Sudan Foreign Policy Part III

Regional relations

According to estatelearning, Sudan counteracted the country’s profound political isolation by increasing its presence in regional organizations such as the African Union and the Arab League, and in recent years has attempted to break this open by moving closer to its neighboring states, to which Sudan, up to in the recent past, had a rather conflictual relationship. With the exception of the ongoing difficult relationship with South Sudan, these efforts seem to be bearing fruit.

The relationship with the northern neighbor Egypt, which is also important from an economic point of view, is occasionally burdened by disputes that flare up again and again about the Hala’ib triangle, which is located on the border between the two countries and occupied by Egypt, but is otherwise considered relaxed. In order to underline the departure from its Islamist policy, Sudan offered Egypt assistance in supporting the Libyan government in the fight against Islamist militias in Libya in October 2014 and distinguished itself in March 2015 by successfully mediating in the Egyptian-Ethiopian conflict over the Nile Dam in Ethiopia. Almost all of the people bordering the Nile are trying to promote the electrification of their countries through dam projects.

The water abstraction from the Nile, which is vital for Egypt, is regulated in numerous agreements, especially from the years 1929 and 1959, and managed to promote dialogue by the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), in which the Nile bordering countries have been represented since 1999. The work of the Nile Basin Initiative has been supported by GIZ since 2002.

Nile River: Balancing interests and rights? (English, 24:41 min.)

Video report by Al Jazeera on the agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the Nile Dam in Ethiopia from 2015.

Relations with its western neighbor Chad have also stabilized in the meantime. After Chadian President Idriss Déby operated from Sudan when he came to power in 1990 and was supported by its government, bilateral relations since the outbreak of the Darfur conflict have been heavily burdened by mutual allegations of support for the respective rebel organizations in both countries repeated breaking of diplomatic relations. After long negotiations, relations normalized in 2010’sealed and now confirmed by several mutual state visits. The Sudanese side honored the failure to comply with the arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court for al-Bashir, even though Chad is an ICC member and should therefore have contributed to the arrest of the Sudanese president at the time.

The relationship with Ethiopia, which obtains a large part of its oil imports from Sudan and in return would like to offer the country large-scale power supply in the future, benefits as a landlocked country from a planned road connection to the Sudanese port of Port Sudan. After the peace agreement with the rebels in Eastern Sudan in 2007, the long-term tense relationship with the other eastern neighbor, Eritrea, has been quite stable and improving noticeably.

When Uganda was a direct neighbor of Sudan before the formation of the state of South Sudan, relations between states were considered very tense. The south of Sudan was then one of the retreat areas for those fought by UgandaLord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Uganda supported the South Sudanese rebel organizations in the fight against Khartoum. After the secession of South Sudan and the escalation of the domestic political situation there, the two countries are drawing closer together, as both Sudan and Uganda are interested in a settlement of the conflict in South Sudan.

Relations with the other Arab states, especially with Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states, had improved sustainably as Sudan turned away from close relations with Iran. The closure of the Iranian Cultural Center in Khartoum contributed to this, the alleged Shiite activities of which were a thorn in the side of the Sunni governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

After massive economic aid from the Gulf States, Sudan is supporting the alliance led by Saudi Arabia against the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen and increased its troop presence again after Qatar was excluded from the alliance in June 2017, probably with the generous remuneration from Saudi -Arabia is established, but this alliance is crumbling. In addition to the UAE, Sudan has also drastically reduced its troops in Yemen. Of the once almost 15,000 soldiers, only around 650 are now in the country.

In order to boost its ailing economy, Sudan does not shy away from playing the regional economic giants Turkey and Qatar against the rival axis Saudi Arabia-UAE-Egypt in a tightrope act.

The Nile in Khartoum