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Sudan would suddenly have no compelling reason for war without a third party conspiracy

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Authors: Yeheys Nardos Hawaz and Chen Xi, PhD*

Relations between Sudan and Ethiopia are the most reliable and exemplary in East Africa. Although the two countries have a history of political differences on boundary, they have never considered war as an option. During the 17-year civil war in Ethiopia, Sudan and Ethiopian governments stood in opposition against each other. Despite repeated complaints about the border issue, they had never tried to solve the problem in war. Besides, both have focused mainly on their internal issues which related to the frequent ethnic conflictin Ethiopia and the recent political crisis in Sudan. Also, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan have been embroiled in several diplomatic disputes over the Nile causeway, but Sudan’s humble position was a good neighborly symbol, not hostility. During Ethiopia’s law enforcement campaign in the Tigray region, Sudan began tightening its military presence along the border. More recently, however, Sudanese forces have taken control of several areas. It is undeniable that the war in Tigray has weakened Ethiopia’s control over the border. However, after all, why did Sudan suddenly become embroiled in a border dispute with Ethiopia? Why did the border dispute in Sudan suddenly trigger a military conflict?

Boundary dispute, existing or new agenda

The border between Ethiopia and Sudan was about 1,600 km long before South Sudan becameindependent. Due to its desire to control the Nile Basin and Egypt, The British government was keen to reach an agreement with Ethiopia on all matters of concern as Ethiopia’s power was growing in the region. In particular, the British government was enforced to negotiate a border agreement due toconcern about the Ethiopian empire’s expansion

Even after centuries of agreement between Ethiopia and Britain, the border between South Sudan and Ethiopia remained in place after South Sudan Independence. If the treaty remains with the case, then what is the disputed border between Sudan and Ethiopia? A recent report in The National indicated that the Al-Fashaga area was a Sudanese province, although it was inhabited by Ethiopians. However, there is no statement from Ethiopian side to this issue. As the area is inhabited by many Ethiopians, diplomatic approach was not clear to the public so as not to lead to conflict. The Ethiopian government has not commented on Sudan’s repeated border complain for long time.Nevertheless, on the Sudanese side, sources indicate that talks were held in Al-Fashaga and other areas with Ethiopia and that a negotiated settlement was underway.

Thus, the border case is not sudden. The case has been stagnant and remains diplomatic. However, the fertility of the region has been the subject of repeated clashes between the farmers of the two countries. The border dispute between the two countries is long overdue and there is no reason to resort to violence. In fact, a sudden Sudanese military occupation causes many problems. The urge did not consider regional peace, bilateral agreement, national sovereignty and even the political transition in Sudan. Given these issues into consideration, Sudan will not choose military force as an option unless a third party is evolved on escalating the tension. Sudan will not opt to use the military with no tangible background after all this time. There are several reasons for this.

The GERD and the view of Sudan

Sudan was moderate, even around the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Sudan had been reflecting the construction of the dam would reduce the risk of flooding in Sudan and the use of electricity was widely considered. However, coincidentally, the assassination attempts on prime minister right after Sudan had rejected the Arab League statement on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, changed many things. Following the assassination attempt, Sudan’s diplomatic mentality was focused not only on protecting national interest but also minimizing further risks.

The border dispute will still not affect the Renaissance Dam. It seems Ethiopia had developed a delightful experience to handle conflict and development programs. It is known that Ethiopia has been announcing foreign interference in the ongoing inter-ethnic conflict. However, the construction of the Renaissance Dam has never been stopped or delayed due to any conflict. Even more, the Renaissance Dam construction has not been affected by the recent war in the Tigray region. Instead,  the delay in the construction of the dam was due to malpractice and corruption.

Diplomatic tensions between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt following the construction of the Renaissance Dam could have covered Sudan’s claim. Since the issue of Ethiopia and Sudan is not just a Nile issue rather than Egypt, Sudan would have had the opportunity to raise further agendas and enter into a conflict with Ethiopia based on disagreements in the negotiations. However, the Sudanese people and government differed on this line. The desire to use the diplomatic differences around the Renaissance Dam for other political purposes has not been observed.

Ethiopia’s role in Sudan’s political transition

Sudan had been embroiled in a political crisis since the uprising against its former leaders. The uprising has had a profound effect on Sudan’s political, social, and economic values. However, the support of the Ethiopian government in support of political unforgettable. The Sudanese government is well aware of this, and it is unlikely to have a military confrontation with Ethiopia  following this recent incident

Ethiopia has worked hard on the establishment of a civilian-military coalition in Sudan.the position of the Ethiopian government can be seen as a symbol of good neighborliness and historical friendship. Holding that fact, Sudan should not have shown interest in war unless she was compelled by circumstances after Ethiopia’s remarkable effort in Sudan’s transition to peace and democratization.

How far is third party status

The Ethiopian government’s recent law enforcement campaign in the Tigray region has had an impact on the region. The war between the federal government and the Tigray region was widely reported to have weakened Ethiopia’s military capabilities. It has been widely reported as if Sudan wanted to take advantage of this gap. Indeed, the war in Tigray has played its part in weakening border control. However, the conflict in Tigray alone is not enough to justify the Sudanese campaign, as border control has already been compromised in various ways.

This why the idea is widely referred to as a third party. The Ethiopian government has repeatedly called for a third party to escalate the conflict. It has been said, the main target is to shift the government’s focus on maintaining peace and delaying the construction of the Renaissance Dam. The government also stated this through the invasion of Sudan. 

There are also many hypotheses about Sudan-third party relations. Of course, Sudan has traveled to many countries in search of support for the border issue. That is why the Sudanese military’s emergency operation is linked to a third party.

What Strengthen third-party conspiracies is Sudan’s recent stance on the Renaissance Dam. Evidence shows that Sudan, which had showed partial benefit from the Renaissance Dam, has recently taken a different stance on the Renaissance Dam. In addition to the unusual disruption of negotiations, Sudan has been recently making an attempt to re-establish the Renaissance Dam dam’s issues toward international community, citing previously unprecedented and unusual reasons for causing water shortages in the SudaneseRossaires reservoir. When Egypt asked for international mediation in the Renaissance Dam negotiations, Sudan was promoting the idea of Africa and Africans. However, Sudan’s political Stance seems changed now. However, unusually, if Sudan continues to be an unusual obstacle to African Union negotiations, it will be Indicates and strengthen politics conspiracy.

At the same time, political difference in Sudan is overtly observed. As the Sudanese government is a combination of military and civilian, and the civilian wing does not want any conflict with neighboring countries at a time when Sudan is in a political and economic transition. Not only does it mean how effective a non-consensual military campaign in the country can be, but it also seems likely that the consequences of such a decision will affect the country’s politics.

Emphasizing that these issues are not a matter of Sudan being unprepared for a war with Ethiopia and a national agreement being reached, if Sudan wanted to wage war on the border with Ethiopia, she could have taken many opportunities earlier. But her previous approach had positive aspects for the country’s political transition, its relations with its neighbors, and regional peace. The hasty design of a sudden stimulus of military force for political change will not benefit a third party but costs both countries. This fact must be taken into account by the Sudanese military. It is still not too late for diplomatic effort.

*Chen Xi PhD, lecturer in the School of International and Public Affairs of Jilin University.

PhD candidate at Jilin University School of International and public Affairs (SIPA)yeheys9918[at]mails.jlu.edu.cn

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Africa

Scaling Up Development Could Help Southern African leaders to Defeat Frequent Miltant Attacks

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Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are now considering, without foreign interference, tackling frequent insurgency devastating regional development, causing havoc to human habitation and threatening security in southern Africa. This collective decision came out after the Extraordinary Double Troika meeting on 8th April in Maputo, Mozambique.

The violence unleashed more than three years ago in Cabo Delgado province took a new escalation on March 24 when armed groups attacked the town of Palma. The attacks caused dozens of deaths and forced thousands of Palma residents to flee, worsening a humanitarian crisis that has affected some 700,000 people in the province, according several reports.

Many international organizations and foreign countries have responded with humanitarian support and with financial aid aimed at alleviating situation, specifically in Mozambique and generally in southern Africa.

For example, the European Union (EU) pledged to send almost €7.9 million in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by terrorism in northern Mozambique, part of a package totaling €24.5 million for the entire southern Africa and Indian Ocean region. EU humanitarian aid to Mozambique “seeks to provide a response to the humanitarian consequences of the conflict in northern Mozambique, where €7.86 million of EU funding will be directed,” a statement from the European Commission details.

Beside horrific attacks, drought is also currently affecting Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For instance, the EU will provide assistance to address a severe food and nutrition crisis in Madagascar. A further €6.00 million for helping children across the whole region gain access to education, and €8.00 million to improve the region’s disaster preparedness.

Now Southern African leaders are looking at pulling their resources together to improve the deteriorating security situation, supporting vulnerable displaced and affected people with shelter, food, protection and access to healthcare, especially in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, and further widely in southern Africa.

As a first step, SADC has called for cooperation in cross-border surveillance as essential to stem the flow of foreign fighters fomenting terrorism in Cabo Delgado, and further warning the spread of violence throughout southern Africa. Among other measures, SADC suggested that southern African police and judicial systems must consistently work to combat trafficking and money laundering that funds terrorism.

Despite these collective measures, there are still a few more questions as to whether SADC could, in practical terms, control frequent violent extremist attacks using available resources in the southern Africa.

SADC, among others, mandates for enforcing collective security in the region. While the presidents of Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have called for “an immediate technical deployment” to Mozambique ahead of another high-level meeting at the end of April, Mozambique has so far been unreceptive, according reports.

There have been various suggestions from experts. “What we have here is a human rights and humanitarian crisis that has left hundreds of thousands displaced, insecure and unable to return to their homes because of the attacks that have been ongoing,” said Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch. “So, the lack of security then spills over to affect everything else, including in terms of stability and economic programs that might be taking place in Cabo Delgado.

Historian Yussuf Adam, a retired professor at Maputo’s Eduardo Mondlane University, told VOA the problems dated back way beyond the start of the insurgency in 2017. He attributed to sharp disparity in development in the region.

He believes that Mozambique’s government, most importantly, has to tackle systemic poverty and inequality, in addition to resorting to a military solution. “There is no military solution. People have to be heard, and things have to be negotiated, and also people’s right to land,” he said. “People have to benefit from whatever it is will come out, is coming out, from this mining, oil, petrol and gas operations. That’s something which has to be seen and done.”

Mavhinga says, the government needs to take responsibility for its own policy failures. While militants have committed grievous acts – including rapes and beheadings – rights groups have also documented abuses by Mozambican security forces, including torture and extrajudicial killings.

South African lawyer and scholar Andre Thomashausen has also indicated that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has its own internal differences. He anticipated that this SADC summit would not be able to take concrete measures, due to the division of opinions that exists within SADC, the lack of means and manpower resources could obstruct any positive results.

Thomashausen, however, said that the previous meeting did not express any solidarity, intervention and appeal to the African Union, regional and international community, explained further that SADC clearly indicated it prefers to deal with the crisis at the regional and without foreign interference. Therefore, the countries of the southern region “continue to bet on their own initiative, on their own commitment from region.”

The final communiqué from the summit condemned the terrorist attacks “in the strongest terms” and declared that “such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response” but it did not suggest what such a regional response might consist of.

It further expressed “SADC’s full solidarity with the government and people of Mozambique” and reaffirmed “SADC’s continued commitment to contribute towards the efforts to bring about lasting peace and security, as well as reconciliation and development in the Republic of Mozambique.”

The summit ordered “an immediate technical deployment” to Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika summit on 29 April 2021.

SADC, an organization of 16 member states established in 1980, has as its mission to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient, productive systems, deeper cooperation and integration, good governance and durable peace and security; so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy.

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Africa

SADC Summit Ends With Promises of More Meetings

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) held an Extraordinary Double Troika meeting on 8th April in Maputo to deliberate on measures on addressing terrorism and its related impact on the current development specifically in the Mozambique and generally in southern Africa. The Cabo Delgado crisis started in 2017 with insurgents taking control of parts of northern Mozambique.

One of the two troikas consists of the current, incoming and outgoing chairs of SADC (namely Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania), while the second is formed by the current, incoming and outgoing chairs of the SADC organ for politics, defence and security cooperation (Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe).

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and the ministers of international relations, defence and state security attended the meeting. It was also attended by Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

The summit was called in the wake of the terrorist attack of 24 March against the town of Palma in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, but the leaders did not pledge any immediate practical support for Mozambique.

SADC Troika heads however said the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, could not be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response and reported that 12 decapitated bodies have been found behind a hotel in the region.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has called for cooperation in cross-border surveillance as essential to stem the flow of foreign fighters fomenting terrorism in Cabo Delgado, warning of the spread of violence throughout Southern Africa.

Among the measures that the SADC countries should implement to combat terrorism is strengthening border control between Southern African countries, he said, and further added that Southern African police and judicial systems must consistently work to combat trafficking and money laundering that funds terrorism.

Nyusi stressed that the organization should implement practical acts to combat this scourge of terrorism to prevent its expansion and destabilization of the region, and warned of the risk that the actions of armed groups with a jihadist connotation could hinder regional integration.

According official reports, SADC fends off United States / European Union anti-terror intervention in Cabo Delgado. It further said no to another Mali / Somalia / Libya / Syria disaster on the African continent, adding that the global Anti-Terror lobbies are frustrated.

Deeply concerned about the continued terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, especially for the lives and welfare of the residents who continue to suffer from the atrocious, brutal and indiscriminate assaults, the leaders decided at their meeting to deploy a technical mission to Mozambique. It’s not clear what action the region will take but the deployed technical mission will report back to heads of state by 29 April.

The final communiqué from the summit condemned the terrorist attacks “in the strongest terms” and declared that “such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response” but it did not suggest what such a regional response might consist of.

The Summit expressed “SADC’s full solidarity with the government and people of Mozambique” and reaffirmed “SADC’s continued commitment to contribute towards the efforts to bring about lasting peace and security, as well as reconciliation and development in the Republic of Mozambique.”

The summit ordered “an immediate technical deployment” to Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika summit on 29 April 2021.

The extremely brief communiqué mentioned no other specific measures.

The violence unleashed more than three years ago in Cabo Delgado province took a new escalation about a fortnight ago when armed groups attacked the town of Palma, which is about six kilometres from the multi-million dollar natural gas, according to United Nations data.

The attacks caused dozens of deaths and forced thousands of Palma residents to flee, worsening a humanitarian crisis that has affected some 700,000 people in the province since the conflicts data. Several countries have offered Maputo military support on the ground to combat these insurgents, but so far there has been no openness, although reports and testimonies are pointing to security companies and mercenaries in the area.

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African agriculture is ready for a digital revolution

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Authors: Akinwumi Adesina and Patrick Verkooijen*

After a dark 2020, a new year has brought new hope. In Africa, where up to 40 million more people were driven into extreme poverty and the continent experienced its first recession in 25 years, a brighter future beckons as the economy is forecast to return to growth this year.

Africa now has an opportunity to reset its economic compass. To build back not just better, but greener. Particularly as the next crisis—climate change—is already upon us.

Africa’s food systems must be made more resilient to future shocks such as floods, droughts, and disease. Urgent and sustainable increases in food production are needed to reduce reliance on food imports and reduce poverty, and this is where digital services come into play.

With mobile phone ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa alone expected to reach half a billion this year, digital services offered via text messaging can reach even the most remote village. And at least one-fifth of these phones also have smart features, meaning they can connect to the internet.

We can already see how digital services drive prosperity locally and nationally. In Uganda, SMS services that promote market price awareness have lifted the price farmers receive for bananas by 36 percent, beans by 16.5 percent, maize by 17 percent, and coffee by 19 percent. In Ghana, services that cut out the middleman have lifted the price for maize by 10 percent and groundnuts by 7 percent.

But digital services don’t just raise farmgate prices, they are the gateway to farm loans, crop insurance, and greater economic security, which in turn enables farmers to increase their resilience to climate change—by experimenting with new, drought-resistant crops, for example, or innovative farming methods.

Text messages with weather reports help farmers make better decisions about when and what to plant, and when to harvest.

In Niger, a phone-based education program has improved crop diversity, with more farmers likely to grow the cash crop okra, while an advisory service in Ethiopia helped increase wheat production from one ton to three tons per hectare.

The data footprints phone users create can also be analyzed to help assess risk when it comes to offering loans, making credit cheaper and more accessible.

Phones and digital services also speed up the spread of information through social networks, helping farmers learn about new drought-resistant crops or services that can increase productivity. Free-to-use mobile phone-based app WeFarm, for example, has already helped more than 2.4 million farmers find certified suppliers of quality seeds at fair prices. They can also connect farmers to internet-based services.

Examples of digital innovation abound, sometimes across borders. In Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, equipment-sharing platform Hello Tractor is helping farmers rent machinery by the day or even hour, while in Ethiopia, AfriScout, run by the non-government organization Project Concern International with the World Food Programme and the Ministry for Agriculture, provides satellite images of water supplies and crops every 10 days so problems can be spotted quickly to aid remedial action.

Transforming food systems digitally has demonstrably excellent results: the African Development Bank, which has allocated over half of its climate financing to adaptation since 2019, has already helped 19 million farmers in 27 countries to lift yields by an average 60 percent through applying digital technology, for example.

This is why the Global Center on Adaptation and the African Development Bank have launched the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) to mobilize $25 billion to scale up and accelerate innovative climate-change adaptation across Africa.

Once developed, the digital nature of these services often makes such projects easy to replicate elsewhere and scale, even across large rural areas with little existing infrastructure.

Further, adaptation projects are proven to be highly cost-effective, often delivering value many times the original investment and so helping African economies grow faster and create many more much-needed jobs.

This makes it imperative that the global resolve to rebuild economies in the wake of Covid-19 is harnessed in the most effective way. We must not simply replicate the mistakes of the past. We must build back stronger, with a more resilient and climate-smart focus.

Funding and promoting disruptive business models in which digital technologies are embedded to increase productivity without using more land or more water will create a triple win: increased production, a more resilient climate and more empowered farmers.

We have the means and the technical capability to put Africa well on the way to achieving food self-sufficiency and greater climate resilience. In doing so, we can help millions move out of food poverty. We must not squander this opportunity to create truly historic and lasting change.

AfDB

*Patrick Verkooijen is CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation.

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