KHARTOUM, SUDAN - Sudan Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia, the foreign ministry said, as tensions between the two countries run high over a border region and Addis Ababa's controversial Blue Nile dam.
"Sudan has recalled its ambassador to Addis Ababa for consultations over Sudanese-Ethiopian relations," foreign ministry spokesman Mansour Boulad told AFP.
He said the envoy would return to his post after the "completion of consultations", without elaborating on the nature of the discussions.
Khartoum's move comes amid rising tensions with Addis Ababa over the Al-Fashaqa border region, where Ethiopian farmers cultivate fertile land claimed by Sudan.
The two neighboring countries have been trading accusations of violence in the area and territorial violations.
On Sunday, Khartoum claimed that Ethiopia had allowed its troops to enter Sudanese territory in an act of "aggression" and "regrettable escalation".
Last month, Ethiopia alleged that Sudanese forces were pushing further into the border region.
Analysts See Continued Tension But No War Between Sudan, Ethiopia
KHARTOUM, SUDAN - Sudan this week accused Ethiopian troops of crossing the border amid a land dispute between the neighbors.
The dispute adds to tensions stemming from Ethiopia's massive hydropower dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), on a Nile River tributary that Egypt and Sudan say threatens their supply of fresh water.
This week, Sudan’s ministry of foreign affairs issued a communiqué, saying Ethiopia made what the ministry called a disrespectful incursion into Sudanese lands.
Ethiopian troops allegedly crossed the border at al-Fashaga, an area that sits on the border between northwestern Ethiopia and eastern Sudan.
A long-running dispute
The Ethiopian government did not deny the incursion but called on Sudan to stop its own incursions across the border.
The dispute over al-Fashaga goes back at least 50 years but has flared up again since December, shortly after tens of thousands of refugees from Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region began crossing into eastern Sudan.
In January, Sudan said an Ethiopian military aircraft overflew its territory, while Ethiopia accused Sudanese troops of crossing the border and looting from Ethiopian citizens.
However, Sudanese political analyst Abbas Mohamed, based in Qatar, thinks both Sudan and Ethiopia could not stand the costs of a real war.
Mohamed said decision makers in Sudan and Ethiopia know very well that going to war is nonsensical. There is economic development in Ethiopia and democratic change in Khartoum. Any war would threaten the gains in the two countries, but the ruling leaders are looking for enemy to defuse the internal conflicts.
The border dispute adds to existing tensions over Ethiopia's hydropower dam on a Nile River tributary. Egypt and Sudan say the dam would reduce the flow downriver and threaten their supply of fresh water.
Dam seen as big part of problem
Khartoum based political analyst Alfatih Mahmoud said the dam is the driving factor behind the tension.
Mahmoud said the GERD dam is the reason behind it and that dispute could push the two parties into a skirmish and to sit together at a negotiation table, though it never has resulted in in a war.
Sudan and Ethiopia have welcomed an initiative by South Sudan to mediate the border dispute. However, Ethiopia said it wants an immediate withdrawal by Sudan’s military from the border area in exchange for starting negotiations.
Sudan Accuses Ethiopia of Escalating Tensions Over Disputed Territory
KHARTOUM - Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia over a contested border area rose this week, as Sudan accused its neighbor of sending military planes over its airspace.
Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Ethiopian military warplanes crossed into Sudanese airspace this week in a "dangerous and unjustified escalation" of tensions over the disputed al-Fashaga area.
Sudan also says armed Ethiopian gangs, backed by the government, killed at least eight civilians in Wad A’arood and al-Liya villages along the border.
The head of the Sudanese military, Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, visited the area and talked to the Sudanese troops guarding the borders.
Al-Burhan says Sudan has been patient about this land for so long, for 25 years of offenses and threats and accusations, but everything has a limit. He says Sudan didn’t start the conflict, Ethiopia did, and now its eye for an eye. He says they killed Sudanese women and killed our farmers and burnt the lands before, and they claimed that it’s not Sudanese land and accused Sudan of entering their lands.
Authorities in Sudan’s al-Qadarif state say residents of at least 34 villages near the border have been displaced.
Sudan and Ethiopia formed a joint committee in December to resolve the long-standing dispute over al-Fashaga, located where northwestern Ethiopia meets southeastern Sudan.
However, the Ethiopian ambassador in Khartoum has accused the Sudanese military of taking advantage of the war in the Tigray region to seize disputed land. Yibeltal Aemero called on Sudan’s military to withdraw from the border region and stop its military operations.
“Very recently, in the first week of November 2020, we witnessed unprecedented military incursion by the Sudan while the joint special committee was still in progress and when the Ethiopian National Defense forces moved to Tigray region on November, 4, 2020 for the law enforcement majors, the Sudanese army took the advantage and entered deep inside Ethiopian territory, looted properties, burned camps, detained, attacked and killed the Ethiopians while displacing thousands," said Aemero.
Many Sudanese condemned the ambassador’s accusations and called on the military to take wider actions.
Security observers think the conflict could have severe ramifications in the region.
Military expert Sawarmi Kahlid says the recent escalation has very risky security impacts on the residents in the border area and the troops in both sides. Also the call of war is threatening large groups of people and tribes, especially in Ethiopia, where these tribes are already witnessing a famine.
More than 50,000 Ethiopians recently fled the war in the Tigray region for refugee camps in eastern Sudan. The Sudanese government has moved many of them away from the border, citing the security situation.