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Sudan

Sudan is undergoing a major transition following the 11 April ouster of Omar al-Bashir, one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders. The strongman’s toppling, prompted by a sustained, peaceful campaign by a diverse and well-organised protest movement, raised hopes that the country might make a transition to more inclusive, civilian-led rule. That transition has been halting and is fraught with risk, with the old military regime showing little appetite for real change. Sudan matters not least because it sits in one of the most geostrategic locations on the continent, straddling the Horn and North Africa, with a long Red Sea coastline, and serving as a historical bridge between North and sub-Saharan Africa. Through field research and advocacy with Sudanese and international actors in the region, we aim to reduce the likelihood of conflict inside Sudan and encourage a genuine transition to more inclusive governance by Khartoum and an attendant shift toward positively engaged regional and international relations.

CrisisWatch Sudan

Unchanged Situation

Clashes persisted in disputed border area with Ethiopia, intercommunal violence continued in North and South Darfur states, and govt signed agreement with holdout rebel group. Army 1-2 March reportedly launched offensive against Ethiopian forces near Barkhat settlement, last area still under Ethiopia’s control in disputed Al-Fashqa border zone, leaving unknown number dead. Sovereign Council head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan 17 March accused Ethiopia of deploying additional forces to area in past two weeks, demanded withdrawal of all troops from “Sudanese territory”, and negotiations to resolve land dispute tied to Ethiopia’s recognition of Sudan’s sovereignty over area. UN humanitarian office 22 March said Eritrean forces had been deployed alongside Ethiopian troops and ethnic Amhara militias near Barkhat. At border between Ethiopia and Sudanese states of Gadaref and Sennar, south of Al-Fashqa, army 24 March reportedly repelled attack by Ethiopian militia backed by Ethiopian army in Basinda area; 29 March allegedly clashed with Ethiopian militia after latter attempted to alter border markers in Sudan’s al-Dinder National Park, one combatant killed on each side. In North Darfur state, intercommunal clashes between Fur and Tama communities 3 March left 11 dead in Saraf Omra locality. In South Darfur state, fighting between ethnic Fellata and Masalit 1-2 March killed 11 in Gireida locality. Holdout rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North of Abdel Aziz al-Hilu 28 March signed Declaration of Principles with govt in South Sudan’s capital Juba; document commits govt to unification of armed forces, and further edges al-Hilu toward agreement bringing his faction into govt. Sovereign Council 11 March pardoned former Janjaweed militia leader and current head of armed militia Sudan Revolutionary Awakening Council Musa Hilal, detained since 2017 for allegedly resisting govt-led disarmament campaign, prompting local uproar; deputy head of Sovereign Council and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces leader Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” reportedly instrumental in Hilal’s release. Meanwhile, Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt remained at loggerheads over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Blue Nile river (see Nile Waters).

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

6 Oct 2020
The military [...] simply has not had the time nor shown the will to address violence in the way that many rural Sudanese would need to see in order to put down their weapons. AFP

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
1 Oct 2020
Sudan’s economy is in freefall and there has been limited international assistance. Al-Jazeera

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
26 Aug 2020
Sudan has been pretty isolated for a long time. It is very keen to get off this [terror] list. This is the carrot. Financial Times

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
29 Jul 2020
The violence [in Sudan] has triggered a wave of sit-ins across the region, demanding authorities protect civilians from the militias, who are scrambling to secure their gains now that Bashir has gone. The New York Times

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
13 Mar 2020
The transitional government and the international community [in Sudan] must move quickly to avert an economic collapse and accompanying disintegration of the transitional dispensation. France24/AFP

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
9 Mar 2020
The attack [in Sudan] may have the effect of increasing the solidarity between the civilian and military components of the transition. Wall Street Journal

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan

Latest Updates

Podcast / Africa

A Rare Glimpse into Darfur’s Last Rebel Stronghold

In early 2020, Vice News correspondent Julia Steers was the first foreign journalist in five years to set foot in the Jebel Marra mountains, Darfur’s last rebel-held area. This week on The Horn, Julia tells of a region traumatised by war and explains why these rebels stayed out of an August peace deal.

Podcast / Africa

The Horn: As Rains Begin, Crisis Looms over the Nile Dam

The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this Episode, Host Alan Boswell and William Davison, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, discuss Ethiopia's plans to start filling the massive dam it is building, including the complex dynamics at play, negotiations, and the parties' varius concerns.

Briefing / Africa

Financing the Revival of Sudan’s Troubled Transition

Mounting economic turbulence is rocking Sudan’s delicate political transition. Without urgent donor assistance to provide economic relief to a suffering population, public support for the cabinet’s reform agenda could collapse. Any failure in the civilian-military government could have tragic consequences for Sudan and the region.

Video / Africa

Reducing tensions as Ethiopia Moves to Fill its Blue Nile Dam

With rains swelling the Blue Nile, Ethiopia is just weeks away from beginning to fill the massive dam it is building. Egypt and Sudan demand that it not do so without an agreement. All three countries urgently need to make concessions for a deal.

Our People

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan