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Egypt threatens to close Suez Canal

Egypt could close the strategic Suez Canal to ships from countries like China that are helping Ethiopia build a controversial dam that threatens supply of Nile water to the country, a top opposition leader has said.

‘The state is capable of holding talks with the countries financing Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam project, especially China and Italy,’ Hamdeen Sabbahi, the leader of the Egyptian Popular Current and a co-leader of the National Salvation Front, said on Thursday.

He went on to assert that Egypt was capable of prohibiting ships from those countries from transiting the Suez Canal ‘until they stop harming Egypt’s interests.’ 

He also said that Ethiopia’s decision to go ahead with the project ? only days after president Mohammed Morsi’s state visit to the country ? was ‘extremely humiliating to Egyptians.’ 

In comments reported by al-Ahram Arabic news website, Sabbahi also called on Egyptians to support the government in its dispute with Ethiopia over the dam. On Tuesday, Ethiopia began diverting the course of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries, as part of its ‘Renaissance Dam’ project for electricity production, a move that raised concerns in Egypt and Sudan that the flow of water could be disrupted. 

A final report on the impact of the planned dam by a joint committee of Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian representatives is expected within days. 

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