While Egypt has undergone some big leadership changes in recent years and some tumultuous social upheaval, a bigger story has been occupying the attention of the nation, from the man on the street to top officials.
You probably haven't heard much about this story, but it will have a huge impact on the region and the world in the days to come.
Egypt is concerned about the Islamic State. It's concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood, as always. It's concerned about the Palestinians in Gaza. It's concerned about Iran. But there's something even more pressing on the minds of Egyptians — something they see as a matter of survival.
The lifeblood of Egypt has always been the Nile River. Here's a report from Foreign Policy magazine earlier this year: "Egypt's musical-chairs government faces enough challenges. So why is a construction project almost 3,000 kilometers from Cairo provoking fears over Egypt's national survival? Egypt and Ethiopia are butting heads over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a $4-billion hydroelectric project that Ethiopia is building on the headwaters of the Blue Nile, near the border between Ethiopia and Sudan. Cairo worries the mega-project, which began construction in 2011 and is scheduled to be finished by 2017, could choke the downstream flow of the Nile River right when it expects its needs for fresh water to increase."
Note that we are talking about a dam project that could threaten Egypt's national survival as early as 2017.
How seriously is Egypt taking this threat? A WikiLeaks document released in the fall of 2012 revealed Egyptian plans to build an airstrip for bombing the dam. In June 2013, before he was deposed, President Mohammed Morsi said that "all options," including military intervention, were on the table if Ethiopia continued to build the dam on the Blue Nile.
Ahmed Abdel Halim, a strategic analyst, was quoted in the African newspaper Mshale earlier this year as saying, "Egypt sees its Nile water share as a matter of national security."
Ethiopia began diverting some water to the dam last year. That's when things really started heating up in Egypt, with some Egyptian officials calling for sending commandos or arming local insurgents to sabotage the dam project unless Ethiopia halts construction.
Richard Tutwiler, a specialist in water resource management at the American University in Cairo, summed up Egypt's problem: "Egypt is totally dependent on the Nile. Without it, there is no Egypt."
A report in WaterWorld magazine, a trade publication of the international water industry, quoted an Egyptian expert studying the effects of the Renaissance Dam as saying Ethiopia's construction of a dam would be a catastrophe for his country, which would end up losing 60 percent of its agricultural land. He also warned that a collapse of the Renaissance Dam could in turn lead to the collapse of the Aswan Dam, in effect devastating all of Egypt.
The waters of the Nile have served as the means whereby civilizations have gathered along its banks — even to the days before the Pharaohs of Egypt. The natural flow of the Nile is from south to north. Thus, the waters that eventually make their way to Egypt must first pass through the regions of southeastern Africa before emptying in the Mediterranean Sea.
Historically, in the spring, the snow on the mountains of East Africa would melt, sending a torrent of water that would overflow the banks of the Nile and flood the river valley. The rushing river would pick up bits of soil and silt. As the annual flood would recede, a strip of black soil would emerge every year along the banks of the Nile. The nutrient-rich silt would provide the people of Egypt with two or three crops every year. This has made the Nile Valley ideal for farming since ancient times. But that's not so true today as it has been in the past. Egypt already had water problems before the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam came on the scene.
In 1970, the Egyptians constructed the Aswan Dam in southern Egypt to provide water for irrigation, to generate electricity and to control the floodwaters of the Nile. The original Aswan Dam was an embankment dam situated across the Nile River in Aswan, first built by the British in 1902. In the 1960s, President Gamal Abdel Nasser began building the high dam. Nasser's dream was to transform the old-fashioned agricultural economy of Egypt into a modern industrial society. It required electricity. Thus the power plant at the dam.
No longer does the Nile overflow its banks the way it did annually before. The Aswan Dam controls the flow of water, and no longer are the fertile areas along the Nile the source of natural nutrients flowing out of Africa. All that silt has been accumulating in the Aswan Dam since 1970. And it's filling up with silt and already choking the flow of water into Egypt through the Nile.
In other words, Egypt already has a big water problem. That water problem has already greatly diminished the fishing industry in Egypt because the water no longer carries those natural nutrients it picked up in Africa along the way.
But as Egyptians have figured out, it could get a lot worse with the building of the dam in Ethiopia.
All of this may sound very familiar to Bible prophecy students. The parallels between what's happening in Egypt right now and what is predicted for Egypt in Isaiah 19 and Ezekiel 29 are stunning.
Isaiah 19 first predicts what seems to be a civil war in Egypt. After that comes the drying up of the Nile River.
Ezekiel 29 says Egypt will become "desolate and waste" from "the tower of Syene unto the border of Ethiopia." What is Syene? It's another name for Aswan — where the Nile enters Egypt through the Aswan Dam.
Keep your eyes on Egypt. The confluence of prophecy and current events seems to be taking place before our eyes. Is anyone paying attention?
To find out more about Joseph Farah and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.