In 1991 Sudan's relations with its most important neighbor were strained. This was partially a legacy of Cairo's close support of Nimeiri prior to 1985. Sudan was one of the few Arab countries that backed Egypt in 1979 after Anwar as Sadat signed a separate peace agreement with Israel, and Nimeiri had taken a leading role in the early 1980s to help rehabilitate Egypt's position with the rest of the Arab world. Nimeiri was in Egypt en route home from a trip to the United States when his government was overthrown. Egyptian president Husni Mubarak granted Nimeiri political asylum and rejected Sudan's subsequent calls for his extradition. Beginning in 1986, relations gradually improved and they were relatively normal by the time the Bashir coup occurred.
Relations with Egypt deteriorated steadily after the RCC-NS came to power. The Bashir regime was convinced that Egypt supported opposition politicians, several of whom, including Mirghani, were granted political asylum; the NDA was also allowed to operate in Egypt. Mirghani and other leaders, including Nimeiri, issued regular criticisms of the government from the relative safe haven of Cairo. The RCC-NS responded by providing asylum to Egyptian Islamic activists against whom were pending various criminal charges and by encouraging NIF supporters residing in Egypt physically to assault the organization's opponents. Relations were further strained early in 1990 when the Egyptian government invited a high-ranking SPLM delegation to Cairo. Even before the Persian Gulf crisis erupted in August, Mubarak accused Sudan of stationing Iraqi missiles on its soil and aiming them at the Aswan High Dam, a charge strongly denied by the RCC-NS. Relations only worsened after Sudan refused to join the Arab coalition against Iraq. As of mid-1991, Egypt had not returned its ambassador to Khartoum and was openly providing financial support to the DUP, the SPLM, and other opposition groups.
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