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How Regime Change Affected Sudan’s Foreign policy …

Report by Jean Baptiste Gallopin and Nizar Manek

Sudan is in the midst of a fragile transition. Following a revolutionary uprising and a coup last year, the ethnically diverse country of 42 million people, whose economy has relied since Independence from Britain, in 1956, on its rich natural resources – gold, oil, livestock, sesame, and gum arabic, has an opportunity to turn the page of page of authoritarian rule.

The civilian parties that opposed the 30-year rule of Islamist President Omar al-Bashir are now cohabitating with the generals who led his military and security apparatus, in a power-sharing arrangement designed to lead the country to elections in three years. In October, an agreement signed between the government and armed groups in Juba (the capital of South Sudan) promised to bring peace to the peripheral regions of the country, such as Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile, which have faced insurgencies in recent decades.

The transition represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for change, but it is not unprecedented. The memory of popular uprisings which led to regime change in 1964 and 1985 remains vivid in the minds of many Sudanese. So does the memory of the military coups that subsequently interrupted these interludes of democratic rule.

Sudan’s transition comes at a time of great turbulence for its neighborhood. Ethiopia is close to completing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which ushers in a new era in the struggles over the control of Nile waters, potentially ending centuries of Egyptian domination over water usage and paving the way for further upstream development across the Nile Basin.

The Horn of Africa is also in the midst of growing instability. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed raised hopes for democratization and peace when he was appointed by Ethiopia’s ruling coalition in 2018 on a pre-existing mandate for reforms and signed a peace agreement with Eritrea. However, after Abiy sidelined the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the formerly dominant governing force in Ethiopia’s ruling party, he unsettled the regional status quo by changing Ethiopia’s stance on a number of regional issues without a discernable strategy or policies. In addition, outbursts of violence and growing internal tensions in Ethiopia have raised the possibility of an escalation into all-out conflict. In Sudan, the newfound cooperation between the government and the armed groups who signed the Juba peace agreement was eclipsed by renewed violence in the regions of Darfur and Southern Kordofan as well as a new escalation of intercommunal conflicts and demands for autonomy in the hitherto stable East.

The Horn has also become the theater of Middle Eastern rivalries against the backdrop of declining US influence. Divided Gulf powers and Turkey are seeking to wrest influence in East African states away from their opponents. The competition is the fiercest in Somalia, where Qatar and Turkey are engaged in a tug-of-war with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. These rivalries have directly affected Sudan, whose transitional trajectory has been shaped by Saudi and Emirati efforts to draw Khartoum away from Qatar and Turkey, its allies under Bashir.


Read the full report here

Sudan’s International Relations inRegime Change