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Somalia’s Miscalculation: A Reading for the Sudan

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The Queen of Sheba
26 December 2020

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It is with deep regret—and wrath—that we are witnessing the invasion of Ethiopian territories by curiously aggressive Sudanese army at a time when Ethiopia has been preoccupied in a major endeavor to bring the rebellious TPLF cabal to justice—an effort hailed by many, including the African Union Commission.

The Sudanese army, in an unprecedented escalation, not exhibited hitherto, heavily bombarded Ethiopian territory, killed and chased its farmers, burned and looted properties, pushed deep into the country, as far as 40 kms in some areas.

To add an insult to the injury, when the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen met its Sudanese counterparts in Khartoum in a peace mission, it was reported that the Sudanese counterparts told him that they have neither the interest to leave the occupied territories nor the wish to pursue negotiations.

Alas, some elements of the multi-headed hydra of the Sudanese dark forces appear to have gained a high-ground to declare war on Ethiopia.


Somalia’s Miscalculations: A Reading for the Sudan

In the late 1970s, Somalia’s former President Siad Barre viciously attacked and invaded Ethiopia—when the country was at one of its weakest points in its history pulled apart by internal political players as well as destabilizing external forces. The Barre regime invaded a large swathe of the Ethiopian territory with an incursion of some 700 kms.

Ethiopia had to recruit, train and mobilize some 300,000 forces in just a few months to defend its territory. Barre’s army faced the Ethiopian forces, which were augmented by heightened international solidarity at the time, but routed with a lightning speed. The major enablers and supporters of the Barre regime—including the Arab Republic of Egypt, externally, and the rebellious TPLF cabal forces at the time, internally—could not save it from the humiliating defeat.

Both Somalia and Ethiopia paid incalculable human and material price. As it happens, the massive defeat of Barre’s army ultimately triggered the total collapse of Somalia as a nation.


Sudanese Army: Diverting Attention?

Currently, the Sudan finds itself at a crossroads and this is not lost to the Ethiopian leadership and its people. In fact, Ethiopia has played a vital role in mediating the two warring—civilian and military—forces in the Sudan, rescuing the country from imminent abyss. The large majority of the Sudanese people are aware of it.

However, the power sharing arrangement between the military and the civilian leadership has not be optimal, if not openly tense. The recent public protest in Khartoum has proven that the tension is far from over.

Some allege that the current invasion of the Ethiopian territory was hatched by some elements in the Sudanese army to raise its flagging public support and also deflect public opinion. Some also account the current border aggression to the strong bond, sealed with extensive, but dubious, business transactions, between some elements of the Sudanese army and the now defunct elements of the TPLF cabal.


The Arab Republic: Hand back the Halayeb Lands

According to a news report, as recent as 2018, the Sudan raised complaints at the United Nations demanding the Arab Republic to hand over its territories in the region largely known as the “Halayeb Triangle”. The report further noted

Relations between Egypt and Sudan have been soured in recent months by disputes over the ownership of the triangle, and over the broader issue of use of water from the River Nile that passes through their territories.

The report further stated that

Egypt rejected in 2016 a request from Khartoum to enter negotiations to determine sovereignty over the triangle or to seek international arbitration.

I have already attempted to lay bare the Arab Republic’s deceptive bluster in an earlier piece entitled “Ethio-Sudanese Border Fracas: The Egyptian Croc Tears” and will thus be rather brief here.

In another recent report, which quoted the military expert and adviser at the Nasser High Military Academy of the Arab Republic “the Egyptian condemnation of the Ethiopian attack on Sudanese troops was not related to the current deadlock in the Nile dam talks…. Sudan constitutes a strategic depth to Egypt and any attack on Sudan poses a threat to Egypt’s national security… It is natural for Egypt to back Sudan’s right to defend its territory against any assault given the deeply rooted relations between the two countries.”

A nation which has forcibly appropriated the Sudanese lands, now publicly, but shamelessly, sheds crocodile tears on the Ethio-Sudanese border skirmishes. It is evident that the Arab Republic is drooling on its mouth on the possibilities of a full-scale war between the two brotherly neighbors which most certainly would leave them both weak, fragile and drained—the Arab Republic’s central interest.

Triggering a proxy war between that two nations is way too evident a sabotage to delay the completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Regardless, no earthly force would stop the inevitable of completing the dam.

Clearly, the Arab Republic has a diminished view of the intelligence of the Sudanese people.


In Conclusion

There is a gaping hole in understanding the history and psyche of Ethiopians in defending themselves, their borders—and their country. It appears that that lesson continues to be unheeded by colonists in the West and expansionist despots in the neighborhood. There is a manifest confusion and deep misconception between internal discord among Ethiopians and external threat on their sovereignty.

It would be pretty foolish for the Sudanese army to contemplate the permanent occupation of Ethiopian territories by force and remain unchallenged with all conceivable powers—diplomatic or military. It would be a grave miscalculation on the part of the Sudan to escalate the situation on the account of military and logistical support of one of the most deceptive and ungrateful neighbors in the world.

It makes the aggressive Sudanese incursion into Ethiopian territories all the more reprehensible if its army erroneously intends to bank on imagined current limitations of the Ethiopian armed forces and the nation.

Ethiopians are peculiarly endowed with an innate resolve to self-defense—and sheer resilience. It is an enduring lesson for friends—and foes alike.

The Queen of Sheba may be reached at [email protected]