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Sudan’s Burhan heads to Egypt amid ongoing conflict

The Egypt-Sudan relationship is politically and economically important for both countries, and the visit is Burhan’s first since fighting began in Sudan in April.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) receives Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in El Alamein, Aug. 29, 2023.

Sudanese leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan sought to shore up relations with Egypt on Tuesday as he made his first visit since the conflict in Sudan began.

Burhan met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in New Alamein. The two discussed bilateral relations, and the Sudanese military leader expressed Sudan’s appreciation for Egypt’s “active role in the region,” according to the official Sudan News Agency.

Sisi and Burhan also discussed efforts to resolve the Sudanese crisis. Sisi “stressed Egypt's firm position to stand by Sudan and support its security, stability, unity and territorial integrity,” according to a statement from the Egyptian Presidency.

Burhan said in a press briefing following the meeting that he came to Egypt to brief the country’s leadership on the situation in Sudan. Burhan also said the Sudanese military does not intend to rule the country indefinitely and is committed to the democratic transition as well as an end to the fighting, Egypt’s state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram reported.

Burhan became leader of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council in 2019 following the revolution and subsequent ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir. In 2021, Burhan seized control of the government via a coup. Fighting broke out in Sudan between the armed forces and the rival paramilitary known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) this past April. The conflict is ongoing despite efforts from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others to achieve a peace deal.

Burhan said on Monday that his forces would defeat the RSF and never sign a deal with them. He is also expected to visit Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: Sudan places a great deal of importance on its relations with Egypt. Burhan’s first foreign trip as head of the transitional council in 2019 was likewise to Egypt.

Egypt has taken an active role in the conflict in Sudan and supports Sudan's military. In July, Egypt hosted a summit of countries neighboring Sudan in an effort to stop the fighting. Thousands of Sudanese refugees have also fled to Egypt since the conflict began.

Egypt is concerned about the possible infiltration of armed groups from Sudan due to the fighting, as well as the effects the influx of refugees could have on the Egyptian economic crisis, according to a June report from the Atlantic Council.

Sudan is also aligned with Egypt on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river. Egypt and Sudan are concerned that Ethiopia’s filling of the mega-dam will dangerously lower water levels in their countries. The three countries resumed talks on the dam this week after a two-year hiatus.

Know more: Sisi has been prioritizing Egypt’s relations with fellow African countries recently. In June, he visited Angola, Mozambique and Zambia as part of a regional tour of southern Africa.

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