The Egyptian government’s contingency plan for how to handle Ethiopian dam construction along the Blue Nile included military action, according to newly released Wikileaks data from the Global Intelligence Files of Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor.
Wikileaks first began releasing data from the more than 5 million emails that make up the Global Intelligence Files on February 27, 2012, but this information regarding Egyptian concerns over upper riparian nations' Nile River management plans was not released until August 29.
The leaked data include emails, dated 2010, from alleged sources including the Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon and high-level Egyptian diplomatic and security officials. The communications took place prior to the revolt that removed former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime from power.
The sources say that Egypt’s first priority is to resolve water-sharing issues with Ethiopia through diplomatic efforts.
Asked how Egypt plans to deal with Ethiopian dam construction, the ambassador said on May 24, 2010 that “Egypt is responding diplomatically. There is no other way except to seek the cooperation of the countries along the Nile Basin.”
Just two days later, on May 26 the ambassador acknowledged that Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir had agreed to allow Egypt to construct a small airbase in Kusti that could be used as a launching point for Egyptian commandos to destroy Ethiopian water facilities on the Blue Nile.
Ethiopia's enormous Renaissance Dam project has long been a point of contention between Cairo and Addis Ababa. Egyptian officials remain concerned that it could affect the flow of Nile water. The countries have agreed to have an international committee of experts evaluate the potential impacts of the dam on the flow of Nile water to Egypt and Sudan.
Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, met with officials during a trip to Ethiopia last month to discuss Nile water-sharing.
On June 1, the security official said: “The only country that is not cooperating (with water talks) is Ethiopia. We are continuing to talk to them, using the diplomatic approach.”
However, the source continued, “we are discussing military cooperation with Sudan. We have a strategic pact with the Sudanese since in any crisis over the Nile, Sudan gets hit first, then us. We can't afford that. The military cooperation we are discussing is for emergency planning, but I don't think it will come to that yet. There will not be a war.
“If it comes to a crisis, we will send a jet to bomb the dam and come back in one day, simple as that. Or we can send our special forces in to block/sabotage the dam. But we aren't going for the military option now. This is just contingency planning,” the security source added.
The Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon also spoke about Egypt’s lack of desire to see a separated Sudan, saying on March 15, 2010 that the country would do its “utmost to prevent southern Sudan from declaring independence.”
He said this was because southern Sudan was not ready for all the necessary actions required of statehood. However, by the end of July, the ambassador said that the Egyptian government would “prefer” a united Sudan but they were “beginning to realize” that the independence referendum would succeed.
He also said that South Sudan would need a good relationship with Egypt just as much as Egypt needed a good relationship with South Sudan, primarily because Egypt could help the new nation build its water infrastructure. And although Egypt had been slow to answer calls for help from South Sudan, the nation would make up for it.