Sudan’s transition from military dictatorship to elected civilian government has many challenges. The power of the security forces is obviously one of them. However, the economy is the biggest problem. Economic decline helped bring down the Bashir dictatorship. Sudan’s SNC (Sovereign National Council) – the civilian-military committee that runs the country-- now confronts spiking price increases and hyperinflation. Sudan’s own statistics bureau estimated the October inflation rate at 230 percent. For all of 2020 GDP will likely shrink by eight to nine percent. One of the biggest reasons for the government’s deficits is subsidizing fuel prices. That’s a segue into one of the few positive economic stories. Peace with South Sudan is an opportunity for Sudan to get its oil business back on track. In November the government announced it will open up 27 oil blocks for sale to investors. Though South Sudan now controls about three-quarters of the oil fields, South Sudan relies on Sudan’s pipelines to export its oil. (Austin Bay)
November 28, 2020: President Sisi of Egypt visited South Sudan. Think of it as Nile River politics. Egypt is looking for support in its battle with Ethiopia over GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) on the Blue Nile. Egypt put out a list of ten reasons Egypt wants to improve relations with South Sudan. Two specifically addressed the Nile: “Enhancing the existing cooperation between the two countries in the field of water resources and irrigation and maximizing the utilization of the Nile River resources”; “The Nile River should be a source of cooperation and development as a lifeline for all the peoples of the Nile Basin nations.”
In eastern Sudan (Kassala state) the RSF (Rapid Support Forces) command announced that its soldiers had confiscated significant stocks of military equipment, including weapons and ammunition. Kassala borders Ethiopia's Tigray region, where a civil war is raging. In the last three weeks the state has had to deal with a huge influx of Ethiopian refugees.
November 27, 2020: Sudan confirmed that an Israeli government delegation visited Sudan on November 23 and met with Sudanese security officials and discussed defense-related issues. In late October Sudan and Israel agreed to open trade and economic ties. The Sudan and Israeli negotiators called for normalized relations, which some media reported as diplomatic recognition. Not quite. But trade and investment deals are in the offing. Until this announcement Sudan was officially at war with Israel. Is it fair to call Sudan the fifth Arab nation to make a peace deal with Israel? Yes. The negotiations and trade agreements indicate that a state of war no longer exists. Now Sudan is calling on Israel for help in defense matters. This is something many African states have done successfully.
November 23, 2020: Sudan experienced a sharp rise in covid19 cases in the past two weeks. Seven medical doctors have died of the disease in the last week. As of late-November, Sudan had 17,404 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 1,235 fatalities. That comes to 393 cases per million people and 28 deaths per million. It’s really only noticed in large cities and among the older, better educated segment of the population. For most Sudanese covid19 is just another way to die in a world where there are already so many and most have no name beyond “a fever”.
November 17, 2020: In South Sudan over 1,000 people have been killed in communal (tribal) violence during the last six months.
November 16, 2020: In Sudan it is estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 Ethiopian refugees have arrived recently to escape the fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Sudan’s Um Rakouba refugee camp is already suffering from food shortages.
November 15, 2020: In Sudan leaders of SRF (Sudan Revolutionary Front) who signed the October 3 peace agreement with the government returned to Sudan capital to meet with the SNC
(Sovereign National Council or Sovereign Council). The rebels expect to eventually hold seats on the SNC, which has run the country since the Bashir dictatorship was overthrown in mid-2019. SNC will exist until elections are held and that will occur on or before 2022.
Egypt and Sudan began a joint military exercise that will extend through November 26. Egyptian Air Force aircraft and army commando forces are participating in the exercise. Both Egypt and Sudan are at odds with Ethiopia the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project. Egypt also seeks to blunt Turkey’s influence in Sudan.
November 14, 2020: In eastern Sudan (Kassala and Gadaref states) border crossings from Ethiopia’s Tigray region were closed by Sudan. Ethiopia is landlocked and the Sudan border is a route for supplying Tigray rebels with military supplies. Is Sudan siding with the Ethiopian government and isolating Tigray? It isn’t clear. However, Sudan is too weak to militarily confront Ethiopia. (Austin Bay)
November 12, 2020: Sudan has declared an amnesty for individuals who fought in the various internal conflicts. The amnesty does not apply to individuals charged with committing war crimes or genocide or individuals named in International Criminal Court arrest warrants. The government estimates that about 50,000 former rebel fighters are eligible for amnesty.
The Sudan-South Sudan Joint Boundary Demarcation Commission met today in the Sudan capital to discuss implementing the October 2019 border demarcation agreement.
November 6, 2020: Sudan officials said they are preparing to implement the October 3, 2020 Peace Agreement with rebel factions. They expect several former rebel leaders to attend a meeting in the capital later this month. One of the key subjects of discussion is how ending Sudan’s internal conflict can “advance the democratic transition.”
Sudan agreed to let Russia build a naval supply depot and repair yard in Sudan. The lease will run for 25 years, with an option to extend for another ten years. Russia expects to have 300 naval and civilian personnel at the facility. News of this was not released for another week.
November 3, 2020: Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan acknowledged they had failed to agree on how to resolve their dispute over the GERD. Talks that recommenced in October did not produce any promising results. Egypt calls the dam a threat to Egypt’s existence.
October 31, 2020: Sudan and the U.S. signed an agreement to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity. The agreement follows Sudan’s agreement to compensate U.S. victims of terror bombings with ties to Sudan. Sudan will pay around $335 million in compensation. The U.S. has taken Sudan off of its State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list. On October 26 the U.S. government issued a Certification of Rescission that removed Sudan from the SST. Sudan’s presence on the SST denied it access to U.S.-related financial institutions and limited its access to foreign investment.