Learn more about Hala'ib Triangle
The Hala'ib Triangle is an area of land measuring 20,580 km² located on the Red Sea's African coast, between the borders of Egypt and Sudan. There are 3 major towns in the area, Shalateen, Abu Ramad and Hala'ib, the largest of which is Shalateen.
Sovereignty over the area has never been satisfactorily determined. Both Egypt and Sudan claim ownership over the land.
In 1899, at which time the United Kingdom held great influence in the area, the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Agreement for Sudan set the border at the 22nd parallel. However, in 1902, for its own convenience, the United Kingdom drew a separate “administrative boundary,” under which a triangle of land north of the parallel was placed under Sudanese administration because it was closer to Khartoum than Cairo and would be the responsibility of the British Governor located in Khartoum.
In 1958, Gamal Abdel Nasser sent Egyptian troops into the disputed region but withdrew them shortly afterwards.
Although both countries laid claim to the land, the area remained under Sudanese control until the dispute resurfaced in 1992, when Egypt objected to Sudan’s granting of exploration rights in the waters off the Halaib Triangle to a Canadian oil company. Negotiations began, but the company pulled out of the deal until sovereignty was settled. In January 2000, Sudan withdrew its own forces from the area, effectively ceding control of the border zone to Egypt, whose forces have occupied the area ever since.
However, Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir claimed in 2004 that despite his nation's withdrawal, and Egypt's control of the Hala'ib triangle, that the triangle still rightfully belonged to Sudan. He insisted that Sudan had “never relinquished” the town of Hala'ib and its surrounding environs. “We did not make any concessions... The proof is that we have recently renewed the complaint to the Security Council,” he said, according to Associated Press.
Newly discovered oil reserves in the territory may have prompted Al-Bashir’s decision to resurrect Sudan’s claim, and this has only increased the desire of both states to claim the area.
The indigenous inhabitants of Hala'ib are predominantly of the Bisharin, Hadandawa and Beja tribes. These ethnic groupings live in various countries in North East Africa, but are predominantly located in North Eastern Sudan. Although these tribes complain of political and economic marginalisation in Sudan, their political profile is much higher in Sudan than in Egypt. In Sudan the Minister of Agriculture Muhammad Kabbashi Eissa is of the Hadandawa tribe. In Egypt the Ababda, Bishariyeen, Hadandawa and Beja suffer from racial discrimination and historical, socio-economic deprivation. It has been reported that in peace talks in Eritrea between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front, a political-military grouping that represents the peoples of East Sudan, the Eastern Front demanded that the Government of Sudan address the sovereignty issue over the Hala'ib Triangle by bringing it back under Sudanese sovereignty so that the political and administrative borders between the inter-related tribes no longer exist.