Sudan: Peace Be Upon You Or Else

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November 28, 2018: Everyone in Sudan assumes that next year President (dictator) Omar al Bashir will run for a seventh term. However, the economic decline that began last in 2017 has accelerated. The escalating economic crisis could become a political crisis that topples even an entrenched dictator like Bashir who has been in power for three decades. Moreover, 2019 looks rather dire. Inflation is increasing. Economic analysts think hyperinflation is a possibility. Bashir, of course, blames U.S. sanctions, but those are being relaxed. Bashir’s critics blame his regime’s mismanagement and corruption. Critics point to the 2017 North Islamic Bank embezzlement scandal as an example. At least $230 million was stolen. Sudan has also borrowed a lot of money. It currently owes somewhere between from $55 billion to $60 billion, roughly 120 percent of GDP. Sudan owes China at least $10 billion and is in no position to pay back the debt. The loss of oil income is certainly a major factor in Sudan’s economic decline. When South Sudan became independent, it got most of the oil fields (roughly 75 percent of Sudan’s oil production). However, Sudan still has the pipelines and major oil port (Port Sudan). The truth is, government mismanagement has contributed to the loss of oil and oil transport income. When oil prices were high Bashir’s regime didn’t spend the oil revenue on modernizing its industrial and agricultural sectors. It didn’t spend much on upgrading its oil service industry. Instead, Sudan spent the petrodollars on war (Darfur, civil war with southern Sudan) and military-related projects. A lot of government contracts went to businesses owned by government officials. Just how much is murky. At the moment the UN and EU estimate Sudan has around two million internally displaced people (many in the Darfur region and 900,000 refugees. About six million people are on the edge of starvation. In 2019 Sudan is supposed to have a national election. It could have another rebellion. (Austin Bay)

November 25, 2018: In northeast South Sudan (Bieh state), SPLM-IO accused government forces in neighboring Boma state of attacking an aid convoy. The government attack killed five people, all of them members of the Lou Nuer tribe. The attackers were Murle tribesmen

Egypt and Sudan have agreed to conduct joint military patrols. Both nations are concerned about spillover violence from Libya. The joint border forces will also combat terrorism and cross-border crimes.

November 24, 2018: South Africa announced it will invest one billion dollars in South Sudan's oil industry. The investment will include building a refinery in South Sudan. The three major foreign oil companies operating in South Sudan are China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia's Petronas oil company and India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

November 23, 2018: In southern Sudan (South Kordofan state) UN officials met with the state Governor in an effort to improve the security for aid delivery in areas where SPLM-N rebels are active. The U.S. has made safe delivery of such aid one of its key requirements for removing Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list.

November 22, 2018: In northeast South Sudan (Upper Nile region), the UN is reinforcing its peacekeeping units. Internally displaced persons (IDPS) returning to their homes in several towns need extra protection.

In western Sudan (Darfur), SLM-AW rebels claim to have repulsed an attack by the government RSF (Rapid Support Forces) militia. The SLM-AW claimed it killed 14 militiamen and captured several weapons and motorcycles.

In South Sudan, IGAD (the East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) has decided to deploy 1,695 soldiers as part the Regional Protection Force (RPF). Here is the initial breakdown by country: 499 (each) from Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. Somalia and Djibouti will each deploy 99 soldiers.

In Sudan, president-for-life Bashir complained that it is unfair for the U.S. to continue designating Sudan as a sponsor of state terrorism. He also said the remaining political and economic sanctions are unfair and unjust.

November 21, 2018: In Sudan, local media report that Port Sudan is experiencing a food, fuel and financial crisis. Specifically, the city and immediate area are facing a flour (bread flour) shortage. Diesel fuel is also scarce.

November 19, 2018: In South Sudan, SPLM-IO denied that its forces had attacked positions in Jubek state held by NAS-TC rebels.

November 17, 2018: In Sudan, the government revealed that the South Sudan president had met with the leaders of two Sudanese rebel factions belonging to SPLM-N in an effort to revive peace talks with the Sudan government. Since 2011 Sudan has been fighting with the SPLM-N in a part of southern Sudan as the Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan states).

November 16, 2018: In Ethiopia, ethnic conflict between Amhara and Tigray has sent 400 Ethiopian refugees into Sudan.

November 15, 2018: Despite earlier threats to leave, the UN agreed to keep its peacekeepers in the disputed Abyei border area until May 2019 claimed by Sudan and South Sudan. Both countries claim the area and peace is maintained by 4,500 Ethiopian peacekeepers, a force the UN can no longer afford. The new arrangement reduces the peacekeeper force by about 200 troops. This gives Sudan and South Sudan another six months to resolve the issue of who controls what in Abyei and its oil fields.

Sudan’s security prosecutor’s office issued arrest warrants for several opposition leaders. One of the leaders is Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party (NUP). Al-Mahdi is currently in exile in Great Britain. The Sudan president is faced with growing popular opposition and fears that rival politicians are trying to unite and elect a new president.

November 10, 2018: In Yemen, Shia rebels announced that they have arrested several dozen Sudanese soldiers after a firefight near the Red Sea port city of Hodeida.

November 9, 2018: In eastern South Sudan (Boma state), SPLM-IO rebels announced it has opened a safe access corridor for foreign aid shipments going to the Pibor area near the Ethiopian border.

November 8, 2018: Foreign NGOs (non-government organizations) accuse Sudan of systematically arresting and harassing reporters and censoring print and broadcast media outlets. From January to October 2018, fifteen journalists were arrested or detained by the government. On over two-dozen occasions the entire print runs of ten newspapers have been seized and confiscated by Sudanese security organizations.

November 7, 2018: The U.S. confirmed that it has discussed a plan with the Sudan government that would eventually lead to Sudan’s removal from the American “state sponsor of terrorism” list. Sudan has been on the list since August 1993. According to the U.S., Sudan’s government taken measures to combat terrorism, has begun opening foreign aid corridors in rebel-held areas, and is making an effort to reduce armed conflict within its borders. According to American and Sudanese foreign officials, Sudan must do six things before it will be removed from the terror sponsor list. It must (1) increase cooperation on counter-terrorism; (2) improve protections for freedom of the press and religion that Sudanese are already supposed to have; (3) assure foreign aid access; (4) end fighting with rebel groups and seek peace agreements; (5) demonstrate it no longer supports terrorism; (6) end cooperation with North Korea.

November 6, 2018: In Sudan, the commander of the government-backed Rapid Support Forces (RSF) internal security militia stated that the RSF will pursue “mercenaries” fighting for Sudanese rebel groups who operate from bases in Libya. In some cases, the Sudanese rebel groups have participated in Libya’s chaotic civil war. During the last week of October 2018 Sudanese rebels allegedly belonging to the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) participated in a firefight in the town of Zella (central Libya).

 

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