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The International Politics Of Sudan’s Transition

Online Seminar

Sudan is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation episode of change. This ethnically diverse country of 42 million people is undergoing a rare political transition after a revolutionary uprising and a military coup last year brought an end to President Omar al-Bashir's 30-year rule. In August 2019, Bashir's generals and the leaders of opposition parties agreed to share power in arrangement meant to lead the country to a new constitutional order and free elections in three years. A peace agreement finalized on 3 October 2020 saw the leaders of armed groups from Sudan's war-torn areas of Darfur, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan join the transitional institutions. But the economy has collapsed in a spiral of near hyperinflation, and the prospects for further destabilization are rising. Regime change has brought a significant reorientation of Sudan's foreign policy, once fiercely anti-Western and supportive of Islamist groups across the region. Relations with Europe, long fraught as a result of the International Criminal Court Indictment of Omar alBashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, are edging towards full normalization. Sudan has also moved away from its erstwhile allies Qatar and Turkey, largely aligning onto the "Arab Troika" (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt). Under the influence of the UAE, Sudan is now exploring a potential normalization with Israel in exchange for a recission of the United States' longstanding State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation.

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In this panel discussion, the Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS PolDiMed) will explore how regime change has affected Sudan's international relations. Our panelists will seek to address the following themes and questions:

Sudan and great powers.
How likely is a recission of Sudan's US State Sponsor of Terrorism designation in light of the upcoming American presidential election? What would be the likely effects of a recission? What other obstacles remain on the path to full normalization with the US and Europe? In the 1990s and 2000s, Sudan, facing isolation from the West, turned to Asia — mainly China — and Russia. Can Khartoum maintain close cooperation with these countries in the event of normalization with the US, especially in light of growing antagonism between the US and China?

Sudan in its regional environment.
Sudan in 2020 has moved away from Ethiopia and closer to Egypt in the tripartite negotiations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is nearing completion. What are the reasons for this shift? Is it representative of a broader change of Sudan's attitude towards its neighbors, or has continuity otherwise prevailed? What is the division of labor between civilian and military components of the transitional authorities when it comes to relations with Sudan's neighbors? How does Sudan affect, or is affected by, instability in neighbors such as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Libya and Chad?

Foreign influence on the transition.
What has been the impact of Sudan’s new patronage — mainly from the UAE and Saudi Arabia — on the national political process in Khartoum? How have Qatar and Turkey reacted to their sidelining by the transitional authorities? Are foreign influences playing a role in the current dynamics of instability in peripheral regions of Sudan such as Darfur, Eastern Sudan, or Southern Kordofan? What are the factors likely to encourage or discourage further foreign meddling in Sudan's fragile transition?


Register here for the Online Seminar.



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

16:00 – 16:10 Welcome Remarks

Thomas Volk
Director, Regional Program Political Dialogue South
Mediterranean, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

16:10 – 16:15 Presentation of the panel

Jean-Baptiste Gallopin
Sociologist and researcher

16:15 – 16:25 Discussion Panel

Al-Haj Warrag
Editor, Ad-Dimouqrati

Lauren Blanchard
Africa Analyst, Congressional Research Service

Reem Abbas
Journalist, blogger, writer and researcher

Ahmed Hussein Adam

16:55 – 17:05 Commentary by Jean-Baptiste Gallopin
17:05 – 17:30 Q&A

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  • Al-Haj Warrag Editor
    • Ad-Dimouqrati
  • Lauren Blanchard
    • Africa Analyst
    • Congressional Research Service
  • Reem Abbas
    • Journalist
    • blogger
    • writer and researcher
  • Ahmed Hussein Adam
    • Researcher

Riadh Dziri