May 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The main contender in Egypt’s upcoming presidential race has asserted his country sovereignty over the border triangle region of Halayeb, which Sudan also claims.
- Egypt’s Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends a meeting with Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, November 14, 2013 (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
In an interview with Sky News Arabia broadcasted today, the former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi underscored that Sudan as well as Libya are the "strategic depth" of Egypt when asked about the issue of Halayeb.
"There is no difference that has no solution as Libya and Sudan are strategic depth to Egypt and we are keen on relations with them’," said the candidate who is widely expected to win the elections later this month.
"There is no reason why we cannot reach an understanding with them as dialogue and communication forms the climate and platform for understanding and positive work," El-Sissi said.
He also issued a veiled warning to Sudan over the issue of Halayeb.
"Halayeb is Egyptian and there is no problem at all, unless there is someone who wants to create a problem. We do not incite problems with anybody and I wish no one seeks to create problems with us’’ said al-Sisi who deposed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi from Egypt’s presidency almost a year ago after massive anti-government demonstrations.
Morsi’s ouster privately angered the Islamist government in Khartoum but it nonetheless refrained from making its views on the matter public and insisted that it is an internal matter.
Relations between Cairo and Khartoum have taken a downward spiral, particularly after Sudan announced its strong support of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Egypt fears that the $4.6 billion hydropower plant will diminish its share of the river’s water flows, arguing its historic water rights must be maintained in line with the 1929 and 1959 colonial agreements.
Sudanese officials accuse Egyptian media of seeking to provoke their government against Khartoum in light of this position.
Many Egyptian politicians and observers and have expressed fury over Sudan’s stance with some going as far as calling Khartoum an "ingrate" and "treacherous".
The media in Egypt have suggested that Khartoum is providing refuge and support to fugitive Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figures.
Some commentators have speculated that Khartoum wants to use the dam issue as a bargaining chip to claim back Halayeb which has been under Egyptian control since the 1990s.
The genesis of the disputes over Halayeb dates back to as early as 1958 after Sudan gained independence from being ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt. The wrangle is a result of a discrepancy in the demarcation of political boundaries set by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and the ones set earlier by the British in 1902.
Egypt brushed aside Sudan’s repeated calls for referring the dispute to international arbitration.