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Sudan Situation: Saudi To The Rescue…

An armed conflict between two rival factions of the Military Government of Sudan has claimed at least 1,000 lives (as of May 16) since April 15, 2023, while more than 5,100 people have received serious injuries. The Civil War has been concentrated around the capital city of Khartoum and the Darfur region. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), under the leadership of General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, triggered the Civil War by launching attacks on the establishments of the Army, led by de facto leader of the African nation and Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Both the parties have claimed control of Government sites, including the General Military Headquarters, the Presidential Palace, Khartoum International Airport, Burhan’s official residence, and the Sudan National Broadcasting Corporation (SNBC) headquarters. In a sense, the ongoing Civil War is an internal matter of Sudan.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia has come forward to stop the bloodshed in the Northeast African country. Reports suggest that a ceasefire is being held through the mediation of Saudi Arabia. The African Union (AU), too, is making serious efforts to stop the Civil War. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional alliance of Eastern Africa and Horn of Africa created in 1996, has also been advocating peace since the beginning of the war. However, Saudi Arabia has so far been the most active State Actor in resolving the crisis.

As per a BBC report, West Asia has long been involved in Sudanese politics. In recent times, the Arab nations have become the main driving force of Sudanese politics, as well as economy. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are closely connected with various important political and social activities of Sudan. Riyadh and Dubai believe that the responsibility for Sudan’s security and political development lies with them. The BBC report has claimed that Riyadh does not want an Islamist Government to be formed in Sudan, as such a government could become detrimental to Saudi Arabia and other countries in West Asia.

Dictatorial ruler Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, who served as the seventh Head of State of Sudan under various titles from 1989 until 2019 (when he was deposed in a coup d’état), ruled the country for three decades. No elections have been held in Sudan since the fall of al-Bashir. Initially, the leaders of the dominant military groups and the civilian leaders formed a Governing Council to share power among themselves. Later, they handed over the power to a Civilian Government. However, the Army overthrew the Civilian Interim Government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok Al-Kinani, in October 2021. Earlier, Army Chief General al-Burhan announced that General Elections would be held in 2023. Unfortunately, clashes broke out between the Army and the Paramilitary Forces in April 2023, and they turned into a Civil War.

According to political analysts, Saudi Arabia has played an important role in suspending the General Elections in Sudan. They are of the opinion that General al-Burhan’s election announcement was not well received by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In the past one month, the Army has managed to push back General Dagalo‘s Paramilitary Forces. The development has become a cause of concern for Saudi, as an Islamist Government may be formed in Sudan through elections, if Dagalo loses the Civil War. If there is an election in Sudan, it is certain that the Islamists shall win. Hence, Riyadh has stepped up to stop the Civil War. The two parties have started holding talks in Jeddah to end the war in the presence of Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in various sectors along the Red Sea coast. Riyadh’s fear is that its economic development will be in jeopardy, if the Civil War in Sudan spreads elsewhere. Saudi Arabia wants to maintain its dominance in the region, adjacent to the Red Sea, by resolving the crisis in Sudan. Moreover, Saudi has invested billions of US Dollars in Sudan. Therefore, there is a danger of economic loss, if an Islamist Government is formed in the African country. Analysts have opined that as both the Generals (al-Burhan and Dagalo) are ambitious, it is difficult for Riyadh to broker a peace. The role of the UAE can also become important in this regard. Many believe that the UAE, too, is secretly backing this Civil War. As a result, it is not possible to predict the future of Sudan with certainty.

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