Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joint Investment Area between Sudan and Egypt

Photo Credit, BBC News. 
An African Union soldier surveys an abandoned village in Darfur, 2006.

According to Al Masry Al Youm, Sudan and Egypt will be working more closely together on targeted investments. Is this good news?

We hear a lot about Egypt's neighbor, Libya, and the war of liberation that is going on there. Meanwhile, Sudan is undergoing its own spectacular democratic transformation. There has been a lot of focus on the Arab Spring. Yet, the pressure for democracy, and indeed--more meaningful democracy-- has also been taking place in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Sudan, among other locations in Africa.

The South of Sudan is now independent. Darfur is fighting for its freedom, and the hegemony of the Northern Sudanese government is crumbling. I am lucky that I work with, and went to school with, one of the world's foremost authorities on Darfur, Dr. Hamid Eltgani Ali.  Dr. Ali argues that the Northern Sudanese government is a bankrupt and failed state. Like Egypt and South Sudan, argues Dr. Ali, North Sudan needs to move forward on the path to peace and democracy.

Although it is positive, in principle, that the Egyptian Government is working with its neighbor to increase economic development,  it is a mistake to negotiate with the Northern Sudanese government about anything. Egypt is negotiating with the Northern Sudanese government about joint investments between the two countries in the area between Cairo and Khartoum. This cooperation will occur in the disputed "Halaib Triangle," which includes the three main towns of Halayeb, Abu Ramad, and Shalatin.

The bad news is that working with the Northern Sudanese government is an exercise in futility. Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir came to power in a coup in 1989. According to the BBC, he has ruled Sudan "with an iron fist," since that time. The Northern Sudanese state uses excessive force against opposition forces, in particular illustrated by its "scorched earth" policy against Darfur. He is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. If the Arab Spring has anything to teach us, it is that the days of unelected, brutal, corrupt dictators are numbered in North Africa, and the Middle East. Egypt should heed its own experience of January 25th, and refuse to do business with Bashir.


  1. There's an issue that I haven't seen addressed with respect to parts of countries becoming independent. Although I understand the need for independence when one part of a country, in this case the failed state of Sudan makes war on its own citizens in the south and in Darfur, places like these can't afford to become independent countries. An independent country needs a capital, a parliament, ambassadors to, and embassies in, all the other countries, a police force, an army, an air force, and, if there's a seacoast, a navy and a coast guard. None of these things come cheap, and if you can't afford them, you end up creating a new failed state.

    The solution, if it can possibly be made to work, is not a plethora of tiny independent nations. Instead, it's enforcement of the already existing international laws forbidding the kind of ethnic cleansing that's going on unchecked.

    If all governments were prevented from committing the kinds of atrocities that lead people to demand independence, there wouldn't need to be so many new, tiny, failed, independent nations.

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  3. i am an Egyptian talking about Egypt's benefit i believe that Egypt should do investments with north Sudan since it is near, Egypt should be looking for its benefits and put into consideration that it is dealing with country not person. Egyptian revolution shouldn't prevent Egypt from doing investments in Sudan because Sudan has many advantages as natural resources and water.