After Somalia, Qatar and UAE shift focus to Sudan

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As part of increasing their stakes in Africa, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] have continued to venture into Africa, with an aim of expanding their markets and perhaps, political influence in the young continent.

Last week, reports emerged that outgoing Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had reached out to Dubai to ask for loans due to dwindling financial fortunes, even with the open interest of Qatar, which has got a lot of influence in the Horn of Africa nation.

In fact, a few weeks ago, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad dispatched Mutlaq Alqahtani to Mogadishu and Nairobi, where they helped restore ties between the two nations, albeit for a short while. Qatar and Turkey have often been dragged to Somalia’s internal politics.

And in Sudan, UAE has been following up the border dispute between Khartoum and Addis Ababa, which has greatly strained the relationship between the two sides. However, UAE is said to have withdrawn according to reports from Sovereign Council.

The UAE proposed to establish agricultural schemes in the Al-Fashaqa area of Gadaref State. 25% of the claimed area will be cultivated by Ethiopian farmers, according to the initiative.

However, the Head of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fatah al-Burhan travelled to Abu Dhabi recently to inform the UAE leadership of Sudan’s demand to demarcate the border first before any project or presence of Ethiopian manpower in the area, Sudan Tribune reported.

The Abu Dhabi based Asharq newspaper reported Sunday that the UAE had officially informed Sudan of the withdrawal of its initiative to resolve the border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.

In a letter to the Sudanese government, “the UAE affirmed its respect for Sudan’s position” about the need to place border markers first, further said the report citing sources at the Sudanese collegial presidency.

Sudanese officials say Ethiopia has reneged the border agreement signed in 1902, 1903 and 1972. They would not allow their presence of Ethiopian farmers again in the border area unless the markers are clearly established.

The head of the Sovereign Council flanked by the cabinet affairs minister had to travel to Abu Dhabi to reiterate Khartoum’s position after pledges made by his deputy to positively consider the UAE’s investment project, officials say in Khartoum.

In the middle of this, Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani affirmed that he carries a message of support from HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to the brothers in Sudan, indicating that his visit to Khartoum comes within the framework of brotherhood and fraternally relations that links the State of Qatar with the Republic of Sudan and the Qatari and Sudanese peoples.

In a joint press conference with HE Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Sudan Dr Mariam Al Sadiq Al Mahdi in Khartoum on Monday, HE the Foreign Minister said that the visit constituted a good opportunity to discuss ways to advance cooperation and strengthen relations between the two countries, noting that these relations have solid historical foundations.

He added that Sudan is going through exceptional circumstances in this transitional phase, which is a normal thing, adding that the State of Qatar is fully confident that Sudan will emerge from this stage stronger with the hands of its sons and daughters. He stressed that the State of Qatar will always support the Republic of Sudan.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the talk included the issue of Darfur Peace and the Juba Agreement, affirming the State of Qatar’s support for all these efforts, and its continued work with the Sudanese government to achieve all peace requirements and support it.

There was an opportunity to talk about other regional issues, whether the recent tension with Ethiopia or the regional situation in Libya and Chad and this was a good opportunity to exchange views, HE the Foreign Minister explained.