Conflict trends update

ETHIOPIA-SUDAN

Ethiopia accused Sudan of advancing further into the disputed border region between Sudan’s Al-Qadarif state and Ethiopia’s Amhara region. Government-backed Ethiopian militias last month battled Sudanese regular forces, causing civilian casualties on both sides and leaving four Sudanese soldiers dead.

Crisis Group experts William Davison and Jonas Horner say the dispute has flared amid deteriorating bilateral relations over the Nile dispute and as Amhara elements in Ethiopia worry about increasing Sudanese control over contested land. The tensions jeopardise prospects that the two countries and Egypt will reach a deal in ongoing talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam while a border crisis could distract the Ethiopian military’s efforts in Tigray, potentially prolonging the conflict and encouraging Eritrean troops to enter positions vacated by Ethiopian soldiers.

TURKEY-GREECE

Greece and Turkey on 25 January will resume exploratory talks on maritime issues for the first since 2016. Hydrocarbon survey activity, military drills and harsh rhetoric have fuelled tensions in recent months. Crisis Group expert Berkay Mandıracı says that while many of the agenda items will remain the same as previous rounds, the delimitation of maritime boundaries has become an even more complicated issue following bilateral Turkey-Libya and Greece-Egypt deals altering the claimed zones. Amid ample mistrust and domestic pressure on both sides that could derail talks, it will be important for Ankara and Athens to refrain from fiery rhetoric, respect red lines and continue military-to-military contacts.