Ethiopian Defense Chief of Staff General Berhanu Jula speaks with a pacifist tone. He did not even call Sudanese action “invasion”
January 15, 2021
It has been several weeks since Sudanese forces made incursions to the Ethiopian territories taking advantage of Ethiopia’s law enforcement operation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
This week, there was what appeared to be an appetite to escalate the tension further as Sudan accused Ethiopia of violating Sudanese Airspace after Sudan’s military helicopter crashed earlier this week along the border area between the two countries. Sudanese authorities even announced that they have closed the airspace in the eastern part of the country which is a major air way for Ethiopian Airlines passengers’ flights.
Ethiopian Defense Chief of Staff Berhanu Jula on Friday responded to a Sudanese accusation regarding “violation of airspace.”
In an interview with VOA Amharic service, he dismissed the allegation as wrong. Underscoring that Ethiopia does not have interest in entering into war with Sudan, he said “if we have to enter into war, it will not be clandestinely”.
Another Sudanese accusation of Ethiopia was regarding the death of eight civilians in the border area which Sudanese authorities attributed to Ethiopian militia along the border.
For General Berhanu Jula a situation like that has been going on for over thirty years and there have been casualties on both sides. And he tended to see it as a problem related to borders that is not demarcated. “There has always been sporadic clashes along the border,” he said.
His characterization Sudanese incursion itself is different. He believes that it is not Sudan that invaded Ethiopia. He rather made distinctions within the Sudanese government. “We believe that some elements within the Sudanese government who are working for the agenda of a third party (he called them mercenaries) are behind the incursions to an area that was under the Ethiopian forces.” Although he was avowing to name a name as to who the third party is, it is presumably that he was implying Egypt.
“We do not believe that the entire Sudanese government consulted the people of Sudan, planned and made military moves. There is a group within the Sudanese government with an authority that is working for a third party and this group is behind the incursion,” said the Defense chief.
And the latest Sudanese forces military moves along the Ethiopia border has nothing to do with a border issue in his view. “If it was about land, they have a lot of land they lost in the north,” he added.
General Berhanu declined to call the Sudanese forces moves as invasion which does not seem to be in line with what most Ethiopians — especially those who live in the border area whose property and crop was destroyed by Sudanese forces and for the thousands of people who were displaced from the region. For him, there are two reasons why he is not calling it invasion. “The border is not demarcated, and Sudanese Forces would have attempted to control the rest of the country.”
Ethiopian Ambassador to Sudan, Yibeltal Aemro, said this week that Sudanese military incursions along the Ethiopian border violated the agreement between the two countries.
There were reports this week that some Sudanese authorities are even claiming the part of Ethiopia where the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is located.
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