President Isaias Afwerki is due in Cairo today. [See report below]
The visit comes at a critical moment.
Egypt is intensely concerned about Ethiopia’s Nile dam – the Grand Renaissance Dam – which will soon begin filling, threatening to reduce Egypt’s sole source of water. Egypt’s President al-Sisi has begun looking to other sources, including desalination, but it is all a bit late.
Cairo has traditionally used Eritrea as a means of weakening Ethiopia. This goes back to the late 1950’s when it hosted the Eritrea Liberation Movement.
This comes as tension has been rising across the region.
- Sudan and Egypt are involved in a dispute over their common border. Sudan has lodged a complaint with the UN over the “Halayeb Triangle”.
- Ethiopia is facing internal strains, with ethnic clashes and disputes between the parties that make up the ruling EPRDF.
- Sudan has closed its border with Eritrea, halting trade and moving troops into the area.
- There are clear divisions across the region over the Muslim Brotherhood. On the one side are states that support the Muslim Brotherhood: Turkey, Sudan, Qatar and the Palestinian group, Hamas. On the other side is Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Eritrea.
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki will arrive in Cairo tomorrow (Tuesday) morning for a visit during which he will meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss the development of bilateral relations, developments in the Nile Basin countries and the Horn of Africa region and developments in regional and international issues.
During the two-day visit, President Afwerki will be accompanied by a high-level Eritrean delegation, including Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and political advisor Yemani Ghebreab.
The two presidents will hold a closed bilateral meeting at the Federal Palace, followed by an extended meeting between the two delegations in the presence of Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, the Head of the General Intelligence, Minister Khaled Fawzi, and the Egyptian Ambassador to Eritrea Yasser Ali Hashim.
On the second day of the visit, the Eritrean President and his delegation will have a field visit for a number of Egyptian sites and projects.
Afwerki visited Egypt four times during which he met with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and senior state officials.
His last visit to Cairo was in November 2016.