The border conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia has thrown its repercussions on the Renaissance Dam crisis, which Egypt fears its repercussions, at a time when relations between Cairo and Khartoum are experiencing an unprecedented warmth, as shown by mutual diplomatic and military meetings during recent times.
The Sudanese-Ethiopian borders are experiencing military tensions over the sovereignty of the Al Fashaqa area in the state of Gedaref in eastern Sudan, after Khartoum announced the recovery of most of its lands, which it said were occupied by Ethiopian militias, in exchange for official assurances from Addis Ababa that the choice now is to settle through dialogue and not military actions.
In this context, a Sudanese delegation headed by a member of the Transitional Sovereignty Council Lieutenant-General Shams El-Din Al-Kabbashi and Director of the General Intelligence Service, General Gamal Abdel-Majid, arrived in Cairo today, Thursday, on a one-day official visit, during which the delegation met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Press reports stated that the delegation delivers a message to Sisi regarding the developments in the crisis situation on the borders with Ethiopia, at a time when the two countries are witnessing a major diplomatic and military movement in recent times, reinforced by the convergence of visions regarding the risks of the Renaissance Dam on the two countries.
– Al Jazeera Egypt (@AJA_Egypt) January 14, 2021
The high-ranking Sudanese delegation seeks, during its visit to Cairo, as part of a tour that includes a number of neighboring countries, to explain the developments in the situation on the borders with Ethiopia, according to a Sudanese source told Al-Jazeera earlier today.
Al-Sisi stressed during his meeting with the Sudanese delegation that “Egypt’s stance towards Sudan stems from the historical interdependence between the two peoples of the Nile Valley, a position that has not and will not change under any circumstances.”
According to a statement by the Egyptian presidency, the meeting witnessed “discussions on all regional issues in the Horn of Africa and the Nile Basin regions.”
The statement said that Kabbashi briefed Sisi on “the latest developments in the current tensions on the Sudanese-Ethiopian borders, and the latest developments regarding the issue of the Renaissance Dam were reviewed, as agreement was reached on the importance of continued mutual coordination and intense joint consultation for the benefit of the two countries.”
On the other hand, Ethiopia sees the Egyptian role as a fueling of the conflict with its northern neighbor. Cairo was previously accused in late 2016 of “supporting armed groups and training terrorist elements against the background of violence in the Oromia region,” which was denied by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry at the time.
During the height of a civil war in the Ethiopian Tigray region last November, Egypt and Sudan held military maneuvers that did not exclude – according to observers – “messages of deterrence to Ethiopia,” which were the first joint maneuvers since the ouster of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
After the conflict flared up on the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. # Sisi Hosts a high-level delegation from the Sudanese Sovereignty Council in Cairo, to discuss common files between Cairo and Khartoum, in the presence of the intelligence chiefs in the two countries pic.twitter.com/4NhKyrJw3J
– Monitoring Network (@RassdNewsN) January 14, 2021
Mohamed Hamed, director of the Cairo-based Eastern Mediterranean Forum for Political and Strategic Studies – a non-governmental organization based in Cairo – believed that “the Egyptian-Sudanese relations are witnessing a great leap in coordination between them on several levels, most notably the military file, especially after the Nile Eagles maneuvers.”
Hamed pointed out in statements to Al-Jazeera Net that “bilateral relations have always been, over the course of 30 years of Al-Bashir’s rule, differently over everything and agreeing only on the Nile River file, and with the latter’s fall, the momentum of relations has returned again.”
On his country’s position on the border dispute between Khartoum and Addis Ababa over the Fashaqa area in Gedaref region, Hamed said, “Egypt supports international law and international borders that give Sudan the right to these areas occupied by Ethiopia.”
He stressed that coordination in the Renaissance Dam file continues, especially after the fall of al-Bashir, adding that if Egypt wanted to use the border crisis as a pressure card on the government of Abi Ahmed, it would have used the civil war in the Tigray region, especially since Cairo enjoys good relations with the leaders of the region and suffered investment losses there. Because of the recent war.
He added that the border paper Egypt sees as a pure Sudanese affair, and that Sudan wants to extend its influence over all of its territories to enhance the legitimacy of the army at home and strengthen the transitional government, as Cairo adheres to international law in its support for Sudan.
Hamed believed that Egypt would not intervene on the crisis line because the Ethiopian viewpoint deems it ineligible for such a matter, considering Egypt will be biased and incite Sudan to regain its lands and exploit the security vulnerability that Ethiopia suffers due to the Tigrayan war, citing the Ethiopian ambassador to the UAE in this regard.
Earlier in the day, the Ethiopian ambassador to the UAE, Suleiman Dadfou, attacked the Sudanese government, describing it as “weak and following Egypt’s instructions,” and criticizing the Sudanese delegation’s visit to Cairo.
Hamed expected the continuing military and diplomatic escalation between Ethiopia and Sudan at the near and medium level, indicating that countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, South Sudan, Uganda or the African Union could play a role in resolving the border crisis and hosting negotiations.
The irresponsible childish behavior of Sudanese feeble government, surely, will cause significant consequences on national interest of the country. Military group of the Sudanese ruling should have think several time before the it admits the instruction of Egypt.
– Suleiman Dedefo, Amb (@SuleimanDedefo) January 14, 2021
In turn, the former Egyptian politician and parliamentarian Muhammad Imad Saber considered that Egypt’s investment of the changes in Sudan aims primarily to deprive the Egyptian opposition of an incubating environment in Sudan, and then relations have developed with the new situations after Al-Bashir.
As for scenarios for political and military support, the former opposition parliamentarian said that Egypt wants to save face after the failure of the Renaissance Dam negotiations, by intersecting and cooperating with Sudan in military skirmishes with Ethiopia, and trying to play a role in the ethnic conflict inside Ethiopia.
In statements to Al-Jazeera Net, Saber added that the unilateral Emirati move in the region and the suspension of investment projects in Egypt is not absent, and that the motive behind Sisi’s move so that the UAE would not be alone in influencing Egypt’s interests in Sudan and Ethiopia, and that it is in Egypt’s interest to benefit from regional contradictions within Ethiopia, And between Ethiopia and Sudan, referring to the Egyptian military cooperation with Sudan.
He also ruled out that “Sisi proposes a direct military solution, as the problem of the Renaissance Dam is solved in the hands of Israel and the International Monetary Fund, and the government of Ethiopia is just a superficial picture that does not have a decision in hand,” he said.
And adding to the indications of an unprecedented military crisis between Sudan and Ethiopia, Khartoum said yesterday, Wednesday, that an Ethiopian military plane penetrated the Sudanese airspace, warning that this may have “dire consequences that increase border tension.”
While the head of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, said during his visit yesterday to the soldiers stationed on the border with Ethiopia, that the Sudanese soldiers on the border “were betrayed, and that they did not expect any violence with neighboring Ethiopia, but the Ethiopians started, and the beginning was darker.”
As for Ethiopia, Sudan warned Tuesday of its impatience with the continued military build-up in the disputed border region, despite attempts to defuse tension through diplomatic efforts.
Yilmah Seleshi, a member of the Ethiopian delegation to the Renaissance Dam negotiations, accused Sudan of “working to obstruct the negotiations because of its temporary political cooperation with Egypt.”
– Mekamlin satellite channel (@mekameleentv) January 14, 2021