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Monday, 8 January 2018

Something is afoot with Sudan

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Khartoum has recalled its ambassador to Cairo for “consultations.” The statement did not specify what prompted the recall, but noted the ministry is mulling an appropriate response. Egyptian-Sudanese relations have been on a downward spiral for the last several months after tensions escalated over disputes regarding the border areas of Halayeb and Shalatin and the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), on which Egypt has accused Sudan of siding with Ethiopia (Tap here for a recap on Egypt’s issues with GERD from The National). Khartoum has also “accused Cairo of political meddling and banned imports of Egyptian agricultural products last year,” Reuters notes.

The move came as Sudan has ordered its border with Eritrea closed, authorities announced over the weekend. The Associated Press also has the story. The news comes as an unconfirmed report in the Middle East Monitor claims that Egyptian forces with UAE backing are now stationed in Eritrea, adding that Egypt, the UAE and the Sudanese opposition have recently held talks.

Local reaction: Some in the domestic press, including Al Masry Al Youm’s Mohamed Amin and Al Ahram’s Attia Essawy, are crying conspiracy. While Amin sees Turkey as the mastermind behind Khartoum’s move as part of its permanent grudge against Egypt, Essawy takes a more analytical approach and draws a connection between recent reports claiming that Egypt wanted to push Sudan out of negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Considering the number of factors at play, Egypt’s response to the move should be thoroughly studied and must reflect level-headedness, Soliman Gouda writes for AMAY. Meanwhile, El Watan’s Mahmoud Khalil calls for mending our ties with Sudan at any cost, relying on the age-old reminder that Sudan and Egypt were once one united country to make his point.

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