El-Fashaga - 14°N 36°E
Sudan has border disputes with Egypt over the Halayeb triangle and Ethiopi over the fertile agricultural region of Fashaqa [450,000 hits] / Al Fushqa [30,000 hits] / El-Fashaga [20,000 hits] / Al-Fashaq [5,300 hits]. Boundaries are not only geographical limits, but also the ending point of the state sovereignty and power of the territorial jurisdiction. The boundary matters to any state and is a crucial factor because it determines sovereignty and provides strategic significance.
The Al-Fashaqa area is surrounded by rivers in relation to Sudanese lands from all sides except for the common border line with Ethiopia, which necessitates complete isolation from the adjacent Sudanese lands. Thi comes particulary during the flood season of these wadis [gullies], which is characterized by heavy rain in the fall that turn the gullies into flowing rivers. While its location is distinguished by the temptation of the Ethiopians to enter it whenever they want, as there is no obstacle in front of them or a buffer that prevents them from benefiting from these fertile lands, as they are lands adjacent to the Ethiopian lands. The area of ??Al-Fashqa is also distinguished by its agricultural fertility, by its dense production of sesame, corn, and short-staple cotton along with gum Arabic, vegetables and fruits on the banks of the three rivers Atbara, Stit, and Islam.
In December 2020, the Sudanese military spread east of Berkat Norain -- originally Sudanese land. Because the Ethiopian military was busy with the Tigray conflict, it’s a chance for the Sudanese military to take over this area. Sudan’s transitional government deployed troops on the border strip with Ethiopia, in order to secure agricultural areas in al-Fashaqa. The land, that had been controlled by Ethiopian militias for over 25 years, was a longstanding source of friction between Khartoum and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia recognized Sudanese sovereignty over the Al-Fashaqa agricultural area but has not taken practical steps to demarcate the border, allowing Ethiopian farmers to cultivate the area and providing them with protection. Al-Fashaqa is a region bordering the common border between Sudan and Ethiopia, which borders the north by the State River and the east by the Atbara River. The name is a local word derived from the natural situation of the region. Fashaqah refers to lands that lie between natural (water) buffers, such as rivers, creeks, and sewers. It has an area of 251 km2, or about 600 square kilometers by other accounts. The region stretches over highly fertile agricultural land. Its land is flat clay, suitable for agriculture in its entirety.
Its inhabitants are dominated by the origin of the Hamran, Fallata, and Hawas. Amhara nationalists want Al-Fashaga in Sudan, and to reclaim the districts of Wolkait and Raya, which they say were annexed to Tigray after the Tigrayan-led EPRDF came to power. Amhara nationalists also want part of Oromia, and the federal capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia and Sudan share a common boundary of over 1600 km which was drawn through a series of treaties between Ethiopia and the colonial powers of Britain and Italy. To date, this boundary has not been clearly demarcated. The stretch of Ethio-Sudanese frontier territories extending from the River Setit in the north to Mount Nefes Gebeya (the Sudanese called Jebel Halawi), Quara in the south, rarely inhabited until 1950s, became very complex geographical zones, where dynamic conflicting interests and multifaceted developments complicate the territorial claims and boundary issues.
A series of boundary negotiation between Emperor Menelik II and the British authorities, held from 1898-1902 ended up with causing vague and conflicting views on the Ethiopian and the Sudanese sides. The negotiations between the two countries to reach a final solution to the border dispute over the region did not stop over the decades.
The biggest escalation in the region came when the Ethiopian army took advantage of the "attempt to assassinate the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, with which the Sudanese government was accused", and took control of the region again in 1993. Official Ethiopia recognizes the subordination of the agricultural region to Sudan, but it did not take practical steps to demarcate the borders, allowing Ethiopian farmers to cultivate the area and providing them with protection, most of whom are from the Amhara ethnic group, which is bordering Sudan, and the matter is complicated by the current conflicts between the Ethiopian nationalitie.
In 1995, an agreement between the two countries stipulated that the border area would be free of regular armies, so that military control was distributed over the Sudanese Popular Defense Brigades and the "Shifta" militia on the opposite side, meaning that there was no Ethiopian army in the border area. Despite this, the region witnessed security chaos several times due to the incursion of these groups into Sudanese lands, the control of crops and the entry into confrontations with the Sudanese Popular Defense Forces, which resulted in human deaths.
Ethiopian armed groups called “Shefta” are very active during harvest time every year, stealing crops from farms in Fashaqa and other localities claimed by Sudan. The years-long border conflict between Ethiopia and Sudan was expected to end with the return of the disputed Al-Fashaqa region to Sudanese sovereignty.
The two countries took practical steps to start the processes of demarcating borders. These steps included setting up border markers and withdrawing forces to behind the separation line. The Ethiopian Chief of the General Staff General Adem Mohammed has discussed with Sudanese officials an action plan which sees the forces of each of Sudan and Ethiopia retreat to demarcated borders.
In 2007, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, the current ruling government, entered into a secret agreement with the Sudan to make adjustments on the border. An agreement was reached in 2019 that stipulated joint projects to develop the area, build bridges and roads, and provide security for farmers from the two countries without these decisions being implemented. It also included the establishment of model villages within the region and encouraging citizens to stay in them, providing security for farmers to return to their projects and compensating them for their losses, and legalizing the presence of Ethiopian farmers who rented some lands within Al Fashaqa.
A "modern" village was built by the government of Sudan for the local farmers to encourage them to stay since the land is fertile and being a disputed land with a few attacks from Ethiopian militias people needed a good reason to feel safe and stay, building these villages provide some sort of security better than having them scattered around a huge area with no facilities.
Sudan’s transitional government deployed troops on the border strip with Ethiopia, in order to secure agricultural areas in al-Fashaqa. however, the move came amid increasing instances of attacks by the Ethiopia armed gangs on Sudanese farmers. The Governor of Gedaref State, Major General Nasr El-Din Abdel-Qayyum Ahmed, said that the deployment of the forces was an extension to the decsion that the state had earlier taken to close border crossings in the Qalabat and al-Lakdi areas to prevent infiltration into the country. It was reported that a brigade of the Sudanese army managed, on the evening of 28 March 2020, to cross the Atbara River, proceeding in the area of ?? Al-Fashaqa, and deployed its forces in a continuous operation along the region from the river to the Khor Hurra on the international borders with Ethiopia. By April 2020 Ethiopia was to handover the sovereignty of the disputed Al-Fashaqa region to Sudan.
On August 24, 2020 Head of the Sovereign Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, has stressed that the armed forces will raise the flag of Sudan in Halayeb, Shalateen, and Al-Fashaqa big and small, as well as Jawdat Alfakhar, and will not waste one inch of the homeland. Addressing, at the Army General Command, army’s high rank officers, Alburhan renewed the army commitment to the principles of the revolution and its ability to protect the home land territories, affirming keenness to maintain the unity of the country.
People displaced by violence in the Ethiopian region of Tigray were settling in a refugee camp in the Sudanese border town of Al-Fashqa November 14, 2020. Families were seeking shelter after fighting broke out between the Ethiopian federal government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) controlling the state.
On 30 November 2020 Sudan arrested a senior militia leader of Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) in Al-Fashaqa border area. The military intelligence of the 2nd Infantry Division in Gedaref had spotted the militia commander, accompanied by dozens of soldiers and his personal protection team, along with his family in the Allaw border area in Al-Fashaqa locality. The militia leader owned about five thousand acres of agricultural land in the Al-Allaw area for decades. He used to cultivate it and sell its products to the western Tigray region,” the military sources said. Sudanese forces found in his possession about 5 billion pounds, large quantities of gold, furniture and two luxury cars.
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