Turkey has decided to rebuild a destroyed Ottoman port on the Sudanese coast in the Red Sea. Ankara will also establish some sort of a military naval base, the Sudanese Foreign Minister confirmed on Tuesday.
The restoration of Suakin Island in the Red Sea was agreed upon during a visit of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to the ancient port, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said, according to the Reuters news agency.
Turkey was „temporarily“ handed over the island to rebuild the area as a tourist destination and transit point for pilgrims crossing the Red Sea to Mecca, the Turkish president said.
He said that the Suakin deal is one of several worth a total of $650 million that has been agreed with Sudan. In October, the US lifted its sanctions after two decades against Sudan.
Both countries agreed to „build a dock to maintain civilian and military ships“, Ghandour stressed to reporters. Sudan signed an agreement with Turkey that „could lead to any kind of military cooperation“. In other words, the government of Omar al-Baschir expects Turkey to build a military base on the Sudanese coast in the Red Sea.
The agreement comes only three months after Turkey officially opened a $50 million military training facility in Somalia. The Turkish government also recently concluded a military training contract with Djibouti. Turkey wants to exert increasing influence on the region, writes Reuters.
Erdogan said on Monday in Khartoum that the port city should rise to its former glory. The port will attract pilgrims who want to travel to Mecca. In this way Ankara wants to help boost the regional tourism sector.
„Imagine that people from Turkey who want to go on pilgrimage will come and visit the historical areas on Suakin Island“, Erdogan said. „From there they will take the boat to Jiddah.“
Other agreements signed during the Erdogan visit included Turkish investment in the construction of the planned new Khartoum airport and private sector investment in cotton production, power generation and the construction of grain silos and meat slaughterhouses.
In October, the United States lifted a trade embargo and other sanctions that had cut Sudan off from a large part of the global financial system.
Sudan’s Minister of State for Investment said he wants to attract investments of 10 billion US dollars per year in the future, compared to 1 billion US dollars in 2016.