Press Writer on African Affairs
Machias Seal Island is a disputed area between the USA and Canada but no one thinks that it might be an issue compared with the idealistic level of economic integration between the two countries. Why don’t we learn from that?
In East Africa events, usually, I start with this funny puzzle; We are beautiful and strong but we are ugly and weak; who we are? We are East African citizens!
When you say horn of Africa, what comes to your mind? Miss of the Horn of Africa? Although we have very beautiful women in East Africa, this festival will not come to your mind – I will not mention the land of beauty because all the region is beautiful. still, you will not hear about the Miss of the Horn of Africa not because some communities are conservative but because this competition could not be one of the priorities in this part of the world. Also, the African basketball cup will not come to your mind.
Although we have the tallest African men in South Sudan, basketball will not come to your mind. if you hear the Horn of Africa, you will think about strong tall warriors in a civil war. This is the image of the region that the media want to maintain.
You will not think about a cultural season that covers the areas from Nubian Halfa in North Sudan up to Mombasa in Kenya, and from Djibouti to beautiful Maridi in South Sudan. Although the region is rich in culture and heritage, what comes to your mind conflicts and wars.
I am very thankful for having me in the Horn of Africa event with Dr. Enawgaw Mehari, the Founder and President of the “People to People” organization, and the widest umbrella for Ethiopian Experts, the Global Ethiopian Scholars Initiative (GESI).
Thanks a lot to Ann Fitz-Gerald, the Director, Balsillie School of International Affairs, based in Waterloo, Canada.
in this short article, I preferred to re-write and answer one of the questions discussed by panelists in the webinar held in June 2021.
What are the key issues which characterize the current situation in Sudan and what progress/regress might that expected to be seen?
What happened in Sudan and still happening now is not a revolution, it is not a single wave of change. What is happening is an ongoing revolutionary change. Within the unfinished transition, still, things are happening and new conflicts between the forces of the change appeared.
The only good thing in the new government in Sudan is the economic orientation that has been approved, the transitional government can decide things the former regime was reluctant to choose the right decision. Some would argue that signing “the new peace agreements” is the best achievement. It is not something new for Sudanese people to sign and celebrate peace deals, the real challenge always to implement them.
I want to add this question here; What is happening now between Sudan and Ethiopia? And why?
let me start with “why it is happening?”. I insist and say it again, there is no economic integration between Sudan and Ethiopia. Although there are possible seven border markets along the Ethio-Sudanese borders, they are not serving people effectively even during good times between the two governments.
My suggestion to the two governments in my article “Devil of War is Peeping behind the door” was to open these markets and activate cooperation agreements before discussing the tension. This step should not wait for only one area to be solved. The other six markets and exchange points will make the success in the talks between the two countries.
I have been discussing this simple argument since 2004 with no answer from the two governments: “Sudanese are called brothers in Ethiopia but when it comes to investment, they are foreigners. Also, Ethiopians are called brothers in Sudan but no privilege for their brotherhood, no work permit, they could be treated as illegal immigrants.”
Between the USA and Canada, there is Machias Seal Island which is a disputed area between the two countries among the other three disputed areas but no one even thinks that Machias Seal Island will be an issue because of the level of economic integration between the USA and Canada is idealistic. Currently, the island is under the control of the Canadian Coast Guard but the superpower USA is not discussing in congress the issue of the island and other three areas.
We don’t need to think out of the box to solve the tension between Sudan and Ethiopia. There is a good example from Ethiopia and Kenya. The water resources dispute did not lead to a war between the two countries. The two countries established border markets despite the clashes, it was achieved under the IGAD-CWARN program. This is a wonderful example to deal with the current situation between Ethiopia and Sudan.
The border markets between Ethiopia and Kenya created a healthy atmosphere for cooperation and marginalized hardliners from both sides. The countries now are working together to achieve the LAPSSET Corridor and Moyale joint city and economic zone. In 2012, a big step of cooperation has been achieved, Addis Ababa and Nairobi launched the “Special Status Agreement”. Both countries have the right to open trade facilitation offices in each other’s territory.
So, we have the solution inside the box!