Promoting Sudanese sovereignty over Hala’ib Triangle is “unfounded and meaningless”: Egypt’s former foreign minister
Recent statements of Sudanese president Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, stipulating that his country will resort to the UN Security Council if Egypt refused negotiations regarding the Hala’ib Triangle, renewed controversy on the real identity of the triangle.
Al-Bashir asserted, through a televised interview broadcasted through the Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya on Sunday, that the Hala’ib Triangle is Sudanese, not Egyptian.
“The Hala’ib Triangle is Sudanese, as during the first elections that took place in Sudan when there was a British-Egyptian guardianship over Sudan, the triangle was considered a Sudanese constituency and took part in the elections. Since these elections were considered a sovereign act of the first grade, the triangle is Sudanese,” Al-Bashir explained.
He further accused the Egyptian General Intelligence Apparatus (Al Mukhabarat al A’amah) of providing support for Sudanese oppositionals, saying that in each meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, his government calls for the suspension of support provided to the Sudanese opposition.
The Egyptian side had a different take on the matter. Former foreign minister and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the parliament, Mohamed Orabi said that the statements from the Sudanese president regarding the Hala’ib Triangle’s affiliation to Sudan do not make any sense, as the international agreements and charters prove that the triangle is 100% Egyptian and has no relation to Sudan since 1958.
“The statement of President Omar Al-Bashir regarding Sudanese sovereignty over the Hala’ib Triangle is common from him and is meaningless. Its issuance at that time may also cause unrest in the already tumultuous Middle East,” Orabi noted.
Meanwhile, Al-Bashir denied the circulated accusations that Sudan harbours members of the Muslim Brotherhood, stating that his country’s policy includes not harbouring any elements hostile to other states.
Similarly, Orabi said that the Egyptian regime does not pay money to any opposition group in any other country and that all statements regarding support provided from the Egyptian General Intelligence to Sudanese opposition groups are “unfounded.”
Earlier in April 2016, the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs responded to the Sudanese statement requesting negotiations over the issue and said that the Hala’ib and Shalateen areas are Egyptian and fall under Egyptian sovereignty.
“Hala’ib and Shalateen are Egyptian and are subject to Egyptian sovereignty. Egypt does not have any further comments for the Sudanese foreign ministry,” the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson said.
Sudan called on Egypt to negotiate over the contested areas of Hala’ib and Shalateen, stating that it would otherwise resort to international arbitration to restore its rights to the areas, according to official Sudanese news agency SUNA.
Egyptian-Sudanese border disputes over the Hala’ib Triangle first arose in January 1958, when the Egyptian government sent a memorandum to the Sudanese government objecting to a new election law issued by Sudan for the elections scheduled to be held on 27 February 1958.
Shortly after Sudanese independence from Britain and Egypt, Sudan planned to hold elections in the triangle. President Nasser deployed troops to the area for a short period of time to secure the area ahead of the referendum for the United Arab Republic.
Until 1992, the two countries jointly controlled the area, until Egypt protested Sudan’s concession of exploration rights of the Hala’ib Triangle to a Canadian oil company.