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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
Posted on Monday, 22 November 2021 16:07, updated on Thursday, 25 November 2021 18:12

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

Also in this in Depth:

Former enemies, Ethiopia and Eritrea are fighting on the same side in Tigray war

The first reason that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 was that he had initiated successful peace talks with the East African country’s existential rival, Eritrea. The benefits of the peace process had been immediately obvious to the region and the international community.

What Somalia stands to gain from Ethiopia’s ongoing Tigray war

After assuming office in early 2018, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed embarked on radical reforms that have since led to political realignment in his country, spilling over into the horn region. The charismatic and energetic Abiy was only 42 when he took over in 2018 and immediately reached out to long-time rivals Somalia and Eritrea, thereby forging a tripartite alliance that seems to be shaping into a new regional order. But has the Tigray war helped or held-back Somalia’s ambitions with Ethiopia? We find out in this second part of our series.

Ethiopia – Tigray: What does Egypt stand to gain or lose from the one-year war?

As Ethiopian officials continue to claim that foreign forces have fought alongside Tigray fighters in recent battles in the Amhara region, questions arise about how Egypt could benefit from the ongoing conflict that has claimed thousands of lives. There is also the question of if the Egyptian state has been supporting dissenting forces.

Ethiopia – Turkey: Ankara’s ongoing economic and military support

For the last two decades, the relationship between Turkey and Ethiopia has been based on economic interest. With Ethiopia’s goal of attracting foreign investment far from its former reality of an economy based on foreign aid, Ankara’s investments to Ethiopia have increased to $2.5bn.