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苏丹冲突的蔓延(三):达尔富尔和平进程的局限
苏丹冲突的蔓延(三):达尔富尔和平进程的局限
Report 211 / Africa

苏丹冲突的蔓延(三):达尔富尔和平进程的局限

执行摘要及建议

达尔富尔的战争已历时十年,而暴力在2013年急剧升级:当地的民兵组织以阿拉伯人为主,本来是政府为了遏制叛乱而武装起来的,但却越来越不受喀土穆的控制,开始自相残杀。最近的战斗又使得将近50万平民流离失所(达尔富尔需要人道主义援助的人口共计320万)。2011年于多哈签署的《多哈达尔富尔和平文件》基本没有得到落实,主要的原因在于,支持该文件的派系在政治和军事方面影响力有限,受到政府的阻挠,获得的国际支持也越来越少。主要的叛乱组织依然活跃,他们组建起了跨区域的联盟,其主张日益扩大到国家事务。如果达尔富尔要建立持久的和平,多个冲突的有关各方就需要在国际社会支持下,建立起更协调一致的办法来同时应对地方上的冲突与全国性的问题——后者需要通过全面的全国对话解决。各方还需要避免零敲碎打的处理方式,接受包容多方的会谈,重新承诺维护苏丹的统一。

这场冲突的根本原因——尤其是地方和中央之间的不平等关系——与造成苏丹其他边远地区(特别是现在独立的南苏丹,也包括南科尔多凡州与青尼罗州)爆发内战的根源问题类似。政府与叛乱分子之间一次次的和平会谈与协议试图以大同小异的方式平息地方上的不满:承诺在政府与安全部队中给予地方(包括叛乱分子)更大的代表权,也承诺更好地分配国家财富,但会谈与协议的落实却存在问题。虽然冲突的原因被认定是全国性的,但解决冲突的方案却未能着眼全国。

从叛乱组织分裂出来的数个派系组成的 “解放与正义运动”与政府签署了《多哈达尔富尔和平文件》,但后续措施并不全面,以向运动成员及其支持者提供政府职位为主。南苏丹独立后,苏丹陷入经济危机,喀土穆兑现资金承诺的能力和意愿都打了折扣。安全方面的措施也被搁置,尤其是解除武装与收编军队,原因是 “解放与正义运动”夸大自身军队人数,而且由于民兵组织越来越不受政府控制,内斗愈演愈烈,政府既无意愿也无能力解除他们的武装。

由于《多哈达尔富尔和平文件》的签署比较仓促,该文件允许各方重新谈判,以便吸纳主要的叛乱组织。但这却遭到了政府以及非盟-联合国联合调解团的拒绝,因为他们还没有做好进一步让步的准备,仍旧希望通过分裂叛乱势力来为协议获取更多的支持。达尔富尔主要的几个叛乱组织与在南科尔多凡州和青尼罗州战斗的“苏丹人民解放运动-北方局”结成了联盟。联盟性组织“苏丹革命阵线”正在科尔多凡州(离喀土穆的距离比离达尔富尔更近)开展联合军事行动,并要求推行国家改革。国际社会基本没有考虑到这些新的现实,他们中许多本应协力寻找全国性解决方案,却依然支持零敲碎打的方法。联合国和非盟虽然表面赞同全面措施的必要性,但仍然以制裁威胁达尔富尔叛乱分子,要求他们加入《多哈达尔富尔和平文件》。达尔富尔地区权力机构是《多哈达尔富尔和平文件》的主要制度成果,这一机构两年之内就会到期,因而该文件对于主要的叛乱组织来说已经不再具有吸引力。

经济危机分散了政府的精力,国际社会也将注意力聚焦在南苏丹内战上,但在达尔富尔和平进程上,各方现在需要解决零散与全面两种方法之间的分歧,确定哪些是地方问题,哪些是全国问题,且应当通过全面综合的方案加以解决。2013年中以来,联合国-非盟达尔富尔特派团新任联合首席调解员及负责人穆罕默德·伊宾·钱巴斯表示愿意采取这样的做法,但他缺乏清晰授权,难以回应叛乱分子日益强烈的全国性要求。

由南非前总统塔博·姆贝基领导的非盟高级别小组将2009年的冲突称为“苏丹在达尔富尔的危机”,但为了寻求捷径,而且因为缺乏苏丹政府的支持,这一解决思路遭到摒弃。多哈进程的范围与议程依然不清晰。《多哈达尔富尔和平文件》虽然试图将谈判限制在地方问题上,但也包括了一些只有在全国范围内讨论实施才有意义的条款,比如施政改革,更加平等地分享权力与资源,以及通过平权措施缩小中央与边远地区之间的社会经济差距。

这类议题对于加入“苏丹革命阵线”的达尔富尔叛乱分子来说十分重要。如果叛乱分子能够参与和平的全国对话,甚至加入过渡政府,那么上述议题也会为此类对话创造条件。执政的全国大会党无疑需要参与这一进程,而其全面性和最终的成功与否取决于奥马尔·阿尔-巴希尔总统。如果全国大会党和巴希尔同意实施大刀阔斧的改革,达到了具体、不可逆的指标(比如危机组织最早在2009年列出的那些指标),并继续在过渡进程上取得可核实的进步,国际社会就可以通过提供激励措施援助苏丹。这可能会推迟当下正在进行的有关巴希尔是否犯有暴行罪的法律程序,但如果要结束几十年的长期冲突,甚至要挽救苏丹的统一,这样的举措就必不可少。因此,这可能是《国际刑事法院罗马规约》第16条规定的例外情况。

本文是分析苏丹冲突蔓延的系列报告中的一篇。这一系列的前两份报告于2013年发布,2012年我们也发布过一份支持广泛全国对话与改革的报告,之前的这些报告中提出的许多建议也适用于解决达尔富尔持久的冲突,而这一冲突的动因已超出了地方范畴。

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.