Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray may spill over to Sudan: observers

By XINHUA , August 28, 2021

Sudan Ethiopia
A tank damaged during the fighting between Ethiopia’s National Defense Force (ENDF) and Tigray Special Forces stands on the outskirts of Humera town in Ethiopia July 1, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

(CGTN) – As the conflict between the Ethiopian army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) spreads, observers expressed concern that the conflict may spill over to Sudan.

“Sudan is considered the most affected countries of the region by Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis,” Khalid Dirar, professor of political science at al-Rasid Center for Strategic Studies in Khartoum, told Xinhua on Friday.

The flow of Ethiopian refugees toward Sudan casts a shadow on the country with deteriorating economy, Dirar said, adding that Sudan has been hosting thousands of refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Sudan for years and the current situation in Sudan does not allow hosting more refugees.

Dirar further warned the security impact of the Tigray crisis on Sudan, saying that the border between Sudan and the Tigray region is witnessing a state of fragile security, as the continued guerrilla wars on the border may push Sudan to be the battlefield.

On the political side, the conflict in the Tigray region may increase the tension between Sudan and Ethiopia, particularly after Ethiopia reportedly accused Sudan of “not being neutral on this crisis.”

On Aug. 8, Sudan summoned its ambassador to Ethiopia for consultations after Ethiopian officials accused Sudan of “crippling the efforts aiming to end the conflict in the Tigray region.” The Sudanese Foreign Ministry criticized the Ethiopian statements, reiterating Sudan’s supportive stance to resolving the conflict in the region.

“These accusations indicate Ethiopia’s concerns over the role that Sudan can play if the relations completely deteriorated,” Abdul-Raziq Ziyada, a Sudanese political analyst, told Xinhua on Friday, adding that Ethiopia fears that Sudan may become a strategic corridor for the TPLF’s fighters.

Recent media reports said the clashes spread to regions of Amhara and Afar in northern Ethiopia, causing thousands of Ethiopians to flee toward the Sudanese territories.

According to UN statistics, the total number of the Ethiopian refugees in Sudan amounted to around 90,000, most of who are women and children.

On November 4, 2020, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered military operations against the TPLF in the northern state of Tigray in response to an attack on a government army base earlier in the day.

The fighting between the TPLF, which used to rule the regional state, and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces has left thousands of people killed and caused immense losses in the region.

The Ethiopian army has managed to quickly control the region, but during June and July, the TPLF has restored control over most of the areas of the region from the army.

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