Perhaps within hours, a meeting of the UN Security Council will be held, to discuss the dispute between Egypt and Sudan on the one hand, and Ethiopia on the other, regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that is being built on the Blue Nile.
It seems that Addis Ababa is not interested in the intervention of the largest international organisation in the crisis, so it requested instead that the council refer the issue to the African Union (AU).
Ethiopia has also previously rejected calls from Egypt and Sudan to involve mediators from outside the AU.
This is not surprising for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has learned how to escape from his crises. Since he came to power nearly three years ago, he has not achieved anything for the people, as he had previously promised Ethiopians a revival of peace, democracy, and prosperity.
But now, he is not only facing the problem of a loss of confidence in his position by a large part of his country’s population, but even from the main Western allies.
The scene in the country relating to the GERD has become more complex than it appears on the surface. Several months ago, the US, once a staunch ally of Addis Ababa, imposed visa restrictions on some Ethiopian personalities over what it described as their opposition to “a solution to the crisis in Tigray”, and imposed restrictions on economic and security assistance.
Even the elections that took place recently lost credibility amid boycotts by the opposition parties, the imprisonment of the main opponents. This was in addition to the postponement of voting in one-fifth of the 547 constituencies in the country, especially in the [northern] Tigray region, which has been allocated 38 seats, in addition to another 64 seats in separate parts.
This prompted some to say that these elections are nothing but a means to legitimise Ahmed and his party’s authority. This has taken place amid the displacement of thousands of Tigrayans to Sudan, and the spread of reports of human rights violations by the Eritrean and Ethiopian armies in the region, which included killings, displacement, and rape.
Finally, the seizure last week by the former rulers of the Tigray region’s capital, Mek’ele, was a dramatic setback for the Ethiopian Government. It opens a new chapter in a brutal war which faces an uncertain ending.
The announcement by the Ethiopian forces of a ceasefire in Tigray was not well-intentioned, as it came after Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces advanced and forced Ethiopian Government loyalists to flee the region. This took place after the loyalists had committed murder and rape against civilians, which local and international organisations condemned.
Beneath the ashes, the clash over the fertile agricultural land in the west of the province is increasing day by day. Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies say they are still unable to deliver adequate aid to the hundreds of thousands facing starvation.
But Ahmed still insists on exploiting the crisis to obstruct any negotiations, whether those related to the Renaissance Dam or the internal conflict. The man aspires to emerge victorious from it and dictate his conditions to everyone.
I think that this illusion will not last due to the complexities of the map of alliances, and regional and international interests, in that region of the world. The bad news is that if Ahmed succeeds in getting out of the crisis, he will install himself as a dictator over Ethiopia, ruling and controlling it as he likes.
This matter will extend to all issues, foremost of which is the problem of the GERD. In the worst case scenario, if Ahmed fails and loses the confrontation, this will lead to the dismantling of the state, and possibly the internationalisation of the entire issue.
Dr Hatem Sadek, Professor at Helwan University