Explained: What’s Happening in Sudan?
Hello defence lovers! A no-fly zone has been declared over Sudan. Civil war has broken out in yet another country. In this article, we are going to discuss the Sudan Crisis in detail. We will also focus on its internal politics along with global players and their interests in Sudan.
In order to understand the conflict we have to first learn about the country Sudan. Sudan is a country located in northeastern Africa, bordered by Egypt to the north, Libya to the northwest, Chad to the west, the Central African Republic to the southwest, South Sudan to the south, Ethiopia to the southeast, and Eritrea to the east. Sudan has a rich history dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Nubian Kingdom and the Kingdom of Kush, which were known for their advanced architecture, art, and culture. However, the country has faced significant challenges in recent decades, including civil wars, political instability, economic hardships, and humanitarian crises.
In 2011, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after years of civil war, leaving Sudan as a predominantly Muslim country with a significant Christian minority. Sudan is rich in natural resources, including oil, gas, gold, and agricultural land. However, the country has struggled to manage these resources effectively due to political instability and corruption.
The 2021 Coup in Sudan
The recent military coup in Sudan took place on October 25, 2021, when the military took control of the government, detained several senior officials, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and dissolved the transitional government that had been in power since 2019. The coup was led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the military, who announced the takeover in a televised statement, citing political and economic instability as the reasons for the coup.
The military takeover was met with widespread condemnation and protests both within Sudan and internationally. The African Union suspended Sudan’s membership and called for the immediate release of all detainees and the restoration of civilian rule. The United Nations, the European Union, and other countries condemned the coup and called for a return to civilian rule.
In the aftermath of the coup, the military formed a new transitional government with General al-Burhan as the head of state, suspended the constitution, imposed a nationwide curfew, and shut down the internet and other communication networks. The military also arrested and detained dozens of opposition leaders, activists, and journalists, and imposed a ban on public gatherings and protests.
The coup sparked widespread protests across Sudan, with people taking to the streets to demand the restoration of civilian rule and the release of all detainees. The military responded with a heavy-handed crackdown on the protests, using live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the crowds, resulting in several deaths and injuries.
In November 2021, after weeks of negotiations, a power-sharing agreement was reached between the military and civilian representatives, which led to the establishment of a new transitional government. The new government has a civilian prime minister and a military deputy prime minister tasked with leading Sudan to democratic elections in 2023. However, the situation in Sudan remains tense and unstable, with ongoing protests and demonstrations calling for a return to civilian rule and the release of political prisoners.
Influence of Global Players in Sudan
Sudan has been a battleground for many global players over the past few years. Russia and USA along with UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have their own interests in Sudan.
In early November 2021, Russia and Sudan signed a deal to establish a naval logistics centre in the Sudanese port of Port Sudan, giving Russia access to the Red Sea and expanding its presence in Africa. The deal was signed during a visit to Sudan by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and marks a significant step in the two countries relationship, which has been growing closer in recent years.
Under the terms of the deal, Russia will be able to use the logistics centre to provide maintenance and refuelling services to its naval vessels operating in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The so-called logistics centre is also supposed to serve as a hub for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in the region.
The deal is part of Russia’s broader strategy to expand its presence in Africa, which has been gaining momentum in recent years. Russia has been seeking to establish closer ties with African countries by offering military aid, economic partnerships, and political support.
The deal has faced criticism, particularly from the United States, which has expressed concern about Russia’s growing influence in Africa. The US State Department issued a statement expressing concern about the deal, saying it could “pose a threat to regional stability and increase the risk of escalation and conflict.” The European Union also voiced concerns about the deal, with a spokesperson stating that it could have “negative consequences for regional stability.”
If the port is successfully completed, it will provide Russia with direct access to the red sea. A military base belonging to a country whose economy has been isolated by Western sanctions, so close to the Suez Canal is making the United States and other Western block countries very nervous. Thus provoking hostilities in the country is an effective way of bringing the port construction to a halt.
What is RSF?
Now before understanding the current conflict, we have to know what is Rapid Support Force (RSF). The Rapid Support Forces, also known as the Rapid Support Group (RSG), is a paramilitary group in Sudan. The group was originally formed in 2013 as the Rapid Support Forces by the Sudanese government as a counter-insurgency force to fight rebel groups in Darfur. The RSF is led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as “Hemedti,” who has been described as one of the most powerful figures in Sudanese politics.
The RSF has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including mass killings, rape, and forced displacement of civilians in Darfur. The group has also been involved in other conflicts in Sudan, including in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where it has been accused of similar atrocities.
Despite its reputation for violence and brutality, the RSF has played a significant role in Sudanese politics in recent years. In 2019, the group played a key role in the ousting of longtime Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir and has since been involved in the transitional government that was established after his removal. The RSF’s role in Sudanese politics remains controversial, with some viewing the group as a necessary force for stability in a country plagued by conflict and violence, while others view it as a threat to democracy and human rights.
The Current Hostilities
According to the latest reports, the RSF troops under Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and the Sudanese Military under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the de facto ruler of Sudan, have started fighting among themselves. It is believed that disagreements of RSF in its process of merger with the Sudanese Army have led to hostilities. Moreover, elections were scheduled for 2023. None of the above-mentioned leaders is willing to let the elections happen as both of them will lose power and influence one way or another.
The conflict might seem to be an internal one. However, there are bigger international players involved as explained above, who are looking after their own interests. It is still unclear which power is backing which factions but there is no doubt that this is yet another Proxy war.
Impact on India
The strategic location of Sudan over the coast of the red sea allows it to keep an overwatch over the cargo passing through the Suez Canal. More than one-third of the world trade passes through the Suez Canal. The hostilities in Sudan will negatively impact India and the entire Indo-Pacific region as trade routes might be choaked. Apart from the negative impact on trade, the Indian citizens in Sudan are trapped in a warzone. The Indian government has to plan an immediate operation to rescue its citizens from Sudan.