Sudan and Turkey … New Outlets for Joint Cooperation


Sudan remains one of the most important partners of Turkey in Africa with long and deep-rooted historical, religious and cultural ties.

The Sudanese-Turkish relations had continued to gear up in the political,economic, military and cultural spheres and Turkey has supported Sudan politically over the years in the efforts to get US sanctions lifted.

However, ties initially began to flourish with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Sudan last year, which turned over a new leaf in the relations of the two countries. Both countries during his visit signed a significant amount of agreements pertaining to defense cooperation, mining, agriculture, forest, science, education and tourism.

Among 13 agreements signed, the highlight of the visit was a deal to temporarily lease the Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey.

Last November Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar was in the Sudanese capital city Khartoum, where he met with his Sudanese counterpart Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf and President al-Bashir. Turkey’s plan to establish military training  centres in the country was discussed in the meetings.

Most recently Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay visited Sudan ,accompanied by Turkish Agriculture and Trade ministers, during which they signed a wide range of agreements to boost bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, agriculture, electricity and livestock.

Turkey and Sudan are working on establishing a long term relationship with Sudan in the field of agriculture, livestock and agro-industries. In this regard, the “Agreement on Bilateral Agricultural Cooperation and Partnership” between Turkey and Sudan” which was signed on April 28, 2014, in Ankara has been endorsed by both Parliaments. The General Directorate of Agricultural Enterprises (TIGEM) of Turkey is already working with relevant bodies from Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation of Sudan to implement this partnership.

Turkish Agriculture Minister ,Bekir Pakdemirli said “Turkey’s required agricultural crops will be produced in Sudan’s agricultural lands, which were reserved for Turkish entrepreneurs’ investment”.

“We will continue to work for the two countries to receive the maximum benefit,” the minister said.

Turkey and Sudan also decided to establish a joint agriculture and livestock company last March.

Pakdemirli said the bilateral trade volume of the two countries was $481 million last year, and opening a branch of Turkey’s Ziraat Participation Bank in Sudan was an important step in raising bilateral trade.

“The agreement-in-principle for the bank’s branch was also signed with the contribution of Turkish Deputy Trade Minister Fatih Metin,” he added.
The relationships
Speaking to SMC, Professor Hasan Ali al-Sa’ouri, a professor at the Nilein University, a political science department said the Sudanese-Turkish relations have their roots in the history of the two nations since the days of the Ottoman Empire that ruled wide swaths of the Muslim World, including the Sudan.
Sudan is the only African Islamic country that supported Turkey in the first world war, he said.
He said that the relations between the two countries have enhanced by the visit of the Turkish president to Sudan, noting that the visit has developed an integrated strategy for cooperation between the two sides in economic, political and military coordination through the signing of 12 agreements and agreed on the establishment of different committees in all fields determine what Sudan want.
Despite the agreement faltered for seven months, but some of the ministries concerned have started to activate these agreements, and now there is a full agreement on security and political cooperation.
He sees that there are some caveats or obstacles in the relationship between Khartoum and Ankara, pointing out that Turkey’s southward direction has arouse the ire of some countries including United States of America, because Turkey wants not only Sudan but also its geographic location.
He added that Turkey now has a base in Somalia and the relationship with Sudan makes the Russian-Turkish developing alliance boost the Sudanese-Turkish relations.
He called for the return to the Turkish investment which began ten years ago in real estate, buildings and others. The Turkish state is expected to implement the new airport in Omdurman. He added that Sudan needs these investments and technology, calling for the opportunity to take advantage of this opportunity, which leads Sudan to overcome the concerns of some countries, and the Sudan can benefit from Turkey to transfer this technology.

The Associate Professor at the Nilein University, a political science department, Dr. Maysa Madani Mohammad Madani told SMC that the relations between Turkey and Sudan have witnessed a remarkable development since 2005, especially following the Justice and Development Party accession to power in Turkey in 2002.

During the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Sudan in December 2017 and the signing of a number of Economic and military agreements and other related  to the security of the Red Sea, granted part of Suakin so it could rebuild the area as a tourist site, in addition to a number of areas of cooperation between Sudan and Turkey.

Both countries has support each other, this is clearly demonstrated by the role played by Sudan in the victory of Turkey in the non-permanent membership of the Security Council in the period 2009-2010 and also for the candidate of Turkey for the post of Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 2007, as well as the call of Sudan to resolve the Cyprus issue within the framework of the United Nations.

Turkey continued to support the Sudan’s sovereignty, stability and  territorial integrity, in addition to demanding the international community (IC) to deal with the Sudan diplomatically and resolving its issues, it also rejecting the ICC’s allegations against the Sudanese President.

in term of  economic cooperation, Maysa pointing to the signing of  an economic partnership agreement including several projects and the establishment of free zones, in addition to the development of bilateral investment.

She also pointed to Turkey’s commitment to the establishment of railways in Sudan, the implementation of large projects in the field of agriculture and livestock, the opening of Turkish markets to Sudanese meat and the signing of the joint customs cooperation agreement Between the two countries to build the Sudanese human capabilities in the field of standards and specifications and central banks.

The Turkish exports Bank has contributed in the infrastructure projects in the Khartoum, such as the Mak Nimer and Halfaya bridge and sewerage in Bahri in the amount of $100 million.

Turkey also providing $200 million to encourage Turkish companies instead of $100 million.

Suakin island

During the nearly 400 years of Ottoman rule from the 16th to 19th century, Suakin island was a vital point not just for regional maritime trade but also in the journey of Muslim pilgrims traveling from African nations to Mecca and Medina to perform Hajj.

It seems that Turkey’s interest in the reconstruction of the Suakin island comes in the context of its policy aimed at expanding the volume of economic, commercial and military cooperation with the countries of the Horn of Africa, as well as working to develop cultural ties in a way to expand social and political relations by supportting many countries of the African continent such as Somalia and Ethiopia in all field.

Turkey seeks to strengthen its presence in Sudan and in the Red Sea region in particular by developing its relations.