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USAID administrator Samantha Power speaks in Kharthoum alongside Omar Gamar el-Din, foreign policy adviser to Sudan's prime minister. Photo: Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty

Sudan is entangled in several disputes with neighboring Ethiopia as its fragile government tries to play a mediating role in the region.

State of play: Refugees are pouring across Sudan's eastern borders from war-torn Tigray and straining the country's limited resources. A separate border dispute has produced low-level military clashes. Meanwhile, tensions over access to the Nile's waters as Ethiopia fills the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are still running high.

Driving the news: Sudan recalled its ambassador from Addis Ababa on Sunday after Ethiopian officials rejected Khartoum’s mediation efforts in Tigray.

  • Flashback: Khartoum previously recalled its top diplomat in Ethiopia last February, over the border dispute.

Background: Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is the chairperson of a regional body, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, that is seeking a ceasefire in Tigray.

  • But Ethiopian officials said Sudan was not a "credible” broker, and some in Addis Ababa have accused Khartoum of aiding the Tigrayan rebels.
  • The mediation effort appears dead for now. Ethiopia says it won't even consider it unless Sudan withdraws its troops from the border area, and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signaled an escalation in Tigray this week when he called on civilians to join the war effort.

Sudan’s mediation efforts have the backing of the U.S.

  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Hamdok last week to discuss the Tigrayan conflict and efforts to promote dialogue between the warring parties and remove barriers to humanitarian aid.

USAID administrator Samantha Power was in Sudan last week and visited refugee camps housing civilians who escaped the war in Tigray.

  • The most senior Biden administration official to visit Sudan thus far, Power also met with Hamdok and the chair of Sudan’s governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
  • Power is considered a fierce Sudan advocate in the current U.S. administration and has consistently highlighted the country’s transformation since the overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
  • But in her meeting with Burhan, Power also emphasized the need for security sector reform — including the integration of the controversial Rapid Support Force into the Sudanese army's command structure — and accountability for past crimes within security agencies. Both issues continue to generate intense debate within Sudan.

What she’s saying: In a speech at the University of Khartoum, Power acknowledged the economic difficulties Sudan is facing and the sense of despair among the younger generations.

  • She implored young people “to translate the chants of street protests into the unsung work of public service.”
  • Power also announced that the U.S. would be providing $56 million in new emergency aid, 600,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, and $4.3 million to prepare for elections in 2024, as well as releasing $700 million that had been appropriated by Congress during the final days of the Trump administration but held up since.

Worth noting: Power also made a trip to Darfur, a region she visited 17 years ago as a reporter. At that time, she documented the horrific accounts of refugees there.

Go deeper: Sudan's civilian leaders ask U.S. for help talking to Israel

Go deeper

U.S. sanctions Eritrea's military, ruling party over Ethiopia crisis

A local transport minibus passes a tank of alledged Eritrean army abandoned along the road in Dansa, southwest of Mekele in Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 20. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images

The Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on Eritrea's military and ruling party over the ongoing crisis in neighboring Ethiopia.

Driving the news: The Treasury Department also signaled its willingness to impose sanctions on the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front if progress isn't made towards a ceasefire in the country's Tigray region.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.