Sudan ‘repels Ethiopian cross-border attack’ amid heightened Nile tensions

repels

(The New Arab) – Sudan on Sunday repelled an attack by Ethiopian forces, the governor of an eastern border province said, amid heightened tensions over Addis Ababa’s controversial dam on the Nile.

 Major General Nasr al-Deen Abd al-Qayyum, governor of Sudan’s eastern Gadaref province, said Sudanese armed forces had on Sunday “successfully fended off an attack by Ethiopian forces”.
The alleged border run came as Nobel Peace prize-winning Ethiopian premier Abiy Ahmed held talks with the army towards an undisclosed “new defence stategy” on Sunday.Major General Nasr al-Deen Abd al-Qayyum, governor of Sudan‘s eastern Gadaref province, said Sudanese armed forces had on Sunday “successfully fended off an attack by Ethiopian forces”.

“There were no losses in the Sudanese army except for a slight injury to one soldier,” the governor said in a statement to Turkish news agency Anadolu without further details.

“Negotiations are the only solution,” Abbas said. “Signing an agreement is a prerequisite for us before filling the dam. Sudan has the right to demand it.”

Tensions over the Nile river dam have escalated in recent days after renewed negotiations failed produce an agreement over its filling.

Mohammed Abdul Ati, Cairo’s minister for irrigation and water resources, said last week that Ethiopia had refused to reach an agreement regarding the dam’s operation which would be binding under international law.

Addis Ababa instead offered to agree to guidelines which it could change unilaterally at any time, he said. Sudan’s negotiator backed the statement, calling the breakdown of negotiations “very serious”.

Ethiopia has said it will begin filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) next month, regardless of whether a deal is reached with Cairo and Khartoum.

The deputy chief of the country’s armed forces has also threatened military force over the dispute.

Egypt has opposed the filling of the dam, saying it could severely reduce its fresh water supplies, causing potentially devestating economic effects and even drought and famine.

The Nile is a lifeline supplying vital water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses. In Egypt, the river supplies around 97 percent of all fresh water needs.

Last week, one of the top figures in Sudan’s transitional government travelled to Ethiopia to meet with Ahmed.

Mohammad Hamdan Daglo, widely known as Hemedti, discussed border clashes between the two countries while on the three-day visit, a press statement said. Clashes between non-state armed groups on both sides of the border are not uncommon during the harvest season

Hemedti, a paramilitary leader who takes a senior role in the country’s Sovereign Council, agreed with Ahmed that Sudan and Ethiopia will settle border disputes through a joint military council, the Sudan Tribune reported.

Sudan
 has long been caught between the competing interests of Egypt and Ethiopia.

It stands to benefit from Ethiopia’s dam through access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding, but it has raised fears over the operation and safety of the Ethiopian project and says it could endanger Sudan’s own dams.

Sudan is also an ally of neighbouring Egypt, with government critics claiming much of the transitional regime’s foreign affairs are dictated by key backers the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which also back Cairo’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

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