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Sudan Requests UN, US, EU Help to Resolve Dam Conflict With Ethiopia 

FILE - Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Ethiopia, Sept. 26, 2019.
FILE - Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Ethiopia, Sept. 26, 2019.

Sudan has formally requested four-party mediation on the standoff with Ethiopia over Addis Ababa's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a hydropower dam on the Blue Nile River.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok asked the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States in formal letters Monday to help Sudan and neighboring Egypt reach a legal agreement with Ethiopia on when and how Ethiopia fills the reservoir behind the massive dam.

Ethiopia started to build the hydropower dam in 2011 and filled the reservoir for the first time in 2020, leading to a breakdown in the long-running talks.

The Egyptian and Sudanese governments are worried that the dam will reduce the level of the Nile downstream and deprive their populations of water for agriculture and everyday life.

Sudanese security analyst Hanfi Abdallah thinks the Ethiopian-Sudanese dispute in particular will raise regional tension if the countries can’t reach an agreement.

Economic, security implications

He said that in the case of the parties' intransigence, Sudan might make further regional and international efforts to punish Ethiopia by bringing political and economic pressures. The region will witness security implications out of these disputes, he said, and turmoil could develop.

Sudan has said the dam puts at least half of its population at risk.

The African Union, which has led the talks among the three countries, didn't comment on Hamdok's request but has previously encouraged them to resume the talks.

Security expert General Mohamed Bashir believes the countries should avoid war at all costs.

He said Sudan and Ethiopia could not bear to be involved in a war and worsen their own complicated situations. They should be aware of the implication of such disputes, not only on themselves but also on neighboring countries, he said, adding that the world wouldn't accept a war erupting in the fragile region.

Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dina Mofti said his country had not received any formal notifications from Sudan and Egypt on their four-party mediation request.

He praised the role of the African Union in mediating the dispute.

Dina said Ethiopia was willing to resume negotiations before the second filling of the dam, despite the country’s earlier dismissal of negotiations. Filling of the reservoir is scheduled to begin in April.