Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?

Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?
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Sudanese citizens displaced from their homes by the raging war dig small holes at the shore to get potable water at the banks of the White Nile in Khartoum on May 6, 2023. (REUTERS)
Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?
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People salvage items from a medical storage destroyed amid fighting in Nyala, the capital of Sudan's province of South Darfur on May 2, 2023. (AFP)
Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?
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Sudanese refugee women, who fled the violence in their country build makeshift shelters while waiting to be placed in refugees camp near the border between Sudan and Chad in Koufroun, Chad, on May 6, 2023. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)
Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?
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Smoke billows amid persistent fighting in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on May 4, 2023, despite extended truce agreements between the warring groups. (AFP)
Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?
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Chinese citizens evacuated from Sudan display their country's banners as they arrive at King Faisal navy base in Jeddah on April 26, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 07 May 2023
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Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?

Can China help to end the fighting in Sudan?
  • Diplomatic track record suggests Beijing well placed to broker peace between the feuding Sudanese generals
  • Long history of trade engagement with Sudan gives China political and economic influence that West lacks

JUBA, South Sudan: The crisis in Sudan, which began when clashes broke out between Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan’s Sudanese Armed Forces and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces on April 15, has claimed more than 500 lives and displaced nearly 300,000 people over a span of just three weeks.

As Sudan’s neighbors, Arab and Middle Eastern countries, and Western powers make fervent pleas for an end to the fighting, many analysts say the Sudanese are actually looking to the East for a resolution.

China has acted as a mediator in several Middle Eastern rapprochement efforts, notably brokering the restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran in early April and encouraging the push for reconciliation between the Syrian regime and Arab countries.

Its recent diplomatic track record, experts say, suggests China is ideally positioned to play the role of a peace broker in the Sudanese conflict as well.

INNUMBERS

$2.03bn China’s exports to Sudan during 2022

$780m Sudan’s exports to China in 2021

$17m Value of China-Sudan economic and technology agreements signed in 2022

“China has more influence on Sudan than the West and regional bodies, and could work with countries of the Arab League to solve the conflict before it escalates,” Manasseh Zindo, a South Sudanese peacemaker and a former delegate to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development-led peace process, told Arab News.

According to Zindo, while Western countries have tended to impose sanctions on Sudan, China has done business with the country’s leaders, giving it a unique opportunity to help end the conflict between the military and the RSF.

“Sudanese leaders do not have much faith in the West and would be more comfortable with mediation championed by China,” he said.

 

 

Indeed, the general consensus is that China’s longstanding economic ties with Sudan, which date back to the late 1950s, give it a vested interest in brokering a deal to end the current fighting and pushing for a lasting solution to the crisis.

Over the years, China has emerged as one of Sudan’s largest trading partners, the result of investing heavily in the country’s oil industry and buying up part of the output too.

In recent years, China has expanded its investments to sectors beyond oil, such as infrastructure, mining and agriculture. It has also helped Sudan tap its hydroelectric power potential, notably by financing the construction of the Merowe Dam on the Nile River.

In the area of infrastructure, China has helped to build several major projects in Sudan, including the Khartoum International Airport, the Friendship Hall in Khartoum, and the Roseires Dam on the Blue Nile River.




This picture taken on September 15, 2022 shows a view of a building of China's National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) near the Nile river waterfront in Sudan's capital Khartoum. (AFP)

Taken together, these projects have given a boost to Sudan’s transportation and energy infrastructure, contributing to the country’s economic development.

By the same token, China’s web of investments in Sudan would be at great risk were the current fighting to turn into a protracted conflict and exact a heavy economic toll.

“Disruption of production in the country could have serious consequences not just for Sudan and South Sudan, but also to some extent for China,” Augustino Ting Mayai, research director at the Sudd Institute in South Sudan’s Juba, told Arab News.

Since the eruption of violence in Sudan last month, the UN, the African Union and several regional blocs have repeatedly appealed for calm, proposing ceasefires and dialogue. So far, however, the outcomes have not been encouraging, with mere minutes passing between the implementation of a truce and the resumption of airstrikes and small-arms fire.

The two feuding Sudanese factions, who each blame one another for the multiple broken ceasefires, are actually former allies. After the removal of dictator Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, a joint transitional military-civilian government was established, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.




Sudanese Army soldiers walk near tanks stationed on a street in southern Khartoum on May 6, 2023, amid ongoing fighting against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. (AFP)

In just two years’ time, Al-Burhan and Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, closed ranks to overthrow Hamdok. Efforts to coax Sudan back toward a civilian-led government began anew, but disputes over the integration of Dagalo’s RSF into the SAF led to tensions, which evidently reached a flashpoint when explosions and gunfire began to rock Khartoum and other cities on April 15.

“The collapse of Sudan could lead to more violence across the region fueled by the spread of weapons, such as in Libya and Somalia,” Kai Xue, a Beijing-based Africa expert, told Arab News.

Libya, which shares its southeastern border with Sudan, and Somalia, on the Horn of Africa, are two examples of how protracted civil conflicts can plunge African nations into vicious cycles of violence with damaging global consequences.




Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) gather near the presidential palace in Khartoum on May 1, 2023. (Screen grab from RSF video/ESN/AFP

In Libya, the fall of former dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 led to the rapid spread of small arms and light weapons throughout the country, which is now home to a large number of warring groups engaged in an unending power struggle.

The unchecked proliferation of arms, ammunition and explosives not only fuels the conflict in Libya but also has a destabilizing effect on the entire region. Neighboring countries, such as Chad, Niger and Sudan, have struggled to stem the misuse, accumulation and illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons across their borders.

The civil war, followed by state collapse and the emergence of armed groups, in Somalia has had a similar effect on nearby countries. The diversion and illicit trade of small arms and light weapons has been a major driver of the Somali conflict, which continues to this day.

The smuggling and transfer of weapons and explosives from Somalia have also had a significant impact on neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Ethiopia. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab, which has links with Al-Qaeda, has launched deadly attacks in both countries using weapons smuggled in from Somalia.

Africa analysts say if Somalia and Libya hold any lesson, it is that the conflict in Sudan potentially has serious implications not just for the future of the country but for that of the wider region too.




Sudanese refugees, who fled the violence in their country stand beside makeshift shelters near the border between Sudan and Chad in Koufroun, Chad, on May 6, 2023. (REUTERS)

The UN has warned of an impending humanitarian catastrophe as a result of the fighting, saying that 800,000 people are expected to flee the country. Compounding the crisis is the fact that Sudan itself is already home to more than 1 million refugees and 3 million internally displaced persons.

Sudan’s impoverished neighbors also already host large refugee populations and have been plagued for years by political and economic instability as well as natural disasters such as flash floods and drought.

“It is good that everybody is calling for peace, but there is almost a traffic jam of peacemaking when everyone wants to get involved,” Tibor Nagy, a former US ambassador to Ethiopia, told Arab News.

He expressed regret that the US did not provide more support for Sudan’s transition to civilian rule.

 

 

“I think if the US had been quicker, then maybe Prime Minister (Hamdok) would not have been overthrown,” Nagy said. “Yet, at the end of the day, the fault lies with General Al-Burhan and Hemedti, as it is now clear that neither one of them wanted a real civilian-led government.”

As for China, Nagy said the country “tends to issue good statements when there is a flare-up like the current conflict in Sudan, but it tends to stay back and wait for others to make peace, as we saw in the case of Ethiopia’s recent civil war,” Nagy said.

Under the circumstances, China’s involvement in the Sudan feud is likely to be passive, according to Benjamin Barton, of the University of Nottingham, Malaysia. Citing the scale of the crisis and the size of Sudan, he said China will wait for the violence to ebb before getting involved.

“It’s all really dependent on the warring parties,” he told Arab News. “Sometimes these conflict situations go way beyond China’s ability to intervene.”

 

 

The once laudable Western goal of seeing a civilian-led government formed to steer Sudan’s transition to a democratic dispensation seems far-fetched now. So, some in Africa hope that given its political clout and economic influence, China can at least have a mitigating effect on the current tensions.

“China could use its diplomatic channels to bring both sides of the conflict to the table,” Onyando Kakoba, secretary-general of the Forum of Parliaments of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, told Arab News, adding: “It should avoid taking sides, which could escalate the crisis.”

His view is seconded by Deng Dau Deng Malek, the acting minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of South Sudan, who told Arab News: “Pressure must be exerted by all international partners (to end the fighting in Sudan), including China.”


Israel’s parliament backs Netanyahu’s opposition to ‘unilateral’ creation of Palestinian state

Israel’s parliament backs Netanyahu’s opposition to ‘unilateral’ creation of Palestinian state
Updated 2 sec ago
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Israel’s parliament backs Netanyahu’s opposition to ‘unilateral’ creation of Palestinian state

Israel’s parliament backs Netanyahu’s opposition to ‘unilateral’ creation of Palestinian state
JERUSALEM: Israel’s parliament voted on Wednesday to back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration opposing the ‘unilateral’ creation of Palestinian state, following growing international calls for the revival of efforts to reach a two state solution to the decades-long conflict.
Netanyahu’s Likud party said in a statement that 99 of 120 lawmakers voted to support the declaration passed earlier this week by the cabinet.
The Israeli position also says that any permanent accord with the Palestinians would have to be reached through direct negotiations between the sides, and not by international dictates.

Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 29,313

Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 29,313
Updated 21 February 2024
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Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 29,313

Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 29,313
  • Ministry statement: A total of 118 people died in the past 24 hours

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Wednesday that at least 29,313 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory during the war between Hamas-led militants and Israel.
A ministry statement said a total of 118 people died in the past 24 hours, while another 69,333 have been wounded since the war erupted on October 7.


Iran dismisses plan by UN nuclear watchdog head to visit next month

Iran dismisses plan by UN nuclear watchdog head to visit next month
Updated 21 February 2024
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Iran dismisses plan by UN nuclear watchdog head to visit next month

Iran dismisses plan by UN nuclear watchdog head to visit next month
  • IAEA’s Rafael Grossi: Iran continuing to enrich uranium well beyond the needs for commercial nuclear use
  • Under a defunct 2015 agreement with world powers, Iran can enrich uranium only to 3.67 percent

DUBAI: Iran’s nuclear chief on Wednesday dismissed a suggestion that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi would visit Iran next month but instead invited Grossi to a conference in Tehran in May.
Grossi said this week Iran was continuing to enrich uranium well beyond the needs for commercial nuclear use and said he planned to visit Tehran next month to tackle “drifting apart” relations between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic.
But Mohammad Eslami said a visit next month was unlikely due to a “busy schedule” without giving further clarification. “Iran’s interactions with the IAEA continue as normal and discussions are held to resolve ambiguities and develop cooperation,” he said at a weekly press conference in Tehran.
Eslami said Grossi had been invited to attend Iran’s first international nuclear energy conference in May.
Speaking to Reuters on Monday, Grossi said while the pace of uranium enrichment had slowed slightly since the end of last year, Iran was still enriching at an elevated rate of around 7kg of uranium per month to 60 percent purity.
Enrichment to 60 percent brings uranium close to weapons grade, and is not necessary for commercial use in nuclear power production. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons but no other state has enriched to that level without producing them.
Under a defunct 2015 agreement with world powers, Iran can enrich uranium only to 3.67 percent. After then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of that deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, Iran breached and moved well beyond the deal’s nuclear restrictions.
The UN nuclear watchdog said the 2015 nuclear deal “is all but disintegrated.”


US urges UN court not to order Israel out of Palestinian lands

US urges UN court not to order Israel out of Palestinian lands
Updated 30 min 37 sec ago
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US urges UN court not to order Israel out of Palestinian lands

US urges UN court not to order Israel out of Palestinian lands
  • More than 50 states will present arguments until February 26
  • Current hearings could increase political pressure over Israel’s war in Gaza

THE HAGUE:  The United States said a call for withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories in Palestine requires to take into account Israel's real security needs speaking at the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday.

The US is working to find a resolution of peace for Israeli's and Palestinians and to pave the wave for the establishment of a Palestinian state, added the representative. 

Egypt, UAE and Cuba were among the speakers that appeared at the third day of hearings at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, in the Hague.

Egypt’s legal counselor Jasmine Moussa said Israel’s ongoing ‘onslaught’ on Gaza killed over 29,000 Palestinians and displaced 2.3 million people in violation of international law.
 
“It is shocking that some states do not want the court to render its legal opinion. What message does this send on their respect for international justice and the rule of law?” asked  Moussa.

Egypt’s Jasmine Moussa said the Middle East “yearns for peace and stability” and a “comprehensive and lasting resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”.

Legal Advisor of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jasmine Moussa attends ICJ public hearing to allow parties to give their views on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. (Reuters)

UAE representative Lana Nusseibeh said the viability of peace and an independent Palestinian state are imperiled by Israel’s violations which have risen sharply recently.

The UAE is confident that the court will determine the legal consequences of Israel's violations of international law against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

“According to the United Nations, 2023 has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank,” said Nusseibeh.

Nuseibeh said Israel must cease all policies and practices that impede the exercise of Palestinian right to self determination.

Israel must ensure freedom of access to holy places and respect the legal and historic status quo of these areas, added Nusseibeh.

The UAE concluded their statement by calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and criticized the UN’s Security Council’s failure to adopt a peace resolution.

Russia will also present arguments on Wednesday in proceedings at the UN’s highest court examining the legality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The ICJ, also known as the World Court, was asked in 2022 by the UN General Assembly to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the occupation.
Israel, which is not taking part, said in written comments that the court’s involvement could be harmful to achieving a negotiated settlement. Washington in 2022 opposed the court issuing an opinion and is expected to argue on Wednesday that it cannot rule on the occupation’s lawfulness.
More than 50 states will present arguments until Feb. 26. Egypt and France were also scheduled to speak on Wednesday.
On Monday, Palestinian representatives asked the judges to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal and said its opinion could help reach a two-state solution.
On Tuesday, 10 states including South Africa were overwhelmingly critically of Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories, with many urging the court to declare the occupation illegal.
The latest surge of violence in Gaza that followed Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel has complicated already deeply-rooted grievances in the Middle East and damaged efforts toward finding a path to peace.
The ICJ’s 15-judge panel has been asked to review Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation ... including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”
The judges are expected to take roughly six months to issue their opinion on the request, which also asks them to consider the legal status of the occupation and its consequences for states.
Israel ignored a World Court opinion in 2004 when it found that Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank violated international law and should be dismantled. Instead, it has been extended.
The current hearings could increase political pressure over Israel’s war in Gaza, which has killed about 29,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — areas of historic Palestine which the Palestinians want for a state — in the 1967 conflict. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but, along with neighboring Egypt, still controls its borders.
Israeli leaders have long disputed that the territories are formally occupied on the basis that they were captured from Jordan and Egypt during the 1967 war rather than from a sovereign Palestine.

With inputs from Reuters


GCC regrets failure of UN to adopt Gaza ceasefire resolution

GCC regrets failure of UN to adopt Gaza ceasefire resolution
Updated 21 February 2024
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GCC regrets failure of UN to adopt Gaza ceasefire resolution

GCC regrets failure of UN to adopt Gaza ceasefire resolution
  • US vetoed the Algeria proposal seeking immediate ceasefire
  • Need to ‘spare the blood’ of Palestinians, says GCC spokeswoman

DUBAI: The GCC has expressed its “regret” over the failure of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution seeking a ceasefire in Gaza.

Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, the GCC’s spokeswoman and Qatar’s permanent envoy at the UN, said the resolution was aimed at ending the war on Gaza, ensure the protection of Palestinians, and was consistent with international humanitarian law.

The resolution was proposed by Algeria and supported by Arab nations and most members of the council, said Al-Thani on Tuesday.

“We regret the failure of the security council to adopt the resolution submitted by Algeria,” she said.

“Our countries will continue their efforts along with partners to ensure reaching a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, in order to spare the blood of our Palestinian brothers and to ensure the arrival of more humanitarian and relief aid to the Strip and to protect civilians,” Al-Thani said.

The draft resolution condemned the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, urged all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, and called for the release all hostages.

The US vetoed the resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and proposed its own draft urging a temporary ceasefire.

Washington said the Algeria-proposed resolution would “jeopardize” talks to end the war.