Anwar Sadat, the former Egyptian president, once said: "The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water."
That was 30 years ago. But even today, water is a crucial issue in Egypt. Along with Sudan it refuses to sign an agreement on the division of water from the Nile.
The river is at the heart of a controversy involving the ten so-called Nile basin countries: Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi.
Last week, representatives of the Nile basin countries were in Egypt to discuss a new water-sharing deal called the Co-operative Framework Agreement, but they failed to reach an agreement.
Ethiopia said on Tuesday that it and six other countries would sign a new deal on sharing the waters of the Nile and accused Egypt of "dragging its feet" on a more equitable treaty.
The new agreement replaces a 1929 colonial-era treaty between Egypt and the UK, which gave Egypt veto power over upstream projects.
Can there be a fair distribution of the Nile waters with Egypt claiming historical rights, while other downstream nations say they were not consulted? And could disputes over the Nile spark a water war?
Inside Story, with presenter Sohail Rahman, discusses with guests John Nyaoro, the director of water resources in Kenya, Diaa el-Din el-Quosy, a water expert and the former deputy chairman of the National Water Research Centre in Egypt, and Dureid Mahasneh, a consultant on water issues.
This episode of Inside Story aired on Sunday, April 25, 2010.
Source: Al Jazeera