The Hala'ib Triangle (مثلث حلايب in Arabic, transliterated Muthallath Halāʾib or Muṯallaṯ Ḥalāʾib) is an area of land measuring 20,580 km² located on the Red Sea's African coast, between the political borders of Egypt (at the 22nd circle of latitude)(as per the 1899 treaty) and the administrative boundary (as per the 1902 treaty) . The major town in this area is Hala'ib. The only other populated place is Abu Ramad, 30 km northwest of Hala'ib town on the Red Sea coast. Shalateen is the Egyptian town just on the northern administrative boundary. The closest Sudanese town south of the disputed area is Osief (Marsa Osief), located 26 km south of the 22nd circle of latitude, the political borders line claimed by Egypt.
It has been reported that as of August 2008 a group of Sudanese troops in the village of Hala'ib are surrounded by a larger Egyptian army that peacefully administrates their food, water, and transportation.
The description of the area as a triangle is a rough generalization. Only the longer, 290 km along the southern political borders, which follows the 22nd Circle of latitude, is a straight line. While the whole area is north of the 22nd Circle of latitude, a smaller disputed area south of the 22nd Circle, Bir Tawil, joins the Hala'ib Triangle at its westernmost point along the 22nd Circle.
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 February of 1958, Gamal Abdel Nasser sent Egyptian troops into the disputed region but withdrew them the same month.
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 Eastern Front, a Sudanese politico-military grouping comprising the Beja Congress and Free Lions that recently signed a peace agreement with Khartoum have stated that they consider Hala'ib to be part of Sudan due to the fact that Hala'ib is inhabited by their ethnic, linguistic and tribal compatriots. The head of the Eastern Front and Beja Congress Musa Muhammad Ahmad recently declared that the issue of Hala'ib's sovereignty should be decided by international arbitration in a similar manner to the issue of sovereignty over Abyei between Northern and Southern Sudan.