KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) – For the first time since its independence in 1956, Sudan began deploying standby troops on its border with Egypt in November 2015.
Observers believe that Sudanese-Egyptian relations have witnessed a sharp deterioration since the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013.
Cairo looks with suspicion at the Sudanese roles in Libya and in the negotiations over the Ethiopian renaissance dam, and fears the support of the Sudanese government for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Khartoum, for its part, has decried Egyptian trade restrictions and Egyptian attempts to sabotage its relations with Gulf countries.
– Open war
The recent escalation began when the Sudanese government claimed that hundreds of its citizens in Egypt had been mistreated.
Khartoum has called for an investigation into the detention of its nationals on charges of currency trafficking and counterfeiting.
The Egyptian authorities have promised to look into the issue.
Khartoum has also filed a complaint with the UN Security Council against Egypt for holding its parliamentary election in the disputed Halayeb region.
– Contradicting stories
Egyptian reports have denied the Sudanese allegations, but the Sudanese media has published many photos of citizens allegedly tortured in Egyptian prisons.
The reported torture of Sudanese citizen Yahya Zakaria in a Cairo prison has become a high-profile case.
Upon his arrival to Cairo for medical treatment for his son, Zakaria was reportedly held, taken to a police station and tortured for one week before being deported to Khartoum.
However, other Sudanese residents in Cairo have denied the occurrence of systematic violence against Sudanese nationals.
Abdul Suliman, a Sudanese resident in Cairo, told Anadolu Agency that he didn’t face — nor had he heard of — any incidents of violence against any Sudanese within the last month.
“We don’t like to be engaged in the political differences between the two regimes; we are living peacefully in Egypt,” he said.
The escalation peaked when more than 20 Sudanese migrants were killed by the Egyptian army in two separate incidents while they attempted to cross the border into Israel in recent weeks.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reacted strongly, accusing Egypt of committing numerous provocations against Sudan.
He also criticized the Egyptian media’s “provocative coverage” of parliamentary elections that were held in an area disputed between the two countries.
“The Egyptian media’s coverage of the elections in Halayeb was provocative for the Sudanese people,” Bashir stated.
A few days later, Sudanese Minister of Defense Awad al-Kareem Ibn Oaf told the Sudanese parliament that he had sent troops to the border with Egypt to anticipate any military movement by the Egyptian army.
Sudanese political analyst Alhaj Hamad told Anadolu Agency that the crisis runs much deeper than anger over the recent killing and mistreatment of Sudanese nationals in Egypt.
He added that Khartoum was working to undermine the current regime in Egypt in collaboration with other countries.
“Khartoum is part of a regional axis based in Libya to empower political Islamist groups in order to topple the regime in Egypt,” Hamad said.
For her part, Egyptian political expert Amani Altaweel told Anadolu Agency that Sudanese nationals in Egypt were not being systematically targeted, adding that the Sudanese citizens who had been arrested were suspected of illegally trading currency.
She further accused Sudan of supporting Ethiopia in the issue of the Renaissance Dam.
“Khartoum has chosen to support Ethiopia because it sees the short-term benefits of building the dam,” she added.
– Nile wars
Sudanese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ali Alsadig told Anadolu Agency that the row has been de-escalated and that both sides had formed an investigation committee to address the issue.
He added that Sudan had neither an intention to engage in open war with Egypt nor an aim of toppling the Egyptian regime.
He also said that Sudan had confirmed that it would not use Nile water as a weapon against Egypt.
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