(FP) – The Trump administration is weighing withholding some aid to Ethiopia over a Nile dam project that has severely strained its relationship with downstream countries Sudan and Egypt, six officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy.
The massive dam, Africa’s biggest, has become a flashpoint of geopolitical tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia, with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hinting that his country could use military force to halt the project. Many in Egypt fear the dam could threaten its water supplies.
But some U.S. officials said the project has also fueled divisions and confusion over policy within the U.S. government, ever since Sisi asked President Donald Trump to help mediate negotiations over the dam last year.
U.S. participation in four-way talks over the dam earlier this year, led by the Treasury Department, helped advance talks. However, Ethiopia refused to sign a final agreement. Now there’s growing concern that the Trump administration is putting its thumb on the scales to favor Egypt at the expense of Ethiopia—even as new signs of progress emerge in negotiations.
“The Trump administration has gotten it into its head that it has to take Egypt’s side on this,” said one U.S. official familiar with the matter. “Nobody in the White House seems to be looking at this through the Africa lens and its impact on Ethiopia, which is equally important,” the official added. “This is just shooting ourselves in the foot.” […] CONTINUE READING