The border dispute between Addis Ababa and Khartoum over Al-Fashaga has returned to the fore, following Sudanese reports about “unusual” movement by the Ethiopian forces in the disputed area since the eruption of the recent unrest in Sudan.
Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, denied claims that his forces have entered the Sudanese border area, expressing confidence that the “Sudanese people will not listen to such allegations,” which he described as “false.”
The dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia over Al-Fashaga dates back to the colonial era, and several attempts to demarcate a 744-kilometer border between the two countries were unsuccessful. In 2008, negotiations between them reached a compromise, with Ethiopia recognizing the legal border, and Sudan allowing Ethiopians to continue living there without complications.
However, by the end of June 2022, tension returned again, after Sudan accused the Ethiopian army of capturing and killing seven Sudanese soldiers. According to Sudanese media sources, “Ethiopia took advantage of the bloody fighting in Sudan between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, and entered Al-Fashaga area,” pointing to intense reconnaissance operations carried out by Ethiopian troops in the region.
On the other hand, the Ethiopian prime minister accused some parties of “seeking to achieve political goals by publishing allegations that aim to distort the good-neighborly relations between Ethiopia and Sudan.”
In a statement, Abiy Ahmed said: “At this critical stage, in which the common identity and destiny of the Sudanese and Ethiopian peoples face many challenges, some parties are seeking to achieve their menial political goals by spreading false allegations.”
The border issue “will be resolved through dialogue and discussions,” he stressed, rejecting attempts to take advantage of the current situation in Sudan.
Dr. Abdel-Moneim Hamat, a Sudanese political analyst, ruled out an Ethiopian military intervention in the disputed region, amid the turmoil in Sudan.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “Abiy Ahmed and his leadership will not adopt this approach in any way, at the present time, especially since he personally intervened more than once as a party to resolve Sudanese internal disputes, just as Sudan did in Ethiopia. Therefore, the Ethiopian government will not risk its reputation and surroundings for a cause that is not essential.”