The clock is ticking for President Trump who must decide by 12 July whether to lift decades-long U.S. sanctions on Sudan. The failure of economic penalties to alter Khartoum’s behaviour so far means Washington should repeal some sanctions and continue a process of conditional engagement.
U.S. President Trump 11 July pushed back by three months 12 July deadline for U.S. to assess whether Sudan has made sufficient progress on five tracks to warrant lifting sanctions; U.S. cited need for more time to make assessment. President Bashir 12 July responded by suspending monthly meetings with U.S. on sanctions. Govt supported S Sudanese rebels, Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), to launch attacks from Sudan in former Unity state, S Sudan late July (see S Sudan). Bashir 2 July extended unilateral ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states by four months. Leadership dispute continued within rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N): SPLM-N’s regional political group in Nuba Mountains 5 July endorsed 29 June appointment of former Deputy Chairman Abdelaziz al-Hilu as Chairman, replacing Malik Aggar. Dispute triggered fighting throughout month between supporters of al-Hilu (mostly ethnic Uduk) and Aggar (mostly Ingessana) in Blue Nile state and in refugee camps in S Sudan. In Darfur, clashes between Maaliya and Rizeigat tribes over resources 40km south east of El-Daien 22-23 July reportedly left ten dead.
China, traditionally averse to intervening abroad, is testing the role of peacebuilder in South Sudan, where it has unique leverage. This could portend a growing global security role, but further Chinese engagement will likely be tempered by self-interest, capacity constraints and aversion to risk.
Sudan's government is in survival mode. As it drifts away from its former radical Islamist ideology toward a new foreign policy pragmatism, Western powers should encourage Khartoum to solve the internal wars that have done so much damage to the country and blocked the normalisation of external relations with this increasingly active player in the Middle East.
Talks led by East Africa’s IGAD offer the best chance to end South Sudan’s spreading war. International partners must put aside their disillusionment and rally to the regional body’s new IGAD-PLUS mechanism to help mediators reach a deal.
The two-year-old flare-up of violence in Darfur continues, adding 100,000 people this year to more than 2.5 million who have lost their homes since war began in 2003. Sudanese, regional and international peace processes have stalled. They should restart with parallel initiatives that take into better account all of Darfur’s communities and armed groups.
President Bashir’s year-old promise of national dialogue is faltering through a lack of political will, factional manoeuvring, and looming elections. Though the threat of economic and political crisis has eased, renewed commitment to substantive, structured, broad-based dialogue is vital if Sudan is to escape the cycle of war and humanitarian crisis.
The [U.S.] State Department wants [the repeal of sanctions on Sudan] to happen and the people working on Sudan within the Department want it to happen, but ultimately it's kind of a political decision.
Khartoum has successfully portrayed the SPLM-N as spoilers in the peace talks and inhibitors to humanitarian aid being delivered to the region. This move is likely an attempt to rehabilitate their image.
On the migration issue in particular, the international community now wants to work with Sudan and it is felt that isolation has not helped come up with solutions.
There are weapons everywhere [in Sudan] and a limited capacity or willingness to do anything about it.
Addis Ababa can win economic and security gains if it perseveres with its impressive commitment to peace efforts in South Sudan. With its new two-year membership on the UN Security Council, Addis Ababa has the opportunity to better connect regionally-led political processes to UN action.
President Museveni will naturally defend Uganda’s short-term interests, but he should also work towards longer-term stability by supporting President Salva Kiir’s pledge to bring peace through ARCSS implementation, negotiations and national dialogue.
Originally published in Daily Monitor
Originally published in Sudan Tribune
Jihadist groups have regrouped in the neglected hinterlands of Sahel countries and are launching attacks from them. To regain control of outlying districts, regional states must do far more to extend services and representation beyond recently recaptured provincial centres.