Egypt and Libya intervene to block southern and northern opposition hopes while the NIF plays off everyone against each other
'Egypt possesses cards it has not yet used for preventing the separation of southern Sudan'. Thus spake Cairo's Ambassador to Khartoum, Mohamed Asim Ibrahim, in June 2000. Egypt was 'determined to prevent such separation by all means' (AC Vol 41 No 13). A year later, the 'Egyptian-Libyan Initiative' (ELI) took off. And Egypt played some of those cards. As United States President George W. Bush's administration searched for a policy and the National Islamic Front (aka 'National Congress') government in Khartoum used its new oil wealth to stave off the renewal of United Nations' sanctions, Cairo slid into the gap. Fearing democracy in Khartoum almost as much as Islamism, it devised the Initiative. It began timidly as the 'Libyan-Egyptian Initiative' in Tripoli in mid-1999 and was striking by its lack of content one member of Sudan's opposition umbrella, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which was invited to Libya for the launch, complained that there was 'not even a piece of paper on the table'. It looked like another of Colonel Moammar el Gadaffi's grandiose projects.
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