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

Officials from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan convened in Washington today ahead of the Jan. 15 deadline they set to reach a deal on what will be Africa’s largest hydropower dam.

Driving the news: Ethiopia, which began construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in 2011, considers it both a major economic opportunity and a matter of national pride. It plans to start filling the dam within months.

  • Egypt considers the dam an existential threat, as the country is facing water scarcity already and is almost entirely dependent on the Nile. It wants the dam filled much more slowly.
  • All sides have said they want a deal this week. However, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's request yesterday that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa mediate the dispute seemed to indicate much remained to be settled.

What to watch: “If the dispute is not resolved by Jan. 15 the nations will have several options ... from using an international mediator to involving the heads of states,” per Reuters.

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Why it matters: If the proposals become reality, Chinese cash, telecom infrastructure, railways and ports could offer new life to Iran’s sanctions-choked economy — or, critics fear, leave it inescapably beholden to Beijing.

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House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony

Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday released the transcript of its closed-door interview with Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was forced out by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.

Why it matters: House Democrats have seized on Berman's testimony, in which he claimed the attorney general sought to "entice" him into resigning so that he could be replaced by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, to bolster allegations that the Justice Department has been politicized under Barr.