Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over the use of water running through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, located on the Blue Nile River, have reached a political impasse, amid rising concerns that the crisis may turn into a military conflict.
Ethiopia announced a second filling of the dam is set to take place in July and will collect 13.5 billion cubic meters of water. This is three times more water than it collected last year in its first filling.
The Blue Nile is the main tributary of the Nile River, which provides Egypt with about 90% of its water needs. Sudan and Egypt fear unchecked filling of the massive dam will cause either severe droughts or flooding in some of the areas of their countries. Ethiopia says the dam project is key to its economic development and to generating power for its citizens.
Egypt calls the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam an “existential threat.” Ethiopia says Egypt and Sudan have nothing to worry about.
With all sides standing their ground, what if Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi follows through on his threat to use “all means available,” including force, to protect his country’s interests?
How do Egypt and Ethiopia stack up against each other militarily?
Here is a comparison between the Egyptian and Ethiopian militaries, based on figures from Global Fire Power:
The Egyptian army ranks ninth out of 138 armies around the world, while the Ethiopian army ranks 60th.
The Egyptian Air Force owns 1,053 assorted military aircraft, including 250 fighter jets, 59 transport aircraft, 341 trainers, 304 helicopters and 91 attack helicopters.
The Ethiopian Air Force has only 92 aircraft, 24 of which are fighter jets, 26 are trainers, nine are transport planes, 33 are helicopters and eight are attack helicopters.
The Egyptian army has the upper hand when it comes to tanks with 3,735 tanks, 11,000 armored vehicles, 1,165 self-propelled artillery and 2,200 field artillery.
The Ethiopian army has 365 tanks, 130 armored vehicles, 65 self-propelled artillery and 480 pieces of field artillery.
The Egyptian naval fleet includes 316 marine vessels, including two helicopter carriers, seven corvettes and eight submarines, in addition to 50 patrol ships and nine frigates.
Ethiopia, a landlocked country, does not have a naval fleet.
The defense budget of the Egyptian military is $10 billion, compared to $520 million for the Ethiopian defense budget.
The Egyptian military has about 1,330,000 soldiers, including 450,000 in active service, 480,000 in reserve, and 400,000 paramilitary personnel.
The Ethiopian army has a total of 162,000 soldiers – all of them in active service. The country has no reserve force.