The situation on the border could see forces from across the region confronting each other – with Egypt and Sudan on one side and Ethiopia, Eritrea and Amhara militia on the other.
This is what we know. But if you want the history of the al-Fashaga dispute you can find it in this background report.
First: Today there has been a reported clash between Ethiopian and Sudanese militia in the disputed al-Fashaga triangle.
Clashes today between Sudanese and Ethiopian militiamen in the Fashaga triangle at Dhura and Shay Beit. There are casualties. Working on locating these villages.
— Ethiopia Map (@MapEthiopia) March 24, 2021
Second: came this report from Bloomberg quoting the UN as saying that Eritrean forces had crossed into al-Fashaga.
Eritrean forces are present inside disputed territory that straddles the border between Ethiopia and Sudan, according to the United Nations.
The deployment in the so-called al-Fashqa triangle comes amid escalating tensions between Ethiopia and and Sudan, according to the United Nations. The deployment in the so-called al-Fashqa triangle comes amid escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan over control of the area of fertile farming land.
“The conflict along the border between Sudan and Ethiopia remains active, with Sudanese Armed Forces and Ethiopian — including Amhara militias — and Eritrean forces deployed around Barkhat settlement in Greater Fashaga and clashes reported since early March,” the UN said Tuesday in its latest situation report on Ethiopia.
Third: Just three weeks ago, Egypt and Sudan signed a new joint security pact.
Egyptian Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Mohamed Farid signed the treaty in Khartoum on 2nd March.
General Farid stressed that Egypt “seeks to consolidate ties and relations with Sudan in all fields, especially military and security fields,” adding that “solidarity is a strategic approach imposed by the regional and international environment.”
Warnings of war
These developments came as the Washington Post ran a story headlined: “A border war looms between Sudan and Ethiopia as Tigray conflict sends ripples through region”
The article argued: “Ethiopia’s sudden descent into civil war in its Tigray region has upended a delicate web of regional political equations, sending ripple effects across this corner of Africa, and bringing Ethiopia and Sudan to the brink of a territorial war over this disputed area, known as al-Fashaga. Military and government officials on both sides, as well as independent analysts, said they worry such a war would quickly escalate into a much broader regional conflict….”
“On a recent trip with Sudanese forces to the front line, a major deployment of military and paramilitary troops was visibly underway. Through binoculars, Sudanese officers eyed Ethiopian settlements and fortifications in parts of al-Fashaga they had not yet retaken…”
“Sudan retook most of al-Fashaga after Ethiopian soldiers and Amhara militias were deployed to fight in Tigray. ‘Up until the war in Tigray began, the situation was essentially an Amhara occupation of al-Fashaga,’ said Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Gabir, one of 11 members of Sudan’s so-called sovereign council that presides over government decisions.
“As they became occupied with the war in November, we were able to retake the area with fewer casualties. But recently the Amhara militias came back and killed so many of our people, robbed so many,” he said. “Ethiopia is not controlling these militias, so of course we see it as supporting them. We do not want to be drawn into a reckless war…
Abiy’s increasing reliance on Amhara support for the war in Tigray is a fundamental driver of conflict in al-Fashaga, analysts said.”