Crisis at the heart of strategic international issues

Crisis at the heart of strategic international issues

With its important resources and access to the Red Sea, Sudan occupies a crucial strategic position. It is not surprising, therefore, that many external actors are involved in the country, on the political, economic and even military levels. However, the generals’ camps sometimes forged close ties with these foreign powers.

Egypt remains one of the most influential external actors in Sudan. The two countries share a border of 1,200 km, and they also share the waters of the Nile. About 3 to 6 million Sudanese are said to live in the neighboring country. The diaspora who is a certain economic weight with sending money to their families in Sudan in particular.

dam

However, General al-Burhan is said to be close to Cairo. Notably, the army chief trained at the Egyptian Military Academy, the same school that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi came from. Egypt provided Sudan with equipment, but the country also organized a parallel Sudanese political dialogue. With the United Nations, the African Union, and the West pushing for negotiations between the military council and civilians, Cairo received Sudanese forces close to the army, including Islamists and parties close to the former regime of Omar al-Bashir. Some even accuse the Egyptians of trying to obstruct the transition to civilians with this initiative.

Read also: Sudan: How the rivalry between two powerful generals led to a bloody clash

According to observers, Cairo will in any case want Sudan to stabilize, and is counting in particular on Khartoum to oppose the project Grand Renaissance Dam Built by Ethiopia on the Nile. An infrastructure that Egypt considers hostile, especially for fear of the deterioration of its water resources.

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In this context, it is likely that the presence of Egyptian soldiers and aircraft at the Marawi base, north of Khartoum, was the spark that ignited the conflict. On Saturday, the Rapid Support Forces attacked the site and kidnapped a number of Egyptian soldiers. Major General Hamidti confirms that they are being treated well.

gold mining

Sudan is also subject to the influence of the Gulf states: Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia. In 2015, Omar al-Bashir agreed to send Sudanese soldiers to fight in Yemen on behalf of the Saudis and Abu Dhabi. When the former dictator fell, General Hemedti sent the RSF to fight in Yemen. Except for proof he did too. He was even for a while at the head of the Sudanese forces in Yemen. Therefore, the two generals have connections in the Gulf.

Moreover, the FSR leader is very rich. It operates several gold mines, with Sudan being the third largest producer in Africa, which benefits not only the UAE, the number one buyer of Sudanese gold, but also the Russians. In fact, according to Washington, the mines will help finance Wagner’s paramilitaries. “ Today there is not a single Wagner fighter in Sudan However, the group’s founder, Evguéni Prigojine, said on Telegram on Tuesday. ” And so it was for two years Added this close friend of Vladimir Putin.

However, like other nations, the Russians also have connections with the two enemies. According to the investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Wagner will work through M Invest and its subsidiary Meroe Gold, which has been established in Sudan since 2017. It works with Aswar, which is controlled by Sudanese military intelligence. The group of journalists proved the existence of a contract between Meroe Gold and Aswar. The Russian company was also exempted in 2018 from the 30% tax imposed by Sudanese law on gold companies.

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naval base

Therefore, the Russians also have close contacts with General Al-Burhan’s domain, as Moscow has been eyeing the Red Sea and has been discussing with the ruling military council for several years to build a naval base.

The history of this project dates back to 2017. Then Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir signed an agreement according to which Moscow would receive a 25-year lease for the construction of a house. Infrastructure in Port Sudan, the main port of the country. This site was to accommodate 300 men and up to four warships. But the project stopped after the fall of the dictatorship. The return of the army during the second coup in October 2021 fostered a new rapprochement between Moscow and Khartoum. In July 2022, the establishment of a military base in Sudan was included in the new Russian naval doctrine. In early February, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Al-Burhan and said the project was still on track. The diplomat said he was waiting for the green light from the Sudanese parliament to begin construction.

Read also: Sudan: a real diplomatic ballet between Westerners and Russians

Finally, several Gulf countries – Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – use Sudan to ensure their food security. Arable land is becoming increasingly scarce in the Middle East, and the oil kingdoms have invested for several years in establishing appurtenances outside the lands. These countries were going to buy hundreds of thousands of hectares in Sudan. All the more reason for these countries to monitor the situation closely.

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So far, foreign powers have chosen a fairly fair stance, calling on the parties to dialogue. But some fear that if the conflict continues, these powers will break out of neutrality. Sudan and Ethiopia, for example, have a border dispute over Al-Fashqa Trianglein eastern Sudan. An area controlled by both countries and has been the scene of regular clashes between the Sudanese army and Ethiopian militias. One scenario, among others, could be that Addis Ababa, because of its rivalry with Egypt, might choose for example to align itself with the interests of General Hemedti. In any case, ending the neutrality of the powers involved in the Sudanese strategic game would mark a dangerous turning point in the conflict.

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