Sudan – Ethiopia conflict: Sudan claims advances while Egypt calls in Ethiopian ambassador
Source: Middle East Monitor
Sudan army: ‘We regained control over 80% of our borderlands with Ethiopia’
December 31, 2020 at 3:00 am
The Sudanese army announced that it has regained control over 80 per cent of Sudanese territory previously seized by Ethiopian militias, stressing that: “The confrontations were against members of the Ethiopian army, not militias, considering the use of large-scale and long-range weapons.”
Lieutenant General Khaled Abdin Al-Shami, deputy chief of staff of the Sudanese army, confirmed in statements that the army had regained 80 per cent of borderlands and took control of a large number of villages inhabited by Ethiopian militias. Al-Shami added that the operations would not stop until all Sudanese lands are recovered.
According to Al-Shami, the Sudanese army has reached sites that allow it to secure borders and farmlands in the areas of Al-Fashaqa Al-Kubra and Al-Fashaqa Al-Sughra, noting that: “The armed forces have completely secured these areas and are ready to face any party contemplating attacks against them.”
The Sudanese army has implemented all its planned operations in the border territory, although it has not yet reached the final borders, explained Al-Shami.
Major General Mohamed Ahmed Sabir, deputy head of the Military Intelligence Authority of the Sudanese army, announced on Tuesday that his country’s forces have no hostile intentions towards Ethiopia. He confirmed that the Sudanese forces are moving: “With a sense of responsibility in the Sudanese border area to secure it as part of their routine work in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.”
According to the official Facebook page of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Sabir affirmed: “The armed forces are still securing Sudan’s borders to reclaim agricultural lands in its eastern borders with Ethiopia, the area of which is estimated to be over 2.5 million acres that were previously out of our control.”
Meanwhile, the Sudanese Security and Defence Council held an emergency session on Tuesday evening, headed by Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, to discuss the developments in the eastern borders.
In a statement, the Sovereignty Council welcomed: “The esteemed effort made by the armed forces in the Sudanese region of Al-Fashaqa to defend the territories and secure the borders.”
Ashraf Abdelaziz, editor-in-chief of Sudanese newspaper Al Jareeda, said in an interview with Al-Hurra TV that he expects more confrontations between the two sides due to the current tension.
On the other hand, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry confirmed that it would take steps to protect its sovereignty if Sudan did not stop what it described as “illegal activities” along the border.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen accused Sudan of using the war in the Tigray region to advance towards Ethiopian territories.
Dina Mufti, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, told Al Jazeera TV that the government would step up its efforts to resolve the conflict that has erupted on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan, denying that his country warned Sudan about the border conflict.
Mufti added that Sudan is a brotherly country that Ethiopia can only advise, accusing a third party – which he did not name – of fuelling the dispute.
Ethiopian social media activists have accused Egypt of working actively and secretly to provoke a confrontation between Khartoum and Addis Ababa.
Egypt has not yet officially commented on the current tension between Sudan and Ethiopia.
On 19 December, Sudan announced sending massive military reinforcements to the borders with Ethiopia to “reclaim usurped lands from an Ethiopian militia in Al-Fashaqa area,” reported Sudan News Agency (SUNA).
On Wednesday, Sudan and Ethiopia ended talks on the demarcation of the border in Khartoum, without announcing any decisions taken.
The border demarcation agreement between the UK and Ethiopia dates back to 1902, prior to Sudan’s independence in 1956. Disagreements over this issue are still ongoing.
Egypt’s foreign ministry summons Ethiopia’s chargé d’affaires
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson’s statements came in a press conference in which he announced that the AU has called for a meeting next Sunday between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to discuss the GERD
According to news reports, Dina Mufti, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, criticised on Tuesday the approach of Egypt to the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Ethiopia has started building on the Blue Nile since 2011.
Mufti, who has been Ethiopia’s former ambassador to Cairo, claimed that Egypt “has turned Ethiopia into the threat” and that it would cause thirst and hunger for Egyptians, reflecting the “depth of the internal crisis in Egypt.”
He claimed further that [Egypt] is doing this “to distract from internal problems,” and blame them on the Renaissance dam.
His statements came in a press conference in Addis Ababa in which he also announced that the African Union (AU) has called for a meeting next Sunday between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to discuss the long-running standoff caused by the GERD.
During the press conference, Mufti said that South Africa, the current chair of the AU, called for a resumption of the negotiations between the three parties after a one-month impasse due to Sudan’s withdrawal from the AU-brokered negotiations.
Last month, Sudan decided not to take part in the latest tripartite ministerial meeting on the GERD, which was scheduled for 21 November, objecting to the adopted methodology of negotiations, saying that the “method followed in negotiating during the past rounds has proven to be unproductive.”
Egypt and Sudan have been in talks with Ethiopia for years now to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operating of the $4.8 billion near-complete mega dam.
South Africa has been mediating negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to resolve the dispute over the near-complete dam, which has been a concern for Cairo and Khartoum since the beginning of its construction.
The earlier round of talks, which was also mediated by South Africa, between the three countries came to an end in August as a result of disagreements on the rules for filling and operating the hydropower project that culminated in non-binding guidelines proposed by Ethiopia which were rejected by Egypt and Sudan, both of whom seek a legally binding agreement.
That round of AU-sponsored talks was launched in July after negotiations between the three countries reached a deadlock last year, as did negotiations sponsored by the US and the World Bank in February.
Cairo fears the massive hydropower project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the Nile River, while Sudan fears it could endanger the safety of its own dams.
Ethiopia says the 6,000-megawatt dam is key to its development and hopes to become Africa’s biggest electricity exporter.