Which circumstances and empirical evidences prove that the conflict in Western part of Ethiopia, particularly in Metekel region is sponsored by Sudan and Egypt? And what are their interests on the region?
Metekel Zone, located in Benishangul Gumuz Region of Ethiopia, is home for many ethnic groups, such as the Gumuz, the Amharas and the Shinashas more dominantly. The region shares a border on the west with Sudan and on the north and east with the Amhara Region. The region with an area of 26,272 square kilometers is also site for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has only 30 kilometers far from the border of Sudan. The region has an extended porous border shared with Sudan, which made the area volatile, but strategically important area for external forces to plant their anti peace seeds using Gumuz rebel groups and other opposition groups.
The area`s ethnic based conflict escalated by Gumuz rebel groups and resulted for the death and displacement of dozens of civilians. The conflict in the region is a complex both in its type and form. In this regard, partly because of the geographical proximity of the area and partly because of the interest of external forces typically of Sudan and Egypt, the conflict in the region became more drastic.
In line with this, several pundits and analysts described the Egyptian and Sudan’s dedicated attempts to destabilize Ethiopia from several perspectives. Dominantly, their description assured the way in which Egypt work day and night and uses any available opportunities to disrupt the peace and security in the western border of Ethiopia, particularly Metekel region. By doing so, Egypt and Sudan sowed to make the federal government busy on internal affairs, neglect development issues and specifically disrupt the construction of the GERD.
Since the date when the construction of GERD has commenced, Egyptian politicians caught on media outlets while propagating threats against Ethiopia. They prompted and pledged to sponsor any rebel groups and security threats against the sovereignty of the country. Practically, they waged proxy war against Ethiopia using their surrogates with a targeting GERD and the contiguous. In addition to their objective to weaken Ethiopia by hosting and providing financial and technical support for rebel groups and surrogates, they actively work to get international lobby against Ethiopia. Using all these mechanisms their absolute objective is centered to disrupt the construction of GERD, which is located in Benishangul Gumuz.
The Benishangul Gumuz Peoples Liberation Movement (BPLM) was Sudan based rebel group built its operational zones in Benishangul Gumuz Region around remote areas of Assosa zone. It was fighting the government of Ethiopia for more than 17 years and committed hundreds of deaths and huge number of displacements in the region until peace deal concluded with the Government in August 2012. On the peace deal with government of Ethiopia, the leaders and members of the rebel group made clear that both Sudan and Egypt provided considerable financial support, while also gave them military training. Furthermore, they have explained that both countries accompanied them across the military operation undertaken in the region with the aim to destabilize the region and disrupt the construction of the GERD.
Similarly, when we look at the current issue of Metekel, more than 3,000 fully equipped Gumuz rebel groups laid their arms and surrender to the government on February 2021. And these rebel groups have witnessed the military training and weapons from both Sudan and Egyptians. They have also notified that the Egyptians and Sudanese assigned them with a mission to destabilize the region by killing civilians, burning houses, distracting public infrastructures and destroying transportation systems including the one that leads to the GERD construction site.
A special committee set up by the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) of Ethiopia on his Friday`s briefing to the committee said Sudan and Egypt were behind the ethnic based attacks in the Metekel zone of a restive Benishangul Gumuz Regional State. Chairperson of the committee Abdulahi Hamu on his recent briefing stated that, Sudan and Egypt have been funding, providing trainings and arming young people in a bid to achieve their agenda of disrupting the construction of the GERD.
Resulting from the crisis that has occurred in the region, there are a number of refugees crossing to the border of Sudan, which may give them another opportunity to be trained by the rebels and intensifying their destabilization efforts against Ethiopia and the volatile region.
Ethiopians have strong unity to safeguard their territorial sovereignty. By disregarding the usual and historic unity of Ethiopians, Sudanese authorities pointed their finger typically to Amhara people for exclusively posing challenges to regain the claimed territory. Although Al-Fashqa region is bordered only by Amhara region, all Ethiopians have equal concern on the land like that of Amhara, and are equally dedicated to defend the border of their motherland from any external invasion.
The justification drawn from the preceding entails the pervasive and multidimensional attempts of Sudan and Egypt to pose challenges against the sovereignty of Ethiopia. Indeed, it exhibits vividly their conventional policy of destabilizing and weakening the country. With this devilish political maneuver both countries strives to obstruct the construction of GERD.
EDs Note. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.
Contributed by Melkamu Bekele