Takeaway: Sudan’s fragile economic stability threatened after military takeover
Hot Take: United States rallies partners to restore civilian rule in Sudan
The Biden administration had hoped that Sudan, a pivotal country of 44 million people in the Horn of Africa, was on a steady but bumpy road to elections and economic reform. All of this is now under threat after the military overthrew civilian leaders in a coup on October 25. is restored.
The army rejects the accusation of “coup”. The lieutenant general Abdel Fattah Burhan, the head of the Sudanese armed forces, said that although the civilian-led transitional government has been dissolved, national elections will proceed as planned in July 2023 and a new prime minister and technocratic government will be appointed to replace Abdallah Hamdok, who was evicted and placed under house arrest. Burhan asserted that the military actions were not a coup but were a necessary step to avoid civil conflict. âThe dangers we witnessed last week could have led the country into a civil war,â he said, apparently alleging that last week’s protests could have been designed to overthrow. Clashes between security forces and protesters have so far left eight dead and 154 injured.
For more information and the warning signs of the military takeover, check out last week’s Week in Review column here.
The United States is stepping up the pressure. Biden administration makes aid to Sudan conditional on compliance with both Sudan’s Constitutional Declaration (August 2019) and the Juba Peace Agreement (October 2020), which provided for the country’s planned transition to civilian rule . Since the military intervened, Washington has suspended $ 700 million in economic aid and the World Bank has suspended all payments to Sudan. US Secretary of State Antoine Blinken worked over the phone to rally influential U.S. partners in Sudan – including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which holds the African Union presidency) and Saudi Arabia – to help get Sudan’s transition back on track. Sent from the United States to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman was in Sudan a few days before the coup.
“Breakthrough” in danger. In March, the President of the World Bank David Malpass announced the prospect of debt relief in Sudan under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative as a “breakthrough”. In the absence of US and international aid, the Sudanese economy could crack, with an increased risk of “medium-intensity conflict” in the World Bank’s matrix of fragility and conflict-affected economies.
As we reported in April, Sudan is primarily an agricultural economy and therefore particularly sensitive to climatic variations and flooding. Extreme poverty (defined as per capita income of less than $ 1.90 per day) is high at 13.5% of the population; the below average income poverty line of $ 3.20 per day would encompass 46.1% of the Sudanese population. Sudan ranks near bottom on the human development and human capital indices. The economy, particularly affected by COVID-19, shrank 3.6% in 2020, the third consecutive year of contraction. The IMF had forecast that the Sudanese economy would grow by 0.9% this year, before accelerating to 3.5% in 2022 and 6.5% in 2023. These promising projections are now compromised due to the economic consequences of the crisis. uncertain political transition.
What we are watching. The United States looks to partners plays a key role. The risk of instability and economic collapse in Sudan is also a regional crisis. The Tigray conflict in neighboring Ethiopia, as well as regional tension over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), has put Khartoum and Addis Ababa at odds. The United States will therefore rely on the advice and good offices of partners in the Middle East and Africa. In addition to Congo and Saudi Arabia, Sudan’s powerful neighbor Egypt will play a central role, given its close security and diplomatic coordination with Sudan. And the UAE has pursued low-key and hard-hitting diplomacy in the region, unique in its close ties to Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
From our regional correspondents:
1. Saudi Arabia aims for a net zero future
Saudi Arabia has pledged to phase out or offset its greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, a huge undertaking for one of the world’s largest oil producers.
But as Jim krane and Karen Young to argue, the gain would be enormous. “A serious commitment to decarbonization would revitalize the kingdom’s influence, giving it the credibility needed to shape the energy transition in a way that ensures a long-term role for hydrocarbons,” they write.
To meet its goal of net zero carbon emissions, Saudi Arabia will need to change the way it produces electricity and build a network of solar power plants. It’s an ambitious goal, but as Krane and Young note, the Gulf Monarchy has surprising advantages.
2. The timing of Turkey’s spy stops
Turkey revealed last week that it had dismantled a 15-person Arab spy ring accused of monitoring Palestinians based in Turkey on behalf of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) monitored suspected spies for a year before arresting them in four Turkish provinces on October 7.
“At first glance, the bust may appear to be an asset for Turkey to squeeze Israel”, Fehim Tastekin writing. âYet the revelations do not implicate any member of the Mossad and remain limited to Arabs, leaving Israel the opportunity to deny any involvement and to wash its hands of the matter. For its part, Israel appeared indifferent to the news.
The timing of the last spy stop is worth noting. The news from the Mossad network followed similar reports that Turkey had rounded up Iranian and Russian spy groups.
3. Update on Syria: Syrian forces supported by Turkey step up their actions in the north
-Tel Rifaat: Syrian government forces and their affiliated militias are deploying military reinforcements in the town of Tel Rifaat ahead of a possible military offensive by the Turkish army and its proxies against Kurdish-led forces. A Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) spokesperson said Khaled al-Khateb, âThe rise of the regime will not undermine our resolveâ¦ our forces will be ready to do what needs to be done to liberate these areas from hostile forces.
-Idlib: Sultan al Kanj reports how a merger involving some of the Turkish-backed factions could derail Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s efforts to form an alliance with SNA-affiliated Al-Jabha al-Shamiya.
-Aleppoo: Khaled al-Khateb reports here how the SNA has stepped up its operations against drug trafficking networks around Aleppo.
4. Egyptian border security detains and releases realistic robot
In what is surely a first, Egyptian security forces have arrested a robot suspected of possible spying. The British-made bot, AÃ¯-Da, is considered the first humanoid artist in the world to use artificial intelligence to paint. The robot had traveled to Egypt with its creator, Aidan Meller, to hold its first exhibition at the base of the pyramids in Cairo.
Meller, who was also detained at customs for 10 days, said border security officers detaining them were wary of modems and Ai-Da’s eyes, which can function as cameras. Ai-Da’s creator told The Guardian, “I can ditch modems, but I can’t really tear his eyes out.” The Egyptian government did not respond to press inquiries about the detention. Eventually, Meller and his robot were released after intervention by the British Embassy.
5. Bodybuilding, intimate fatwas arouse controversy
An Egyptian preacher issued a controversial fatwa banning men from participating in bodybuilding competitions that reveal what Sharia law has defined as private parts of their bodies. The announcement came in response to the Egyptian bodybuilder Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiaywon a championship in Orlando, Florida earlier this month. A professor at Egyptian Al-Azhar University rejected the recent fatwa, saying Ibrahim Ayyad that the sharia rule on the presentation of the skin only applies to worship.
Meanwhile, an unofficial religious fatwa that prescribes how many times a married couple must have sex has gone viral online. After a sheikh delivered his judgment on Facebook, Egyptian official Dar al-Ifta was forced to clarify that marital intimacy must be consensual.
What we observe: fishing for plastic in the Nile
Some 2,000 Egyptian fishermen joined forces to collect 100,000 kilograms of plastic waste from the Nile. The country’s legendary river is heavily polluted with sewage, agricultural runoff, industrial wastes and wastes that are thrown directly into the water. The pollution has a serious impact on the biodiversity of the river, as well as on fishing and human health. “People need to understand that the Nile is as important, if not more, than the pyramids,” said one of the clean-up organizers. âThe generations that follow us will depend on it. Watch the video here.
What we’re listening to: Will the Biden-Erdogan meeting slow US-Turkey relations?
The american president Joe biden expected to meet the turkish president Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow from October 31. For the best briefing on the state of US-Turkish relations ahead of the meeting, Amberin Zaman and senior analyst from Turkey Alain makovsky discuss whether the S-400 issue could cause the final rift between Ankara and the NATO alliance. You can listen to the interview here.