Ethiopia acquires ownership stake in Port Sudan
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has been in Khartoum during the past two days, struck a deal with the Government of Sudan that gives Ethiopia an unspecified amount of ownership stake in Port Sudan. A number of countries, including wealthy Gulf states, are increasing their investments in sea ports on the Red Sea as they compete for influence in a strategic corridor vital to shipping lines and oil routes. More from Reuters:
(Reuters) – Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed on a deal allowing the Horn of Africa nation to take a stake in Sudan’s largest sea gateway port of Port Sudan, officials said on Thursday.
Several countries including wealthy Gulf states have ramped up investments in seaports along the Red Sea and East Africa’s coast as they vie for influence in a strategic corridor that is vital for shipping lanes and oil routes.
While the likes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are using some of the ports for military purposes, Ethiopia – which lost its access to the sea following the secession of former province Eritrea in 1993 – is aiming to strike deals in a bid to diversify outlets and reduce port fees.
The deal between Addis Ababa and Sudan was reached in Khartoum on Thursday at a meeting between Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
“The leaders of both countries agreed to develop Port Sudan together,” said Meles Alem, spokesman for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry.
“This deal entails that Ethiopia will be a shareholder of the port as well,” he told Reuters.
No financial details of the agreement were disclosed.
Another official said that the agreement would enable Ethiopia to have a say in the level of port handling fees.
The deal comes two days after Ethiopia reached a similar arrangement over the Port of Djibouti, Djibouti’s main gateway for trade.
“Access to a diversified range of ports is a strategic imperative for the government of Ethiopia. That is perhaps one of its most important priorities in terms of trade and development,” said Ahmed Salim, vice president at the Teneo global advisory firm.
Ethiopia’s involvement supported the financing and development of the Sudan and Djibouti ports, he added.
Djibouti had been seeking investors for its port since it terminated the concession for Dubai’s state-owned DP World to run the port in February, citing a failure to resolve a six-year contractual dispute.
The agreement with Ethiopia gave Djibouti the option of taking stakes in state-owned Ethiopian firms. The companies that it may look to invest in include Ethiopian Electric Power and Ethio Telecom – one of Africa’s last remaining telecoms monopolies.
It was not clear if Sudan’s agreement involved a similar arrangement with Ethiopia.
Djibouti’s location is of strategic value to countries such as the United States, China, Japan and former colonial power France, all of which have military bases there.
The deal with Djibouti also followed Ethiopia’s agreement to acquire a 19 percent stake in the Port of Berbera in the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland. DP World retains a 51 percent stake there, while the government holds the rest.
Meanwhile, Khartoum’s deal with Ethiopia came in the wake of another arrangement signed with Turkey, which wants to rebuild Suakin – a ruined Ottoman port city on Sudan’s Red Sea coast – and construct a dock to maintain civilian and military vessels.
Qatar has also agreed to develop the same port to the tune of $4 billion.
Eritrea accuses Sudan, Qatar of deploying fighter planes on border
By Al Arabiya English
March 26, 2018
The Eritrean government released a statement accusing Qatar of sending Sudan three fighter planes to thwart a purported attack from Eritrea, and of secretly funding an Eritrean Islamist opposition office in an isolated area in Sudan.
In the statement, the Eritrean government said that Qatar is funding supporters of the radical Islamist cleric, Mohammed Jumma, who opened an office in an unknown area in Sudan.
“Followers of the radical Islamic Cleric, Mohammed Jumma, opened an office, under extreme secrecy, in a secluded area to organize political and military activities as well as to train their members. Funding of their activities is provided by the Embassy of Qatar in Khartoum. Training and other logistical functions are managed by the Sudanese Security and Intelligence Service,” the statement read.
They added that Qatar sent three Mig fighter planes to the Sudanese Defense forces which were deployed in Kassala on Eritrea’s border with Sudan. The pilots for the three Mig fighter planes were two Qataris and an Ethiopian.
The Eritrean government said the deployment was done under the pretense of “thwarting an attack from Eritrea that would be unleashed with the support of the United Arab Emirates.”
They also mentioned that a delegation from the Qatari military, led by the ambassador of Qatar in Khartoum, visited the “Joint Sudanese-Ethiopian Defense Unit” in March to inspect its operations and gauge the security situation in the Kassala area, while asking “Why does Qatar involve itself in such senseless intricacies?”
The statement by Eritrea’s Ministry of Information also called recent news spread by Qatar news outlets of the deployment of Egyptian troops in Sawa, Eritrea fabricated, adding that this triggered the subsequent closure of the Sudanese border with Eritrea.
Memembers of Derg/Mengistu Hailemariam have written books, op-eds etc. One thing common is almost each one of them mentions that Mengistu near the end had started talking like:
1. You know that I am an Economist and he looks to the person, the person nodes and he is good
2. You know that I am a military strategist and a general nodes and he is good
3. You know that I am a lawyer by training and a person even lawyers just node and are good
These are real stories. At this level the dictator has nobody around him to say no sir this is black not brown and its the end.
Isayas of Eritrea now has taken this to next level. He told to the first VP of Sudan to overthrow Bashir and Egypt and Eritrea would be supportive.
The Eritrea-Sudan border standoff: did Isaias whisper treason?
March 20, 2018 Martin Plaut
In January this year Sudanese troops were sent to man the country’s border with Eritrea. The border was sealed: trade between the neighbouring states ceased.
This has caused real hardship for many on both sides of the border – but particularly in Eritrea, which relies on imports from Sudan.
So what is behind these dramatic events?
Sudan Vice PresThe origins of the dispute can be traced back to a visit to Eritrea by the Sudanese First Vice – President and National Prime Minister, Lt. Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih in December last year.
The official Sudanese statementsaid the two sides had “discussed progress of the bilateral relations between two countries and issues of mutual concern.”
But Sudanese sources suggest the discussions were far more dramatic. Sudan has been drifting away from its traditional alliance with Egypt, and closer to Ethiopia.
Khartoum has sided with Addis Ababa rather than Cairo over Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance dam on the Nile.
At the same time relations between Eritrea and Egypt have been warming. During General Salih’s visit to Asmara, President Isaias Afwerki suggested that the time was ripe for the General to replace President Omar al Bashir as Sudanese head of state.
Apparently speaking with the authority of Cairo, President Isaias said that such a move would be supported by both Eritrea and Egypt.
When General Salih returned to Khartoum the news was received with consternation.
Sudanese troops were rushed to the Eritrean border and the border sealed.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry has met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to discuss Juba's request to join the Cairo-based Arab League, according to a foreign ministry statement.
The meeting comes in the wake of a brief Africa tour by Shukry, during which he met Kiir in the South Sudanese capital on Monday. .
Regional issues According to the ministry statement, the two men also discussed means of enhancing South Sudan-Egypt relations and "regional issues of common concern", including ongoing negotiations over Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project.
Monday's meeting also reportedly saw an agreement signed establishing a "mechanism for political consultation" between Cairo and Juba, while Shukry also conveyed a message to Kiir - the contents of which were not disclosed - from the Egyptian president.
Since 2013, South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan following a 2011 popular referendum, has remained the scene of a bloody civil war pitting government forces against armed opposition groups.
A split between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013.
Despite a 2015 peace deal signed between the two sides, the conflict - in which some 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed - remains ongoing.
Getting on something dangerous are we?