When arranging Egyptian national security priorities, the waters of the Nile River will be at the top of that list in all cases, especially with any threat to the only water source in the country, which is the threat that Egypt is currently facing due to the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
But who has been following the Egyptian authorities' priorities recently, and behind them are the media outlets supporting the regime of the current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi;
Sufficient attention will not be paid to the dam crisis, and he will be more surprised when he watches intermittently news of the Renaissance Dam at the end of the ladder of attention, whether in news bulletins and major programs, or in government and even private newspapers that have become semi-official.
This strange calm and deliberate disregard for the biggest crises threatening Egyptian national security lead some to question its truth.
There are those who see it as surrender after Egypt lost its papers in the negotiations, especially since the "Declaration of Principles" agreement signed by Sisi in 2015 greatly weakened the Egyptian position, while others see that this cautious calm may carry a readiness for a major reaction after the American elections, and perhaps Up to brandishing military action.
Calm despite the storms
Supporters of the Egyptian regime may argue that the official and media calm is due to the stoppage of negotiations and the absence of new events, citing the heated atmosphere that accompanied Addis Ababa’s announcement that filling the dam reservoir began last July, as it was accompanied by a great Egyptian response, and it included moves on both levels. Regional and international.
But the interesting thing is that the Egyptian calm that has prevailed for some time has also continued despite the surprise statements made by US President Donald Trump a few days ago regarding the possibility of Egypt bombing the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which provoked a violent reaction from Addis Ababa, and summoned the US ambassador to clarify those statements, as he commented on them. The European Union, calling on all parties to commit to dialogue and negotiations to resolve the crisis.
The US President said - during a phone call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok - that the Ethiopians violated the dam agreement, warning that the situation is very dangerous, and that Egypt could not continue in this situation, and they would end up blowing up the dam.
Last February, Washington announced - at the end of negotiations sponsored - that an agreement had been reached on the mechanism of the dam's work, and Cairo had signed it in its initials, in exchange for abstaining from Ethiopia, which accused the United States of siding with Egypt in this crisis.
This prompted the US administration to impose sanctions on Addis Ababa and prevent some aid from it.
Trump's statements were considered by some as a green light for Cairo towards military action, forcing Addis Ababa to respond to the American mediation.
Former Egyptian Irrigation Minister Mohamed Nasr El-Din Allam said that Trump's speech "clarifies the Egyptian leadership's position on the Renaissance Dam, its lack of acceptance of the Ethiopian demands, and its readiness for military intervention to maintain water security, saying," I consider that this is a green light from Trump for Egypt to strike the Renaissance Dam. "
On the other hand, despite most Egyptian media ignoring Trump's statements, the Egyptian broadcaster - who is close to the regime - Muhammad al-Baz said that the information he had "belies the American president, and that Egypt did not have a decision on its agenda to strike the dam."
Al-Baz's speech comes in confirmation of Sisi's previous statements, during which he stressed his country's keenness to negotiate, and even criticized the promotion of the military option by some Egyptians, as it harms Egyptian policy in the dam crisis.
The Egyptian military expert, retired Major General Talaat Musallam, warned of his country's involvement in a war with Ethiopia, stressing that keeping pace with the US President in his talk about the dam bombing would be a mistake for Cairo and not for Washington.
Cairo does not seem in any way to be in a hurry to resort to any military solution that may worsen the situation more than it resolves, but may take Trump's statements as an opportunity to expand its pressure on Ethiopia to extend the period of filling the Renaissance Dam reservoir in a way that does not affect it much.
At the same time, many Egyptian opponents accuse Sisi of wasting Egypt's right to the Nile waters, whether it was a failure or intention, as they consider that he may do so within an Israeli agenda that requires the latter to intervene at a crucial time in order to mediate Egypt with Ethiopia, in exchange for it to agree Egypt to deliver a branch of the Nile to Israel, which suffers from water shortages.
Sisi and proof
In this context, the Cairo meeting last Tuesday between Al-Sisi and Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Chairman of the Transitional Sovereignty Council in Sudan, may have taken place, in which the two parties declared their adherence to reaching a "binding legal agreement" on the Renaissance Dam, a demand that Addis Ababa opposes.
The next day, Khartoum announced that it would organize negotiations on the Renaissance Dam for a week, following a video conference that brought together the foreign ministers of the three countries.
A statement issued by the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said, "The three countries agreed to hold a follow-up meeting to be called by Sudan as soon as possible to submit a report to the African Union presidency within one week on ways to make tangible progress in the stalled negotiations since the end of last August."
Egypt depends 97% on the Nile for irrigation and drinking water, while Ethiopia says the $ 4 billion project is necessary for its prosperity.
Quiet or deceit?
Apart from the declared Egyptian position rejecting the military option, some say that public rejection is a natural position, whether or not Cairo decides to use military force.
The proponents of this theory say that the Egyptian statements may be part of a preparatory plan for military action, such as the strategic deception plan that Egypt worked according to in preparation for the October 1973 war, as the official statements ruled out war soon, and news and information were leaked indicating the army’s unwillingness for war at the time. .
Others cite Sisi's statements when he was defense minister at the time of the late President Mohamed Morsi, as he repeated on more than one occasion that the army does not interfere in politics, and eyewitnesses reported that Sisi told Morsi more than once that he was with his legitimacy as an elected president, but Sisi returned and led the coup Al-Askari who suspended the constitution and dismissed Morsi on July 3, 2013.
And if Cairo decides to take military action;
The theoretically easiest option is to detonate the Renaissance Dam through air strikes by long-range attack aircraft protected by modern fighter jets, given that Egypt does not have a land border with Ethiopia, and the latter is not open to the sea.
The Egyptian Air Force is "overwhelmingly" superior to its Ethiopian counterpart. According to the American "Global Fire Power" website, Egypt has 215 combat aircraft compared to 24 for Ethiopia, and Cairo has 88 attack aircraft, compared to nothing for Addis Ababa.
Egypt also surpasses Ethiopia in terms of quality as well, as Cairo owns the advanced American Rafale and American F-16s, in exchange for the MiG-25 (MIG-25) and Sukhoi-27 planes. The Soviet, which although not comparable to the Egyptian-Western planes, was designed specifically in the 1970s to confront American aircraft, such as the F-16 Falcon and F-15 Eagle.
However, the first obstacle faced by Egyptian warplanes to reach and destroy the Renaissance Dam is the distance, which is not less than 1500 km from the nearest Egyptian air base.
And few Egyptian combat and attack aircraft have the ability to travel 3,000 kilometers back and forth, without refueling in the air, a technology that until recently Cairo did not possess.
However, in January 2020, videos from the Egyptian Ministry of Defense showed a Rafale plane providing aerial refueling to another Egyptian plane (whose type was not revealed).
In addition to combat aircraft, Ethiopia has a Russian Pantsir S air defense system, which it acquired in November 2019, and it is believed that it was able to install it near the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in May 2020.
Pantsir is considered one of the advanced medium-range systems, but its reputation was scratched after the Turkish Bayraktar drones destroyed a number of them in Libya and Syria.
The third obstacle facing Egyptian planes is the destructive ability of the bombs that they will launch on the giant dam, which is 170 meters high and more than 1800 meters long.
Egypt needs bombs equivalent to the power of a nuclear bomb to destroy this enormous concrete mass, and therefore any conventional air raid may delay the completion of the dam, but it will not completely end the problem.
Also, Sudan is unlikely to allow Egyptian planes to breach its airspace to hit the dam, due to many considerations.
The most important of them is that it will be the first to suffer from the collapse of the dam, whose reservoir when full is more than 65 billion cubic meters, a quantity equivalent to the annual flow of the Nile water in Sudan and Egypt, and it could flood entire cities in eastern Sudan.
Therefore, Egypt may resort to other specific operations to blow up or disable the dam, but these issues are complex and difficult, and their impact may be limited to stopping the project.
The military option - and if Egypt is forced to resort to it - will not achieve its goal of preserving its historical share of the Nile water (55.5 billion cubic meters annually), unless it receives military support from a superpower such as the United States, and here lies the importance of Trump's statements if they are Avenue.