The current rapprochement between Algeria and Ethiopia, as highlighted by the recent visit of the Ethiopian prime minister to the North African country, is jeopardising the holding of the next Arab League summit in Algiers, scheduled for early November. As two Egyptian diplomats have revealed to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, there is a consensus between Egyptians and senior Gulf officials on the 'difficulty' of holding the Arab League meeting 'in light of the current Arab and regional crisis'.
According to the sources, certain aspects of Algeria's foreign policy have triggered reticence on the part of Gulf officials about holding the upcoming Arab summit. These include Algeria's relations with Iran, its lack of support for Arab nations vis-à-vis Tehran, its desire to rejoin Syria in the Arab League, and its confrontation with Morocco.
On the other hand, Egyptian diplomats underline 'Algeria's insistence on expanding relations with Ethiopia and opening new horizons without taking into account the crisis between Cairo and Addis Ababa'.
Abiy Ahmed Ali travelled to Algeria at the end of August to meet with Algerian President Abdelmadjib Tebboune and Prime Minister Aiman Benabderrahmane. At the meeting, the two countries agreed to intensify commercial and educational cooperation, as well as partnership in the food industry and in the pharmaceutical and scientific sectors, according to a communiqué from the Algerian presidency.
Earlier in the month of July, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Algeria's independence, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde also visited the country, and after taking part in the celebrations, she began a three-day state visit. During her trip, Zewde also announced the holding of the Algeria-Ethiopia Joint Commission in September, indicating that the dialogue between Addis Ababa and Algiers will continue with the aim of strengthening ties.
These recent moves by Algeria have aroused some mistrust in Egypt, which has been engaged in a decade-long diplomatic dispute with Ethiopia over the Nile's water resources. Since the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011 - one of Africa's most ambitious projects - both Egypt and Sudan have accused Addis Ababa of threatening their Nile water reserves.
In this dispute, Cairo receives significant support from a number of countries, including Morocco, which in May announced its support for 'Egypt's water security', calling it an 'integral part of Arab water security', according to the Moroccan media outlet Yabiladi. Rabat also called for "abandoning unilateral policies in relation to international rivers" and respecting international law, directly alluding to Ethiopian practices related to GERD.
Algeria, on the other hand, has recognised Ethiopia's "full right to develop its natural resources", as well as its willingness to "share experiences in the protection of water resources", according to Alyaoum24.
The quiet crisis between Algiers and Cairo began shortly after a visit by Tebboune to Egypt aimed at strengthening bilateral relations with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Following this trip, the Algerian leader travelled to Qatar and Kuwait, where a tripartite summit between Tebboune, Al Sisi and Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was to have taken place. However, this meeting was cancelled due to frictions between Algiers and Cairo. One of these disagreements was reportedly caused by a meeting in Doha between Tebboune and the head of the Libyan National Unity Government, Abdul Hamid Dbeibé, as Egypt has been closer to Fathi Bashagha, the Libyan prime minister appointed by the Tobruk parliament.
Algiers' stance on the GERD crisis prompted Al-Sisi to opt out of the summit, as well as the creation of the Group of Four Nations (G4), which includes Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa.