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Egypt worries fatal impact of divided Sudan

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by October, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. October

    October JF-Expert Member

    Jan 11, 2011
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    By Omnia Al Desoukie, Li Zhihui

    CAIRO, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of thousands of the south Sudanese will vote at polling stations on Sunday to decide whether or not south Sudan will be separated from the country's north that accordingly will have fatal implications on Egypt.

    Addressing a meeting of the Egyptian people's assembly foreign affairs committee in late December, a Foreign Ministry representative said that in case south Sudan opts for separation, Egypt should be keen to strengthen the ties with the south.

    "Egypt will definitely be affected by the separation. However, south Sudan will never want to go into confrontation with Egypt at early stages of its formation," said Essam El Sheikh, an political analyst on Sudan issue and deputy chief editor of Al Gomhouria newspaper.

    Accordingly, Sunday's referendum in south Sudan will mark a turning point not only in the life of the Sudanese but also for the region and could see the formation of a new state in Africa.

    The effect of this referendum on Egypt, Sudan's closest neighbor, includes a variety of destabilizing factors that can impact the national security and the country's economy. According to analysts, these factors will press Egypt on different levels.

    A leaked cable in April 2009 quoted Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as telling Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of staff, that "Egypt does not want a divided Sudan."

    In another cable Egyptian diplomats lobbied to delay the referendum for four to six years because they feared "fatal implication," including causing an influx of migrants to Egypt, hurting Suez Canal revenues and affecting Egypt's Nile water share.

    However, what Egyptian diplomats believed is that the referendum will result in a "non-viable state" that could threaten Egypt's access to the Nile water resources, a cable seen in October 2009 quoted officials as saying.

    "Egypt always deals with Sudan as an Arab country that have common points with Egypt in regards to the Nile water, but now they have to deal with south Sudan which will not be an Arab country," said Emad Gad, a political analyst in the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

    Although experts said that despite worries, Egypt's water quota should not be affected with the secession as south Sudan promised they would take their part from Sudan's supply, yet with the addition of a new African country, they expect that the voice to redistribute the Nile water will become louder.

    "I cannot imagine that they will play the water card at an early stage, but they can pressure Egypt by recognizing Israel from the first day and open their country for the Israelis' involvement in their affairs," Gad said, adding that south Sudan could force Egypt to support Israel by controlling water supply.

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi warned at the Arab-African summit last October that a partition of the country would be a " contagious disease" that could spread to other African states.

    The north-south civil war of Sudan ended up in 2005 when a peace deal was signed. The deal promised autonomy of the South through a referendum scheduled on Jan. 9 that will last for seven days, after a six-year peace between both parties.

    Sudanese President Omal al-Bashir on Tuesday described the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005 between the Sudanese government and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), as a success "despite all its complications and the fact that is has not achieved all its goals."

    Many Southerners believed that they are ethnically and religiously different from those of the North which was mostly inhabited by Arabs and Muslims.

    "Unity could not be forced by power," al-Bashir said recently, who earlier in December promised to rule the North with the Islamic Shar'a and announce Arabic as the official language of the north in case of separation.

    "South Sudan will face challenges including organizing relations with other neighboring countries," Essam said.

    However, Egypt is the only country that is respected by both parts of Sudan, Essam added.

    "During the civil war, Egypt received refugees from Sudan and did not bolster any part with arms," which according to him is a good reason to avoid any confrontation between Egypt and south Sudan, unless Western power starts pressing Egypt through the South.