Wednesday (April 7th): Ethiopia declines outside Mediation

Félix Tshisekedi

Name? Félix Tshisekedi

Westphalian identity? Congolese

Age? 57

Why is he in the news? President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Félix Tshisekedi hosted talks for the foreign ministers of the parties subject to the conflict about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. But he was unsuccessful as the foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt left the meetings after just two days of talks. 

Why do we care? We have written about this fascinating example of IR extensively and analysed it mostly from an Ethiopian and Egyptian perspective. President Tshisekedi represents the side of the mediators between the three parties which has not been very prominent so far and will remain this way due to the Ethiopian delegation blocking any other party trying to mediate. 

Why should you care? This conflict over sovereignty and the essential resource of water is a perfect example of international relations and why it is so fascinating. A wonderful conflict to analyse because it is easy to understand all sides’ interests. An interesting case study scores 7/10 on our how much you should care scale.

Who else cares? Sudan’s foreign minister Mariam al-Sadiq. Currently the alliances are shifting. Before the Sudanese were with Egypt, trying to protect its water security from the river Nile. But al-Sadiq’s delegation has indicated that they are not willing to follow Egypt into an armed conflict. They would rather mitigate the damage caused by the crisis and perhaps seek to maximise Sudan’s interests instead of clashing with Abiy Ahmed.

Any further comments? So why is Ahmed sidelining the potential mediators like President Tshisekedi? Because it acts from a position of strength. If it starts filling the dam with water before an agreement is reached, all that can stop it is an open military conflict initiated from the then aggressor Egypt. A mediator like President Tshisekedi does not have the power to coerce Ethiopia into giving in, a mediator like the AU, US or EU does.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordination Communications