In a scene reminiscent of the Cold War, US and Russian military ships docked face to face in Port Sudan, which overlooks the Red Sea, which analysts considered a race between the two countries to search for a foothold in Sudanese waters.
The Sudanese Navy proceeded as much as possible to allocate anchorage for the USS Winston S. Churchill, which arrived in Port Sudan last Saturday, away from the Russian frigate, Admiral Grigorovich, which arrived at the same port the day before yesterday, Sunday.
A few days earlier, the USNS Carson City – belonging to the US Maritime Transport Command – docked in Port Sudan.
The features of competition on the coast of Sudan are evidenced by the fact that Russia announced on December 9, 2020, its intention to establish a supply and maintenance base for the Russian Navy near Port Sudan, capable of accommodating 300 military and civilians and receiving warships powered by nuclear energy.
The publication of the Russian Official Gazette of the text of an agreement with Sudan – on establishing a naval base in Port Sudan – stimulated the United States to move quickly towards Sudanese waters.
Eleven days after the Russian announcement, the military attache of the US embassy in Khartoum visited the Flamingo base – of the Sudanese army in Port Sudan – and pledged to strengthen military cooperation with Sudan.
And last January, Deputy US Military Command for Africa (AFRICOM) Andrew Young and Director of Intelligence Admiral Heidi Berg visited Khartoum to expand the partnership with Sudan.
A Sudanese navy officer said, “America sensed that there was a cake distributed, and Russia wanted to start building the base, so it hurried to cut the road,” explaining that competition in the region began since the Gulf War by establishing fleets for logistical bases near its operations.
The officer – who preferred to withhold his name – confirms to Al-Jazeera Net that the American and Russian fleets are moving under the banner of supporting democratic transformation and peace, but their movements are in fact within competition and an intersection of interests.
Possibility of repudiation
The professor in international relations, Major General Muhammad Khalil al-Saim expects that Sudan will disavow the agreement to establish the Russian base, because it was based on military agreements during the era of ousted President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Moscow and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November 2017.
Al-Sayyim says that “the revolution brought about what preceded it, so I expect that there will not be a list for the Russian base,” indicating that the closest to Sudan is the direction to America, because the Sudanese army follows the western organization of armies.
Al-Sayyim attributes the race between America and Russia to Sudan’s geopolitical position in the heart of Africa, as well as to the long-term strategy of the Russians to access warm waters and America’s strategy based on circumvention.
He explains that the strategy of briefing was exploiting Europe’s fear of communism, and now it is exploiting Islamophobia, which is why NATO was established, and then the alliance of Baghdad, the Gulf and Africa.
In turn, the researcher in international relations and foreign policy, Dr. Rashid Muhammad Ali Al-Sheikh, confirms that the nature of competition in the region was subject to regional conditions related to the suffering of the Middle East from long conflicts that affected stability.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, the Sheikh indicates that there is a new path now related to economic dimensions in the exploitation of safe and cold areas in order to avoid the cost of war, especially after Sudan’s liberation from the restrictions of sanctions, which stimulates America to return with an investment character.
The sheikh continues, “America has moved faster than the economic track to secure this path, which will result in the next three years assigning regional political roles to Sudan, to manage the region with economic support that will lead to the growth of interests of certain countries.”
He believes that the opportunities of the United States will be greater because it pursues a policy that combines security and economy, while Russian policy tends to the military side, while China follows the soft policy through the economy.
The sheikh excludes any military role for Turkey in the waters of the Red Sea, only because it is now focusing on the Mediterranean.
The importance of grammar
The Sudanese Navy officer confirms that Sudan has strategic importance in overlooking the Red Sea with the Gulf countries, and that this sea is an international crossing from Bab al-Mandab to Europe through the Suez Canal.
The officer says that Sudan has not yet benefited from the race to establish bases and ports on the coasts of the Red Sea, which was evident in Djibouti and Eritrea, but after the political change in Sudan, there is an apparent race that has not reached the stage of conflict.
He states that now there is a good opportunity for Sudan to take advantage of the international situation, because the bases will generate significant resources of hard currency, and under strong agreements, infrastructure will be established on the country’s coasts and the Sudanese navy will develop by exchanging experiences and supplying ships.
Major General Muhammad Khalil al-Saim confirms that the United States will prevent Russia from reaching the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea overlooking the Gulf, where the oil resource and the site is also linked to Israel’s security.
He adds that the United States after the era of Donald Trump will return to play an influential role in the region, after Trump gave Russia an opportunity to expand, which appeared in the Russian base agreement in Port Sudan, which the Sudanese knew only because Moscow announced it.