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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Sudan engaged in deliberate campaign to escalate tensions with Egypt

The government of Sudan has been using media outlets to spread false allegations against Egypt, with potentially negative repercussions for relations between these two brotherly peoples

Hani Raslan , Tuesday 20 Jun 2017
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Statements made by Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir accusing Egypt of being involved in armed engagements in Darfur represent a new and unprecedented pinnacle in the Sudanese escalation operation against Egypt.

This escalation, which has been continuing for the past few months, is conducted by one channel after another in a planned way through continuous campaigns repeating parrot-like lies and fabrications, with which the campaign is fed in order that it might continue and deepen.

The Sudanese president has participated in leading these political and media campaigns, directing them through recent statements, which he has consistently made in media interviews.

However, the most recent escalation has exceeded every ceiling and moved to a new and unprecedented stage.

At first glance, the accusations seemed to be hasty and lacking any solid basis, for El-Bashir talked about Egyptian armed vehicles found with the rebels.

This does not prove anything concrete, for these vehicles can be obtained from any source other than Egypt, especially since such military hardware is widespread in these open areas, changing hands in various ways.

However, more details were later revealed. Through statements issued by the Rapid Support Forces Advisor, shown by the Sudanese media, it transpired that the military engagements involved forces coming from the south and equipped with 64 armoured vehicles.

Approximately 90 more vehicles were involved in the battle of the Hur Valley, totaling more than 150 vehicles.

Then, to make a mountain out of a mole-hill, it transpired that six vehicles of the kind allegedly used by the Egyptian Army were found. That is less than 1 percent of the attacking force.

Worse still, these same statements asserted that this operation – codenamed "Arm-Twisting" – was planned three years ago in coordination between the forces of Mini Arko Minawi and Abdel-Wahed Nour.

So, where is Egypt in all this?

Such claims lead us to ask about the reasons for El-Bashir's rashness and eagerness in accusing Egypt.

Most likely this can be attributed to the huge tension he has been under since the American statement that his presence is not welcome at the summits held in Riyadh last month, due the allegations of the International Criminal that haunt him everywhere he goes.

What made matters worse is that the Sudanese president made statements to a Qatari newspaper just before the summit, in which he confirmed his attendance and participation and that it would be a leap forward in Sudan's foreign relations. However, what happened was the opposite.

This has burst the balloon of expectations, which was launched unwisely. It also clarified the limits of Arab Gulf support in return for participation in the ground-war in Yemen.

The military engagements in Darfur have destroyed the much-circulated notions of a national dialogue and its results, with the Darfur crisis driving the nation back to square one.

For these reasons, the intention was to press ahead with a means of escape, mobilising Sudanese public opinion against Egypt, directing attention away from the failure and deterioration on both the internal and external fronts.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry immediately denied the Sudanese accusations. This was followed by a comprehensive and definitive denial from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, using well-controlled phrases, that implied deep significance for those who understand them.

Manipulating the relations between two brother peoples through manoeuvres of this kind brings many risks and dangers, the results of which should have been realised before statements were made without taking into account various considerations.

The writer is head of the Nile Basin Studies Department at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

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