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The dam, as of 2017. Photo: Gioia Forster/picture alliance via Getty Images

A tense debate over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam — which will be Africa’s largest dam — will continue in an unlikely location this week: Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Why it matters: Egypt fears the $4 billion dam will disrupt the flow of the Nile, which supplies nearly all of the desert country’s fresh water. Ethiopia, which views the dam not only as an economic boon but as a point of national pride, claims Egypt is attempting to trample its sovereignty and economic development.

  • Tensions over the dam have flared between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan since construction began in 2011.
  • With its completion now in sight, one critical question is how quickly the dam’s reservoir will be filled. “While Ethiopia wants to fill the reservoir within four years, Egypt wants a slower pace that can be varied in response to droughts,” per the FT.
  • The longer-term concern is water loss. “With its population predicted to reach 120 million by 2030, Egypt is on track to hit the threshold for ‘absolute water scarcity,’” per CNN.
  • Egypt is also concerned about the flow to its own massive dam — the Aswan High Dam — 1,600 miles downriver from Ethiopia’s.

What to watch: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister (and newly minted Nobel laureate) Abiy Ahmed will be among the 35 African leaders at the first Africa-Russia summit later this week.

  • Sisi is calling for third-party mediation over the dam negotiations. Ahmed hasn’t agreed. But Vladimir Putin might see himself as just the man to step in.

Go deeper

Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden meeting Quad amid own pivot toward Asia

Artists paint portraits of President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Mumbai, India. Photo: Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

President Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: By putting a Quad meeting on the president’s schedule, the White House is signaling the importance of partnerships and alliances to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

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