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Sudan Will Decide the Outcome of the Ethiopian Civil War

Authors:  Nizar Manek, Mohamed Kheir Omer

Affiliation: Independent Journalist; Former member of Eritrean Liberation Front

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: November 14, 2020/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis 

Word Count:  3344


Keywords: Tigray, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eretria, TPLF


This analysis reveals the deceptive role that Sudan may play in the conflict between the Ethiopian government and its former rulers the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Despite being a local dispute, Tigray’s geographic location has made Sudan a key part in deciding the fate of the war in Ethiopia; as a territory that shares borders with Sudan, Khartoum would play a strategic game to achieve its aims. The dispute over borders between Sudan and Ethiopia, and over the Nile waters gives Khartoum leverage to pressure Abiy. After it has strategically contained the TPLF locally and from Eritrean borders, the strategic strength of TPLF would be from the Sudan borders. Sudan’s borders with the Tigray state of Ethiopia are seen as a channel for military supplies to Tigray fighters. While the government of Ethiopia wants to gain the upper hand against Tigray, Sudan could capitalize on the situation to achieve its geopolitical aims. However, despite being a decisive player in the Ethiopian game, Khartoum’s decisive role would be based on the latitude of Abiy’s response. If Ethiopia accepts Khartoum’s demands, the war would be in favor of Abiy’s government; if not, the outcome would be otherwise. Despite using journalistic language, the piece offers an insightful description of how Ethiopia’s geography could be a curse for the state.

By: Imad Atoui, CIGA Research Associate



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