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HomeGeopolitical CompassNile Valley & N.AfricaThe Egypt-Sudan Border: A Story of Unfulfilled Promise

The Egypt-Sudan Border: A Story of Unfulfilled Promise

Author: Sherif Mohyeldeen

Affiliation: Carnegie Middle East Centre

Organization/Publisher: Carnegie Middle East Centre

Date/Place: June 11, 2020/Lebanon

Type of Literature: Research Paper

Number of Pages: 28

Link:https://carnegie-mec.org/2020/06/11/egypt-sudan-border-story-of-unfulfilled-promise-pub-81995

Keywords: Egypt, Sudan, Territorial Dispute, Cross-border Relations, Halayeb Triangle. 

Brief:

Sherif Mohyeldeen presents the history of the cross-border relations between Egypt and Sudan since Egypt’s 1952 revolution till the current situation. Mohyeldeen tracks the relations between the two countries through a historical approach to underline the basic elements of the relationships, its development, either negative or positive, and its challenges. He argues that Egyptian-Sudanese relations have always witnessed many obstacles and hardships, despite the post-2011 improvement in relations, and a sense of mistrust and mutual suspicion still prevails which challenges any improvement in the current situation. The paper is divided into two historical periods. The first phase starts from Sudan’s independence in 1956, generally after the 1952 revolution in Egypt, till the Arab uprisings; the second focuses on the developments in the relations after the 2011 uprisings to the current moment. He assigned four main factors behind the increased tensions and limited relations between the two countries in the first phase, which are borders and visa restrictions on citizens moving between the borders, the displacement of Nubians in both countries due to the construction of the High Dam, the territorial dispute over the Halayeb triangle, and an increased hostility between Egypt and Sudan during Mubarak’s era which materialized in many accidents including increased militarization over the borders followed by the assassination trial of Mubarak in Addis Ababa. However, there were some signs of rapprochement including the 2004 Four Freedoms Agreement, which Egypt has not practically put into action. The second phase, after the 2011 uprisings and the fall of Mubarak’s regime, witnessed a tendency for improvement of the relations emanating from the sense of solidarity between the Sudanese and Egyptians. At that time, the first two land crossings between Egypt and Sudan were opened. Though these achievements were greatly celebrated as steps towards more cooperation and economic benefits, the main sources of the dispute are still in the background causing continued tensions and mistrust, especially the Halayeb triangle issue. Additionally, Sisi’s government policies seem to be closer to his previous counterparts, especially Mubarak and Nasser. These policies block “full normalization” between the two countries including escalated militarization of the borders and the difficulty to obtain a visa. On the other hand, Sudan has shown an opposed position to Egypt regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as well as imposing, for the first time, a visa requirement for the entry of Egyptian males to Sudan. The author elaborates on the procedures followed by the two parties that have hindered more than improved the relations between the two countries. To sum up, the Egyptian-Sudanese relations have always fluctuated through history. However, there is a mutual need to come together to minimize the economic and security costs paid by both parts. Finally, some recommendations are presented to improve cross-border relations including the full validation and implementation of the 2004 Four Freedoms Agreement, the empowerment of the Nubian community, and the establishment of connecting projects such as railways between the two countries. 

By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant

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