Signs of an increase in the pace of closer cooperation in the military field between Egypt and Sudan have recently emerged, including conducting joint military exercises and intensifying meetings and mutual visits of leaders and officials of the two countries. This paper sheds light on the motives of both Cairo and Khartoum to enhance their military cooperation in the light of the recent local and regional developments.
Indicators of rapprochement
While the two countries share land borders of more than 1,000 km, the Egyptian and Sudanese armies did not carry out joint air exercises before November 2020, the date of the Nile Eagles-1 exercises. Nearly two weeks before those exercises, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereignty Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, visited Cairo and met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
After al-Burhan's visit to Cairo, the Egyptian Chief of Staff Mohammad Farid visited Sudan in early November 2020 and met with a number of Sudanese military leaders. During the visit, he expressed his expectations of a "qualitative leap" in the military relations between the two countries. He specifically mentioned the fields of training and border security. In a joint press conference with his Sudanese counterpart Othman al-Hussein, the latter described the results of the talks with Egypt as "amazing". The Sword of Arabs exercises in Egypt also witnessed the participation of Sudanese military units, along with Emirati, Bahraini and Jordanian forces.
The recent increase in the pace of military rapprochement between Egypt and Sudan could be attributed to the following set of motives:
First: the motives of the Egyptian side
Second: the motives of the Sudanese side
In addition to the above, the Egyptian and Sudanese sides share a common interest in the developments of the Libyan conflict and cooperation in the field of combating extremist Islamist movements. Currently, Sudanese government forces are already active in combating infiltration across the country's borders with Libya. On the other hand, UN reports have referred to the participation of Sudanese armed movements with military forces in the Libyan dispute, even as Cairo supports the forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar.
Following the intensification of international and regional competition to deepen the military presence in Sudan, the Egyptian side employed its Sudanese counterpart’s interest in border control issues and addressing the economic crisis for deepening military cooperation between them. Sudan responded to the Egyptian desire to deepen cooperation in order to avoid straining its relationship with Cairo, as well as benefit from the cooperation in the exercise of regional roles greater than the current ones, especially in the light of the Sudanese army’s desire to regain control over the disputed border areas with the state of Ethiopia.
 “Nile Eagles-1: the first joint air training between the armies of Egypt and Sudan”, 14 November 2020. Available at: https://bit.ly/2LkBfA0
 “Sudanese Army Chief of Staff: we reached amazing results during the Egyptian delegation’s visit”, 1 November 2020. Available at: https://bit.ly/2LfW13D
 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in October 2020 with a map of Sudan behind him that included the Halayeb and Shalateen region. See the link: https://www.alsudaninews.com/ar/?p=96854
 “The foreign minister makes important statements about Halayeb”, 30 October 2020. Available at: https://www.sudanakhbar.com/852514
 “Sovereignty Council in Sudan: an Israeli delegation visited the defence industries system in Khartoum”, 29 November 2020. Available at: https://bit.ly/3lYnNOL
 “The Sudanese army clarifies the truth of the agreement with Russia regarding the establishment of a military base”, 19 November 2020. Available at: https://www.sudanakhbar.com/864855
 “Suakin Island: what will happen to the Turkish-Sudanese agreement regarding it after the overthrow of Al-Bashir?”, 22 April 2019. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast-42522494
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 “Egypt sends the fifth flight of the ‘bakery gift’ to Sudan”, 6 October 2020. Available at: https://bit.ly/3gtt67D
 “A memorandum of understanding signed between the Military Production and the Sudanese ‘Defence Industries’ in various fields of manufacturing”, 20 November 2020. Available at: https://bit.ly/37M2pr1
 “Joint border patrols re-conducted between Egypt and Sudan”, 1 November 2020. Available at: https://bit.ly/36ZTW4t
 “Khartoum and Cairo conclude military air training in Sudan”, 20 November 2020. Available at: https://rakobanews.com/sudan-news/political/43696/
 “A high-ranking Sudanese military delegation concludes its visit to Egypt after meeting the air defence commander”, 14 November 2020. Available at: https://bit.ly/34kD5HK
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 “Al-Bashir: our army confiscated Egyptian armoured vehicles in Darfur”, 23 November 2017. Available at: https://cnn.it/3m0FOfr
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