Water Wars: “Could Be Everywhere In Africa”

Via Times of Oman, some commentary on potential for water conflict in Africa:

Anwar Sadat was precise in predicting what would force Egypt to go to war again. Way back in 1979, while signing the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the former Egyptian president said, “The only matter that would take Egypt to war again is water.” And water indeed will be for which Egypt will fight its next war. At least three nations in Nile Basin, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, are at loggerheads. The bone of contention among them is water of the Nile. Prospect of a war in the region is increasingly becoming threatening vindicating Mark Twain’s prophecy: “… is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”

In Africa, water has not only been elixir of life but also the source of diseases. It has now become the cause of conflicts that will suck in most of the continent into a vortex of violence. Possibilities of wars over water are equally growing in Niger, Volta and Zambezi basins as well. By 2025 at least 12 more African nations will join the 13 nations of the continent which are already affected by serious water scarcity. Everyone will be fighting everyone to gain access to water and control the resource.

The world is apprehensive of the escalating crisis. Many fear that the situation may snowball into a long-drawn war if Ethiopia remains stubborn with its plan to divert Blue Nile. Ethiopia has already announced to divert the river once its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in ready by the end of 2014. Both Sudan and Egypt will be hard hit — the Nile may dry up in next 15 or 20 years.

“A 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan guarantees Egypt 70 per cent and Sudan 30 per cent of the Nile’s water flow.” But, upon completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and diversion of Blue Nile the water share of both Egypt and Sudan will deplete by at least half. Lester Brown, head of environmental research institute Worldwatch says, “There is already little water left when the Nile reaches the sea.”

The Nile is critical to the survival of both Egypt and Sudan. The river is the only source of their drinking water, irrigation and even electricity. If Blue Nile is diverted thirst will grow, agriculture will be affected and power will be in short supply in both Egypt and Sudan.

Wayne Madsen, American author and journalist, feels that hydropolitics (politics over water) will lead Africa towards further balkanisation. The Nile Basin is seeing record fragmentation of nation-states by secessionist and other rebel movements, some backed by the United States and its Western allies and others backed by Egypt and some powerful players from the Arabian Gulf. Yet, other secessionist groups are backed by regional rivals such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and others.

Creation of South Sudan has further complicated an already muddled scene. World’s newest nation has opened the floodgates of balkanisation of Africa. Khartoum is facing further “Western- and Israeli-backed breakaway movements in Darfur and north-eastern Sudan.” South Sudan has already turned into an Israeli client state enabling the zionists to control flow of water from White Nile into the Nile in Egypt and Sudan.

Wars over water may not break in immediately in Africa but a more dangerous game of throwing counterweights or proxy wars have already started to bleed the continent, especially in its northern and central regions. Egypt has been silently extending its support to the insurgents and secessionists in Ethiopia and Somalia in a bid to keep Addis Ababa and its military preoccupied with domestic problems and collapsing neighbour.

To support these secessionists is an existential need for Egypt. Unlike the United States and its Western Allies, Cairo is not interested in regime change in Ethiopia but is keen on keeping the country unstable and in creating liberated pockets controlled by secessionists where Egyptian writs will be large. Cairo is keen on not letting Addis Ababa divert Blue Nile.

Southern Africa isn’t in any better situation. With water increasingly becoming a catalyst for regional conflicts across the continent perceptible sparks of mounting tension are emitting from Botswana, Namibia and Angola. “The River Cuito which begins in Angola before heading through the Caprivi strip in Namibia and ending in the marshlands of the Okavango Delta in Botswana runs through an area that is no stranger to tensions and conflict between neighbours.”

All of them, Botswana, Namibia and Angola, are in a race to grab more and control the river.
With every passing day the risks of wars breaking up are gaining momentum across Africa. By 2030 demand for water in the continent will outstrip supply by at least 40 per cent. And as thirst will grow and lands keep parching due to global warming threats of war will become more real. Between 2025 and 2040 there shall be at least a dozen wars over water in Africa alone.

Of them the bloodiest and most destructive will be the one between Egypt and Ethiopia. In 1989, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak had threatened to send his army to pull down the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Mohamed Morsi may not be putting his predecessor’s threat into practice soon but some Egyptian president in future will certainly be desperate enough to do so.

And once this happens there shall be no stopping for others. Sudan may join Egypt and in Africa wars for water will then be everywhere.

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