Friday, 12 January, 2018 – 07:00
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, left, shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi at the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, January 9, 2018. (AP)
Sudan announced on Thursday arrangements to confront what it called potential threats from Egypt and Eritrea near its borders with the latter.
Cairo meanwhile avoided responding immediately to the claim, declaring through its Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid that the Egyptian position on Sudan has been “expressed by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on several occasions.”
Ibrahim Mahmoud, assistant to the Sudanese president and his deputy in the ruling National Congress Party, said that the authorities received security information about possible threats, which may come from Egypt and Eritrea in the Eritrean area of Sawa.
Mahmoud explained that the meeting of the leadership of the ruling party, which began Wednesday evening and concluded early Thursday, directed the continuation of security arrangements on the eastern border of the country, to face potential threats from the two countries.
Cairo, in turn, avoided escalation with Khartoum. Contacted by Asharq Al-Awsat, the official spokesmen of the Egyptian Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs refused to comment on the Sudanese accusations.
In a press conference with his Tanzanian counterpart on Thursday, Shoukry said that Egypt “has always the hope that relations with Sudan will be satisfactory to take into account the aspirations and interests of the two peoples in accordance with previous agreements.”
“This requires efforts and policies of openness… This has always been the aspiration of Egypt”, he stated.
A well-informed Egyptian political source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt wanted to “soothe the atmosphere with Sudan at this time, and hopes that Sudan will not be the tool of a regional force that wants to pressure Egypt and poison the current situation.”
Sudan had closed its eastern border with Eritrea and deployed thousands of troops near the joint border after President Omar al-Bashir announced a state of emergency in the states of Kassala and North Kordofan on December 30.
The official statements at the time said that the closure of the border, and the transfer of troops to the east of the country, aimed at fighting smugglers and traffickers.
However, Mahmoud revealed for the first time on Thursday that they received “security information about possible threats, which may come from Egypt and Eritrea.”
Earlier this week, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi received his Eritrean counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, to discuss bilateral relations and coordination of efforts on all issues related to the situation in the Horn of Africa.
According to observers who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, Egypt, through extensive cooperation with Eritrea, is seeking greater influence in the Horn of Africa, which is strategically important for its national security, with the growing Turkish and Qatari presence there, and the current tensions with Ethiopia and Sudan.
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