The war warned over the past 20 years could begin in Africa


People used to die for metal. Then for the oil. Now they can start killing for plain water, which political scientists have been warning about for the last 20 years. A large regional war is brewing in Africa, which may be a harbinger of future conflicts over this vital resource, and Russia may also be involved in them.


This is a possible war between Egypt and Ethiopia over the large-scale hydropower station, Hidase (Renaissance), the largest on the black continent. It is a reservoir with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters and a dam blocking the Blue Nile. For poor Ethiopia, where almost half the population has no access to electricity at all, this project is of tremendous importance. Today, this country is forced to import electricity, but after the launch of the hydropower plant, it will be in second place in Africa in its generation and can even export. For Ethiopians, Hidase is a real chance for economic revival, therefore, the country's authorities did not spare almost 5 billion dollars, about 10% of GDP, for the implementation of this ambitious project.

That's just the success of the neighbors do not please the Egyptians. In Cairo, they rightly fear that the overlapping of the Blue Nile will lead to the shallowing of the "big" Nile, on the banks of which 90% of the country's population lives and is being agriculture based on traditional flood farming. Ethiopia intends to fill its giant reservoir in just three years, starting in July, which could lead to new “Egyptian executions” due to drought, rising unemployment, forced migration of the poor population in cities and growing socio-economic tension in the country, which is only recently passed a civil war. In addition, there is a non-zero risk of a man-made accident at the hydroelectric station, it is enough to recall our Sayano-Shushenskaya, which is less than the Ethiopian one.

The situation is very serious. Egypt could not directly prevent a sovereign state from building structures on its territory. Tripartite Interstate Dam Negotiations failed. The agreement of 1929, prohibiting any work on the Blue Nile, was Ethiopia in 2014 declared invalid as "colonial". Almost all African countries are now on the Ethiopian side. Egyptian President Al-Sisi directly stated to the UN a year ago:

The Nile is a matter of life, a question of the existence of Egypt. In other words, the Nile question is a matter of life and death for Egypt.


One of his predecessors, Anwar Sadat, in 1979 was much more categorical in his words:

We are not going to wait for death from thirst in Egypt. We will go to Ethiopia and die there.


To this, one of the Ethiopian commanders, Major General Birhanu Jula Gelalcha, is now threatened:

The Egyptians and the rest of the world know all too well how we fight.


Well, to be honest, we don’t know. But come on, that’s not the point. The war is in the air, the almost-built hydroelectric station was covered in advance by Russian-made S-300PMU1 and Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile systems. Cairo faces a very serious question: to fight or not?

War and Peace


There is a peaceful solution to this dilemma. For example, Ethiopians can be persuaded to fill their reservoir not in 3 years, but gradually in 10-15 years. They are in a hurry, because they need to start working faster and return loans, which means they need to agree on their installments and restructuring. Then the Egyptians will have time to try to adapt to change.

You can build your own powerful desalination plants, drawing on the Israeli experience, introduce a drip irrigation system, repair the infrastructure responsible for pumping water to prevent water leakage, switch to growing crops that require less irrigation, and carry out socio-economic reforms to increase the employment of the population.

War seems a simpler solution, but far from it. Egypt looks stronger than Ethiopia, but on the side of the latter half of Africa and international law. A whole coalition can be built against Cairo, and it is not entirely clear how this war should proceed. Destroy a hydroelectric power station with a massive bombing strike? Well, soon this decision will be frankly belated when the reservoir is full of water. To invade and occupy part of the territory of a sovereign state by taking control of a hydroelectric power station? The idea is also not very, and it will have serious long-term consequences for Egypt itself.

However, the fact that the decision is bad does not mean that it will not be implemented. A peaceful solution is not always “optimal,” because it requires huge investments and time, and the war for water is today a conflict between frankly poor countries that do not have the ability to invest heavily. Potential points of tension in the Middle East are also water relations between Israel and Syria, Turkey and Iraq.

In general, the topic of unilateral overlapping of rivers or water utilities, as in the case of Ukraine and Crimea, by certain countries should be actively and effectively regulated at the UN level. Otherwise, water wars may soon really begin.
Photos used: Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam / Facebook official page
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  1. Bulanov Offline
    Bulanov (Vladimir) 16 June 2020 16: 37
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    Egypt looks stronger than Ethiopia, but on the side of the latter half of Africa and international law.

    So, the closure by Russia of its rivers, the northern tributaries of the Dnieper, such as the Desna, does not contradict international law?
    And they wrote - which contradicts. Or depending on who overlaps?
    1. King3214 Offline
      King3214 (Sergius) 16 June 2020 16: 49
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      If Russia deems it necessary, it can simply bomb the dam installed on the Crimean canal by Ukraine. And all this is within the framework of international law. There are a lot of examples of such a "solution to the problem" with water supplies.

      The UN concluded on the basis of the genocide in Rwanda: Deliberate obstruction of the supply of drinking water or irrigation water that could or caused drought and crop failure or lack of drinking and / or irrigation water ... and artificial facilitation of a humanitarian catastrophe due to lack of drinking and irrigation water is a manifestation of genocide and ecocide ... as well as a serious crime against peace and humanity.

      Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by resolution 260 (III) of the UN General Assembly of December 9, 1948.
      Since the closure of water channels has long been equated with genocide.
    2. sgrabik Offline
      sgrabik (Sergei) 16 June 2020 18: 29
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      What an idiotic comparison? Has the Dnieper really become shallow or changed its course? Why write this ridiculous nonsense and compare what is simply impossible to even compare !!! Here Ukraine, blocking the North Crimean Canal, violates international law, and thus it manifests itself as a low moral moral state !!!
  2. boriz Offline
    boriz (boriz) 16 June 2020 17: 44
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    It would be logical to act like the Russian Federation in Mongolia. We send a transit pipe to China through Mongolia and build gas power plants there, and the Mongols do not build hydroelectric power stations on the Selenga and do not ground Baikal. We - water in Baikal, the Mongols - electricity (for money).
    In Ethiopia, you can find the same way out. Someone (Egypt, the UN, some organization of African states) is financing Rosatom. Rosatom is building nuclear power plants and providing Ethiopia with electricity.
    Everyone is happy.
  3. Natan bruk Offline
    Natan bruk (Natan Bruk) 16 June 2020 19: 23
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    What are “powerful desalination plants”? What to desalinate? Does the author not know that Ethiopia is landlocked? Yes, it once had, but now Eritrea has this solution, and Ethiopia does not have a very good relationship with it and together they will not build anything.
    1. Kristallovich Offline
      Kristallovich (Ruslan) 16 June 2020 21: 06
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      What are “powerful desalination plants”? What to desalinate? Does the author not know that Ethiopia is landlocked?

      In fact, Egypt will experience a shortage of water ...
      1. Natan bruk Offline
        Natan bruk (Natan Bruk) 17 June 2020 09: 16
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        Today, water shortages in Ethiopia are the biggest problem. Certainly no less than a lack of electricity.
        1. Natan bruk Offline
          Natan bruk (Natan Bruk) 17 June 2020 09: 20
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          And the conversation, in fact, is about alternative hydroelectric power generation methods.
        2. Kristallovich Offline
          Kristallovich (Ruslan) 17 June 2020 09: 20
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          It has nothing to do with it. It is a shortage in Egypt. Cairo is outraged that the creation of the dam will reduce the volume of the Nile.
          1. Natan bruk Offline
            Natan bruk (Natan Bruk) 17 June 2020 09: 40
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            But why is Ethiopia building a dam? The lack, first of all, of water, and of energy, of course. Here, in the article itself, the author speaks of “powerful desalination plants”, as an alternative to hydroelectric power plants - they say, then a dam will not be needed. So I ask - what to desalinate if there is no access to the sea? Well, desalination itself requires a lot of energy, which Ethiopia does not have. Well, as they say, Ethiopia itself has a difficult water situation and the dam would solve this problem.
            1. Kristallovich Offline
              Kristallovich (Ruslan) 17 June 2020 09: 51
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              Here, in the article itself, the author speaks of “powerful desalination plants” as an alternative to hydroelectric power plants

              I don’t know where you noticed this ...

              But why is Ethiopia building a dam? The lack, first of all, of water, and of energy, of course.

              On the contrary. First of all, electricity, and then water. The trouble is with both, but the lack of electricity is much more acute.
              1. Natan bruk Offline
                Natan bruk (Natan Bruk) 17 June 2020 23: 59
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                1) Inattentively read. Reread the section "War and Peace", there it is about the "powerful desalination plants."
                2) The worst thing there is with water. We have many immigrants from Ethiopia, I talked with them more than once.
    2. Marzhecki Offline
      Marzhecki (Sergei) 17 June 2020 07: 15
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      The editor has already answered you, but I’ll say from myself: you consider yourself very smart, this is your problem.
      1. Natan bruk Offline
        Natan bruk (Natan Bruk) 17 June 2020 09: 14
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        Are you envious? Read smart books and succeed too.
  4. Astronaut Offline
    Astronaut (San Sanych) 16 June 2020 23: 34
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    To invade and occupy part of the territory of a sovereign state, taking control of the hydroelectric power station?

    How to invade? Through Sudan or across the sea and Eritrea?
  5. gorenina91 Online
    gorenina91 (Irina) 17 June 2020 03: 51
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    In Cairo, they rightly fear that the overlapping of the Blue Nile will lead to a shallowing of the "big" Nile, on the banks of which 90% of the country's population lives and is being agriculture based on traditional flood farming. Ethiopia intends to fill its giant reservoir in just three years, starting in July, which could lead to new “Egyptian executions” due to drought, rising unemployment, forced migration of the poor population in cities and growing socio-economic tension in the country, which only recently passed a civil war. In addition, there is a non-zero risk of a man-made accident at the hydroelectric station, it is enough to recall our Sayano-Shushenskaya one, which is less than the Ethiopian one.

    - Well, actually ... - that Russia is Egypt; that Egypt is Russia ... - Or Russia is worried about the comfort of Russian tourists, who will soon pour in an endless stream to Egypt ...
    - Exactly the same problem with fresh water will soon be in Syria; when Turkey launches a whole network of hydroelectric power stations on its territory ... - And not fresh water rivers will flow from Turkey to Syria; but just pathetic little streams ... - Exactly ...
    - And also Russia itself has Crimea; who sits on a very hungry ration of fresh water ...
    - And in fact, it was Russia that became a living world example of how another neighboring state deprives an entire huge Russian region of fresh water ... - And how no measures have been taken on this occasion ... - already for a year ...
    - Here are foreign states and are learning from the "Russian example" ... and do not want to be in a similar situation ... And then later it will be too late ...
    - In a word ...- Egypt is right ...- he takes care of his future ... - And he does not wait until the “thunder will strike” ...; then to moan and cry ...- and expect someone's help ...
    - Russia has been waiting for something for a year ... in the Crimea ...
  6. Alexzn Offline
    Alexzn (Alexander) 17 June 2020 11: 19
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    The more countries are interested in a settlement, the better. There is a stalemate and there are no right and not right. Ethiopia understood what it was doing, Egypt understood that something would have to be done. The solution to the situation is mentioned in the article. Ethiopia should fill the storehouse gradually and not in dry years, then the water loss in Egypt will be minimal, and the evaporation of the mirror of the reservoir (and this is another additional problem) will be compensated by precipitation in Ethiopia. Ethiopia will use drip irrigation and Israeli technologies will be applied in agricultural production, Ethiopia is counting on this.
    If Ethiopia gains, then Egypt loses. In any case! Egypt can only minimize losses. This is again drip irrigation and, most importantly, desalination. Israeli experience shows that this problem can be solved. It is economically feasible to receive energy from offshore gas amid falling gas prices.
    The current confrontation still requires a peaceful resolution. Egypt wants to force Ethiopia to stretch the problem over time, war is an extreme case, and it is not the best solution.
  7. Alexzn Offline
    Alexzn (Alexander) 17 June 2020 13: 27
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    Quote: boriz
    It would be logical to act like the Russian Federation in Mongolia. We send a transit pipe to China through Mongolia and build gas power plants there, and the Mongols do not build hydroelectric power stations on the Selenga and do not ground Baikal. We - water in Baikal, the Mongols - electricity (for money).
    In Ethiopia, you can find the same way out. Someone (Egypt, the UN, some organization of African states) is financing Rosatom. Rosatom is building nuclear power plants and providing Ethiopia with electricity.
    Everyone is happy.

    Does Rosatom build a nuclear power plant in Ethiopia? Is that the kind of humor you have? A nuclear power plant in a country where 50% of the population has no electricity ... Also ask Roscosmos to build a spaceport ... and there is a silicon valley ...