The expulsion of two Sudanese journalists from Egypt, at the beginning of this week, has further heightened the diplomatic and political tensions that have reached an almost uncontrollable frenzy in the past two months.
Al-Tahir Satti, a columnist at Al-Intibah daily newspaper was deported after being told his name appeared on a “no entry” blacklist held by Egyptian intelligence. Similarly, Iman Kamaladeen, a journalist with the Al-Sudani daily paper was kicked out less than 24 hours later.
It is unclear what prompted the Egyptian action, particularly as the events came just days after the countries’ foreign ministers met in Khartoum for political consultations in the hope of finding common ground to resolve outstanding issues between the two sides.
It is clear, however, that the public disagreements between the two and the tit-for-tat acts of reprisals touches on deeply-held, conflicting assumptions that the Sudanese and Egyptians have about each other.
Although, the main issues of contention can easily be identified, the hidden depth of feeling is not always apparent, and historical grievances based on ‘misunderstandings’ appear to be coming to the surface.
At the centre of the controversy lies the disputed sovereignty of the Halayeb Triangle, Sudan’s support for Ethiopia’s so-called Renaissance Dam which threatens Egypt’s water supply from the Nile River and Egypt’s support for armed groups fighting the Sudanese government.
Speaking to MEMO about the recent incident, the journalist at the centre of the controversy, Al Tahir Satti, explained that prior to travelling to Egypt, he had no idea he might be prevented from entering.
Back in Khartoum, he had followed closely the diplomatic exchanges between Egypt and Sudan and had written columns in his paper defending Sudan’s sovereignty over the Halayeb Triangle, referring to the presence of Egypt as an “occupying force.”
But on arrival at Cairo International airport, he soon realised there was a problem.
“My first inkling that something was wrong is when I gave my passport to an officer from Egypt’s internal security,” Satti said.
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