KHARTOUM, April 2 Qatar will deposit $1 billion
at Sudan's central bank, Khartoum said on Wednesday, announcing
an aid package to Sudan's Islamist government that is likely to
worsen Doha's already tense relations with Egypt.
The announcement by Finance Minister Badr El-Din Mahmoud
came at the end of a visit to Khartoum by Qatari Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose backing for the Muslim
Brotherhood has frayed ties with Egypt and Gulf states that
support the army-backed government in Cairo, including Saudi
Mahmoud, speaking at Khartoum airport, said Qatar also
planned to invest in large agricultural and energy projects in
Sudan, whose economy has suffered since South Sudan broke away
in 2011, taking with it much of Khartoum's oil fields.
"Sudan realised big economic gains from the visit of the
Emir of Qatar today," he said.
Mahmoud said the deposit was the second part of an aid
package but declined to give details of the first part. Sudan is
vital to Egyptian interests because of its location upstream on
the river Nile.
In a written statement, Sheikh Tamim said his visit "comes
to confirm the two countries' desire for continued dialogue and
coordination on issues of mutual interest".
Egypt has accused Qatar of meddling in its internal affairs
and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement
that was ejected from power by the army last year after mass
protests against President Mohamed Mursi's rule.
Cedric Barnes, Horn of Africa project director at the
International Crisis Group, said the Qatari aid marked an
extension of Doha's long-standing support for the government in
Khartoum and was an effort to prop up one of the last remaining
"bulwarks of Brotherhood-style leadership in the region".
The Brotherhood has long been viewed with suspicion by most
Gulf states. Qatar's backing for the Islamists has strained its
ties with other Gulf states.
On March 5, in an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia, the UAE
and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing Doha
of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each
others' internal affairs. Qatar denies the charge.
(Reporting by Khaled Abdel Aziz; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing
by John Stonestreet and Sonya Hepinstall)