However, the Sudanese army seems to have a different perception from the reality of joint air, land and sea maneuvers with the Egyptian army that took place in Sudan, the most recent of which was the “Hama El-Nile” maneuver last May when the Egyptian army’s vehicles arrived in Khartoum.
At the time, a high-ranking official in the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation reserved the name of the maneuver as “the protectors of the Nile” because the name might raise fears and concerns among the Ethiopians.
Ethiopia is constructing the giant Renaissance Dam near the borders of Sudan to generate electricity estimated at 6,000 megawatts and with a capacity of 76 billion cubic metres.
Sudan says that the start of filling and operating the Ethiopian dam, without a binding legal agreement, poses a threat to its dams on the Blue Nile, as well as threatening the pension of 20 million Sudanese on the banks of the Nile.
A higher committee in the Sudanese government – comprising the ministries of irrigation, foreign affairs, defense and agriculture, and the relevant authorities, and is closely monitored by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok – believes that building the Renaissance Dam without an agreement poses a grave danger to the country.
According to an official in the Ministry of Irrigation, Ethiopia can use the dam as a water bomb against Sudan in the future if relations between the two countries are strained for any emergency.
Although one of the technicians in the ministry confirms that the use of the dam as a weapon will be limited and restricted if Ethiopia is forced to do so, due to its obligations, after the dam is completed, with agreements to supply electricity to neighboring countries.
He believes that the Renaissance Dam is huge, and its gates have a specific capacity to drain water daily, and the Sudanese Roseires Dam, about 100 km from the Renaissance Dam, can contribute as much to the control and drainage of water.
Khalifa Kemir, a specialist in the field of dam development and energy, says that Sudan is not thinking of striking the Renaissance Dam given its military capabilities, in addition to the fact that Ethiopia can respond by bombing the Roseires Dam, which Sudan relies on to generate electricity and agriculture.
He assures Al Jazeera Net that Sudan, on this side, hopes for pressure that Egypt can exert, given that it has the ability to destroy the Renaissance Dam.
Last year, Ethiopia filled 4.5 billion cubic meters of water in this dam, and is expected to fill 13.5 billion to bring the size of the dam’s lake to 18 billion cubic meters, quantities capable of causing damage to Sudan’s dams and its cities on the banks.
During the early stages of the negotiations between the three countries, when Khartoum was looking at the benefits to be reaped from the Renaissance Dam, Sudanese technicians were able to visit the dam’s construction site and stay there for about two weeks.
One of the technicians, who accompanied this team, says that entering the dam area requires very complicated security measures from 30 kilometers away.
He points out that the dam was built as a war zone, and the Italian executing company made subsequent modifications to its design, using huge cumulonimbus rocks in the foundation of the building.
Committees in Sudan, including specialists in the construction of reservoirs, monitor the construction work and data of filling and draining the dam via satellite images, and according to Sudanese officials, they provide accurate information to a large extent.
Kemer returns to talk about the Renaissance Dam being the strangest dam in the world because it drains water on the territory of another country.
He adds that the dam, due to its proximity to Sudan, and the huge volume of water stored after its completion, will constitute a strategic threat to Sudan, and will remain a continuous sword over Sudan.
He continues, “The Ethiopian dam can be used and invested against Sudan in the event of any dispute between the two countries, such as the border crisis in the Fashaqa lands.”
On the other hand, the Supreme Committee in Sudan is mobilizing many pressure papers to get Ethiopia to sign a binding agreement to fill and operate, perhaps including the file of the Ethiopian refugees, the Fashqa lands and the Benishangul region, and this reinforces the factors of disintegration on Ethiopia’s home front.
Last May, Sudan hinted that it might reconsider Ethiopia’s sovereignty over the Benishangul region, on which the Renaissance Dam is built.
The Benishangul region belonged to Sudan until 1898, but it became a part of Ethiopia based on a treaty between Britain and Ethiopia in 1902.
Kemir believes that Egypt’s military option, against any projects that threaten its water security in the Nile Basin countries, has been present since the era of the late President Anwar Sadat.
He says that Sadat in the mid-1970s threatened former Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam to bomb Addis Ababa when he talked about the construction of the Renaissance Dam at that time.
In 2009, the late President Hosni Mubarak halted the Renaissance Dam project, through cooperation with Eritrea, whose relations with Addis Ababa were at their worst.
But Addis Ababa – according to Kemer – took advantage of Egypt’s preoccupation after the revolution of January 25, 2011, and proceeded to build its giant dam, but Cairo nonetheless could consider the military option by exploiting the regional circumstance of tense relations between Sudan and Ethiopia.
The dam development specialist continues, “Egypt is the most affected by the Renaissance Dam. It has no water source other than the Blue Nile. It only thinks about its water security, and the presence of this dam leads it to think of a mechanism other than negotiations under the auspices of the African Union.”