Egypt may have been talking to Sudan about military alternatives to protect its vital resource, the river Nile, a report published by an Egyptian daily said.
Citing secret documents released last month by WikiLeaks from Stratfor, a private intelligence company that sells security information to clients, the report by Egypt Independent said that both countries have denied the allegations.
Egypt called it a rumor “designed to disturb Egyptian-Ethiopian relations.”
In 1979, Egypt’s late President Anwar Sadat said that “the only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water.”
The newspaper report said that an internal email from 2010 procured by Stratfor and leaked by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks suggests that Egypt and Sudan may have agreed to build an Egyptian airbase in the Sudan’s western region of Darfur, to be used for assaults on Ethiopia and on the large dam it had been planning to build in the river if diplomatic efforts failed to resolve the dispute between the two nations over Nile water-sharing.
Control of the river has always been a national security priority for Egypt. Ten countries have the rights to the billions of cubic meters of badly needed fresh water in the Nile.
Egypt and Sudan currently get 90 percent of the river’s water under colonial-era accords; however, seven east African countries are demanding more water from the Nile.
Upstream countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia say the old accords are unfair and want a new deal.
Ethiopia has recently announced that the size of its Grand Renaissance Dam will be much larger than expected.
According to the Independent report, Egypt became concerned that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile would impact its vital flow of fresh water when completed. Egypt is entitled to 55 billion cubic meters of the Nile’s total annual flow of around 84 billion cubic meters.
Egypt Independent mentioned that the information were first published on the blog Rebel Economy www.rebeleconomy.com.
The death of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s former president and a major supporter of the dam, as well as the lack of funds, have slowed work on the project.
Egypt and Sudan could have the power to lobby foreign donors to cut off access to funding for the project if it is found to potentially hurt the flow of water downstream.
Newly-elected Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi visited Ethiopia during his Africa tour as a sign of good will. Former president Hosni Mubarak had not visited Ethiopia since 1995, when he was exposed to a failed assassination attempt.