Egypt’s Nile proxy war and its new interest in Sudan: A recipe for Sudan’s collapse?

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By Salsawi Godana (freelance writer)

A year ago, Sudan emerged from the shadow of violent revolution by ousting the Bashir government. The government of Omar al-Bashir is successfully replaced by AU brokered Civilian-Military joint government, known as the ‘transitional government.’

Ethiopia’s PM, Abiy Ahmed was one of the architects of the power-sharing government in Sudan. Sudan also emerged from the shadow of the US imposed economic sanction. This emerging Sudan situation is poised to bring hope and opportunities to the Sudanese people.

Sudan and Ethiopia were good neighborly and strong allies in shared mattes. Until recently Sudanese water experts and politicians alike saw the huge opportunities of the `Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and supported Ethiopia. Sudan gains about 40 % of boost in power production, reduced siltation, and higher perennial lean flows for its farmers. In addition, over 200,000 Ethiopian laborers travel to Gedaref (Eastern Sudan) during harvest time. Gedarif area (Eastern Sudan) is the food basket of Sudan. 

The recent military encroachment of Sudan to Ethiopian land is contrary to existence of strong neighborliness. Sudan entered to Ethiopian territories, killed residents, and burned the farmers properties with the pretext of returning land ceded 25 years ago. It is unclear why Sudan declares war on Ethiopia in such time as the whole world is in lock down due to COVID-19, Sudan is suffering due to flood and shortage of food.

Furthermore, Sudan is removed from terrorism supporting countries and sanction lifted. More than all, it is promised to receive 1.5 Billion annual grants from World Bank. It was a perfect time for Sudan people to fold their sleeves and engage to improve their economic and social challenges. Frankly, I was in dark and could not discern any sense why Sudan goes to war with Strong ally, Ethiopia until few days ago, the USA treasury signs a bridge loan that allows Sudan to access 1.5 Billion USD from World bank annually and I then learnt the composition of the military council.

Egypt, along with the merchants of poverty in Africa, are using carrot and stick approach to use Sudan as a proxy to intimidate Ethiopia at the expense of unstable and impoverished Sudanese people. Egypt heavily relies on the Janjaweed military Junta who are now in the transitional military council of Sudan for its plot.

If the hundredth of thousands of Ethiopian laborlores could not travel to Gedaref, the Sudanese food shortage will escalate. Furthermore, due to the border war, Sudan will lose its capacity to produce in full gear as the area become conflict zone. This will further put additional pressure on the Sudanese civilian government and the people of Sudan. I am not sure the military council have a full grasp of the Ethio-Sudan border dynamics. They also must know; Ethiopia will never be intimidated by the unfolding and unfortunate circumstances.

The recent opportunity to Sudan to access nearly 1.5 billion USD grant per annum from the World Bank, is enormous achievement to build strong and peaceful Sudan. However, strong Sudan is not in the long-term interest of Egypt. Egypt sees Sudan with suspicion that one day it may start irrigating its vast land. Furthermore, this money must return to where it came from. For the global military corporation flow of 1.5 Billion USD to Sudan’s treasury is seductive. So, the two agenda coalesce to convince the current Military Council to go for war with Ethiopia. This enables Sudan to purchase massive military equipment, procure military services, and preoccupy the people of Sudan and its mental state with war. I doubt, this money will benefit Sudanese people given the nature of Sudanese bureaucracy. Ethiopia was a darling of the world during 27 years of the minority government led by TPLF. The money that was granted to this minority government was partly returned to where it came from (during Ethio-Eritrea war) and part of it in recent war and part of it was stashed by the Juntas elsewhere. A staggering amount of close 30 billion USD is believed returnedto where it came from or wasted. 

In the same way as Ethiopia was given to be led by a minority groups of Juntas for 27 year, I smell Sudan is being prepared by outsiders to be granted to the most atrocious Janjaweed Junta group. Within few years Sudan will further be pushed to fight South Sudan, possibly Eritrea. As vicious circle continues, Sudanese youth will revolt and take back the government but only to find there is not any wealth created, and money left in their treasury except building, and roads.

I will not be surprised the insignificant tribal groupings in Sudan may be pushed to emerge as part of democratic process as happened in Ethiopia. In a nutshell, the war drum by Sudanese military on Ethiopia is costly price Sudanese people must pay for the Nile to pass through their backyard to Egypt and contain developing Ethiopia. Secondly, the newly found grant from World Bank must return from where it came from and war is a necessary condition to get the money back.

The only way forward for the statement is:

• The people of Sudan should wake up and see the unfolding crisis in Sudan and question the motive before it is too late.The Eastern Sudan, which is a food basket of Sudan should not become a conflict zone to serve the interest of Egypt.

• The civilian government should unequivocally declare to solve the problem by peaceful means, work for strong regional cooperation and work towards AU integration agenda.

• Any water related issues must be solved by the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization principle not by any other means.

• African Union (AU) must see the unfolding situation between Ethiopia and Sudan and take measures for a negotiated settlement.

(The opinion explained in this article does not necessarily reflect EastAfricanist’s position)

You can reach the author at: salsawi2.godana@gmail.com.

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