Egypt has always been keen to support peace and stability in Sudan and accordingly Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukri travelled to Khartoum on September 9th to begin what Cairo describes as a new start in relations as Sudan embarks on its transition to civilian rule.
During his visit, Shoukri is scheduled to meet with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sudan's first female Foreign Affairs Minister Asmaa Mohamed Abdalla, as part of Egypt’s efforts to promote mutual relations after Sudan's success in moving forward with its transitional phase and the formation of a new government.
Shoukri is also scheduled to meet with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the joint civilian-military sovereign council that is supervising Sudan's transition. Ahmed Abu Zeid, official spokesperson for the foreign affairs minister, said in a press statement that this visit is essential as it establishes a new start in the mutual relations of both countries. It also demonstrates Egypt's support for Sudan and its people in accomplishing their goals.
“The visit is of special importance since it comes at the start of a new phase of cooperation between the two countries to face challenges and coordinate stances on regional and international issues of mutual concern following the changes in Sudan,” the statement said.
Political analyst Hassan Nafaa told 7Dnews that it is essential for Egypt to maintain strong relations with Sudan, especially in the coming period, as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is about to be completed. “Egypt will need Sudan’s support when negotiating with Ethiopia the dam’s effect on both countries,” said Nafaa.
Nafaa noted that Sudan’s new government consists mainly of technocrats who are open to the world and focused on moving Sudan out of its current crisis. “Egypt has to understand the nature of the new Sudan so as to be able to maintain a strong relationship with it,” Nafaa told 7Dnews.
Nafaa hopes that the Egyptian government will strongly support Sudan in the coming phase and its efforts to step back from its former political system, the dominance of a military regime. “Egypt already respects the Sudanese people’s choices and has to continue with this. The nature of the relationship with Sudan, whether it is cold or warm, mainly depends on Egypt. I believe Egypt is on the right track with Sudan,” said Nafaa, adding that Egypt has other issues in common with Sudan.
Among their common interests is mutual trade and combating terrorism. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics noted in its report that Egypt’s exports to Sudan were recorded as $196.58 million, while imports reached $123.9 million. Trade exchange between Egypt and Sudan represents 4 to 5% of the trade volume between Egypt and the world.
Sudan has suffered from civil disorder since 2018, when citizens protested against their President, Omar al-Bashir, and Egypt stepped in. A power-sharing agreement has been signed between Sudan’s transitional military council and opposition representatives.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and stipulated that a civilian-majority and military transitional ruling council should be created to pave the way for the election of a civilian government. During the signing, Madbouly confirmed Egypt’s support for the agreement and the choices of the Sudanese people and also that the upcoming period, under the ruling council, would witness an unprecedented shift in bilateral relations between the two countries.
According to Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s website, Egypt called upon the international community to support the Sudanese people’s choice and what they agreed on during this critical and historic time. Egypt also called on friendly countries to support Sudan and assist it in gaining a peaceful transition to a better future that achieves the legitimate aspirations of its people.
Previously, ties between the two neighbours had often been stressed over the years due to trade and border disputes. Sudan in May 2017 banned the import of animal and other agricultural products from Egypt. In October of the same year, mutual ties improved after Sudan lifted the ban immediately after talks in Khartoum between ousted president Omar al-Bashir and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Al-Sisi and other Egyptian officials regularly called for stability in Sudan after protests erupted against al-Bashir in December. Egypt has co-ordinated with concerned regional and international parties to discuss the efforts to support the implementation of the peace agreement and highlight efforts of South Sudan factions in terms of implementing the agreement within the set timetable.