No one disagrees that the war taking place in Sudan now began from its first day as a regional war that could not expand in scope, with countries, organizations and bodies in the region being involved in its raging flames, and all of these parties are working to achieve their ambitions and goals, and take their declared and hidden positions, and have emerged. Alliances between them. The fierce fighting in the land of the Nile has revealed the extent of the regional and international scramble and struggle over Sudan, its resources, and its location. This war was used to bring about geopolitical transformations in the most important region in sub-Saharan Africa and the Horn of Africa, and to control resources.
The Sudanese theater has been preparing for this war and its predators according to wild strategic visions, since the departure of the Bashir regime on April 11, 2019, when the appetite was at its highest, the international parties forged their alliances, the lines intertwined at home, deals were concluded with some neighboring countries, and directions were determined. Over the past four years, when the war broke out, the ranks quickly closed and lined up neatly, as the required positions were taken, hidden and hidden regional and international alliances and understandings were revealed, and all the playing cards were placed on the table.
It is possible to read the positions of Sudan's neighboring countries according to one criterion, which is the type, size, and intensity of the greed to gain interests and ambitions between the internal and external components.
it goes without saying; Geographic factors – including Sudan's location on the continent, the greed for natural resources, the requirements of the regional and international security systems, and the political balances in the region – played a role in fanning, fueling, and prolonging the fire of war, until it achieved its goals in a country that was the largest of the African and Arab countries, and it did not It remains among the largest countries in area even after the secession of South Sudan.
The positions and trends of Sudan's neighboring countries are summarized as follows:
President Isaias Afwerki's suspicion of the Rapid Support Forces has remained since 2015, after its participation in the Yemen war and its role in the Darfur battles against the rebel movements at the time. When the Rapid Support Commander, Major General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, visited the city of Kassala with the new governor of the state, Adam Jamaa, in June 2016, questions were raised in Eritrea about the significance of the Rapid Support Commander’s participation in the state’s celebrations. Is there a desire on the part of Khartoum to expand these forces eastward and work to recruit members of the eastern tribes into their ranks? More than one Eritrean official expressed concerns during repeated visits to Khartoum, especially after the deterioration of relations between the two countries and the closure of the border by a decision of Sudan in 2016.
But Eritrean fears quickly dissipated somewhat after relations returned to normal, and when the Rapid Support Forces became involved in combating illegal migration of people fleeing from the countries of the Horn of Africa across the borders of Eritrea and Ethiopia to Libya, and then across the Mediterranean Sea to the European Union countries. Khartoum made an effort to reassure the Eritrean side. Following the change on April 11, 2019, the departure of Al-Bashir, and the arrival of the Rapid Support Commander to the position of second-in-command in the country, conditions were created for Hemedti’s direct relationship with the Eritrean president.
Meetings took place between them in the two capitals, and the region was supportive of the change in Sudan alongside the Gulf states, some of which worked to encourage a kind of understanding between Eritrea and rapid support. At the same time, Asmara had good relations with the army leadership in Sudan, and there are security and political files that govern the course of this understanding.
Some regional countries, based on their relations with Eritrea, tried to integrate the Rapid Support issue as an active file between them, in addition to the file of the war in the Ethiopian Tigray region and the Eritrean role in it. Attempts were made to invest by the Rapid Support in Eritrea, as Eritrea cooperated with some countries in establishing a center for the assembly and transit of some of the Rapid Support forces that participated in the Yemen war through the ports of Eritrea.
One month before the outbreak of war, Hemedti visited Eritrea on March 13, 2023, in light of escalating tension, signs of war, and mobilization operations. During his meeting with Isaias Afwerki, he launched a harsh attack on Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Sudanese army, and hinted at the intention to carry out decisive military action if the army led by al-Burhan did not sign the framework agreement in its final form. Afwerki responded by not entering into this losing adventure, and stressed that things are not easy in the Sudanese army.
Despite Hemedti's mockery of the army and his criticism of it, Afwerki ended the meeting by advising him not to risk this destructive step, as this was in Hemedti's interest first, and then in the interest of Sudan.
When the war broke out, Eritrea declared a clear position calling for the war to stop and prevent the conflict from escalating.
Asmara announced its call to stop the war, prevent the escalation of the conflict, and not internationalize the conflict, and stressed the need for countries neighboring Sudan to contribute positively to finding solutions that guarantee the safety of Sudanese territory. Eritrea also highlights eastern Sudan, cultural and tribal relations, and historical ties between the two countries, and takes into account the repercussions of the Sudanese conflict on the Horn of Africa region.
Recently, Eritrea's relationship with the Sovereignty Council, the government and the Sudanese army has strengthened, as coordination took place on many issues and files. The coming period could witness important developments in the Horn of Africa region. Due to the Somali-Ethiopian conflict and the visit of the Somali President to Eritrea a few days ago. Therefore, Eritrea will find itself in the middle of complex conflicts, and may be forced to announce positions that may affect the situation in Sudan.
From April 2019 until the outbreak of war in April 2023, Ethiopia entered into a close investment and financial relationship with RSF. This relationship began with commercial investments and large financial deposits, and this cooperation has manifested itself in many aspects, from political support to multi-directional cooperation. In 2020, 12 RSF soldiers were absorbed for flight training in Ethiopia, and several RSF companies were registered in Addis Ababa in the same year.
This relationship also included investment in real estate projects, as Rapid Support purchased Ethio-Tabib Hospital and began expanding its business into real estate investment projects. In addition, Rapid Support purchased a chain of Kuriftu resorts in various regions of Ethiopia, and the deal also included a luxury resort known as “Allala resort” in the city of Awassa in southern Ethiopia.
Ethiopian sources indicate that the funds invested in these projects in the years 2020 and 2021 amounted to $100 million in the first phase. There are also future studies for real estate and hotel projects, in addition to purchases of shares in some other institutions.
Therefore, when armed confrontations broke out in the Sudanese region of Al-Fashaga on the border with Ethiopia, and components of the military sector such as the army and armed movements participated in defending Al-Fashaga, the Rapid Support Forces refused to participate in defending Sudanese territory. This appears to be due to Ethiopia's involvement in a joint project in the region, which may prevent the Rapid Support from sending forces to protect the region.
Despite this, Western diplomatic reports stated that Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, did not like the idea presented to him by Mohamed Hemedti during his visit to Ethiopia in mid-2021. The idea was related to the Rapid Support Forces intervening on behalf of the Ethiopian government and participating in chasing and fighting militias.” Fano and Amhara military groups. Abiy Ahmed considered this idea undesirable and unacceptable, as he considered that the Ethiopian army is capable of dealing with this issue on its own, and that it is considered a matter of national sovereignty that concerns Ethiopia.
As for the Ethiopian position on the Sudanese Armed Forces, since the Bashir era, there have been Ethiopian accusations of Sudanese army intelligence of supporting the Tigray Front. But recently, these accusations have declined as Ethiopian concern continues.
There are several currents within the Ethiopian government calling for a good relationship with Sudan and non-escalation. However, the current majority seems to side with Israeli approaches towards Sudan.
It is clear that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed affirms the right of Sudanese to be present in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and to engage in civil political activities. However, he points out that if this presence turns into armed hostilities, these activities will be halted and expelled immediately. This reflects Ethiopia's willingness to allow a Sudanese political presence in the capital, without tolerating any actions that threaten security and stability.
On the other hand, the unlimited support for the rebellion and its associates, the political pressure by Ethiopia and other countries on the African Union Commission and the strengthening of its hard-line positions towards Sudan – indicate the possible involvement of Ethiopia in supporting elements opposed to the Sudanese government. This involvement may include providing material, logistical, or political support.
It is worth noting that Moussa Faki, Chairman of the African Union Commission and his Director of Office, Mohamed Ould Labbat, could have a role in trying to settle the conflict or intervening in matters related to Sudan. This may be a possible alliance with Ethiopia at the moment.
During the visit of the rebel leader to Addis Ababa on December 28, the size of the large official reception that took place for him at Addis Ababa airport, and in his meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister in the Ethiopian Commercial Bank building, was evident, during which Hemedti deposited sums of money in the Ethiopian Commercial Bank. Ethiopian commercial bank ECB.
It is worth noting that the signing of an agreement between Hemedti and former Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and his group from the Civil Democratic Forces Coordination could have a significant impact on the political scene in Sudan. The details of this agreement and the obligations of the contracting parties will be important for the future of politics in the country.
The bottom line is that the officially expressed Ethiopian position is that it supports the “IGAD” initiative and finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Sudan and Ethiopia’s keenness on a political solution. However, Sudan and other parties in Sudan’s neighborhood and regional and international powers see that the Ethiopian position is consistent with supporting the rebellion, and opens the door wide. In order to strengthen the rebels.
In addition, observers in the Horn of Africa have no doubt that Ethiopia will receive one of the rebel leaders in the Blue Nile region (Joseph Tekka – a defected military commander against Malik Aqar, head of the SPLM and vice-president of the Sovereign Council), and arrange a joint visit for him with Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu, leader of the SPLM. “North” to Abu Dhabi and accepting the proposal to establish a dirt airport near the Sudanese-Ethiopian border in the Yabus areas, and then withdrawing from it temporarily, is an escalatory step with uncalculated consequences, and its consequences may be dire for the border region, especially since the members of Joseph Taka who are present there, are not… It is welcomed in the Benishangul region and the Ethiopian Front opposing the rule in Addis Ababa. Any battles there or security tensions threaten the site of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and the Ethiopian government cannot risk that.