February 4, 2023

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Emirates to operate Sudan port on Red Sea | Athalayar

A consortium of companies from the United Arab Emirates has reached a preliminary agreement with Sudan’s military government to operate the Abu Amama port on the Red Sea.. The strategic enclave will house the country’s second port after Port Sudan, whose infrastructure has collapsed in recent months due to a deep internal crisis. The Gulf state is strengthening its influence in Sudanese politics as the transition to civilian rule begins its second term.

A consortium of Abu Dhabi Ports Group, owned by Abu Dhabi ADQ and Invictus Investment Company PLC, managed by Sudan’s largest trading conglomerate DAL Group, had been negotiating for months. A lot. The plan was an open secret. Sudanese President Osama Daoud Abdellatif, owner of Invictus Investments Reuters The terms of the deal in June, then at an “advanced stage”.

Sudan’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Jibril and Abdeladib signed the document allowing the Emirati companies. “Develop, manage and directly operate certain port and economic zone assetsas well as forming joint ventures, partnerships or other business arrangements in support of the financing, development, construction, management and operation of projects,” according to the consortium’s statement.

The deal also includes another contract to exploit a $1.6 billion agricultural area in the city of Abu Hamad, located in Nile State. Construction of 500 km toll road Its cost will reach $450 million and will be funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the main financier of the project. It will connect Abu Hamat to Abu Amama port infrastructure.

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But that’s not all. The Emirati Business Consortium has pledged to equip the port with state-of-the-art technology. Industrial, tourist and residential areas as well as an international airport and a power station will be built around Abu Amama. Investments will exceed $6 billion. With this ambitious project, Emirates intends to copy the successful model of Jebel Ali in Dubai, the largest artificial port in the world and the most active in the region, opened in 1979 and expanded at the turn of the century.

General Ibrahim Jabir, who represents the Sovereignty Council, the body that has governed Sudan since 2019, attended the signing ceremony. Ni Abdel Fattah al-BurhanHe declared himself president after a military coup that toppled dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Neither is the controversial vice-president, Mohamed Hamdan TagaloHemeti, who is backed by the United Arab Emirates and its Gulf partners, did not attend.

Photos/AFP – A boat docks at Port Sudan, the country’s only port infrastructure

The terms of the deal were reportedly finalized by Al-Burhan and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed., according to Reuters, after the Sudanese army chief’s last trip to the Gulf state. Meanwhile, Abdellatif says negotiations over the Abu Amama port began in July 2021, three months before the military coup that ended the civilian transition led by former prime minister Abdullah Hamdok.

The announcement provoked negative reactions among the political opposition and the public.. This is not the first time. The workers condemn the sale of national strategic industries and, above all, interference in the internal affairs of the UAE. Last March, during a visit by Hemeti, a group of protesters blocked access to Port Sudan, who immediately denied that the port infrastructure would not be privatized and would fall into the hands of Emirates. The project is not there, but 200 kilometers to the north.

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This is not the only deal on the table for Abu Dhabi to offer. The same Emirati business group has submitted another bid for control of Zain Sudan, the country’s largest telecom company.

Photo/AP - General Mohammed Hamdan Tagalo.  On October 25, 2021, a year after a military takeover jeopardized Sudan's transition to democracy, growing divisions between the two powerful branches of the armed forces further threaten Sudan's future.
Photo/AP – Vice President of the Interim Military Council Mohamed Hamdan Tagalo, known as Hemeti.

Emirati influence in Sudan

After the overthrow of Islamist Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for more than three decades, the Gulf states pledged to pay billions of dollars into Sudan’s troubled accounts. The UAE became one of the main investors in the country and built close ties with the leaders of the Sudanese armed forces who supported the fall of the former president.. In 2020, Sudan’s exports to the UAE will be $1.86 billion.

The shift is due to neighboring states, including a broad coalition of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, getting a government of their choice. These countries did not want Islamists in government as a result of the coup. But see the military as the worst optionand certainly preferable to democratic transition,” writes Amgat Fareed Eltayeb, former deputy to former civilian prime minister Abdullah Hamdok, who was ousted by the military amid the political transition. European Council on Foreign Relations.

“Islamic influence is again seen throughout public administration, especially in the prosecutor’s office, the foreign service, the police and, above all, the judicial system. “Since the coup, court rulings have handed over many previously confiscated properties to Islamists,” Amqat added. The situation prompted Abu Dhabi to restructure its interests.

Emirates Sudan
Photo/Suna Agency – Sudanese Finance Minister Jebril Ibrahim poses with local President Osama Daoud Abdellatif and AD Ports Group CEO Mohammed Juma Al Shamisi after signing an agreement to operate Abu Amama Port.

The UAE has successfully pressured Sudanese political actors to defuse the crisis as part of the US-led Quad, which includes Saudi Arabia and the UK. So far, the mechanism has succeeded in bringing the military and a coalition of pro-democracy civilian bases to the negotiating table. They negotiate the contents of an agreement to withdraw the military from the government. On December 5, they announced the first step in this direction, but doubts remain. No one believed that the uniformed forces would abandon command.

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