Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reasserted claims of Sudanese sovereignty over the contested Halayeb triangle, threatening to resort to the United Nations Security Council, in an interview on Sunday.
In the interview, aired on the Saudi Arabian Al-Arabiya satellite channel, he also accused Egypt of harboring Sudanese dissidents, claiming that Egyptian intelligence agencies support members of the Sudanese opposition. Bashir added that the issue is raised with Egyptian officials “in every meeting.”
The president reiterated Sudan’s stance on the Halayeb triangle, referred to as Halayeb and Shalatin in Egypt, and requested negotiations over the contested land. He affirmed “it will remain Sudanese… we will not give it up. We have a complaint at the United Nations Security Council which we renew annually. If they refuse to hold negotiations, we will resort to the Security Council.”
According to Bashir when elections were held during Egyptian-British rule in Sudan in 1953, Halayeb was a Sudanese constituency. He added that Egypt’s Armed Forces occupied the triangle in 1995 while Sudan was carrying out a military campaign against the rebels in the south.
Since then, the Halayeb triangle, located on the Egypt-Sudan border and measuring approximately 20,000 square kilometers, has been under de facto Egyptian administration.
The region has long been a sore spot in bilateral relations. In 1958 Egypt protested against a Sudanese election law including the triangle in Sudanese districts, and while Sudan claims the area fell under its administrative control in the past, Egypt cites its right to control over any land over the 22nd parallel, which includes the Halayeb triangle.
The border dispute was revived after Egypt signed an agreement to cede control of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia in April 2016.
Though annulled by an Egyptian court in January, Sudan called for similar negotiations to take place on the Halayeb Triangle immediately following the signing of the initial Tiran and Sanafir deal. Egypt simply responded by stating that the triangle is Egyptian.
During Sunday’s interview Bashir commended the character of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, describing him as honest and affirming that the land dispute is nothing personal. He said the issue is with the military establishment, and stressed Sudan’s “special” relationship with Egypt and Sisi.
He also denied claims that Sudan had recently expelled members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, claiming the country doesn’t “host anyone antagonistic to any state.”
Sudan’s relationship with Egypt has frequently been punctuated by signs of tension. In 2013 Sudan changed its position on Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, a contentious issue due to its impact on Egypt’s future share of Nile water, expressing support for its construction.
Sudan also accused Egypt of arresting and torturing Sudanese citizens in 2015, claiming that they were systematically targeted by Egyptian security.