Egypt-Sudan pact seen in light of Nile Basin tensions

Monday March 08 2021
Ethiopia dam.

Sudan and Egypt say Ethiopia’s second phase of filling the Renaissance Dam unilaterally is a direct threat to their water security downstream. PHOTO | FILE


Sudan and Egypt have engaged in a rapprochement even as they both bicker with Ethiopia over the filling of a controversial dam.

Khartoum announced last Wednesday the upcoming visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi to discuss issues of “mutual interest” including military co-operation.

An agreement on co-operation between the two militaries was signed last Tuesday to help Sudan’s rehabilitation, training, exchange of experiences, border security, combat terrorism and military factories.

Egyptian Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Muhammed Farid said his country “seeks to consolidate ties and relations with Sudan in all fields, especially the military and security, and solidarity as a strategic approach imposed by the regional and international environment,” as “Sudan and Egypt face common challenges and that there are multiple threats facing national security in the two countries.”

Interests converge

Lt-Gen Farid also expressed Cairo’s readiness to meet all Sudan’s requests in all military fields, considering that the level of military co-operation with Sudan is “unprecedented.”


Observers say the security threats in the region require more of such co-operation arrangements.

Maj-Gen Al-Moez Ataban, a military expert in Khartoum told The EastAfrican that rapprochement and exchange of military expertise is not new, only that certain other social issues affecting the two countries have often meant they can’t be consistent. “It is in the interest of Sudan to enter military alliances with Egypt which leads to a power that is not underestimated in the region, he said referring to Egypt’s military strength.

Both countries though have a bone to pick with Ethiopia, especially on the filling of the Grand Renaissance Dam which Ethiopia has erected on the Nile. Khartoum and Cairo fill the project affects their water supply and have demanded a say in how the dam is operationalised. Negotiations over the issue have stalemated since 2019 with Ethiopia proceeding with initial filling last year.

Last week, Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and his Sudan counterpart Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, demanded that Ethiopia return to the negotiation table. This was during talks conducted in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.