CAIRO - Relations between Egypt and Sudan have taken a turn for the worse as each side accuses the other of supporting terrorism. Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour postponed a planned visit Tuesday to Cairo, amid the tensions.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir accused Egypt last week of supporting terrorists in South Sudan and Darfur, after allegedly capturing rebels Sudan says were driving Egyptian armored vehicles.
Bashir says Sudan's armed forces uncovered a large plot, with fighters coming from two directions — one group from South Sudan and the other from Libya — on the same day.
He alleges the Sudanese military destroyed 59 armored personnel carriers and tanks coming from South Sudan, and that the vehicles were high tech and Egyptian made. Sudanese TV showed video of what it said were some of the vehicles.
A top Sudanese negotiator for the conflict in Darfur, Amin Hassan Omar, told Sudanese state TV that Egypt is trying to destabilize his country.
He says it is well-known that Egypt supports eastern Libyan military commander General Khalifa Hafter and that Egypt furnishes the South Sudanese government with weapons. Egypt also accuses Sudan of sending arms to parties in Libya, Omar says.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi rebutted the charges against Cairo last week, saying Egypt's foreign policy is unwavering in not interfering with the affairs of others and that Egypt conducts an honorable policy in an era devoid of honor.
Egyptian state media have accused Sudan of supporting Islamic militants in southern Libya, following the terror attack Friday that killed more than two dozen Coptic Christians, many of them children, near the upper Egyptian town of Minya.
Egyptian TV showed a Sudanese militant Islamic cleric, Mohammed al Jazouly, justifying the killing of civilians, saying Islam, in its battle against infidels, recognizes no difference between regular armies and civilians. For that reason, he says, it is permissible to kill tourists or children.
Sissi denounced such actions in a speech during at an anti-terrorism summit in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, just over a week ago.
He says Egypt's battle is a part of the world war against terrorism and Egypt is determined to defeat terrorist groups, while extending a hand in cooperation to its allies against them.
"Terrorists are not just those who carry weapons, but also those who arm and train them, or offer them political [justification]," Sissi said.
Analyst Mohammed Hamza of the Center for Strategic Studies told Arab and Egyptian media that a number of regional states are supporting terrorism.
He says Qatar and possibly Sudan, along with regional power Turkey, have been supporting Islamic terrorists in neighboring Libya in fighting military commander Khalifa Hafter and periodically mounting terrorist attacks in Egypt.
Hafter's navy says it intercepted Italian and Greek-flagged boats carrying arms to the Islamist stronghold of Derna, Libya, more than a week ago. It was not clear who sent them.