By Seble Georgis
The general rhetoric of Egypt on the waters of the Nile is not yet in the past but still reverberates in various shapes to detract the momentum of the 3rd filling. The proxy war insinuates that Egypt has gone a long way to cripple Ethiopia’s effort to develop
Sudan is at loggerheads with Ethiopia. The current dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan has various dimensions that provide an understanding of how international politics is “linkage politics” in the context of divergent interests between leadership and the public. This essence of politics can shed light on whether the war between Sudan and Ethiopia is guided by the genuine interest of the people of Sudan or the leadership.
Sudan is under internal political turmoil with demands for civilian government and the people are vehemently asking the military to go back to the barracks. Mainstream media report tens of thousands of people in Khartoum, Omdurman, and Bahri are demonstrating to express their anger at the current military leadership. The mounting pressure suggests that the people want the fall of the regime. History repeats itself and that is just how it goes; looking at the internal dynamics that transpired during the popular uprising of 2018-2019 in the last days of the 30 years of the personalized government of El Bashir. All in all, addressing the public demand are elements that remain in short supply in Sudan. As the public demand is hitting the roof, it has become natural for the leadership to find a scapegoat and follow a diversionary strategy to regain social order within and redirect the public concern toward external threats in a bid to retain their relevance.
It is not to drumbeat the appalling news of the crisis or the strained relations of Ethiopia with Sudan or Egypt, but crises persist in the region adding to the hardships of citizens due to exacerbating competition over resources. Unfortunately, Sudan and Ethiopia are now at war over Al-Fashaga in the North-West of Ethiopia despite mitigation efforts to contain a wider conflagration in the volatile region. The question is in whose interest is the war? Sudan is witnessing divergent interests of people and leadership – the people demanding regime change and the government performing a proxy war to divert the attention of the people.
The general rhetoric of Egypt on the waters of the Nile is not yet in the past but still reverberates in various shapes to detract the momentum of the 3rd filling. The proxy war insinuates that Egypt has gone a long way to cripple Ethiopia’s effort to develop by using all the available means. The issue has grown to another level and seemingly paired with the land or territoriality making water and land at the center of the proxy war. This places Sudan at a complex crossroads between handling the public outcry whose main call is for a civil administration and breaking its back on proxy war to execute Egypt’s wicked plan for Ethiopia.
The big brother approach of Egypt in dragging Sudan into a proxy war is not even a quid pro quo business. Egypt is driving its interest without human and political costs. Egypt provides weapons and other logistical support to Sudan but not its own army or troops. The Sudanese soldiers must die to realize the geopolitical interest of Egypt like how the colonial conscripts used to die in the empires without honor. To say more, the audacious move of Egypt in this crisis informs another sketchy political craft of Egypt exploiting the border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia as a political gesture to Sudan to silence its long-standing and unresolved claim by Sudan over the mineral-rich Halayeb Triangle that Egypt has been unlawfully exercising sovereignty. Nevertheless, for the Sudanese Halayeb remains a potential for serious conflict with Egypt.
The bottom line is Ethiopia and Sudan have more in common than that which divides them. Bilad al-Sudan or Ethiopia was initially used back in the days to refer to the two countries based on their black African identity. The people have an aspiration to improve their livelihood and live in a stable political environment. The youth population in both countries accounts for more than 41% of the total population. Having a larger young population makes the two countries well-positioned to tap the demographic dividend that comes out of the contribution of the youth in a positive way. Moreover, there has been coexistence between the people at the border area of over 700 km, which have been crossed for farming and performing pastoral activities in the highlands and the lowlands respectively for centuries. Such movement across the undemarcated and ‘soft border’ is a source of the existence of strong social fabrics in the area. Therefore, the relations are beyond political significance, not even Al-fashaga or Al-qadarif, it is another level of family significance that should be valued by both sides. For all, these social cohesions to continue, giving peace a chance is a sine qua non.
By Seble Georgis