. Mubarak, in response, threatened military intervention, and in August 1994 he almost did.In the 11th hour, it was halted after intense negotiations and the World Bank, the United States, and United Kingdom’s direct involvement, who persuaded both sides to choose a more conciliatory path. Notwithstanding of the foundations of conflict over the Nile,should consider first all issues and dynamics which include Ethiopia’s rapidly growing demand for water, the question of religion, the historical relationships between the states and Egypt’s military superiority. According to research, the British had to assert enough pressure on the Italians and the French in order to ensure that the Nile would not be interfered with. The Egyptians caused several problems as the English people planned developments along the Nile River, which caused the two governments to be in a dispute. This caused the British government to create the Nile Water Agreement, in which to regulate the flow of the Nile and allocate its use. (Egyptian Agriculture, n.d) From the British rule, was the ability of a complete hydrological study aside from the portion owned by Egypt, over the Nile River for 50 years. The study was able to suggest numerous ways in which to increase the water amount that reached Egypt. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, there were several suggestions for the dams to be constructed in order to improve the flow of the Nile.

Economic Development and Conflict

When the Egyptians planned to build the High Aswan Dam that was to control the Nile’s yearly floods, to harvest the hydroelectric power. The construction of the Dam would have repercussions to the country of Sudan. The problems included Sudan being inundated with Lake Nasser, which would also bring serious environmental concerns that would change the life on the Nile banks. Egypt and Sudan signed the agreement on the full utilization of the Nile waters in 1959. The agreement stipulated that the yearly amount of water allotted to Sudan would rise to 18.5 billion cubic meters. Sudan would be permitted to undertake of the Nile development projects such as the dams and the canals. Egypt’s part of their agreement was that they would be able to build a large dam near the Sudanese border, which would regulate the flow of the river into Egypt which would help during droughts. The agreement however, was only bilateral and did not include any of the other Nile nations, despite the fact that they utilize their portion of the Nile River. Ethiopia which owns 80 percent of the Nile, was not consulted for the agreement, and the future usage of nations upstream were not considered either. During the 1960’s, a large amount of Nubians lost their homes from the development projects outlined in the treaty, the same people would have to be moved again in the 90s to make way for another dam development. The High Dam at Aswan, stretches over 4 kilometers across the path of the river, and formed the second largest man-made lake in the world. The conflict did not put at ease the growing tensions of the rights of the Nile waters. In Egypt, they are consideredthe most at risk of losing access to the Nile River as increases in development projects from other countries such as Ethiopia and Sudan continue. They have vowed to intervene militarily if they feel the status quo is interrupted. (Egyptian Agriculture, n.d) It is due to their degree of control politically and physically over the Egypt that has contributed to their dominance of the function in part from colonial agreements, and support from global superpowers that have provided Egypt to make decisions in regards to out of basin use of the Nile River.

Water Resource and Population Growth

The increase demand in water has created several tensions across the country. Water serves as human’s primary element that helps to provide benefits to every living creature. The water consumption across the world is doubling every two decades, which outpaces the population growth two times. By the end of 2025 the water demand will exceed the supply by over 50 percent, this can be contributed to the regional droughts, rapid urbanization, and water that is needed for industrial growth. The rise is especially felt in developing nations are water demand has increased from food cultivations, industry growth, and the growth of people. This has created an intense rise in conflicts between communities and nations that share common rivers such as the Nile River. The problems with the water conflict are that, water itself does not recognize that the national boundaries that are in place by governments, those that are economically inclined are able to exploit and exert more dominance of the precious resource, at a cost to their lower riparian neighbors. In the extremely near future, water rather oil, can be the biggest catalyst and cause of future wars. Egypt has enjoyed unrestricted access to the Nile River, however, Sudan and Ethiopia have begun to increase their development projects. One of the major concerns over the growing water conflicts, is that the Nile River exist in the Greater Horn of Africa in which, is in closer proximity to the Middle East. The conflicts could easily spread over in which to incite volatile political, social, and economic instability. In the Nile River basin, Egypt controls the region’s most power military, and has threaten to neighbor countries over the usage of the river. The problem exists as Egypt claims natural historical rights over the Nile River, and those acquired rights have been a focal point of figuring out negotiations between nations. The tampering of their water supply to Egypt, leads to the belief of threat to their national security and the triggering of armed conflict.

National Security In the Region

Egypt has threatened to bomb the development projects of in Sudan and Ethiopia. Egypt has also challenged Kenya, denouncing their agreement is 1929 and 1959 in an act of war. They have warned Tanzania over its plans to drain the Lake Victoria. Egyptian feels that all of these instances have come as a threat to national security as it justify its crimes of water wars. Since the 1990’s steps have been taken by the Egyptian Government to divert the Nile out of its natural basin.There has been several hydraulic potential, as Sudan has created four dams within the century, and as result the development of over 18,000 (km) of irrigated land. Egypt and Sudan have the most extensive use of the Nile of the other nations.This gives an indication of the possibility of potential conflict, on the one hand between Sudan and Egypt as part of a wider conflict involving the other 8 riparian especially Ethiopia and Kenya whose rhetoric seems to point in this direction. Ethiopia contributes about 86% of the Nile’s waters, but uses less than 1% of this amount (about 65-billion cubic meters of water annually). Irrigated land in the Ethiopian portion of the Nile basin now stands at only 8 000ha, which is 0.4percentof the basin’s potential, at present estimated at 2.3-million hectares. Researchers estimate that Ethiopia has a hydropower potential of about 60-billion kilowatt-hours per year, the bulk of which is embedded in the Nile basin. However, Ethiopia is currently using only 2% of these hydropower resources.

The recent development of the building of Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia has sparked high tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia. The dam will create a lake and cost over $5 billion, allowing over 60 billion cubic meters. This will help to expand the hydroelectric power capacity of the Ethiopian Government. “The Ethiopian Government has argued that as well as supplying Ethiopians with electricity the dam would generate surplus energy for export to neighboring countries, benefiting the wider region.” (Hammond 2013) The opposition is from the 11 countries that include, Eritrea, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The main source of tension is with Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia as Egypt and Sudan are highly dependent on the River. The 2010 Cooperative Framework Agreement were only signed by countries that were upstream, and largely opposed by Sudan and Egypt that wanted to retain control and veto powers over the development of projects upstream. More importantly the balance of geopolitical powers within the region is changing. “The discrepancy between the socio-economic development of Egypt and its upstream neighbors is decreasing, and Egypt’s historical hegemonic position is being challenged by emerging regional powers such as Ethiopia.” (Hammond 2013) According to interviews conducted by officials in Ethiopia, many feel, “We have the right to use this water,”one interviewee said. “Egypt has capitalized on the fertile soilsof Ethiopia and the waterthat originates in our country, but we as Ethiopians havenot had this opportunity todevelop, until now.” (Veilleux, 2013) Of course this is objected in Egypt, that feel the development is a threat to their national security and economic wealth.

The Geopolitical aspect of the water conflict between the Nile nations are that is that there is a lack of consensus over the proper use of the Nile waters. Egypt feels that there no benefits to water sharing, and the conflicts between the nations have tendency to escalate causing tensions between nations. The Nile River region is engulfed in a long cultural history that is directly aligned with the river itself, which has served as vital lifeline for the region. Due to the lack of alternatives to a sufficient water supply, large portions of the population depend on the Nile River waters. The flow behavior of the rivers has been seriously altered by constructions of large dams, such as the new dam project in Ethiopia. The water allocation from the riparian states is governed by archaic agreements from colonial and isolated events which favors the downstream states such as Sudan and Egypt. The challenges of socio-economic development and demographic developments in the upstream nations, is placing a decrease in the level of development in Egypt and other riparian states. The growth in population has push for increase economic development that is steadily increasing the demand of the Nile River water resources. In attempts to widen the agreement about the Nile waters has been a source of contention and low level conflicts. With the new agreement from upstream it has placed much pressure on Egypt to resort to militarily use and idle threats. Climate change has triggered additional pressures that has multiplied the risks of triggering social destabilization and conflict. The change in the climate has the ability to incite “climate wars” between the riparian states due to the allocation of the Nile River shifting, causing unilateral actions that can increase conflicts. “Global warming due to climatic conditions and green house emission effect according to Declan et al is one of the contributing factors for the recent water resource decline in the Nile river basin.” (Rahman, 2011) The pollution activity from Ethiopian and Eritrean wars in the late 90s, polluted a significant part of the river basin, which has been further exacerbated from the increase in population. The population has more than doubled over the last two decades, and has fueled the fire from less rainfall in the downstream nations.

In order to form a more considerable negotiation between all the parties involved. The conflict that can arise from building of the dam can be effectively be resolved by international water law. The water law principles involve the allocation and management of the water resources. The principles are developed to promote cooperation, prevent conflict, and provide a needed stability. (McKenzie 2013) The situation between the water conflicts resounds around the upstream nation’s verses Egypt and Sudan. The nations that are downstream beingwholly dependent on water from the Nile. The upstream countries are largely developing and require more water for agricultural irrigation, drinking, and hydropower production. The problems arise as, Egypt has made idle threats against sabotaging the construction of the dam. The ways in which a win-win situation can happen includes the one of the major principles of the modern water law. This includes the first principle in which, “entitling each state “within its territory, to a reasonable and equitable share in the beneficial uses of the waters of an international drainage basin.” (McKenzie 2013) There can be a balance between the nations that will ensure that enough water will be available forfuture. The second doctrine is based on the basin wide management, which is endorsed by the UN, in which effective management be in place of the Nile River. These principles provided by the international water laws can present guidance for countries to share the Nile River effectively. On the international scale of development, the Dam that is being developed has the opportunity to stabilize the human security of those nations, in the political, economic, and socio-cultural sectors. If only the nations were able to cooperate in basin-wide development projects which aimed at using the water resources for electricity generation and agriculture for connecting energy and transportation networks. It is now time for Egypt to move past their archaic colonial depositions of control, and acknowledge the realities that all these nations depend on the Nile River, and it is only with the cooperation that each nation be able to share in the resources.

References

Baines, John. (2011). The Story of the Nile. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/nile_01.shtml

Bertrand Charrier, Shlomi Dinar, and Fiona Curtin. (2009). Water, Conflict Resolution, and Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East. GCI.Retrieved from http://www.gci.ch/GreenCrossProgram/waterres/water/waterconflictresolution .html.

Hammond, Michael. (2013). The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Blue Nile: Implication for Transboundatry Water Governance. Global Water Forum. Retrieved from http://www.globalwaterforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Grand-Ethiopian-Renaissance-Dam-and-the-Blue-Nile-Implications-for-transboundary-water-governance-GWF-1307.pdf

Heinlein, Peter. (2013). Nile River Dispute Between Egypt, Ethiopia Sparks Tensions. VOA News. Retrieved from http://www.voanews.com/content/nile-river-dispute-sparks-tensions-between-ethiopia-egypt/1671748.html

Hoyt, Alia. (2013). How the Nile River Works. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/nile-river4.htm

Kameri-Mbote, Patricia. (2013). Water Conflict, and Cooperation: Lessons from the Nile River Basin No. 4. Wilson Center. Retrieved from http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/water-conflict-and-cooperation-lessons-the-nile-river-basin-no-4

Link, Michael P., Piontek, Franziska, Scheffran, Jurgen, Schilling, Janpetere. (n.d). On foes and flows: Water conflict and cooperation in the Nile River Basin in times of climate change. MIT. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/mission/www/m2017/pdfs/nilebasin.pdf

McKenzie, Scott. (2013). Emerging Voices: International Water Law-Preventing Conflict on the Nile. Opiniojuris. Retrieved from http://opiniojuris.org/2013/07/16/emerging-voices-international-water-law-preventing-conflict-on-the-nile/

Michel, David. (2013). Egypt, Ethiopia Water Dispute Threatens Nations. International Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/egypt-ethiopia-water-dispute-threatens-nations-1324189

Officials from Egypt, Ethiopia & Sudan meet on Grand Renaissance Dam. Sudan (2013). Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article48689

Rahman, Prof. Majeed A. (2011). The Geopolitics of Water in the Nile River Basin. Global Research. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-geopolitics-of-water-in-the-nile-river-basin/25746

Tesfa, Belachew, Chekene. (2013). Benefit of Grand Ethiopan Renaissance Dam Project (GERD) for Sudan and Egypt. Retrieved from http://www.ethiomedia.com/14store/benefits_of_grand_ethiopian_renaissance_dam_for_sudan_and_egypt.pdf

Schwartzstien, Peter. (2013). Water Wars: Egyptians Condemn Ethiopia’s Nile Dam Project. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/09/130927-grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam-egypt-water-wars/

The Nile River-History and Politics. (n.d). Egyptian Agricultural. Retrieved from http://www.egyptianagriculture.com/nile_river.html

Vernoeven, Harry. (2013). Why a ‘water war’ over the Nile River won’t happen. Aljazeera. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/06/2013612105849332912.html

Veilluex, Jennifer C. (2013). The Human Security Dimensions of Dam Development: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Global Dialogue Vol. 15, Number 2. Retrieved from http://www.transboundarywaters.orst.edu/publications/publications/Veilleux_GLOBAL%20DIALOGUE_V15_GERD.pdf

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