The Queen of Sheba
Ethiopia and the Sudan are known to share a common boundary that stretches over 740 kilometers. Parts of this common border has had a long history of scuffles often involving militias, peasants and border patrols. The clashes have been so far effectively managed by both countries through multiple conflict mitigating and conflict management mechanisms involving their armies and civilian leaderships.
Last week has seen another skirmish as elements of the Sudanese Army attacked a border post, burnt crop fields, chased peasants, and looted vehicles and crops—taking advantage of the current conflict in Ethiopia which overstretched its army. In response, the militias on the Ethiopian side responded vigorously routing the Sudanese patrols, in the process killing a few of them. At the time of this writing, the Sudanese Army is reported to be consolidating its forces at the border while the cool heads in Khartoum and Addis Ababa are pushing on the diplomatic front.
Egyptian Condolences: The Crocodile Tears
Subsequent to this particular border skirmish, the Arab Republic of Egypt sprinted to send its condolences awash with croc tears and deceitful concerns. According to Egypt Today, published on 17 December 2020:
Egypt has extended its condolences to Sudan over the death of military troops and the injury of others, in a cross-border attack on Tuesday in the al-Qadarif province.
As a matter of fact, this would be the first time that the Arab Republic is known to be sending such an open, and devious, message to cozy up to Sudan on yet another unfortunate border clashes between the two truly brotherly people. Not only the “shedders” of the croc tears but also the very alleged victims for whom the croc tears were shed realize the sneaky, and screaming, intention—rather too well.
The statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry further blustered:
Egypt affirms its full solidarity with brotherly Sudan and its right to preserve its security and practice its sovereignty on its own territory.
The paper further stated:
Egypt also affirms its “condemnation of these unjustifiable aggressions” and “is following up, with further concerns, the dangerous developments in the field and their impact on the security situation in the region….
Egypt also affirms its “condemnation of these unjustifiable aggressions” and “is following up, with further concerns, the dangerous developments in the field and their impact on the security situation in the region.
Given the Arab Republic’s shameless track record of destabilizing the Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, which resulted in their break up, this patently phony concerns for the Sudan and the region is simply a charade. If the Arab Republic assumes that the Sudanese are endowed with short memories, they are only fooling themselves.
To be certain, if there is one rogue party which is a threat to the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa in general, it would be, without doubt, the Arab Republic. For that matter, it would also be premature to strike out the Arab Republic from the list of possible perpetrators—who triggered and financed the current border conflict—given its long, and devious, hands in the Sudan—and its perennial desire to undermine Ethiopia’s interest.
The Kettle Calling the Pot Black
At the independence of the Sudan in 1956, both the Arab Republic and the Sudan claimed sovereignty over the area in excess of 20,500 square kilometers, known as the Halaib Triangle. The area had been a part of the Sudan’s Red Sea State until the Egyptian military in 1994 forcibly annexed the State and incorporated it into its territories completely rejecting any forms of negotiation or international arbitration.
It is this kettle of the Arab Republic which is now condemning Ethiopia for this occasional fracas between these two friendly nations. It is this kettle which has feigned “further concerns”, pronounced “dangerous developments” and maliciously declared “its full solidarity with brotherly Sudan”. The Arab Republic is better advised to consider the return of the legitimate lands of the Sudan which it has forcefully and criminally appropriated, instead of shedding croc tears on Ethio-Sudan boundary issue.
Ethiopia’s Ungrateful Freeloader
If there is any country in the world which is probably known to be ungrateful to its life savior, the Arab Republic may top the rank. The very survival of this thankless nation depends on water that cascades down the mountains and highlands of Ethiopia—the very country the Arab Republic systematically, strategically and incessantly undermines—nationally, regionally and internationally.
From supporting all cessationist forces Ethiopia has known to outright arming of enemy forces attacking Ethiopia, the Arab Republic’s foot prints are starkly evident. The recent bid to ship a massive cache of arms to Somalia, largely intended to destabilize Ethiopia, was another brazen sabotage.
So far, the Ethiopian government and its people have been on the defensive—from the historical wars of the 1800s and 1900s to the recent ominous threats on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). One may conclude that these incessant attacks on the country are as much the weakness of the Ethiopian successive governments as it is the strength of the Arab Republic.
No doubt, the GERD will be eventually completed with or without the blessing of the envious Arab Republic and its sycophants. Politics aside, the Sudanese peasants and its citizens are well aware of the vital role of the Dam to their economy—and livelihoods. The noise that emerges from the Sudan—that is intended to appease the Arab Republic and its clicks in the country—should not be taken too seriously.
There is no need to state the obvious in terms of the extent of diplomatic work Ethiopia must pursue to thwart the deceptive posturing, blatant threats and covert attacks perpetrated by the Arab Republic without any qualms or shame. Ethiopia may consider recalling its Ambassador from the Arab Republic while at the same time insisting on massively cutting its diplomatic mission in Addis Ababa. We are aware that the Arab Republic possesses a good number of treasonous local proxies; regardless, the action would send a symbolic, but strong, signal that Ethiopia has had enough of its relentless assault. It is important that Ethiopia takes the fight to its arch enemy—through such a small, but symbolic, action.
Furthermore, Ethiopia should shift from an active defensive response to a proactive assertive action starting with the language that the Arab Republic deeply understands—water. For instance, water conservation, water resource management and water use for agricultural and horticultural activities could be contemplated in a national campaign, involving all the regions, that include the building of multiple small dams that collectively dwarf the mega dam—in earnest. My article, a while back, under a heading “Building Baby Dams to Save the Mother Dam: Ethiopia’s Option” is instructive.
The Queen of Sheba may be reached at [email protected]