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Preserving historic, brotherly ties with Sudan
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 18 - 04 - 2019

Probably no other country in the world has followed so closely developments in Sudan as did Egypt and its people, only hoping that the brotherly, bordering nation with whom we share many historic and strategic ties will soon enjoy stability that would serve the interests of its people. Considering that we drink the same Nile water, it's no wonder that ordinary Egyptians repeat that “Egypt and Sudan are one country.”
From that perspective, and amid rapid developments that ended up in the removal of president Omar Al-Bashir and his replacement with a supreme military council headed by Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah Al-Borhan, Cairo took a principled position based on one of the key pillars of its foreign policy over the past five years: respect for the sovereignty of all countries, and non-interference in their internal affairs.
Moreover, Egypt has declared its full support for the choices of the brotherly people of Sudan and their free will to forge the future of their country.
It's no secret that Egypt was never a great fan of Al-Bashir, who forged a close alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood group since he took over in 1989. While in power, Sudan's reputation as a peace-loving nation suffered damage as he turned the country into a safe haven for some of the world's worst terrorists, including late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, as well as the infamous international terrorist Carlos who was involved in kidnapping OPEC oil ministers many decades ago.
The atrocities committed against the people of Darfur, meanwhile, as well as the separation of South Sudan were among a long list of failures Al-Bashir was directly responsible for.
Egypt was affected by the dangerous shift in Sudan's policy under Al-Bashir when Khartoum was reportedly involved in an attempt to assassinate former president Hosni Mubarak while on a visit to Ethiopia to attend an African summit in 1995. Armed members of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, an internationally recognised terrorist group that killed many Egyptians and foreign tourists over nearly a decade, were welcomed by Al-Bashir to reside in Sudan and use it as a launching pad for terrorist attacks in Egypt.
However, considering that Egypt has always placed the interests of the Sudanese people first, especially that over one million Sudanese people reside in their second country, Egypt, after fleeing wars and harsh conditions in Sudan, the former Mubarak regime agreed to overcome the crisis in relations that followed the failed assassination attempt, on condition that Khartoum would stop providing support to terrorist groups operating in Egypt.
Considering the many strategic interests that tie the two countries, that was the same policy adopted by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi after he took office in June 2014. Although it was common knowledge that Al-Bashir supported the Muslim Brotherhood group, and his hopes were dashed after the Egyptian people decided to oust the former Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013, Cairo recognised that it had no choice but to try to contain its differences with Khartoum in order to serve the interests of both the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples. Sudan's involvement in the thorny and difficult negotiations over the building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the River Nile also made it a must to deal with Al-Bashir, despite his support for the Muslim Brotherhood and offering his country as refuge for its members who fled from Egypt.
What adds to Egypt's support for the latest changes in Sudan is its confidence and trust in the Sudanese military forces and the intentions of the new commanders of the military council. Like Egypt's army in 2011 and 2013, the Sudanese army decided to side with the Sudanese people and protect the territorial integrity and unity of the country despite many challenges and difficulties. As the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in its statement the day Al-Bashir was removed, Egypt has “complete trust in the ability of the brotherly people of Sudan and its loyal, national military to overcome this defining phase and its challenges, in order to achieve their hopes and aspirations for stability, prosperity and development”.
In the coming weeks and months, Egypt will remain ready to do whatever it can to support the Sudanese people and their aspirations, whether on a bilateral level, or on the regional and international levels. As current chair of the African Union, Egypt will intensify its contacts with fellow African countries to support the new regime in Khartoum, and will also use its diverse and positive relations with world countries for the same purpose. Towards Sudan, Egypt has nothing but good intentions and sincere respect and admiration for its people.

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