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Cairo-based media: Sudan plotting with Turkey, Qatar against Egypt

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A general view of the Nile river in Cairo on December 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The pro-government media in Cairo have accused neighboring Sudan of conspiring with Turkey and Qatar against Egypt. 

Egypt has long been at odds with Qatar and Turkey over their alleged support for the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and its leaders who are facing hefty jail terms and execution.

Egypt is part of a Saudi-led coalition which has put a blockade on Qatar for following a policy not commensurate with that of Riyadh.

On the African side of its borders, Egypt is locked in a dispute with Sudan and other neighbors over the waters of the Nile flowing out of the Ethiopian highlands and central Africa.

Ethiopia plans to build Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam on the Nile but Egypt views the project as a real threat to its nation which is heavily dependent on the river for drinking water and shipping proceeds.   

With international negotiations over the dam at an impasse, Sudan has apparently been taking the side of Ethiopia in the dispute.

What do Egyptian media say?

Egyptian media seized on a visit to Sudan earlier this week by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a meeting in Khartoum between the chiefs of staff of Sudan, Turkey and Qatar, and renewed efforts by Khartoum to revive the longtime border dispute with Egypt.

"Sudanese President Omar Bashir is playing with fire in exchange for dollars," wrote columnist Emad Adeeb in the daily Al-Watan.

In a column headlined "Omar Bashir's political suicide," Adeeb said Sudan was violating the rules of history and geography and conspiring against Egypt in "an Ethiopian scheme to starve Egypt of water and Qatar's financing of efforts to undermine Egypt."

Cairo is also concerned about Sudan's close military ties with Turkey, including their plan for a joint naval facility on the Red Sea to repair vessels that was announced by Bashir and the Turkish leader in Khartoum.

Sudan complained this month to the UN that a maritime demarcation agreement reached in 2016 by Egypt and Saudi Arabia infringed on what it claimed to be Sudanese waters off an Egyptian-held border region it claims as its own.  

Egyptian media, meanwhile, insist that Bashir has ceded to Turkey sovereignty over Suakin, a small but strategic island off Sudan's Red Sea coast. Erdogan has denied his country is constructing a naval base there, saying Turkey only plans to restore Ottoman-era ruins in the area.

Emad Hussein, editor of Cairo's Al-Shorouk daily, wrote Thursday that Erdogan's visit to Sudan, the first by a Turkish head of state, "cannot be viewed ... except as harassment of Egypt and an attempt to annoy it by any means possible."

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