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Sudan shifts alliance from Egypt to Ethiopia over Nile dispute

Sudan's realization that it has more to gain from an alliance with Ethiopia has resulted in waning ties with traditional partner Egypt.
Water gushes out from pipes by the construction of Ethiopia's Great Renaissance Dam in Guba Woreda, some 40 km (25 miles) from Ethiopia's border with Sudan, June 28, 2013. Egypt fears the $4.7 billion dam, that the Horn of Africa nation is building on the Nile, will reduce a water supply vital for its 84 million people, who mostly live in the Nile valley and delta. Picture taken June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri (ETHIOPIA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY ENERGY ENVIRONMENT) - RTX115KE

Since 1959, Sudanese politicians have sided with Egypt when negotiating with other African countries about Nile water rights. Similarly, Sudanese politicians based in Khartoum have looked north and east to their Arab neighbors for political, cultural, military and financial support. How then do we explain the statements in June and July 2013 by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Irrigation and Agriculture Minister Abdul Halim al-Mutafi that Sudan supports the construction of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam over the objections of the country’s Egyptian allies? To understand the strengthening of Sudan’s alliance with Ethiopia and its increased distance from Egypt, it is necessary to look both at the events of the past few months and at the partition in 2011.

The recent protests and riots, which began in Wad Medani on Sept. 23 and have subsequently spread to cities throughout Sudan, calling for a continuation of government fuel subsidies and now the fall of the regime, are the direct result of the failure of the National Congress Party’s (NCP) political and economic strategy in the run-up to and in the wake of the partition of Sudan in July 2011. 

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