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.
Sudan's transition is in deep trouble, and Crisis Group’s Sudan expert Jonas Horner explains why on this week’s episode of the Horn. President Trump’s recent promise to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism may not be enough to mitigate the spiralling economic crisis.
Military clashed with Ethiopian forces in disputed border region and reclaimed large swathes of territory. Sudan’s military early Dec reclaimed territory in disputed Al-Fashqa area on border between Sudan’s Al-Qadarif state and Ethiopia’s Amhara region. Ethiopian gunmen 15 Dec killed at least four Sudanese troops and wounded 20 in Al-Fashqa. Sudan subsequently deployed reinforcements and seized more land in area. Following unsuccessful talks 22-23 Dec between Sudan and Ethiopia to demarcate border, Sudan made further territorial gains in Al-Fashqa and Al-Qureisha border regions. Addis Ababa 29 Dec warned Sudan of counter-offensive if it “does not stop expanding into Ethiopian territories”. Khartoum 31 Dec said its forces had taken control over all border territory it accuses Ethiopia of encroaching upon. In Central and South Darfur states, clashes over gold mining territory between rival factions of holdout rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW) and fighting with govt troops early Dec displaced over 27,000 and left two children dead. In South Darfur state, intercommunal clashes late Dec killed at least 25 in several areas. UN Security Council 22 Dec voted to end mandate of UN-AU mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on 31 Dec. On second anniversary of uprising that led to ouster of former President Bashir, thousands 19 Dec demonstrated in capital Khartoum and across country, demanding acceleration of democratic reforms. Also in Khartoum, thousands 29 Dec attended funeral of individual reportedly tortured to death mid-Dec while in paramilitary Rapid Support Forces custody. U.S. 14 Dec formally removed Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation. Ethiopia and Sudan 13 Dec agreed to resume negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Russia 1 Dec signed agreement with Sudan to establish naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast.
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.
Sudan’s post-Bashir transition holds the promise of civilian rule but also perils, among them renewed insurgency, economic stagnation and backsliding into autocracy. Outside powers should press the military to adhere to its power-sharing pact with the opposition. Authorities in Khartoum should pursue peace with rebels.
The UN General Assembly kicks off on 17 September amid general scepticism about the world body’s effectiveness in an era of rising great-power competition. But the UN is far from paralysed. Here are seven crisis spots where it can make a positive difference for peace.
Ethiopia is building a mighty dam on the Blue Nile, promising economic benefits for both itself and Sudan. But Egypt fears for its freshwater supply. The parties should agree on how fast to fill the dam’s reservoir and how to share river waters going forward.
Popular protests are rumbling across Sudan, shaking President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year grip on power. The authorities have cracked down hard and, as the demonstrations intensify, they may ratchet up the repression. External powers should urge restraint and offer Bashir a way to the exit.
By 12 October, Washington will decide whether the steps Sudan has taken qualify it for lifting some U.S. sanctions. But to push forward afterwards will require a new roadmap that ties further sanctions relief and improved bilateral relations to political reform and human rights.
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.
Sudan’s economy is in freefall and there has been limited international assistance.
Sudan has been pretty isolated for a long time. It is very keen to get off this [terror] list. This is the carrot.
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 transitional government and the international community [in Sudan] must move quickly to avert an economic collapse and accompanying disintegration of the transitional dispensation.
The attack [in Sudan] may have the effect of increasing the solidarity between the civilian and military components of the transition.
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.
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.
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 David Mozersky, co-founder of Energy Peace Partners and a former Crisis Group project director for the region, discuss the conflict in Darfur, UN climate goals and the international community’s carbon footprint.
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 joins five Crisis Group analysts to analyse the pandemic's political and economic implications.