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苏丹蔓延的冲突(II):青尼罗州的战争
苏丹蔓延的冲突(II):青尼罗州的战争
Report 204 / Africa

苏丹蔓延的冲突(II):青尼罗州的战争

执行摘要

青尼罗州战争造成的后果是令人震惊的,大约有三分之一的国家人口需要人道主义援助,其中包括在南苏丹和埃塞俄比亚的约15万难民,以及国内约20万流离失所或受到战乱严重影响的人民。2011年9月战火重新点燃,这是由于矛盾的根本原因——苏丹中心地区权力和资源的高度集中是以牺牲周边地区为代价的——尚未根据2005年《全面和平协议》(CPA)得到解决。这场战争使得在喀土穆长期执政的全国大会党(NCP)和领导人民赢得了南苏丹独立的苏丹人民解放运动/军(SPLM/A)这两个宿敌相互斗争,但却并没有为青尼罗州赢得人们所期望的独立自主权。在地方和国家层面上的冲突比以往任何时候都更为错综复杂,只有当局与武装和非武装反对派势力之间展开真正全面的民族和谈,才能彻底解决问题,结束冲突。

青尼罗州是“苏丹的缩影”,聚居着种类众多的族群社区,“土著居民”与阿拉伯和非阿拉伯“新移民”之间分歧深刻。该地区长期以来被边缘化,其自然财富大多集中在喀土穆的少数精英手中,权力相对集中,资源也未经再分配。这是苏丹众多冲突的主要原因。许多人希望《全面和平协议》能带来国家统治方式的转型,但全国大会党和苏丹人民解放运动都没有全力以赴进行改革以使“团结变得更具吸引力”,也没有通过改革阻止南苏丹的自治。青尼罗州和南科尔多凡州“这两个地区”都没有得到改革的授权,取而代之的是《全面和平协议》中提到的含义模糊的“全民协商”。2011年,“全民协商”机制允许76,000名青尼罗州公民倾诉苦水,苏丹人民解放运动借此来推动“自治”。“全民协商”工作原定于2011年7月南苏丹独立之前完成,但在该期限之后,全国大会党的权力分享比以往任何时候都更加勉强,更不用说允许地方自治。

苏丹人民解放运动北部分支(SPLM-N)在2011年7月后应该成为反对党,但它仍然保留有军队,喀土穆想将这些军队迅速驱逐或解除武装。恰恰因为这点导致南科尔多凡州和青尼罗州重燃战火。在非洲联盟(非盟,AU)和已故埃塞俄比亚总理梅莱斯·泽纳维的斡旋下,2011年6月26日,全国大会党和苏丹人民解放运动北部分支在最后一刻匆忙达成了框架协议,但苏丹总统奥马尔·巴希尔却拒绝接受该协议。执政党中的强硬派尤其反对协议中有关达成全国和解的承诺。从那时起,人道主义和政治谈判在很大程度上停滞不前,而国际合作伙伴也搞不清楚应该将两者区分开来或是相互关联。

同南科尔多凡州相比,青尼罗州的苏丹人民解放运动北部分支没有做好战争的准备,同上次战争(1985-2005年)相比,南科尔多凡州的反政府武装这次设法占据了更广阔的领土也获取了更多的武器。而在青尼罗州,反政府武装被迅速驱赶到南苏丹边界,失去了位于埃塞俄比亚边境上的库尔穆克这一占领已久的据点。埃塞俄比亚政府——苏丹人民解放运动/军曾经的支持者——一直拒绝施以援手,而是谨慎地充当中立调停者。迫于国际压力,即使是与苏丹人民解放运动/军历来关系紧密的南苏丹,也不愿意或不能够向人们期望的那样为以前的战友提供支持。

苏丹人民解放运动北部分支现在已经联合苏丹革命阵线(SRF)的达尔富尔反叛势力,制定了比以往任何时候都全面的国家议程。但南科尔多凡州和青尼罗州之间,甚至是青尼罗州内部仍存在分歧,主要集中在冲突是否应该提升到国家层面上。这些分歧正好有利于喀土穆的策略,即限制和谈以及随后的地方事务谈判协议,以阻止核心组织的改革,他们认为这些改革削弱了全国大会党的权力。虽然他们部分支持苏丹人民解放运动北部分支在全民协商过程中呼吁提倡自治权,但包括全国大会党党员在内的青尼罗州的政治精英,对苏丹革命阵线提出的国家议程颇有微词,他们支持的是地方层面的解决方案。然而,地方层面的解决方案却无助于解决青尼罗州冲突的根源,其它地区的冲突也是类似性质。

这份报告是分析苏丹周边冲突蔓延的一系列报告中的第二部分。形成一个全面的解决方案是非常必要的,它应该包括更广泛的执政方式改革和全部反对派武装都参与的有意义的全国对话,只有这样,才能结束众多冲突并建立持久和平。因此,在第一份报告《苏丹冲突蔓延(一):南科尔多凡州的战争》(2013年2月14日)和早先的报告《苏丹:重大改革或战争升级》(2012年11月29日)中提出的许多建议,都与解决青尼罗州的这些超越了地方层面的长期冲突有关。

20世纪80年代以来,苏丹已经成为两种相互对立的模式展开意识形态竞争的主要战场:喀土穆主张国家统一和权力集中,阿拉伯-伊斯兰身份在国家占主导地位,南苏丹的独立使该模式矛盾式复苏;与之对照的是反政府武装——苏丹人民解放运动/军以及现在苏丹革命阵线主张的建立更为包容、权力更为分散的国家。有鉴于此,如何解决青尼罗州过去和现在的冲突,在很大程度上反映了苏丹现在的存在主义困境,即如何最好地定义自己的国家身份。

内罗毕/布鲁塞尔,2013年6月18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.