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Egypt, Saudi Arabia alarmed over Sudan-Turkey accord on strategic Suakin island

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"I believe the deal is meant to pave the way for a Turkish military presence in the island, which is a threat to the Egyptian national security," the professor told Xinhua.

"Suakin island is very close to the border region of Halayeb and Shalateen, so the island deal also implies a Sudanese challenging political message, especially that it was preceded by Sudanese remarks claiming rightful ownership of Halayeb and Shalateen," Tarek Fahmy, Egyptian political science professor at Cairo University told Xinhua. The two countries also have a territorial dispute over the border region of Halayeb and Shalateen, which are currently under Egyptian control.

Egyptian media

"Sudanese President Omar Bashir is playing with fire in exchange for dollars," wrote columnist Emad Adeeb in the Cairo daily Al-Watan, alluding to what he said was Bashir's attempt to gain from regional rivalries.

"Sudan is violating the rules of history and geography and is conspiring against Egypt under the shadow of Turkish madness, Iranian conspiracy, an Ethiopian scheme to starve Egypt of water and Qatar's financing of efforts to undermine Egypt," wrote Adeeb, whose column was headlined: "Omar Bashir's political suicide."

Of particular concern to Egypt, according to commentaries and news reports, is Sudan's burgeoning military ties with Turkey, including a joint naval facility on the Red Sea to repair civilian and military vessels that was announced by Bashir and the Turkish leader this week in Khartoum.

Sudan, which is in the grips of an economic crisis, complained this month to the United Nations 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. Egypt denies the Sudanese claim.

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."

Saudi newspaper Okaz

There was no official comment from the Saudi government about the Suakin island but Mohammed Abu Talib, a writer for Saudi newspaper Okaz, reminded readers that Sudan was saved from sanctions thanks to the Saudis. He accused Sudan of serving Turkey's expansion aspirations.

"Turkey is blatantly seeking expansion in the region and using its influence, especially against Egypt and Gulf countries. The most dangerous aspect of this visit was handing over to Erdogan Suakin Island, which faces Jeddah and which he sees as the symbol of the Ottoman Empire," Abu Talib wrote.

At the same time, the UAE paper, The Gulf News commented, "Iran can use the new Turkish base in Sudan to ship more weapons to Houthis. Turkey, by using the new military facility, could send more soldiers to Qatar or intervene more in Egypt by manipulating the Muslim Brotherhood. This no doubt will worry Jordan as much as Egypt. With Turkish and Sudanese provocations, Sudanese aspirations for Halayeb [the disputed area] can be reignited."

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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