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News: Ethiopia – Sudan bilateral tensions, domestic crises threatens security, development of Horn region: Chatham House

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council, on the left in Sudan Khartoum. Photo: Chatham House

Addis Abeba – Cross-border and domestic tensions and interlinked crises in Ethiopia and Sudan, as well as across the Horn of Africa, jeopardized security and development, report by renowned policy institute Chatham House said.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), disputed territory of Al Fashaga, and war in northern Ethiopia are only a few examples of a range of cross-border concerns that have strained relations between Ethiopia and Sudan since 2018. 

As of 2018, both countries underwent transitions that held out the prospect of a more democratic, civilian administration and improved regional stability, according to the report. But since 2020, amid a violent war in Tigray and other regions of northern Ethiopia, as well as a disastrous military coup in Sudan, contestation between old and new political forces has caused those transitions to veer off track.

Also, it is indicated that other regional and geopolitical actors, including Egypt, Eritrea, and the Gulf Arab states, pursuing their own, often conflicting interests in Ethiopia and Sudan, have been complicating promising de-escalation and resolution.

Despite rising tensions, Chatham House stated, the conflict now seems unlikely in the wake of conciliation between the two countries leaders. Yet, however, the situation is fragile and efforts to restore relations must be reinforced.

“If border disputes are not resolved, tensions may rise once more, endangering regional stability and hurting economic, development, and humanitarian outcomes,” said the report.

Political agreements, aimed at ending hostilities in northern Ethiopia and seeking to secure a more robust civilian government in Sudan, provide an opportunity to renew both transitions if the necessary diplomatic backing is forthcoming.

The African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development struggled to intervene effectively in problems encountered by both countries up until the Pretoria Agreement was signed by Ethiopian parties, federal government & Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2022 last year, report reads.

International efforts to support regional stability should work towards coordinated responses, addressing the intersection of crises and causes of instability within and between both countries, said the report.

“The junction of crises and sources of instability within and between both countries should be addressed as part of international efforts to sustain regional stability.”

Refreshed US involvement and increased collaboration with allies, including EU, UK, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, could persuade allies to move beyond securitized approaches in favor of developing policies that show greater sensitivity to national and subnational contexts in the Horn.

It is also indicated that a more cohesive international engagement is needed, as well as enhanced alignment between regional envoys, which, if effectively connected with continental and regional diplomatic mechanisms, could provide the foundations for longer-term stability and integration.

Recently, on Saturday, fighting erupted in Sudan’s capital between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan army, head of Sudan’s transitional governing Sovereign Council, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the council, VOA reported.

The death toll for civilians caught up in the fighting has grown to at least 97, with 365 injured, a doctor’s group in Sudan reported earlier today. AS

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