12 May 2023: How are the neighbours getting affected by the Sudan conflict ? Are the world powers benefitting from the conflict ? How and why ? Read the ReferencePepper!
Sudan's conflict is causing alarm among its neighbors and other nations, which ranges from worries about the shared Nile and oil pipelines to worries about the composition of a future government and the potential for an additional humanitarian crisis.
Sudan, which is heavily dependent on international help, has experienced conflict before. Instead of a remote portion of the country, which is located in an unsteady region bordering the Red Sea, Sahel, and Horn of Africa, conflict has ripped off the nation's capital this time.
There is a cause for the widespread international concern surrounding the fighting that has broken out there during the past week. Sudan is not just the third-largest country in Africa but it also spans a troubled and highly significant geopolitical region.
Whatever occurs militarily or politically in the nation's capital, Khartoum, has an impact on some of the continent's most vulnerable regions.
Since the nation borders the Nile River, its fate is of fundamental importance to Egypt, which is downstream and Ethiopia, which is upstream and has major hydroelectric plans that are currently affecting the flow of the river.
Overall, Sudan has borders with seven nations, each of which faces security issues connected to Khartoum's politics. Ethiopia, Chad, the Central African Republic, Libya, and South Sudan are the five of Sudan's seven neighbors that have recently experienced political unrest. You’d get a better idea, if you look at the map of Sudan right here.
Before moving on to the consequences and impacts the conflict is having on neighboring nations and powers of the world, let us get a quick background of the conflict in Sudan.
What is happening in Sudan ?
Both Sudan's military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the dreaded Janjaweed militia-inspired RSF paramilitary organization, is fighting for control of the country. It arises two years after they cooperated to carry out a military coup, which disrupted the democratic process that had started after protests forced the overthrow of longstanding leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The return to the transition to democracy has been the subject of discussions in recent months.
The winner of the most recent battles will probably become Sudan's next president, while the loser risks exile, arrest, or perhaps death.
Interested to know more details on the background of the conflict? Click on the link :
Now let us understand how the conflict is affecting Sudan’s neighbours.
The history of Egypt, the most populated Arab nation, and Sudan is bound together by common Nile waters, politics, trade, and culture.
Since the 2019 uprising that resulted in Al-Bashir's removal, Cairo has been concerned about political instability in its southern region. Al-Burhan is friendly with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who similarly won election through a military coup. With an estimated 4 million individuals, including 60,000 refugees and asylum seekers, Sudanese are by far the biggest migrant group in Egypt.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam upstream on the Blue Nile poses a threat to Egypt and Sudan's freshwater resources, which both depend on the Nile for their supply. The two countries have worked to control how the Ethiopian dam is used. Any deterioration in relations between Cairo and Khartoum might hinder their efforts to reach an agreement.
In Picture: Prime Minister of Egypt Mr. Mostafa Madbouly. Source: wikipedia
Both sides of the crisis that divided Libya after 2011 have employed Sudanese soldiers and militia members. Many former soldiers from Sudan have recently returned, raising concerns in the western Sudanese area of Darfur, where a different battle raged for years and where fighting continued following an agreement with some rebel groups in 2020.
Asylum seekers who are going to Europe via Libya have also used Sudan as a starting point and a stopover nation, as criminal organizations have profited from the unrest and instability there.
In picture: Prime Minister of Libya:
His Excellency Abdul Hamid Al-Dbeibeh
Picture source: wikipedia
Republic of Chad
The United Nations reports that since the most recent fighting started, some 20,000 more refugees have entered Sudan from its western neighbor Chad, which has already taken in about 400,000 internally displaced Sudanese from past conflicts.
Chad is concerned that the issue would spread to the refugee-populated areas beyond the border. Most of them are from Darfur, and during the Darfur crisis, Chad was the target of cross-border attacks by Sudan's Arab militias, the Janjaweed, which later evolved into the RSF. Refugees from Darfur and communities in Chad were ambushed by the raiders, who took their cattle and went on a murder spree.
Gulf Arab States
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two wealthy oil exporters, have attempted to have an impact on Sudanese affairs because they view the end of Al-Bashir's rule as a chance to manage the region.
A variety of initiatives, from agricultural businesses to an airline and important ports along the Red Sea coast, are funded by investors from both countries.
Following an extended civil conflict, South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011, and now exports 170,000 barrels of oil daily through its northern counterpart.
However, South Sudan's administration claimed that conflict had already hindered logistical and transportation linkages between the oilfields and Port Sudan. Analysts claim that neither party in the conflict in Sudan has an intention of slowing those flows.
Sudan is also home to almost 800,000 South Sudanese refugees. Any large-scale return could make it more difficult to provide the more than 2 million South Sudanese refugees who have fled their homes due to civil unrest with life-saving help.
Occasionally, clashes break out along the contested sections of the border between Ethiopia and Sudan. According to analysts, any side could use Sudan's upheaval to advance their goals.
When conflict broke out in 2020 in Ethiopia's northern Tigray province, tensions over the fertile but disputed Al-Fashqa border arose, which resulted in the displacement of more than 50,000 Ethiopians into already destitute areas of eastern Sudan.
Given the difficulties surrounding Sudan's Blue Nile dam, which Sudan claims could endanger its own Nile dams and its inhabitants, Ethiopia will also be keeping an eye on developments.
During the Tigray war from 2020 to 2022, a large number of Eritrean refugees living in northern Ethiopia abandoned their camps. If any crisis outside of Khartoum worsens, Eritrean refugees in Sudan can experience a similar situation.
That was all about the neighbouring countries of Sudan. What about the world powers ? How are the powerful countries of the world being affected by the war ? Let's understand that !
Sudanese gold, Russia’s war
Sudan is Africa's third-largest producer of gold, and also has significant oil reserves. Sudan has drawn enthusiastic international partners as a result of its geopolitical and economic importance.
According to Sudanese sources, at least 16 Russian gold smuggling planes left from Sudan in the previous 15 months.
Bashir's overthrow, for instance, was viewed as an opportunity by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to pacify the region and make investments in everything from agricultural endeavors to Red Sea ports as you read in the earlier section.
The leaders of Sudan don't seem to be particularly particular about their alliances. After the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, most of the world boycotted and sanctioned Russia, but Sudan gave Moscow a financial lifeline thanks to its gold assets.
Many experts believe that Sudanese gold is being used to finance Moscow's conflict due to the Wagner Group's involvement in the collection of Sudanese gold and its role as sponsoring soldiers to fight in Ukraine.
Russia has helped Sudan's paramilitary leadership politically and militarily in exchange. US officials claim that the Wagner Group has provided the RSF with weapons, including surface-to-air missiles.
Wagner denied having a presence in Sudan, claimed that none of its workers had been there in more than two years, and claimed that it was not involved in the most recent violence. It stated that it was responding to questions from international media, "the majority of which are provocative."
During an African tour in February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Sudanese officials in an effort to broaden Moscow's effect at a time when Western countries are trying to isolate Moscow by imposing sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine.
Influence of China in Sudan
Beijing provided Sudan with loans of over $143 million [₹11,742,443,999] between 2011 and 2018, investing in initiatives like the building of textile factories, railway lines, Nile crossings, and oil pipelines in Sudan.
China was one of the few nations to provide the Bashir administration with arms, and it was one of the primary investors in Sudan during that time.
To satisfy its own rising industrial needs, China depends on the mineral resources of Africa. Cooperation between China and Sudan in the mining sector stretches back to the 1970s, and more than 20 Chinese companies have operated in Sudanese mines with a combined investment of more than $100 million [ ₹8,210,993,600]
However, this is a two way relationship. In 2021, Sudan shipped goods to China worth $ 780 million [₹64,02,17,37,000] , and during the previous 25 years, exports to China have climbed at an average of 10.6% annually. In fact, China is Sudan's greatest provider of goods and its second-largest economic partner after the United Arab Emirates.
Washington is still catching up to China despite the fact that the US lifted long-standing sanctions against Sudan in 2017, allowing American businesses to pursue their interests there.
Why is USA concerned?
The International Criminal Court had accused al-Bashir of committing genocide and war crimes during the Darfur crisis, and the United States, along with other Western nations, were glad to see him go.
However, critics claim that Washington took too long to support the shift to elections. In 2021, a coup was launched by al-Burhan and Hemedti, shattering Sudanese ambitions for democracy.
The US's hostility to Russia's conflict and worry over regional contagion, or amplification of instability, can be used to analyse its overall strategic interest in the Sudanese situation.
The Biden administration will undoubtedly worry that Sudan's instability will create the kind of environment in which terrorist organizations like Al-Shabaab may thrive or that it will lead to a refugee crisis on its borders, particularly in Ethiopia and South Sudan nations that are already struggling to maintain unstable peace agreements.
The Sudanese people stand to lose the most should the current conflict turn into a civil war, but because of the country's geopolitical importance, millions of people throughout the surrounding areas and the rest of the world could also be affected.