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Report 194 / Africa

苏丹:大刀阔斧的改革还是更多的战争

执行摘要

“苏丹问题”并没有因为南方分离出去而消失。权力和资源集中于政治中心从而导致的积年累月的冲突仍然困扰着苏丹。作为该问题的解决方案,一个更具包容性的政府得以建立。这个政府至少解决了一些边缘地区的不满情绪,但是对政府治理进行改革的承诺仍然没有得到兑现。一个主要的——尽管并不是唯一的——障碍是巴希尔总统,他将权力进一步地集中到了一个受其信任的官员的小圈子中,也不愿意从总统的职位上退下来。许多人希望通过政变来实现政权更迭,但是却没有考虑过其中的危险性。解决苏丹问题的目标应该是实现管理有序的政府转型,转型之后总统巴希尔领导的全国大会党(National Congress Party, NCP)可以继续参政但不占主导地位。如果巴希尔断定很有可能出现更混乱无序的局面甚至是政变的话,他可能会愿意进行这种转型,但前提是要有适当的激励因素。国际社会应该促成这些激励因素,但是首要的条件是建立一个可信的、具包容性的过渡政府,开展一个有意义的关于新宪法的全国性对话,以及制定一个对苏丹治理方式进行永久性改革的路线图。

喀土穆政权处于危机之中,面临着多重挑战,这些挑战合在一起严重威胁到喀土穆政权的存在和苏丹的稳定。经济正在急速下滑,任何与南苏丹的石油交易仅能减缓但无法阻止经济的衰落。全国大会党的成员对该党的领导人、党的政策以及普遍的腐败现象深感不满。执政党内部的长期敌对派系和“伊斯兰运动”(the Islamic movement)都在不择手段地提出一个能被大众接受的新政府,来替代全国大会党领导的政府。与此同时,政治反对派们变得愈加自信,政府与苏丹革命阵线(Sudan Revolutionary Front, SRF)的战争也在慢慢扩大,造成军队人员的大量伤亡,同时也在耗空国库。

许多人希望一场政变或者规模广泛的起义会迫使巴希尔和全国大会党交出权力,但这存在一个很大的风险:不管是政变还是起义都可能引发更多的暴力。巴希尔是在1989年的军事政变中上台的,所以他有意瓦解了安全力量,并频繁地让指挥官们轮换岗位,以使发动一场军事政变变得更加困难。除非指挥官们联合起来,否则军队很容易就会分裂成敌对的派别。另外也存在有一些其它的安全力量和忠于全国大会党不同领导人的武装民兵。给这种紧张的混乱局面火上浇油的是还存在有众多的武装部落,这些武装部落扎根于喀土穆以外的其他地区,寻求利用首都的动荡来造就一些事实——一些对于一个新政权而言很难逆转的事实。

巴希尔和全国大会党可能认识到现阶段的危险比起以前他们挺过去的那些社会和经济危难更棘手。他们的本能是与分裂的反对派达成协议(将一些权力和资源割让给一两个政党和/或一个主要的武装组织),并利用与南苏丹的部分和解来恢复石油供应。但是这些行动只会争取到一些时间而已,并不能解决造成长期冲突的根源或者阻止内战的蔓延。

国际社会应该从过去失败的协议倡议中汲取教训:苏丹需要一个真正意义上的全面和平协议,而不是一个局部的协议,这个局部协议仅仅为政府的分而治之策略所服务,且使得让人无法接受的这种现状延续下去。同时,任何的转型过程都需要全国大会党参与其中,将其置之事外会付出巨大代价。该党的政治精英过于强大,以致于不可忽视;反对党则过于分裂,且没有单独治理国家的经验。有全国大会党参与其中,执行一个全面的解决方案和一个包括民族和解在内的为全民所接受的、真正的政治改革,才是摆脱无尽冲突的困境的唯一出路。

总统及其同事必须要自己来得出以下结论,那就是比起之前他们为挺过危机所作出的调整而言,为应对当前危机所需要的政策调整会更加激进。但是,如果他们得出这种结论,那么国际社会可以通过提供激励因素,来帮助他们就该结论采取相应的和负责的行动。国际社会的激励因素应该精心地与以下条件联系起来:巴希尔和全国大会党要达到具体的、不可逆转的基准(例如危机组织早在2009年提出的基准),而且他们还需要被证实是在继续进行转型。这种合作可能对一些人来说难以接受,这些人认为巴希尔是暴行的罪魁祸首,但是,防止进一步的冲突以及在苏丹和南苏丹持续发生的人道主义危机是很有必要的。对于一个管理有序的转型,一个把全国大会党和反对派双方的领导人都纳入其中的转型——无论这些反对派领导人是文职还是武装领导人,一个可以把苏丹带上一条更具包容性的、可持续发展的道路的转型,巴沙尔都是至关重要的因素。不进行转型的另一种局面则会是维持现状,全国大会党将不考虑任何人道主义成本而拼命抱住权力不放,反对派则会寻求使用一种更可能出现国家分裂风险的军事战略。

大多数苏丹人知道,要结束数十年的冲突,哪些因素是必要的。即使在1956年独立之前,人们也很清楚权力和资源应该更公平地与被边缘化的地区进行分享。历史上,人们的注意力往往集中在南苏丹,但其它的地区也深受其害。在不同的时期,多数的外围地区都发生了武装叛乱,要求得到更大的代表性和更多的发展。这种动态不会发生改变,除非展开以下行动:对国家的治理方式进行根本性的结构改革,以及所有的政治势力——全国大会党、传统政党、苏丹革命阵线和青年团体——一同建立一个更具包容性和代表性的政府,这个政府要接受和尊重苏丹人民具有巨大的多样性的特点。

内罗毕⁄布鲁塞尔,2012年11月29日

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir take part in a tripartite summit regarding a dam on the Nile River, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 10 February 2019. AFP/ANADOLU AGENCY/Handout /Presidency of Egypt
Commentary / Africa

Calming the Choppy Nile Dam Talks

Egypt and Ethiopia are exchanging harsh words over the dam the latter is building on the Blue Nile. At issue is how fast the Horn nation will fill its reservoir once construction is complete. The two countries’ leaders should cool the rhetoric and seek compromise.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are set to meet on the margins of an ongoing two-day Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in an effort to ease tensions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia is building the dam on the main tributary of the Nile, and Egypt fears that the project will imperil its water supply.

Experts from those two nations and Sudan, the third country directly involved, had neared a technical consensus last year on how fast Ethiopia would fill the dam’s reservoir. But the past few months have seen Addis Ababa and Cairo move further apart amid feisty exchanges of rhetoric. Experts made little progress at their latest meeting this month in Khartoum.

There are still reasons to think a deal can be struck. First, however, the two leaders need to reiterate at Sochi their intention to cooperate over the GERD, so as to create an atmosphere conducive to agreement on filling and operating what will be the continent’s largest hydropower plant.

The background

Ethiopia began building the GERD on the Blue Nile River in 2010. Meles Zenawi, then Ethiopia’s leader, argued that the dam was critical to the country’s development efforts and would benefit the whole region. He said nearby states, including Egypt, would gain from purchasing the cheap electricity Ethiopia intends the dam to produce.

The scheme alarmed Cairo. Egypt claims “historical rights” over the Nile, stemming from treaties to which upstream countries, with the exception of Sudan, were not party. Most of those treaties date to the colonial era; the latest, a 1959 Egypt-Sudan pact, apportioned all 84 billion cubic meters of the Nile’s waters between Egypt (then the United Arab Republic), Sudan and evaporation. Egypt still bases its supply on the 55.5 billion cubic meters agreed upon in 1959 but it is estimated to use more than that as Sudan does not use its full allocation.

Egypt is especially vulnerable to reductions in Nile flows.

Egypt is especially vulnerable to reductions in Nile flows. It relies on the river for about 90 per cent of its water needs. Abdullatif Khalid, head of the irrigation sector, said recently that “drinking water is consuming 11 billion cubic meters. … Industrial usage consumes 8 billion cubic meters, and the rest is distributed to agriculture”. Egypt also relies on the Nile to generate about a tenth of its power, particularly from its High Dam at Aswan. Egypt characterises the status of the Nile as a life-and-death matter. It fears the loss of Egyptian influence and control over upper Nile states that Ethiopia’s unilateral project represents. It also worries that acceding to Ethiopia over the GERD could pave the way for other major hydropower and irrigation projects by upstream Nile nations.

Ethiopian officials portray such concerns as quasi-imperialist. “The struggle is between a country which wants to ensure equitable and reasonable utilisation and another which wants to maintain a colonial-era treaty of injustice and unfairness”, said one Ethiopian diplomat. A statement from the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry blamed Egypt for acting as a spoiler at this month’s Khartoum talks. Ethiopian officials argue that Egypt built the Aswan dam in a bid to drive its own economic growth but that Cairo has since used its international influence to prevent upstream Nile development. They portray Ethiopia’s eventual decision to construct the GERD as an effort to redress a historic imbalance and as a last resort after Egypt refusal to cooperate over the basin.

Forging an initial filling deal could increase trust among the parties, which is all the more important given the threat posed by rising temperatures in the Nile basin.

In March, Crisis Group encouraged Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to persevere in trying to agree a detailed policy for filling the GERD’s reservoir. The three countries had taken some steps in that direction. In 2015, they signed a Declaration of Principles pledging to equitably share water resources and cooperate over the GERD, and since then have met regularly at both technical and political levels to try to reach agreement.

Forging an initial filling deal could increase trust among the parties, which is all the more important given the threat posed by rising temperatures in the Nile basin. In the longer term, Crisis Group supports the idea that the three countries, together with the other eight who share the Nile’s waters, establish a broader resource-sharing arrangement via the Nile Basin Commission that is to form once six of the eleven riparian nations ratify the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA).

Egypt signed on to the 2015 Declaration, but, along with Sudan, it rejects key parts of the CFA. Cairo stresses in its Nile policy the “inviolability of our water share”. Addis Ababa, meanwhile, is explicit that water allocation treaties to which it was not party have “no applicability whatsoever on Ethiopia”.

After some heated words of its own, Cairo put its well-oiled diplomatic machine into action at late September’s UN General Assembly meeting in New York. Egyptian diplomats met with counterparts from Burundi and South Sudan, two riparian countries that are cash-strapped and experiencing major internal crises. Burundi, along with Kenya and Uganda, has signed but not ratified the CFA, while South Sudan has not yet made its position clear. An experienced observer of Nile politics says it is “common knowledge that Cairo increases its activism with upper riparians, especially South Sudan, whenever rhetoric with Addis increases”. Egypt’s intention appears to be to forestall explicit statements of support for Ethiopia’s position from other upper Nile nations and to drag out the CFA’s ratification.

The sticking point

The initial challenge lies in the sides’ competing positions on filling the GERD reservoir.

The initial challenge lies in the sides’ competing positions on filling the GERD reservoir. Ethiopia wants to move quickly to expedite maximum power generation. Egypt is concerned about how the dam will be managed during drought years and wants the GERD filled slowly enough that a sufficient volume of water can flow downstream each year during filling. Egypt also says it wants an office at the GERD site staffed with its own technicians. Ethiopia counters that this proposal breaches its sovereignty. It also has repeatedly rejected as unnecessary Egyptian calls for third-party meditation in the dispute.

The GERD’s 74-billion cubic meter reservoir is to be filled in three stages. The first consists of tests of the initial two turbines, which require some 3 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water and would take one year. Second, all 13 turbines would be tested, requiring at least another 12 bcm and one more year. Last, Ethiopia would fill the rest of the reservoir – although its volume would fluctuate by around 50 bcm each year as Ethiopia would have to allow much of the water out ahead of seasonal rainfall to prevent overflowing. The first two years’ filling would use too little water to significantly affect downstream supplies. It is the final stage that worries Egypt and prompts its disagreement with Ethiopia.

Last year, the National Independent Scientific Research Study Group, comprising Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese experts, made progress toward a filling agreement that all parties could get behind. This deal would entail Ethiopia annually releasing about 35 bcm (around 70 per cent of the Blue Nile’s average annual flow) of water downstream as it fills the dam.

Egypt subsequently slowed down the pace of talks. At the February meeting of the African Union, President Sisi told Prime Minister Abiy that he wanted to discuss the minutes from the study group meetings. These conversations led to a new Egyptian proposal, which called for a minimum annual release of 40 bcm of water from the GERD during the period of filling. Egypt had also requested that the entire average annual Blue Nile flow of 49 bcm be released once the GERD is operational and the dam filled. If the flow decreases, Cairo says Addis Ababa should make up for the deficit the next year. Ethiopia has rejected both suggestions.

Space for compromise

Despite the recent disagreements, the 2018 progress and expert studies suggest that a compromise solution exists. In a period of average or above-average rainfall, releases of around 35 bcm would allow Ethiopia to fill the dam at a slightly faster rate than if the annual release was at 40 bcm, while also avoiding acute water shortages in Egypt.

Ethiopia seems ready to agree to a 35 bcm release. According to experts like Kevin Wheeler from the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, who has studied the GERD filling options with a team of experts, a 35 bcm release could fill the dam’s reservoir in five to six years, assuming average flows. Ethiopia said after the latest inconclusive talks that it proposed to fill the GERD in four to seven years.

There are also steps that Egypt could take to manage water more efficiently and mitigate the dam’s potential impact on agriculture and manufacturing.

Despite Cairo’s reservations, this fill rate does not appear likely to significantly damage Egypt’s water supply or power generation. “Under wet to average conditions with a 35 bcm release, Egypt does not need to suffer any shortages, or very minimal reductions if they use their drought management policy”, Wheeler told Crisis Group.

There are also steps that Egypt could take to manage water more efficiently and mitigate the dam’s potential impact on agriculture and manufacturing. Aid programs could improve irrigation efficiency, for example.

For its part, Ethiopia could also be more accommodating, especially given climate volatility and Egypt’s concerns about how the dam will be managed in drought conditions. One experienced observer questions why Ethiopia is apparently so fixated on filling the reservoir quickly to its maximum volume of 74 bcm. After all, the reservoir will need draining to around 20 bcm each year before the rainy season to guard against over-spilling.

Nor is it clear whether sufficient demand exists in either Ethiopia or export markets to justify maximising the GERD’s power generation in the first few years. For example, in 2017/18, all of Ethiopia consumed less electricity than the 15,760 gigawatt hours a year that the GERD is projected to generate. In that same year, Ethiopia sold 1,516 gigawatt hours to Sudan and Djibouti. It has ambitions to sell power to East Africa via an under-construction transmission line to Kenya, but there is work to do on building further inter-connections and negotiating export deals, including, potentially, with Egypt and Gulf states.

The likely gap between the dam’s maximum output and demand means that Ethiopia could take a concertedly flexible approach to the initial stages, including filling the dam only to the extent it needs at present. Such an approach may allow it to initially release more water each year, ensuring that the reservoir at Aswan retains a healthy volume and giving Egypt more time to adapt.

Returning to constructive talks

It is hard to say precisely when the GERD will start impounding water, but parties should have at least all next year to thrash out a deal on filling. There was a major hiccup in the dam’s construction last year, when Ethiopia’s political power struggle and the transition that saw Abiy come to power rocked the mega-project. But the Ethiopian state seems to have rallied behind the GERD again. Its completion is inevitable – as Prime Minister Abiy made clear in Parliament yesterday – even if there are further delays.

Given the renewed spat between their countries, Sisi and Abiy could help prepare the ground for constructive negotiations during their meeting in Sochi at what is the first Russia-Africa summit. Even if warm words are exchanged, a real breakthrough at the technical level is unlikely any time soon. But if Sisi and Abiy can achieve a reset it would increase the chances that the engineers, lawyers and diplomats can hammer out a deal.

A deal on filling and operating the GERD should create space for renewed diplomacy aimed at safeguarding the Nile basin’s long-term future.

More broadly, a deal on filling and operating the GERD should create space for renewed diplomacy aimed at safeguarding the Nile basin’s long-term future. Climate change means that not only Egypt but all Nile nations should be concerned about water shortages. A study published in August in the Earth’s Future journal found that despite models projecting increased rainfall, nations like Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda may have less water available to them due to hotter and drier years in the Nile basin. Such findings are of even more acute concern to rain-starved Sudan and Egypt, which rely on downstream flows.

Addressing the mistrust among riparian nations, which the GERD presently symbolises, is critical. Those countries need to institutionalise cooperation, including exchanging data on critical elements such as rainfall levels, river flows, dam volumes and power needs. If President Sisi and Prime Minister Abiy can set the right tone in Sochi, they could set a path for a GERD agreement that in turn could catalyse the eventual ratification of the Cooperative Framework Agreement and management of the world’s longest river via the Nile Basin Commission.

This commentary is co-published with The Africa Report.