Egypt and Sudan on Monday wrapped up six days of war games held against a backdrop of rising tension with Ethiopia over its giant Nile dam that Cairo and Khartoum fear will reduce their share of the river’s water.
The exercises, named “Guardians of the Nile”, were held about a month before Ethiopia is expected to begin a second and much larger filling of its dam, despite demands from the two downstream nations that an agreement be reached first on its operation.
Negotiations on an agreement between the three countries have stalled, with the last round held in April failing to make any progress, much like numerous rounds held over the past decade.
In comments at the end of the war games held in Sudan, the chiefs of staff of Egypt and Sudan made no direct mention of Ethiopia, but made it clear that the drills were meant to send a message to Addis Ababa that they were ready to intervene militarily against the dam if needed.
Egypt’s chief of staff, Gen Mohammed Farid, said the exercises were conducted amid “challenges and threats and the possibility of their escalation”.
Involving navy and air force units as well as ground troops, commandos and air defence, the exercises were meant to upgrade the joint capabilities of and enhance harmony between the two militaries so they can safeguard “our countries’ legitimate rights to security, life and development,” he said.
His Sudanese counterpart, Gen Mohammed Osman Al Hussein, said the drills were far from being routine or strictly within the parameters provided by co-operation agreements.
“They were aimed at realising harmony and entrenching [military] doctrines so that they can be a deterrent to enemies and deal with both expected and potential threats,” he said.
“They are not meant to target anyone specific, as long as our national security is unharmed.”