Egypt-Sudan Relations: Prospects of a New Strategic Partnership

EPC | 01 Jan 2015

The Egyptian-Sudanese partnership has been controversial due to the politicization of relations and the contradictory visions of the ruling elites in both countries over the years. Although the two countries enjoy historical relations, Cairo has kept exercising influence over Sudan even after independence in 1956. The Egyptian influence, however, has declined significantly in the 1980s, especially during the rule of al-Sadiq al-Mahdi (1986-1989.)

Prospects of a New Strategic Partnership: from a Balance of Power to a Balance of Interests

  1. Conditions in Egypt and Sudan and shifts on regional and international landscapes call for a change in policies and adoption of a new perspective for the strategic partnership between the two countries. Therefore, the prevailing vision on the future of the Egyptian-Sudanese relations must go through a significant shift. The new vision must be based on the concepts of independence, equal terms and mutual interests. This means the need to stop employing these ties for the political interests of the ruling elites in Khartoum and Cairo, such as the cases of Halayeb Triangle and the Nile’s water,
  2. A need to reevaluate integration experiments, which has the following characteristics, especially during the period 1961-2004:
  • They were imposed by the top political leadership in both countries and did not take into account natural progress to improve bilateral relations. They were always engulfed by an ideal and zealous discourse that settles for historical claims and civilization links between the two countries,
  • There is a mutual suspicion and negative stereotypes in the Sudanese public awareness about the predominance of the Egyptian role and its evident impact on the Sudanese landscape before and after independence,
  • The first integration agreement during the era of Jaafer al-Nimeiry had not produced any executive institutions. The 1982 agreement for political action and economic integration between the two countries, which included water, agricultural and economic projects, was suspended after the fall of al-Nimeiry regime in 1985. The government of al-Mahdi rose to power and announced the brotherhood charter in 1987 as a new political framework. The relations between the two countries, however, have deteriorated during the Islamists rule in Sudan, especially after the failed assassination attempt against former president Hosni Mubarak in 1995,

Fears by the ruling regime in Egypt towards the security situation and instability in Sudan are a stumbling block in front of the full implementation of the four freedoms agreement signed by al-Basheer’s regime in 2004 and included the freedom of movement, residence, right to work and own property.

Image Source: Reuters Pictures

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