That something is going on is not in dispute, but making sense of these elements is not easy.
- Sudanese troops have been moved to the border, according to SUNA – the Sudanese government news agency. “Sudan on Friday said it deployed thousands of troops in Kassala State in eastern Sudan to confront human trafficking operations, denying tension with Eritrea, official SUNA news agency reported.Thousands of soldiers of the Rapid Support Forces, an affiliate of the Sudanese army, recently arrived in Kassala State on Sudan’s border with Eritrea.Kassala State Governor Adam Jamma said the troops came ‘within the framework of an emergency order and a Republican Decree relating to collection of arms and unlicensed vehicles, besides confronting human trafficking operations and smuggling of arms and commodities,’ adding that ‘it has nothing to do with the border.’The governor further denied reports earlier circulated by social media outlets about closure of border crossings between Sudan and Eritrea.He said no directives were given either by the federal or state governments to close the border crossings with Eritrea, reiterating that the relationship with Asmara ‘is deeply-rooted and there is nothing to disturb it.’
He went on saying that ‘the relationship with the Eritrean security bodies and their leadership is continuing within the security framework and combating of negative phenomena.”
- As SUNA reports a state of emergency was declared in northern Sudan in December 2017: “On Dec. 30, 2017, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued a Republican Decree declaring a state of emergency in North Kordofan State in western Sudan and Kassala State in eastern Sudan. According to the decree, the state of emergency will last six months.”
- As I reported yesterday, there is clearly tension between Egypt and Sudan over their disputed border area, the Halayeb triangle, and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood.
- On Thursday Middle East Monitor reported that Egyptian forces had established a base in Eritrea: “The forces are armed with modern technology and heavy armoured vehicles. Sources told Al Sharq that a meeting was convened between the UAE, Egypt and the Sudanese opposition representing groups in Darfur and eastern Sudan. There are no reported military confrontations.
The military presence in Eritrea may be a response to Sudan allowing Turkey to take over Suakin Island in Sudan temporarily last year, as part of a broader Turkish engagement policy in Africa. Suakin was once Sudan’s largest port and governed by the Ottoman Empire but has fallen into disuse since the creation of Port Sudan in the 20th century just 60 kilometres to the north.Al Sharq reported that, according to diplomatic sources, Turkey is planning to build a military base on Suakin Island. It opened a military base in Somalia last year, deploying 200 troops to train local Somali forces. Relations between Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Khartoum have been strained as a result of Turkey’s presence in Sudan.”
- Eritrea’s Minister of Information – President Isaias’s spokesman – flatly denied the reports of an Egyptian presence in Eritrea, blaming this on Al-Jazeera.
- Al Jazeera Arabic had alleged that Egyptians were training Eritreans at the military academy at the Sawa defence training centre. The suggestion that there are any foreigners at Sawa has been rejected by eyewitnesses at Sawa, who say there are no Egyptians at the centre.
- There are unconfirmed reports of tension inside Eritrea, but these are vague.