The Horn of Africa is already conflicted, and it is already struggling with those still ongoing conflicts in Somalia and Ethiopia, which have been going on for some four decades in certain parts of the region, and has left thousands dead with millions displaced, creating one of the largest diasporas globally.
This flare up of the Sudan conflict, which itself dates back to decades and which resulted in the creation of South Sudan, the conflict of Darfur, and is now moving on into Sudan proper could create more refugees and internal displacements. It does not pose well for the region, indeed.
The dysfunctional organization of the region, the IGAD, has called for cessation of hostilities but did nothing beyond that. It seems the conflict is driven by outside forces beyond the region – the usual fate of the region, and of course, with local players, as the main culprits.
It was announced that South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, Kenya’s William Ruto and Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh would visit Sudan to mediate between the opposing forces, but would this team be able to settle matters among the conflicting groups? It is doubtful they would succeed for they may not be speaking their minds but those of others.
This would open doors for the plethora of NGOs who live off the back of broken peoples and prolongate conflicts to enable them appeal to donners across the world to help the potentially large number of people who would be affected by the conflict.
If the conflict deepens and there is substantial evidence that it would expand, there would be foreign interventions as countries which have interest in Sudan try to protect their interest through supporting one or the other of the conflicting groups. Definitely the Emirates, the Egyptians, the Turks, the Russians and of course the West through the United States and the GCC countries, would all get involved.
The Sudan conflict would now no doubt delay the ongoing tripartite negotiations over the GERD, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The main contention was on the filling of the Dam, where the downstream countries of Sudan and Egypt were concerned with the filling process on the worry that the DAM would reduce water flow into their countries while Ethiopia looking at the project as an essential part of its developmental process.
Neighboring countries of Sudan include Libya, Egypt, Chad, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many of these countries are themselves in the middle of their own political turmoil, with major and regional powers’ involvements in these resource-rich and/or geostrategically located countries. The GCC countries and more particularly the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have projected power across the Horn of Africa States and Northeast Africa. There is no doubt they would have some say in the outcome of the Sudan conflict.
Sudan is the third largest country in surface area in the African continent and it has been volatile for over decades. It, indeed, geographically enjoys a strategic location bordering the red Sea, the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa States region and, therefore, always attracts foreign power plays with respect to its vast mineral and agricultural wealth. This would always have some repercussions/influences on the Horn of Africa States region, which remains to be the source of the Blue Nile and a gateway for ships passing through the Suez Canal either way.