CAIRO — Egypt and Sudan on Monday concluded joint war games that involved ground, air and naval units. The six-day drill meant to showcase deepening security ties between the two neighboring countries and present a show of force amid mounting tensions with Ethiopia.
The dispute stems from Ethiopia’s controversial, unfinished dam on the Nile River’s main tributary. Monday’s part of the drill, at a military base near Khartoum, was attended by the two countries’ chiefs of staff, Sudan’s Mohammed Othman al-Hussein, and his Egyptian counterpart, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Farid.
The exercises aimed at “strengthening bilateral relations and unifying methods on dealing with threats that both countries are expected to face,” said a statement from Khartoum.
Sudan and Egypt have deepened ties since the ouster of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 amid a public uprising against his nearly three-decade of rule. The growing Cairo-Khartoum rapprochement has caused concerns in Ethiopia.
Talks over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam stalled in April.
The two countries want an international agreement to govern how much water Ethiopia releases downstream, especially in a multi-year drought, fearing their critical water shares might be affected.
International and regional efforts have since tried to revive the negotiations as Ethiopia plans to add 13.5 billion cubic meters of water in 2021 to the dam’s reservoir — even without a deal on the dam’s operation and filling.
In March, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi warned that his country’s share of the Nile waters was “untouchable” and that there would be “instability that no one can imagine” in the region if Ethiopia fills the reservoir without an agreement.
Egypt and Sudan have called for the U.S., U.N, and the European Union to help reach a legally binding deal. The agreement would spell out how the dam is operated and filled, based on international law and norms governing cross-border rivers.
The Blue Nile meets the White Nile in Khartoum, before winding northward through Egypt into the Mediterranean Sea.