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Water Politics. How Sudan’s Turbulent Transition toward Democracy Has Led It to Compromise Its Own Well-Being over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam


Ever since the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was conceived in 2011 under Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Sudan has adopted a pragmatic stance vis-à-vis the dam, playing an integral role in a 2015 Declaration of Principles (DoP). Signed in Khartoum, the declaration promised to cooperate in good faith over the dam’s construction while also looking to alleviate concerns in Egypt over its water supply. This approach mainly stemmed from a recognition that Sudan stands to benefit from the power generation and economic development through the production of sustainable clean energy supply. However, as the 30-year reign of Omar al-Bashir came to an end in 2019 – and an ensuing civil campaign against the country’s powerful military gained momentum – Sudan’s clear-headedness toward the GERD dissipated. Instead, the country’s military led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has cozied up to its ally Egypt and used rising tensions over the GERD’s construction to deflect from domestic tensions at home.

Paper prepared in the framework of the project “African challenges to multilateralism: the geopolitics of the Nile between conflict and cooperation”, October 2022.

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