Is War Emanant Between Ethiopia and Sudan?

Published January 13th, 2021 - 12:16 GMT
An Ethiopian refugee, who fled the Tigray conflict, walks in the Tenedba camp in Mafaza, eastern Sudan on January 8, 2021, after being transported from the reception center. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP
An Ethiopian refugee, who fled the Tigray conflict, walks in the Tenedba camp in Mafaza, eastern Sudan on January 8, 2021, after being transported from the reception center. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

Ethiopia has accused Sudan of a military build-up in a contested border region, warning that a military confrontation could be imminent as its “peaceful” approach to the decades-old dispute “has its limit.”

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said on Tuesday that Sudanese forces continued to push further into al-Fashqa area.

“The Sudanese side seems to be pushing in so as to inflame the situation on the ground,” Mufti said. “Is Ethiopia going to start a war? Well, we are saying let’s work on diplomacy.”

“How long will Ethiopia continue to resolve the issue using diplomacy? Well, there is nothing that has no limit. Everything has a limit,” he added.

Sudan’s Information Minister and government spokesman Faisal Mohamed Saleh warned that Khartoum would respond to any aggression.

“We fear that these comments contain a hostile position toward Sudan. We ask Ethiopia to stop attacking Sudanese territory and Sudanese farmers,” he said.

The dispute between the two countries has been revolving around the agricultural land in al-Fashqa, which falls within Sudan’s international boundaries but has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers.

The dispute has led to fierce fighting between Sudanese and Ethiopian forces in recent weeks, with each side blaming the other for instigating the violence.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry accused Ethiopian “gangs” of launching an attack in al-Fashqa on Monday. It said five women and a child had been killed, and two other women who had been harvesting crops were missing.

Khartoum said in late December last year that it had taken control of all Sudanese territory in the area.

Ethiopia, however, accuses Sudan of taking advantage of its forces being distracted by an internal conflict in the northernmost region of Tigray to occupy Ethiopian land and loot property.

Tigray has been beset by armed conflict between Ethiopian troops and local rebels since November last year.


The region, with a population of six million — some one million of them now thought to have been displaced — has been cut off from the world since the armed conflict began.

The United Nations (UN) said in a report last week that there were reports of a military build-up on both sides of the border around the area.

Dispute over dam

Separately, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan are engaged in a three-way dispute over a mega-dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Egypt, which gets more than 90% of its scarce fresh water from the Nile, says the dam could devastate its economy.

The three sides said on Sunday that they had reached an impasse in the dispute.

Cairo and Addis Ababa separately blamed Sudanese objections to the framework for the talks.

Ethiopia accused Egypt and Sudan of delaying the negotiations.

“Are the two speaking the same language? More or less. The two are speaking the same language when it comes to stalling it,” said the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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