Eastern Sudan and Ethiopian ambitions: A case study of the Al-Fashqa region

an introduction:

In the midst of the ongoing conflict between Britain and the Mahdist state with the aim of overthrowing the latter and reoccupying Sudan, the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II took advantage of the situation in order to expand his borders at the expense of the borders of Sudan. On April 15, 1891, he sent a circular to the European heads of state specifying what he claimed were the borders the actual territory of his empire as well as what he considered his area of ​​influence. The circular stated that the northwestern border of Abyssinia extends from the town of Tomat, located at the confluence of the Setit and Atbara rivers, to Karakouj on the Blue Nile, and includes the Gedaref district. Menelik announced his intention to restore his old frontiers, which stretched west to Khartoum and south as far as Lake Victoria. From here, the Ethiopian ambitions in the lands of eastern Sudan (Gadarif State) become clear.

This research deals with the concept of geopolitics (the science of land politics), which is a science that explains the state of the impact of political behavior in changing the geographical dimensions of the state, which in turn leads to the concept of occupation, which means the control of a state over the territory of another state or part of it, and then identifying the root causes of the occupation . Finally, the research deals with the proposed solutions with a projection on the case of the Al-Fashqa area surrounded by rivers inside Sudanese territory on all sides except for the common border line with Ethiopia, and this is what imposes on it complete isolation from the Sudanese lands adjacent to it during the flood season of these rivers. This is in addition to being characterized by heavy rainfall in the autumn and abundant production. This site tempts the Ethiopians to attack it whenever they want, as there is no obstacle to prevent them from benefiting from these fertile lands; They are lands completely adjacent to their lands, so every season come Amhara farmers who firmly believe that this is their lands.[2] , and that they will not leave it even if Emperor Menelik II abandoned it at some point, and they are supported by the “Wolgait” gangs called the Amharic Shefata, to cultivate the internationally recognized Sudanese and Ethiopian lands. The Shiftas are known gangs for a long time, organized by members of the Waljait (umbrella of peoples) people, who are used by the Amhara for protection in exchange for a sum of money.

First: the methodological and theoretical framework of the research

1 – The methodological framework of the research

The subject of the  research is eastern Sudan and Ethiopian ambitions (a case study of the Al-Fashqa area). The spatial limits of the research (Gadarif State – Al-Fashqa area), while the temporal period extends from April 1891 to December 2021. The  problem  of the research is represented by Ethiopia’s ambitions in the lands of eastern Sudan in general and Gedaref State in particular, since 1957. The research stems from several  questions , namely: Is Ethiopia’s intervention in the Sudanese region of Al-Fashqa considered an occupation? Does Ethiopia have real ambitions in the lands of eastern Sudan? What is the accuracy of the information provided by scientific research and studies to clarify the state of occupation of the Al-Fashqa area by Ethiopia, and the extent of the ability to clarify this information as a tool that shows the reality of Ethiopia’s occupation of Sudanese lands? What are the solutions that restore Sudan to its lands and put an end to the Ethiopian ambitions in the lands of Al-Fashqa and other Sudanese lands?

The research adopts the descriptive  approach  , which is based on describing the facts by following a precise scientific and objective method, and the functional approach that deals with the extent of Ethiopia’s ambitions in the lands of eastern Sudan (Gadarif State), especially the fertile Al-Fashqa area.

The research  used the techniques of  organized reading of daily facts, scientific messages and studies related to the topic of research, purposeful observation, scientific expertise, and consultation.

The research is based on several  hypotheses Also, they are: 1- There are clear Ethiopian ambitions in the lands of eastern Sudan (Gadarif State – Al-Fashqa area); 2- Sudanese politicians in successive Sudanese governments were preoccupied with conflict among themselves, which negatively affected the settlement of the border file with Ethiopia, which effectively contributed to Ethiopia’s reluctance and its evasion of the process of demarcating the border between it and Sudan, definitively and definitively. 3- The Sudanese army’s preoccupation with engaging in a larger and more dangerous conflict on Sudan’s national security in southern Sudan since before independence, in addition to the outbreak of the Darfur problem, which complicated Sudan’s internal problems, especially after its internationalization, as the problem of the south internationalized before until its separation, all of this made the eastern borders, especially the region The fertile fasqah is up for grabs in Ethiopia to stretch as much as it wants. 4- Weak infrastructure in Gedaref State in general and Al-Fashqa region in particular contributed greatly to the lack of linking the region to the interior, thus making it vulnerable to Ethiopian ambitions.

2 – Theoretical framework

The concept of geopolitics (the science of land politics):  Geopolitics is the science of studying the influence of the land (land, sea, heights, subsurface, wealth and location) on politics in contrast to the policy’s endeavor to take advantage of these advantages according to a future perspective. changing the geographical dimensions of the country. This concept overlaps with the content of geopolitics, which is concerned with studying the influence of geography (natural and human characteristics) on politics [3] . Geopolitics represents the conscience of the state, its ambitions, needs and interests in the future, and how to protect and preserve it. Therefore, it is the key to national policy. Hence, the state’s description of its strengths and weaknesses is “geopolitical.” As for its future vision, hopes, needs and interests, even those that transcend its borders, this is the science of (geopolitics), which represents the view of national interests in every sense of the word.

The concept of occupation:  The word occupation, taken in the Arabic language, from the verb occupied; where it is said occupied the place; In the sense of his dissolution, he descended with it, took it, and seized it by force [4] , and the occupation is defined technically as the control of a particular country over all or part of the lands of another country, during an invasion or war or after the end of that war [5] . Occupation takes forms, or specific purposes, such as economic occupation, which is the illegal appropriation of one country on the resources of another country [6] .

Research literature (previous studies):  a study similar to the topic of the research “The Ethiopian occupation of the Sudanese Fashqa lands” by Dr. Ikram Muhammad Salih Hamid Dagash, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Strategic Studies, Al-Zaeem Al-Azhari University, Sudan – July 2007).

The aim of the study:  to find an integrated theoretical framework for the historical dimension of the Ethiopian ambitions in the land of Al-Fashqa, through two axes, a political axis, and this depends on gaining time through negotiation, which always ends in maintaining the status quo and then carrying out more settlement and land ownership operations, followed by an organized work to obliterate The identity of the Sudanese citizens at the border to convert them to Ethiopian citizens at a later stage or expel them and prepare for this by attempts to introduce Ethiopian laws to the region. The first axis is based   on sabotaging Sudan’s economy by encouraging smuggling of Sudanese goods into Ethiopia. As for the second axis  ,  it is a military one that relies on the idea of ​​expansion by force until the natural limit, which is the Atbara River, can be reached.

The results of the study:  The best solutions for Sudan in the issue of the Fasqa lands threatened by Ethiopia is the approval of the inherited agreements, treaties and protocols with their observations and shortcomings in order to avoid the problems raised by the lack of approval, and that Sudan’s vast borders represent a major obstacle for it, and that Sudan is keen to That it does not enter into border problems with its neighbors because it is adjacent to nine countries (before the secession of South Sudan as a state), and that the border factor is not included in Sudan’s relationship with its neighbors except in war and displacement. Sudan has generated a principled position by approving the agreements and adopting the method of negotiation and dialogue. One of the safest ways to resolve border disputes is to research the principles and points on which the opponent relies, and to find responses for them.

Second: the historical background

On 15 April 1891 Emperor Menelik II sent a circular to the European heads of state defining the actual boundaries of his empire as well as what he considered his sphere of influence. The circular stated that the northwestern border of Abyssinia extends from the town of Tomat, located at the confluence of the Setit and Atbara rivers, to Karakouj on the Blue Nile, and includes the Gedaref district. Menelik announced his intention to restore his old frontiers, which stretched west to Khartoum and south as far as Lake Victoria. It seems that Menelik’s circular did not reach Queen Victoria and the British government, which was striving to overthrow the Mahdist state and re-colonize the Sudan, did not know about it until the mission of Sir Rennell Road in 1897 to discuss with Menelik about some issues, but it was noted that when the British representative in Abyssinia John Harrington Menelik reported on November 1, 1898, that British-Egyptian forces had occupied the cities of Gedaref and Roseires. Menelik did not care about the occupation of Gedaref, but he was enraged by the occupation of Roseires because of its strategic location on the Blue Nile. After the fall of Sudan and Britain’s occupation of Sudan with the help of Egypt under the umbrella of the “Anglo-Egyptian Condominium”[7]  Negotiations to determine the border between Sudan and Abyssinia began on 15 April 1899 between Menelik and John Harrington, and the Emperor was supported by his seasoned Swiss advisor, engineer Alfred Ilq. The Egyptian government was previously informed that in order to obtain guarantees regarding the waters of Lake Tana and the Blue Nile, it would be necessary to make reasonable land concessions to Menelik in exchange for obtaining the required guarantees. At the same time, the instructions issued to Harrington were to not accept any claims from Menelik in the Nile Valley, specifically in the west and northwest, because it was under the control of the Khedive of Egypt, and to assure Menelik of Britain’s hegemony in Egypt and Sudan.

At the beginning of the negotiations, Menelik adhered to the limits stipulated in his circular to European heads of state. He argued that as long as Britain did not object to it, it meant that it had accepted it “because silence means consent.” Harrington replied that his country did not recognize the generalization or the limits it stipulated. He added that it is not enough for Menelik to mention that his limits are such and such, because al-Qaeda in Africa is the effective conquest. It seems that Harrington was referring to what had been agreed upon at the Berlin Conference on February 26, 1890. Menelik retracted the generalization but proceeded to argue what he considered his historical rights. Faced with the hardening of Harrington’s position, Menelik expressed his willingness to negotiate. Negotiations yielded the proposal made by Menelik on May 26, 1899. This proposal was well received by Harrington, but was held up by the completion of the agreement with the Italian government on the northern part of the frontier because it touched the sphere of influence assigned to Italy according to the Anglo-Italian Protocol of 15 April 1891. . The boundary line proposed by Menelik was drawn on a map (Eskelton map) of Abyssinia and the neighboring countries, so that the boundary line begins in the north and runs in the south direction to the confluence of the Setit and Maitib so that it includes in Sudan all the territory of the Hamran tribe. As for the Al-Kedawi area, the path of the border line has been left open until it is ascertained whether this area is located mainly to the east or west of the line shown on the map. In the Gallabat area, the border moved to the east of this area, leaving it all in Sudan. But Menelik was so eager to acquire the city of Matema of strategic and commercial importance, that he pleaded with Harrington, out of sentimental considerations, to keep his flag held in Matema. He asked Harrington to inform his government that, for the sake of friendship, he would like to keep the corpse for his personal association, as well as for his people, for the corpse, because there are Christians, and in which King John was killed.[8]  The blood of his people was spilled there. Therefore, the British government agreed to divide Al Matma into two parts: the part east of Khor Abu Nakhra in Abyssinia, and the western part remaining in Sudan. In the south of Matama, the line followed the eastern borders of the Dabbaniya and Dar Somati tribes, while in Abyssinia it left the lands of the Al-Qaba and Al-Qumz tribes and retained the Famka and Fazoghli regions for Sudan.

Benishangul was a source of concern and concern for Menelik. The British documents attributed this to its gold resources and its dominant strategic position on the Blue Nile. Harrington refused to recognize Abyssinia any rights to the Benishangul. But in the end, he showed his willingness to reach an arrangement that satisfies Menelik’s wishes. Finally, it was agreed that Bani Shanqul would be left for Abyssinia. In return, concessions to prospect for gold in Benishangul are granted to British companies.

It should be noted here that the boundary line from the point where the Southern Blue Nile State boundary intersects the Ethiopian boundary to Lake Rudolph has now become the boundary between Ethiopia and the Republic of South Sudan. The boundary line that resulted from Harrington’s negotiation with Emperor Menelik II was emptied into a draft agreement. This draft in its first article described in detail the boundary between Sudan and Ethiopia from Tadelak in the north, and south to 6°N latitude where the boundary between Ethiopia and the British protectorates in East Africa and Uganda begins.

The draft was not signed due to the intervention of Sekodikula, Italy’s representative in Addis Ababa in March 1901 to Menelik, that the planned boundary agreement between Sudan and Ethiopia, which begins at Tadelak, is inconsistent with an agreement he made with Menelik on July 10, 1900, defining the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which states Also, the borders between the two countries are Tomat – Tadlak – Marib – Mona. However, it later became clear that when the Italian envoy, Sicudicola, registered his objection to the proposed border line between Sudan and Ethiopia, he was not aware that his government had ceded to Sudan all of the territory west of the line from Tadlak to the Setit-Maytip intersection, according to notes exchanged on December 6/26. December 1899 in Rome between Lord Cree, British Ambassador to Italy, and Italian Foreign Minister Visconti-Venusta. After the 1901 draft failed to sign, some modifications were made to the line that had been stipulated in the draft. The position of the starting point of the frontier line was modified in accordance with the mutual concessions under the Secret Declaration of 22 November 1901 between Italy and Britain. The confluence of Khor Umm Hajar with the Setit River became the starting point after Emperor Menelik agreed to the concessions. Some modifications were also made to the border sector between Gallabat and Mount Karmak, after the survey mission assigned by the two parties, Major Quin. Menelik also withdrew his objection to the continued presence of Qaisan on the Sudanese side of the border.

In sum, the boundary recommended by Major Quin in the Qalabat-Kurmuk sector was accepted by Emperor Menelik and included in the map attached to the agreement of May 15, 1902 defining the boundary between Sudan and Ethiopia signed by Emperor Menelik and Harrington. The agreement clarified in Article 1 that the borders agreed upon between the two governments will be the line marked in red on the map attached to the agreement from Khor Umm Hajar to the Gallabat to the Blue Nile, and the Barrow, Pibor and Akobo rivers, to Melili, and then to the intersection of latitude 6 degrees north With longitude 35 degrees east of Greenwich. 

Article 2 stipulates that the borders specified in Article 1 will be indicated on the ground by a joint border committee to be appointed by the two parties and who will notify their nationals of these borders after they have been determined. The third paragraph of Article 5 of the English text of the agreement and the same paragraph of the English translation of the Amharic text stipulated that the agreement would come into force as soon as Emperor Menelik had been notified of the ratification of the agreement by Britain’s King Edward VII. Under the instructions of the British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne dated August 28, 1902, Harrington personally handed over the ratification of the Convention by the King of Britain to Emperor Menelik on October 28, 1902 and the Convention became effective from that date. On November 3, 1902, Harrington informed his Secretary of State, Lord Lansdowne, that King Edward VII’s ratification of the Convention had been duly handed over to Emperor Menelik on October 28, 1902, and that he had also received the Emperor’s seal on the copy of the map mentioned in Article 1 of the Convention. Under the instructions of the British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne dated August 28, 1902, Harrington personally handed over the ratification of the Convention by the King of Britain to Emperor Menelik on October 28, 1902 and the Convention became effective from that date. On November 3, 1902, Harrington informed his Secretary of State, Lord Lansdowne, that King Edward VII’s ratification of the Convention had been duly handed over to Emperor Menelik on October 28, 1902, and that he had also received the Emperor’s seal on the copy of the map mentioned in Article 1 of the Convention. Under the instructions of the British Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne dated August 28, 1902, Harrington personally handed over the ratification of the Convention by the King of Britain to Emperor Menelik on October 28, 1902 and the Convention became effective from that date. On November 3, 1902, Harrington informed his Secretary of State, Lord Lansdowne, that King Edward VII’s ratification of the Convention had been duly handed over to Emperor Menelik on October 28, 1902, and that he had also received the Emperor’s seal on the copy of the map mentioned in Article 1 of the Convention.

 Guen  border planning  1903It was previously mentioned that Article 2 of the May 15, 1902 Convention requires that a joint committee appointed by the two parties shall mark the borders. But in fact, it was Major Koen who did the planning alone on behalf of both Ethiopia and Sudan. A proposal to amend Article 2 was issued by Emperor Menelik. During an interview, Menelik told Harrington that he had no one “capable of understanding a map” to appoint him to the Joint Boundary Commission. But if Major Quen, whom he trusted, “marks the boundary and shows the boundary to the local chiefs,” he will agree to this course, and will instruct all the chiefs along the boundary to respect the line marked by Major Quin. 

The British Government was pleased with Menelik’s suggestion, and Cromer asked Harrington to convey to Menelik that His Majesty’s Government highly valued the confidence they had placed in a British officer. Menelik’s authorization and powers of Major Koen are contained in the letter Menelik sent to the local chiefs: “The bearer of this letter is Major Quinn of the British Government. We sent it to you to show you the border between Ethiopia and Sudan. So immediately send an important person to watch the boundaries that he shows to him after it is clear to you that you do not cross them and others will not. Later I will send someone who knows the map to check.” This letter was issued in Amharic in Addis Alam (a city in central Ethiopia) on November 7, 1902.

In fulfillment of Menelik’s letter, the local chiefs of the frontier districts sent representatives to meet with Major Quen to show them the boundary that had been drawn. Quinn praised the spirit of the actors in carrying out the orders they received from Menelik, which Quien described as being strict and explicit. He also praised their punctuality. Major Quinn in his report on the demarcation of the frontier enclosed a list of the representatives who accompanied him, and also indicated which chief they were to follow and the boundary-sectarians which he had made clear to them in case of any future question. On November 18, 1903, on the instructions of Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne, Clark handed the British Chargé d’Affairs in Addis Ababa to Emperor Menelik a copy of Major Koen’s Report on the Demarcation of the Frontier and its accompanying map [9] .

Third: Presentation of the general situation of the research topic

Ethiopia is bordered by four Sudanese states, namely Gedaref, Sennar, Kassala and Blue Nile, at a distance of 744 km. The border strip between Gedaref state and the Ethiopian regions of Tigray and Amhara extends for about 265 km.

These extended borders have been threatened by the ambitions of Ethiopia, which has sought and strives to extend beyond it since 1891, when Emperor Menelik II sent a circular to European heads of state defining the actual borders of his empire, which extends from the town of Tomat located at the confluence of the rivers Sett and Atbara to Karakouj on the Blue Nile and includes Gedaref Directorate, and announced his intention to restore its old borders, which extend west to Khartoum and south to Lake Victoria.

The issue of the borders between Sudan and Ethiopia goes back more than 120 years, when Britain completed its occupation of Sudan, and began demarcating its borders with its neighbors [10] . At that time, Ethiopia (the era of the Amharic Empire from Menelik II in 1882 until Haile Selassie in 1974) represented an original party in the European settlements that formulated the geopolitical map of the countries of the Horn of Africa, which made Ethiopia describe itself as the ally of the West and its Christian fortress in Africa, and supported by organizations The global church whose goal is to fight, besiege and eliminate Islam. The Western view of Sudan was that it can influence the societies around it, and this explains the interest in what is going on in Sudan so that its shadows do not extend to those around it, given that the number of Muslims in Ethiopia represents more than half of its population.

This Western view of Ethiopia, as the strategic anchor of the West in the entire Horn of Africa, was evident in the political budgets made by the British, who, it can be said, drafted the agreements in a way that showed great sympathy with Ethiopia. Despite that, Sudan accepted those agreements that evade Ethiopia’s commitment with flimsy pretexts that are falsified by the documents, due to its expansionist intentions, especially as it suffers from a number of internal problems, as its area is equivalent to half the area of ​​Sudan, and its population is twice the population of Sudan and it is a plateau opposite the flat plains and lands The fertile arable land in Sudan, in addition to facing drought waves, desertification and lack of agricultural production.

So, Western support for Ethiopia and the problems it suffers at home reinforced its ambitions in the lands of Sudan through the adoption of geopolitics, the science of studying the impact of the land in politics in return for the policy’s endeavor to change the geographical dimensions of the state by searching for the needs that it requires to grow even if it is beyond its borders, in order to meet its ambitions its needs and interests. Of course, Ethiopia adopts this expansionist policy, which is the reason for its problem with Sudan despite its recognition of the May 15, 1902 agreement between the British government and Emperor Menelik II, which defined the borders on paper and in general description in Article 1 of the agreement, which became effective since October 28, 1902, and since That distant history and to this day the 1902 Boundary Determining Agreement is still valid and in force. [11] , which did all the necessary technical procedures, and set a schedule for its work. But it was frozen due to Ethiopia’s procrastination until the rule of Meles Zenawi in 1991 to start talks about demarcation again. But it also, and under the pretext that it is a new revolutionary government and does not have specialists in the field of common borders, has been apologizing for 10 years, until it finally agreed in 2001, and the committee completed all the office and engineering procedures, and everything related to maps, border signs, types and locations, and then concluded By conducting a field survey of the existing border markings, which is called the “Border Confirmation Process,” the confirmation has already been made in accordance with the 1903 Protocol, as approved by the Joint Political Committee between the two countries in 2001. Unfortunately, the situation remained the same due to Ethiopia’s return to procrastination and procrastination [12] .

It is no secret to the insider that Britain has made major concessions on many Sudanese areas in the interest of Ethiopia, including the Benishangul region, which is adjacent to the state of the Blue Nile, and the Matama area adjacent to the point where the borders of Sennar and Gedaref states meet, as well as the Tayeh triangle, Al-Dud Island, and Hamriyah Al-Rahad, south of Galabat, which is witnessing a presence Frequently for Ethiopian farmers protected by armed militias every season. The two areas of Umm Bariqa in the state of Kassala, and the 15-kilo area in the state of Gedaref, which are adjacent to the Ethiopian Tigra region, were also not spared from Ethiopian ambitions.

Fourth: The case of the fasqa area

1 – Al-Fashqa area

It is the area adjacent to the common border between Sudan and Ethiopia, which is bordered to the north by the Setit River, to the south by the Atbara River, and to the east by Ethiopia .It is divided into two parts: the Great Fashqa, and it is bordered to the north by the Setit River, to the south by the Baslam Sea, to the southwest by the Atbara River, and to the east by the common border between Sudan and Ethiopia. Al-Fashqa Al-Sughra, is the area bordered to the north by Bahr Islam, southwest of the Atbara River, and to the east by the common border between Sudan and Ethiopia, and interspersed with many mountains and creeks. This isolated situation of the region because it is surrounded by rivers from all sides, except for the common border line with Ethiopia, forced it to be completely isolated from the bordering Sudanese lands during the flood season of these rivers, in addition to being characterized by the fertility of its land and its heavy rains in the autumn season. Its location represents a temptation for the Ethiopians to attack it whenever they want, as there is no obstacle or barrier that prevents them from benefiting from these fertile lands.

Ethiopia has legally recognized the boundary agreement of 1902, the boundary protocol of 1903, and the agreement of 1972 that the Al-Fashqa area is Sudanese territory. Accordingly, the borders were made clear on the nature to be a natural landmark between Sudan and Ethiopia in that region. From the border mark located on the right bank of Khor Al-Qash, south of Mount Qala, then to Mount Abu Qim, then the hills of Al-Barak, where a border mark was placed in the middle of a rock, then to Mount Korteb, then to a tree trunk among stones and rocks, then to Mount Thawar, and near the Heglig tree, a picture was placed From the boundary protocol of 1903 and a sign, as well as a sign for the boundary and a copy of the boundary protocol in 1903 was placed in a high rock on the right bank of the State River where Khor Al-Royan intersects with the State River [13] .

2 – The beginning of the problem

The length of the international borders (Gadarif State and Amhara Region) shared between the Sudanese and Ethiopian sides is about 265 km, and the size of the agricultural lands attacked by the Ethiopians is estimated at about one million acres in the Al-Fashqa area and its vicinity to the south in both Gallabat and Tayeh up to Mount Daqlash [14] .

Located between the rivers Setit and Baslam, belonging to the former North Gedaref rural council, to which the Al-Fashqa area belonged, ignoring the border agreements between the two countries. And between 1964 and 1967, the number of infiltrating Ethiopian farmers reached 27, in armed 33,000 feddans. In the years between 1972 and 1991, the number reached 52 farmers in an area of ​​84,500 feddans. In 2004, according to a joint official statistic between the two countries, the number of Ethiopian farmers in Sudanese lands reached 1956, exploiting an area of ​​754 thousand feddans.[15] The area of ​​agricultural projects established by Ethiopian farmers until 2020, amounted to more than one million acres in the area of ​​Al-Fashqa and its environs in the south, in addition to removing some of the features of the traditional borders that existed. In addition to the repeated Ethiopian attacks on the Al-Fashqa area, the killing of defenseless citizens and the looting of their crops, livestock and property with the aim of intimidating them and expelling them from the land, despite the repeated denials of the Ethiopian authorities, which claim that they always inform their citizens not to cultivate in those lands on the grounds that they are Sudanese lands. But the truth of the matter is different, and the evidence is the establishment of more than 20 camps and settlements within the lands of Al-Fashqa [16]., protected by Ethiopian militias backed by the Ethiopian army, which always hides behind these militias, in addition to providing the Ethiopian authorities with services and infrastructure, including paved roads, and with these clear ambitions, and since 1995, Ethiopian farmers under the protection of their armed militias have exploited about two million acres of land The highly fertile Fashqa, which was helped by the isolation of the Minor and Great Falcons from the rest of Sudan due to the seasonal rivers Atbara, Baslam and Setit, and the region’s openness to Ethiopia without natural insulators, they extended their control over it for more than 25 years, taking advantage of Sudan’s preoccupation with its internal problems, but after the fall of Omar Al-Bashir’s regime in April / April 2019 and the signing of the Juba peace with a number of Sudanese armed movements In October 2020, the Sudanese army turned to the eastern border and redeployed it in the Al-Fashqa area, which it liberated by 95 percent, leaving only two areas that it can restore militarily, but Sudan demands EthiopiaBy removing them from the path of diplomatic and political dialogue in appreciation of the eternal relations between the two countries and peoples[17] .

Fifth: Conclusions and Recommendations

1 – Conclusions

1 – It is very clear that the political balances pursued by the British made them sympathetic to Ethiopia at the expense of Sudan in the matter of the borders between the two countries, and despite that Ethiopia aspires to more.

2 – The length of Sudan’s border with Ethiopia is imaginary lines that pass through revealing areas that are not defined by clear natural landmarks, which facilitates infiltration through them, in addition to poor control and protection due to the absence of infrastructure such as roads that facilitate the process of linking these border areas to the interior, which As a result, Ethiopian ambitions persisted in the lands

Eastern Sudan in general and Gedaref State in particular.

3- The population explosion, lack of resources and poverty that Ethiopia has been suffering from made it, since the beginning of the frictions over the land of al-Fashqa, to place the issue of obtaining it as a priority in the policy of all the successive governments since 1957.

4 – The Sudanese authorities and their citizens are lenient in dealing with the issue of borders, and perhaps this is evident from the attempt by the native administration authorities in the concerned area to collect tithes from the Ethiopians in their first infiltration as farmers cultivating inside Sudanese lands in 1957, which made them feel that they are entitled to a right, so they returned massively in the year Next, as for the indulgence of the citizens residing in the region, is the issue of land rents to Ethiopians, most of which may not have been subject to the clear laws that govern the process of dealing with foreigners. All this helped in the process of expanding the Ethiopian farmers inside the lands of Al-Fashqa, and they are motivated by the hope of owning these lands in full one day.

5 – Sudan’s vast area, its large resources, its vast untapped wealth, its relatively small population compared to its capabilities, and its geographical location in a regional environment suffering from population explosion (Egypt and Ethiopia), lack of resources and poverty (Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Chad), in addition to the political instability that It is caused by the preoccupation of Sudanese politicians in all eras since independence in 1956 with political conflicts between them, away from the issues of the country and the concerns of its citizens, and on top of these issues is the protection of the vast borders.

2 – Recommendations

1 – that Ethiopia abide by the 1902 Convention to determine the borders, which in recent or recent history did not challenge its validity or enforceability, but affirmed its commitment to it in July-August 1955, in June 1957, and in July 1972 This is to confirm that it has no ambitions in the territory of Sudan.

2 – That Ethiopia commit itself to withdrawing from the Al-Fashqa area as long as it recognizes its Sudaneseness, and not to stand in the way of the Sudanese army that is pursuing the Shafta gangs (which itself admits that they are outlaws), and that it considers this a legitimate right to protect the national sovereignty of the Sudanese state, that it be It has the right to eliminate the militants who cross the border armed to the teeth, and through illegal means. Because these gangs disturbed the sleep of the Sudanese citizens on the border.

3 – As for Sudan, it must legally confront the Sudanese farmers who lease land to the Ethiopians and deny this, and hold them legal and moral responsibility because they represent an imminent threat to the country’s national security. The judiciary or with a certified lawyer and notary, which guarantees the rights of the two parties (the Sudanese and the Ethiopian) and reduces disputes, but rather makes it legal for the courts to judge, but this is after the Ethiopian presence has completely disappeared and the return of Al-Fashqa as a Sudanese region.

a summary

1 – Sudan should also work on linking the border areas with paved roads, especially in the Al-Fashqa area, which is isolated by rivers in the fall (and it seems that the Sudanese army has gone a long way in this), in addition to establishing defensive villages with Sudanese citizens and farmers defending themselves, in addition to their practice of agriculture continuously in a way that enables them to control these lands.

2 – The best remedy for Sudan remains the approval of the inherited agreements, treaties and protocols with their observations and shortcomings in order to avoid the problems raised by the lack of approval.


Ethiopia’s ambitions in the eastern Sudan lands are confirmed by the facts on the ground through the infiltration of its citizens (farmers) into the Al-Fashqa area and other border areas after the British exit from Sudan, which indicates its intention to link the 1902 agreement with the British colonialism that existed in Sudan at the time, It has started denying its obligations towards this agreement since then, but the evidence is that the corridors of the Organization of African Unity or the United Nations have not witnessed any complaint or Ethiopian objection to this agreement for any reason or any complaint accusing Sudan of seizing Ethiopian land. Also, before and after independence, Sudan continued to exercise its administrative powers over its eastern border areas, including the Al-Fashqa area, in addition to conducting elections for parliamentary and local councils without any objection from Ethiopia. All of this confirms the absence of any legal basis for Ethiopia that it can consider as an argument for it in any claim of its legitimate right to the land of Al-Fashqa or other lands of eastern Sudan.

Sudan’s policy based on resolving border disputes through negotiation and peaceful means has managed for many years to maintain the eastern borders without military confrontations, which compound the problems of Sudan, which suffers from political instability. However, this policy and for very appreciable reasons led each time to perpetuate the matter as it is. Of course, successive Ethiopian regimes benefited from this policy, which kept aiming behind it each time to gain a new area of ​​land and a new area of ​​time that would enable it to claim the historical right to the land.

In conclusion, Ethiopia’s relationship with Sudan is supposed to be more profound than its relations with any other country, and to the same extent with respect to Sudan, because it is a relationship between the people of the highlands and the plains, a long-standing, historical relationship that should not be spoiled by political ambitions through expansion at the expense of others. On this basis, the mutual importance of the two countries, Sudan and Ethiopia, must be of a cooperative and complementary nature and not a hostile ambition.


[2]  A telephone interview (Gadarif-Omdurman) in June 2020 with Osman Ahmed Hassan, the former Sudanese vice-consul in Qeba (Ethiopia) 1992 and the former commissioner of the Quraisha locality in 2010 and an expert on Ethiopian and African affairs.

[3]   Jassim Muhammad Sultan,  Geopolitics of Geography and the Next Arab Dream: When Geography Speaks  (Beirut: Dar Tamkeen for Research and Publishing, 2013), pp. 9-11.

[4]   Muhammad bin Makram Abu al-Fadl Jamal al-Din bin Manzur,  Lisan al-Arab  (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya, 2009).

[5]   Khalaf Ramadan Muhammad Bilal Al-Jubouri, “Sovereignty under the Occupation,”  Journal of Regional Studies  (Baghdad), Year 3, No. 3 (January 2007), pp. 7-8.

[6]   Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and Occupation.

[7]  Despite the name of the ruling (the English-Egyptian duo), it is clear that the dominance was for the English.

[8]  John, King of Abyssinia, was killed in the Battle of Gallabat in March 1889 by the Ansar during the rule of Mahdia in Sudan.

[9]   Faisal Abdel-Rahman Ali Taha, “The Sudanese-Ethiopian Borders in a Historical Context,”  Al-Siyasa (Khartoum), 6/5/2020 .

[10]   Report “Ethiopia and Sudan One Hundred Years of Border Conflict,” Editors: Abd al-Rahman Ayyash, Zuhair Hamdani and Muhammad al-Ali, Al Jazeera Media Network, 2021, <https://bit.ly/3NfWI8p>.

[11]   Faisal Abdel-Rahman Ali Taha, “Al-Fashqa: Facts and Questions,” Nados News (Khartoum), January 2, 2021, <https://nadosnews.com/8287>.

[12]  Moaz Mohamed Ahmed Tango, “The Head of the Sudanese Border Commission Reveals the Secrets of 50 Years of Negotiating with Ethiopia,” an interview with the British Independent  Arabic newspaper; Monitoring of Jamal Abdel Qader Al-Badawi, December 31, 2020.

[13]   Ikram Muhammad Salih Hamid Daqash, “The Ethiopian Occupation of the Sudanese Fashqa Lands (1957-2007)” (Scientific Paper, Khartoum, July 2007).

[14]   The Sudanese-Ethiopian border in nature according to the natural features agreed upon in the 1902 Border Agreement and the 1903 Border Protocol (Major Quin’s report dated June 27, 1903) or the 1972 Border Agreement. :

The first section  : Kassala District – Al-Qarqaf District and north of the Sett River – which is from Jabal Abu Qim heading south with the Sudanese-Ethiopian border to Jabal Al-Barak to the hills of Qarda and Marawid to the heights of Umm Bariqa to the intersection of Khor Al-Qarqaf with the longitude 29-36 to Jabal Korteb to Jabal Nawar to the intersection of the State River with Khor Al Rayyan.

The second section  : Al-Fashqa area south of the Setit River, Atbara and Baslam, a line of distinction in the Setit Hamra region, from the intersection of the Setit River with Khor Al-Rayyan in the south in a straight line to Al-Zarraf Castle east of Al-Lakdi, then to Hammad Castle and then to Al-Fashqa Al-Soghra Castle – from Al-Nahil Castle to Idris Castle Then to the castle of frankincense, then to Mount Humbert, then to Khor Al Doum, to Khor Shain, to Mount Nahed, to Mount Abu Taqiyah, then to the flankers, to Mount Jbara, to Mount Wad al-Malik, to Mount Daqlash.

The border area on the Blue Nile: from Jebel Daklash in the south to Jebel Halawa to Jebel Umm Duqa to Jebel El Matan to Jebel Jerok.

[15]   Salah al-Khabeer, Director of the Border Department in Gedaref State, a scientific paper on the Sudanese-Ethiopian border.

[16]  These camps and settlements include: Al-Alaw camp, about 24 km inside Sudanese territory, and Tumat Al-Lakdi camp, about 5 km, inside the territory of Sudan on the tarred road linking Al-Lakdi with the Ethiopian city of Hamra, and at the site of Tabat Serbi at a depth of 3 km, the Halka Asara camp at a depth of 22 km, and Tesfaye Kehasai at a depth of 9 km, the Ethiopian Federal Police camp at a depth of 5 km, the customs camp with an Ethiopian customs force at a depth of 5.5 km, the Jabal Tayara camp south of the Anfal region at a depth of 5 km, the camp east of Gemmayze village at a depth of one km east of the Atbara River, and the Sharq camp Noreen Pond, 16 km deep, 1 km east of the Atbara River, the Salmon project camp half a kilometer east of Wad Koli within the territory of Sudan, a camp in Wad Koli, 7.5 km deep, and two camps of incense-hamer 1 km deep, one to 2 km, and Tilda camp 7 km deep And the end of the backfill camp, which leads to the family site, at a depth of 10 km, and the camp of Jabal Abu Birds, at a depth of 11 km.

The Ethiopians built a settlement called “Brecht” at a depth of 5 km inside Sudanese lands, “Marshabit” settlement at a depth of 8 km, “Safari” settlement at a depth of 1.5 km, and “Shaybit” settlement, which includes militias at a depth of 14 km. As for the settlements, they are: Brecht settlement at a depth of 5 km inside Sudanese territory, Marshaibet settlement at a depth of 8 km, Safari settlement at a depth of 1.5 km, and Shaybit settlement.

[17]   Ahmed Fadl, “Ethiopian settlements inside Sudan” report, quoted by: Member of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council and former spokesman for the Council, Muhammad Al-Faki Suleiman, in his official account on Facebook – Al Jazeera Media Network – January 16, 2021.

(*) This study was published in the Arab Future magazine, issue 521, in July 2022.

[1]  Ahmed Suleiman Abkar: a researcher in political science from Sudan.

Email: ahmedsoulim22@gmail.com

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

أنا حاصل على شاهدة الليسانس في العلوم السياسية والعلاقات الدولية بالإضافة إلى شاهدة الماستر في دراسات الأمنية الدولية، إلى جانب شغفي بتطوير الويب. اكتسبت خلال دراستي فهمًا قويًا للمفاهيم السياسية الأساسية والنظريات في العلاقات الدولية والدراسات الأمنية والاستراتيجية، فضلاً عن الأدوات وطرق البحث المستخدمة في هذه المجالات.

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