The recent sudden outbreak of unrest in Sudan, where the country’s top military leader has announced the government’s dissolution, has caught the attention of the world, including that of the major world powers the United States, China and Russia.
Each of the trio has a vested interest in Sudan and all three countries have issued statements in response to Monday’s events.
US Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman was even in Khartoum this weekend to meet with top officials, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sovereignty Council President General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
Just about a day after those meetings, reports emerged that Hamdok had been placed under house arrest along with several other civilian leaders. Burhan announced that he would lead a new temporary government that would lead the country towards democracy after a 2019 uprising and subsequent coup that ousted longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.
In a statement from the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, Feltman said the US was “deeply alarmed by reports of a military takeover of the transitional government.” He argued that a new coup “would be contrary to the constitutional declaration adopted in August 2019”, as well as “the democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people and is completely unacceptable”.
“As we have said repeatedly,” he added, “any change by force in the transitional government puts US aid at risk.”
The US embassy in Khartoum then expressed its own concerns when it became clear that Burhan had put himself in charge.
“The US embassy is deeply concerned by reports that armed forces have taken action against the Sudanese civilian government and condemns actions that undermine Sudan’s democratic transition,” the embassy said in a statement. “We call on all actors disrupting Sudan’s transition to step down and allow the civilian-led transitional government to continue its important work to achieve the goals of the revolution.”
As the confusion turned to chaos and reports of the Sudanese military opening fire on protesters, the US embassy warned US citizens to “be aware of their surroundings and provide shelter” and not to visit or enter the embassy. trying to leave the country.
“The US embassy condemns the forced removal of the civilian government by the Sudanese armed forces and their actions to undermine the country’s democratic transition,” the embassy said later. “We call on the military to immediately end the violence, release detained officials and ensure the safety of Sudanese citizens demonstrating for democratic and civilian leadership.”
The US was an outspoken supporter of the 2019 demonstrations that eventually ended 30 years of Bashir’s rule, which itself began with a coup d’état against the democratically elected government of former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and former President Ahmed al-Mirghani. And U.S. officials under the administration of former President Donald Trump applauded the formation of the Sovereignty Council, made up of both military and civilian officials.
Another important development occurred late last year when the US withdrew Sudan’s label as a state sponsor of terrorism. The new government in Khartoum, for its part, agreed to pay $335 million to compensate the survivors and the families of the victims of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by al-Qaeda, of which the US told Bashir. accused the accused, as well as to recognize Israel, a historical enemy of the Arab world.
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But internally, tensions between the armed forces and activists continued, and a coup attempt attributed to Bashir loyalists was thwarted last month.
And while Burhan promised on Monday to continue on Sudan’s path to democracy with elections in July 2023, developments ushered in a new era of uncertainty for a nation already beset by a troubled history of coups and conflict since Egypt’s independence. and the United States. Kingdom in 1956.
However, China is a country that has managed to maintain friendly relations during several periods of political leadership in Sudan. On Monday, Beijing also expressed concern over the latest events, assuring that its embassy in Khartoum was functioning normally.
“China is monitoring the latest developments in Sudan and is calling on relevant parties in Sudan to resolve differences through dialogue and maintain national peace and stability,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. reporters. “Currently, the Chinese embassy is functioning normally.”
Due to the magnitude of the cooperation between the two countries, the African nation is home to a number of Chinese citizens and interests. Wang said China would not hesitate to protect them.
“China will closely monitor developments and take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of Chinese institutions and people in Sudan,” Wang said.
Oil was originally one of China’s top stakes in Sudan, but this dynamic shifted after the 2011 split that saw the independence of South Sudan, which today includes a number of oil-rich regions where Chinese companies continue to operate.
As for the greater northern area that remains Sudan, China has invested heavily in the country participating in President Xi Jinping’s intercontinental Belt and Road Initiative for infrastructure projects, including works on railways, roads and ports for a country strategically located on the Red Sea. Sea.
Bashir’s removal in 2019 did little to affect Khartoum’s ties to Beijing, and the Sovereignty Council leadership has only deepened relations with China, both economically and politically.
While China has also been a major arms supplier to Sudan, it is Russia that accounts for the vast majority of Sudan’s arms imports.
Moscow has expanded its presence in Africa in recent years and Sudan has been a focus of Russian projects, especially in the area of security. Russia and Sudan agreed last December to establish a Russian naval logistics base off the Red Sea coast of the African country, but the two sides were still in talks on the matter last month.
Members of Russia’s Wagner, a private military company, have also been seen in Sudan. This deployment is one of several that led to the US imposing sanctions last year on Russian businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin, whose US Treasury Department is said to have funded a Wagner-led effort to quell protests against Bashir.
Russia, for its part, has accused the US of meddling in Sudanese affairs, including through its support for the country’s divisions and the 2019 coup. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated these grievances in a statement last week and responded Monday. the Russian Foreign Ministry on the latest events.
The ministry has not explicitly supported Burhan’s measures, but said such actions appear to be rooted in the transitional government’s shortcomings.
“We assume that such a development of events in Sudan has become evidence of an acute systemic crisis that has engulfed all parts of the country’s political and economic life,” the statement said. “This is a natural consequence of a failed policy pursued over the past two years. The despair and fate of the vast majority of the population has been virtually ignored by the transitional authorities and their foreign principals and advisers.”
In particular, the ministry blamed unnamed outside powers for these failures.
“Large-scale foreign interference in the internal affairs of the republic has in practice led to a loss of confidence in the transitional authorities of Sudanese citizens,” the ministry said, “which repeatedly sparked numerous protests and led to general instability in the country, including the de facto isolation of some of its regions.”
The statement also pledged support for indigenous political developments in Sudan rooted in the will of its people.
“We are convinced that Sudanese can and should solve internal problems independently and determine the vector of their country’s sovereign development, based on national interests,” the ministry said. “The Russian Federation will continue to respect the choice of the friendly Sudanese people and provide them with all necessary assistance.”
The above image was provided by Statista.