Strategic expansion in East Africa: Turkey concludes with Sudan comprehensive agreements

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Turkey and Sudan have agreed to set up a Strategic Cooperation Council and to intensify trade efforts. Both countries are also interested in developing military relations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in the Sudanese capital on Sunday on a three-day trip. His Africa tour includes visits to Chad and Tunisia.

On Sunday, the two countries signed a total of 13 agreements on defence cooperation, mining, agriculture, forestry, science, education, tourism, environment, support for shopping centres and the establishment of a strategic council.

After a meeting with his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir, Erdogan said that the two countries want to increase bilateral trade from the current $500 million a year to $1 billion first and then $10 billion.

To promote the economic development, both nations decided to establish a „Strategic Cooperation Council“.

On Monday, the Turkish Minister for Economic Affairs proposed to use domestic currencies to boost bilateral trade.

„Turkey and Sudan could build a system that would allow the possibility of using domestic currencies in exchange for exports among themselves“, said Nihat Zeybekci at the Sudan-Turkey Economic Forum, which took place during the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Sudan.

„We have signed an agreement on economic cooperation and we have put our two countries on the road to free trade“, said Zeybekci. The Minister pointed out that a free trade agreement between the two countries will be signed in the near future. He stressed that Sudan has a great need for infrastructure investment, while Turkey needs several agricultural products grown in Sudan.

Under the agreement signed with the Directorate-General for Agricultural Enterprises of Turkey, some 780,000 hectares have been earmarked for investments by Turkish entrepreneurs in five regions. Sudanese Agriculture Minister Abdullatif Ahmed Mohamed Ijaimi said he was hoping for an agreement that would allow Sudan to supply Turkey with cheap meat, which has seen an increase in beef prices in recent months.

Turkey to build military base in Somalia

On Monday, the Turkish General Staff announced that it had signed an agreement on the training of Somali soldiers. Chief of staff Hulusi Akar and his colleague Imad Aldien Mustafa Adawi signed the contract. More details about the type of Turkish education is not yet known. Ankara previously signed a military training program with Djibouti and maintains a military training base in Somalia.

On Monday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Turkey and Sudan also met with the one from Qatar. The trilateral meeting is interesting because Qatar is Ankara’s closest Turkish ally in the Middle East, which was last confronted with an economic blockade by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Under the impression of the meeting, a new alliance with the government of Omar al-Bashir seems to emerge, who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Both Turkey and Qatar regard the Muslim Brotherhood as useful allies in the context of a growing policy of influence by both allies. Moreover, there is still considerable competition between Ankara and Cairo. By positioning itself at the lower end of the Nile, the Turkey-Katar alliance is building up new geopolitical options vis-à-vis Egypt.

In an interview with the Turkish state news agency Anadolu, the Sudanese vice-president and parliamentarian of the Islah Harakat party Hasan Osman Rizik called for the „establishment of a Turkish military base in the Red Sea, which is supposed to represent the power position of the two countries on the coast of Port Sudan“, quotes the Turkish news portal „Türkiye Gazetesi“.

In keeping with this, Sudan agreed to hand over the Suakin Island to Turkey for reconstruction, declared President Erdogan. Suakin, one of the oldest seaports in Africa, was traditionally used by African Muslims on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The island is located 60 kilometres south of Port Sudan.

After visiting the island, Erdogan said earlier that same day that the island must be rebuilt and called for a restoration process during a speech at the University of Chartum.

The Turkish Ottomans used the port city to protect the province of Hijaz – today’s western Saudi Arabia – from attackers that crossed the Red Sea. For Ankara, this opens up new potential for „Power Projection“ both to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which are competing with Turkey in either Libya or the Persian Gulf as part of the Qatar crisis.



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