The foreign relations of Sudan are from the years of isolation caused by the indictment of Sudan’s former president al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the long-standing political and, now partly repealed, economic sanctions imposed by the US and the EU and the difficult Relationship to South Sudan shaped.
In the self-image of its foreign policy, Sudan sees itself as a guarantee for stability in a region characterized by fragile states and presents itself as a reliable partner, especially vis-à-vis European countries and the USA to curb international terrorism and migration flows. Dirdeiry Mohammed Ahmed, who replaced the former incumbent Ibrahim Ghandour, was Foreign Minister from May 2018 until the government was ousted in April 2019. Ghandour had successfully fought for the easing of the US sanctions and mediated in the current disputes over the Nile water due to the construction of the dam in Ethiopia, but fell because of the public criticism for months of lack of salary payments to Sudan’s diplomats in disgrace.
Sudan – the dictator guaranteed stability
SRF audio report on the role of the then Sudanese president as a stability factor in a fragile region (04:28 min.)
Sudan’s foreign policy on al-Bashir’s indictment in the International Criminal Court
The indictment of Omar al-Bashir before the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) caused, besides promoting political isolation, not a few serious inconveniences in the maintenance of the country’s foreign policy relations. So actually all states that are among the signatories of the ICC statute, including most of the African states, would have been obliged to contribute to the apprehension of the then Sudanese president. However, the African Union is critical of the ICC and recommended its member states in 2009 in a resolution on the case of the former Sudanese President not to cooperate with the ICC. The African Union refuses to take action against incumbent heads of state. For the first time, in 2010, al-Bashir visited the neighboring country of Chad unmolested, a country that actually recognizes the case law of the tribunal.
It regularly becomes uncomfortable for the Sudanese President when he is unloaded from African summits or when he has to ask how the host state would behave. For example, a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was moved from Kenya to Ethiopia in order to allow al-Bashir to participate unmolested. As a result, there was then considerable diplomatic resentment with Kenya. A summit meeting originally scheduled in Malawi also took place in 2012 of the African Union in Ethiopia, because the Malawian government refused to tolerate al-Bashir in the country.
After the South African President Jacob Zuma invited Omar Al-Bashir to the World Cup in 2010 and announced at the time that he would be arrested if he came, the political leadership of South Africa secured him a visit to the African Union summit in Johannesburg in June 2015 Escorted because a head of state must be allowed to attend a summit meeting.
After the South African opposition and the ICC had asked the South African government to arrest al-Bashir, the South African human rights organization Southern Africa Litigation Center had one urgent court application filed for arrest of Al-Bashir. The Sudanese president was not allowed to leave the country until the court ruled. During the hearing before the country’s Supreme Court, and therefore before an arrest warrant could be issued, the then Sudanese president left the summit early and was able to return to Sudan unhindered without intervention by the South African authorities.
According to ehealthfacts, state visits by the former Sudanese president also turned out to be problematic when states on the flight route refuse to allow the presidential plane to use their own airspace. So al-Bashir was in 2011 on the way to a state visit China at a forced involuntary stopover in Iran and April 2015, a planned visit by the then President of Sudan in Indonesia was due to lack of permits for the use of airspace canceled.
EU and Germany
The EU, whose role as mediator in Darfur is considered to be less than successful, has also pursued a cautious rapprochement policy since the conclusion of the peace negotiations with South Sudan and saw an open dialogue to deepen relations as a necessity.
The German-Sudanese relations experienced as tangible improvements in recent times. Germany supports the UN and African Union UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Darfur financially and by sending police officers and soldiers. To support peace efforts in Sudan as part of the “National Dialogue” initiated by former President al-Bashir, a meeting of representatives of the Sudanese opposition and civil society took place in Berlin in February 2015. Sudan tries to attract investors and tourists in Germany.