Egypt Worried About Qatari Moves in South Sudan

Egypt has followed with great concern Tut Qalwak’s recent visit to Doha. Qalwak is the security adviser to the president of South Sudan, and his visit has raised suspicions about Qatar’s next moves in the region after the fall of its ally in Sudan, Omar al-Bashir. It seems that Doha is turning to Juba to build new influence there, The Arab Weekly writes.

Political sources in Cairo said that Doha was keen during Qalwak’s visit to know the limits reached by relations between Juba and Cairo, and whether or not South Sudan had promised Egypt to let it build a military base on its territory.

Qatar is trying to compensate for the decline of its influence in Khartoum by turning its attention to its rival Juba, as it wants to keep a finger in the pie in a region that is becoming increasingly dynamic on many levels due to the escalation of the roles of the forces involved in the developments there, and to its role in the crises that plague it.

On Sunday, Qatari Defence Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Attiyah met with Qalwak during the latter’s open visit to Doha. The officials reviewed issues of common interest, and the development of friendship and cooperation relations in the political and security fields.

For quite a while, Doha has had no formal diplomatic relations with South Sudan, despite Juba’s independence nine years ago.

Although the reasons for delaying the diplomatic move are unknown to some and suspicious to others, Doha’s sudden interest in South Sudan can be explained in light of the failure of Doha’s bets in Sudan. Sudan’s sovereign council seems determined to steer away from the Qatari axis, as it continues its efforts to undermine the ideological and strategic bases of the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir and its remnants within the Islamist current in Sudan.

Qatar built strong relations with the Bashir regime, and was able to entrench itself in many joints of power through its proxies in Sudan, before the Sudanese revolution changed all of that.

Qalwak’s visit to Doha came in the heels of the positive impetus created by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s first visit to South Sudan in November within the framework of his moves to improve relations with the countries of the Nile Basin.