Spillover Effect

Ethiopia: Can Sudan use Tigray refugees as a bargaining chip?

in depth

This article is part of the dossier:

Ethiopia’s Tigray: New frontier for regional interests

By Anne-Marie Bissada

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Posted on November 22, 2021 15:07

Ethiopian refugees wait in lines for a meal at the Um Rakuba refugee camp, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border
Ethiopian refugees wait in lines for a meal at the Um Rakuba refugee camp which houses Ethiopian refugees fleeing the fighting in the Tigray region, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, Sudan, November 28, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A year after the Tigray war erupted in northern Ethiopia, there’s growing fear that not only will the union of rebel forces enter the capital Addis Ababa, but the spillover effect risks weakening an already fragile region. But could the chaos within Ethiopia’s borders play into the advantage of Sudan, especially since its coup d’état has once again further destablised the country?

This is part 4 of a 5-part series

Prior to Khartoum’s military takeover by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country was still on shaky territory as the transitional government – headed by Abdalla Hamdok – tried to consolidate a mixed government between civilian and military. At the time of writing this, Burhan had announced that Hamdok will be allowed to return to his former position as prime minister.

Opportunity knocks

After 25 years under the government of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and 21 years under Sudan’s main party, the National Congress Party – headed by Omar al-Bashir – the two neighbours entered a new phase, almost simultaneously.

In 2018, Abiy Ahmed shone as Ethiopia’s new and modern head of state, ushering in a fresh future for the country. The Sudanese revolution in 2019 completed what was never thought possible: an end to Bashir’s grip on

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