Brigadier General Amer Mohamed Al Hassan has announced, in a televised press statement, that Ethiopian militias, backed by the Ethiopian army, attacked territories in Gadaref state, in Eastern Sudan, between May 26 and 28. He also claimed that at least two people had died and nine others had been wounded in the clashes, including soldiers and civilians.
It is very unfortunate, but the incursion of these militias, supported by the Ethiopian army, and their murderous assault on Sudanese armed forces and citizens, including children, is very similar to the border incident which flared up between the Tigrian militia and some armed members of the EPLF army on May 6, 1998 – an incident which resulted in several EPLF army commanders and soldiers being killed or wounded.
As with the armed skirmish between the TPLF militia and the EPLF army units – which took place while committees formed by both sides were meeting in Addis Ababa in an attempt to resolve the border issues between Eritrea and Ethiopia – last week’s attack by Ethiopian forces also came at a time when peace preparations were underway, with plans to hold the second meeting in Khartoum of the high-level joint committee on the border issues.
It is to be remembered here that, because the incident in the Badme region was not properly or wisely handled by trained and skilled negotiators, it, unfortunately, led to an all-out war between Eritrea and Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000.
As a result of this nasty and wasteful war, which raged for two years between Eritrea and Ethiopia, more than 100,000 army personnel were killed and the problem remains unresolved, even after more than 20 years of no war and no peace.
I, therefore, believe that the Sudanese government is better placed to learn from the tragic experience of the 1998-2000 Eritrean/Ethiopian war, to avoid repeating it and to choose instead, no matter how long it might take, the diplomatic path to resolving its border problem with Ethiopia. For the conflagration of an all-out war between Sudan and Ethiopia would have unforeseen dire consequences for the entire region.