Deal with Turkey does not threaten Arabs, Sudan says

Sudan said Turkey’s planned reconstruction of a Sudanese port does not threaten the security of Arab countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed an agreement with Sudan on Sunday to rebuild the ruined Ottoman port city of Suakin, on the Red Sea, and construct docks to service both civilian and military vessels. But the deal has angered Gulf Arab states wary of what they see as Turkey’s expansionist neo-Ottoman ambitions in their backyard.

The Sudanese embassy in Saudi Arabia, was quoted by Turkish mainstream newspaper Habertürk as saying that criticism of the deal does not reflect the truth.

Pro-government newspapers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt have criticised Sudan for allowing Turkey to “grab a piece of Africa,” and “extend its territories over the sea”, the embassy said in a statement.

“Turkey is not grabbing land in Africa as those newspapers claim,” the statement said, but it will be given to Turkey for development.

The medieval port of Suakin was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1517, but economically lost out to competition from Portuguese traders. After capture by British and Egyptian forces in the 1880s, Suakin was formally passed to Egypt with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that recognised the Republic of Turkey. It became Sudanese territory after the country gained independence from Britain in 1956.