The international attention given to Sudan’s normalisation with Israel has shown the country’s importance as a geostrategic site subject to regional rivalries in the Horn of Africa. But increased regional pressure on Sudan is endangering its transition towards an inclusive, civilian government following the peaceful popular revolution that led to the ousting of long-ruling president Omar Al-Bashir on 11 April 2019. This article will describe how regional interference in Sudan could destabilise the transitional process, with a specific focus on the rivalry between the ‘Arab Troika’ and the Qatar-Turkey alliance.
The Sudanese Revolution and Political Shifts
Following the ousting of Bashir in 2019, military and civilian leaders signed a power-sharing agreement which initiated a transition towards a democratic government, under the guidance of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Chairman of Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. This transition signified a shift in Sudan’s foreign policy.
During Bashir’s 30-year rule, Sudan enjoyed close relationships with Turkey and Qatar. This included a deal between Turkey and Sudan that gave Ankara control over the Suakin Island in the Red Sea, a deal which has since been suspended. However, this did not prevent Bashir from moving closer to the UAE and Saudi Arabia from 2014 onwards, in the hopes of bettering relations with the US and securing financial gains from the Gulf. When the Qatar diplomatic crisis erupted in 2017, Bashir decided to remain neutral, a move that accelerated Sudan’s eventual economic collapse.
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