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Brian Stewart: Egypt’s other existential crisis — the Nile

July 16, 2013

Today’s Egyptians are facing two overriding crises that threaten their national wellbeing.

The one that is getting all the world headlines involves the domestic unrest over the now former Islamist government; the other is a foreign threat to alter the flow of the country’s essential life force, the Nile River.

For millennia, Egypt, which gets very little rainfall, has been totally dependent on the water and the silt of the Nile to survive and feed a now fast-growing population of 85 million.

So critical is this flow of the Nile that any diminution upstream is seen as a threat to the country’s very existence. That’s why Cairo has long vowed some form of direct military action, if necessary, to stop Ethiopia building a giant hydroelectric dam along the headwaters of the Nile that flows through its northern highlands.

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