Israel Siphons off Africa’s Nile

Women gather to collect water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, 4 July 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Adriane Ohanesian)

By: Jomana Farhat

Published Monday, July 30, 2012

Egyptian and Sudanese policy failures have lead to a looming strategic threat to both countries’ most important resources – the Nile. Israel has now signed an agreement with the South Sudanese authorities over rights to the country’s precious water source.

There was an outcry in Egypt and Sudan over last week’s signing of a cooperation agreement between Israel and South Sudan on water infrastructure and technology development. Warnings abounded that the pact between the government in Juba and Israeli Military Industries Ltd posed a threat to the water security of the two downstream countries and should be countered. Largely overlooked was the fact that their own inaction was mostly to blame for it.

Israeli designs on the waters of the Nile and on the resources of the African continent are hardly new. For years Israel has striven hard to forge ties with a number of African states and strengthen its presence in the continent, for both economic and security reasons.

In South Sudan, Israel has flaunted its ties with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – now the new country’s absolute ruler – and other southern faction leaders, ever since the first southern rebellion began in Sudan in the 1950s. This was in line with a longstanding strategic doctrine, which was revisited in a 2008 lecture on Israel’s regional strategy by former Israeli security minister Avi Dichter.

This doctrine held, among other things, that Sudan, with its vast resources and economic potential, should not be allowed to become an asset to the power of the Arab world as a whole. As development in a stable Sudan would make it a threat to Israel, despite its geographical distance, Israel and its agencies should actively encourage the destabilization of the country by fueling successive crises until that instability becomes chronic.

The other acknowledged motive for Israeli intervention in Sudan was that the country constitutes the “strategic depth” of Egypt. In this regard, nothing could conceivably pose a greater strategic concern to Egypt and Sudan alike than a potential threat to their supplies of water from the Nile. Israel has succeeded in mounting such a threat with its latest pact with South Sudan and earlier agreements with other Nile littoral states in recent years.

The move comes against a backdrop of tensions over water issues between Egypt and Sudan and the majority of the other Nile Basin countries (the other riparian states are Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Eritrea, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda).

Most of the upstream countries want major changes made to the arrangements that have long governed the management of the Nile’s waters. These include a 1929 agreement which requires Egypt to approve any large-scale water projects in upstream countries that would affect the flow of Nile waters. They also oppose a 1959 pact that allocates an annual 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water to Egypt and 18.5 billion cubic meters to Sudan, which they argue is unfair. Six countries have demanded a reallocation under a proposed new Entebbe Agreement, but Egypt and Sudan have rejected it. The pair – especially Egypt, which since ancient times has relied on the Nile for more than 95 percent of its water – would rather keep their historic shares, and insist there can be no new water agreement until contentious issues have been resolved.

Egyptian and Sudanese objections will not, however, stop South Sudan – which with its independence became the Nile’s 11th riparian state – and other countries from proceeding with large-scale water projects to meet their pressing development needs. These are bound to increase their consumption and impede the downstream flow. South Sudan occupies a strategic location in this regard, with about 45 percent of the Nile Basin’s water in its territory, and 28 percent of the river’s water flowing through it to Sudan and Egypt.

Yet both countries could have acted to avoid getting to this point.

Sudan’s relations with South Sudan began deteriorating from the moment the latter seceded, with political, territorial and financial disputes triggering military confrontation within months. The opportunity to conduct negotiations over what proportion the South would get of Sudan’s water allocation, which would have enabled Khartoum to safeguard its interests, was missed prior to independence. Water issues have since been overshadowed by other quarrels.

For Egypt, the Nile water question arguably represents the greatest of the country’s many Mubarak-era foreign policy failures. The former regime neglected Africa diplomatically, and failed to sustain Egypt’s once-strong relations with the countries concerned. Its most tangible failure in this regard was its inability to persuade South Sudan to agree to the resumption of work on the long-stalled Jonglei Canal project, designed to save between 40 and 50 billion cubic meters of Nile water annually from evaporation.

Israel was quick to fail the vacuum. It has seized every possible opportunity to offer its backing to water projects in the upstream countries, through which to both put pressure on Egypt and Sudan, and gain leverage to help overcome its own water shortage.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

There are any number of reasons why Israel "helped" the South Sudanese with their "water issues"....but as well pointed out by an earlier posting; It most definitely points us all back to the fast track to raising $15 Million for the Darfurians...with locus of intensity primarily in the New York area for Darfur...& recruiting Hollywood types to raise oodles of funds for Darfur.
It seemed an odd pairing...Darfurians and NYZionists...but then we later learned that little to none of the $15 Mil went to Darfur--but it was quickly lost/forgotten buried in the next 24 hour news cycle shocker.

HOWEVER....for those of us who are familiar with 1982 WZO plan...and then later with the NeoCONS plans to 'take down 7 Muslim states in 5 years"....a la Yinon....I cannot help but remember (Ret) General Wes Clark, former Nato supreme commander speaking in California during his 2008 Pres candidacy....informing audience that there has been a "POLICY COUPS" by hard nosed extremists (Neocons) who want to take down 7 states including Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen...etc....to ensure the "from the Euphrates to the NILE.".....The zionist expansion plan WRIT LARGE...handwriting on the WALLS....encage, roundup, arrest, imprison, starve, maim, steal, murder with impunity. IN FRONT OF OUR EYES....without one iota of conscience.

There is a DIRECT correlation between the thread of this article's report...African Water....and Zionist plan to divide and conquer each of those states in order to ensure it remains hegemon. It seems with every ratcheting up of insane aggression they demand ever more concessions from everyone...EU, US, Africa, Asia...the world...
This is madness.

You caught them! The Jews are drinking your water...in Africa! I heard that they will be loading C-130s full of water and dropping them on the Negev, just so that the Arabs cannot have it. Maybe they will drop it in the Red Sea. You never know with the Jews.
It could not be the fact that Israel is developing water infrastructure to help the South Sudanese people, who until recently, were being bombed into starvation by the North. Noooo. It's the Jews! They can fill up 747s with water, and even as it leaks out, there will be enough to fill three municipal swimming pools in Tel Aviv.
The Arab world uses Israeli drip technology since it is the way that Israel made "the deserts bloom." But the packages say "Made in Cyprus" or "Made in Turkey" (as if).
You keep stoking the flames of hatred and conspiracy. The people of South Sudan will grow tomatoes and laugh.

3/10. You mock people for being paranoid, but Israel is investing in water resources in order to gain virtual water through food imports, not from a generosity of spirit. Water rights are complex, and some will hold the view that Israel and South Sudan have the rights to do such things, and others will disagree. But you can't say there aren't fundamental impacts on water impoverished Egypt and Sudan without seeming to be duplicitous or ignorant.

Israel supplies equipment which allows to use water in a more economical way, thus preventing the waste of precious water where it's needed most, but by your account Israel somehow steals this water.
I'm sure you'd be happier if this water is wasted rather than used more efficiently, G-d forbid Israelis help anybody.
Egypt or any other country have only themselves to blame - they should have developed similar technologies instead of blaming Israel.

Perhaps further proof that Israel had a hand in promoting break-up of Sudan. The worldwide Dafur genocide promotion was in fact started by several jewish non-profit aid organizations. I found that funny since jews don't seek to help others unless there is something in it for them.

How horrible these Jews are, "promoting" an end to a genocide of hundreds of thousands of people! Pure evil, Muslims genocide Christians and the Jews are bothered by it, how dare they! And now the evil Jews even help the Christians with water and agricultural developments!!! It's time the world stop these merciless Jews - how much more can the world suffer their domination???

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