Egypt Watch

To confront Ethiopia, Egypt aims to strengthen relations with Sudan

Next week, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly will visit Sudan in an attempt to strengthen relations with Egypt’s southern neighbour, and to agree on certain issues, particularly the Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile. Madbouly will lead a sizeable ministerial delegation, including the Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty, Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Trade and Industry Nevin Jameh, in addition to Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, and Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tariq al-Mullah.

The Egyptian delegation will meet with several officials in Sudan, led by the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. According to sources, the visit aims to revitalise the executive position of some projects and agreements between the two countries, especially those related to the electrical connection, and contracts and protocols regarding meat and agricultural products. According to observers, the main aim of the visit is to cut off the road to some forces that want to exploit the stalemate over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. These forces want to pressure Cairo to move the Halayib and Shalateen Triangle.

The sources indicated that the visit would include the Egyptian government providing a set of incentives to its Sudanese counterpart, in a way that contributes to improving the economic situation in Sudan, in addition to agreeing on the movement of citizens between the two countries. The visit includes discussions between the ministers of irrigation and water in the two countries, regarding the future of the share of Nile water in light of the stalled path of negotiations with Ethiopia on the Renaissance Dam crisis.

Regarding whether it was within the agenda of the meeting to address the border issue between the two countries, and the disputed areas specifically Halayib and Shalateen, the source ruled out that there would be any direct consultations on this at present. Last week, Egypt and Sudan agreed to suspend the Renaissance Dam negotiations for a week amid accusations that Ethiopia had changed the negotiating agenda.

Negotiations between the three countries have faltered over the past years, amid mutual accusations between Cairo and Addis Ababa of intransigence and a desire to impose unrealistic solutions. Addis Ababa says that it does not aim to harm Egypt and Sudan’s interests and that the purpose of building the dam is primarily to generate electricity.