Fallout from this violence reaches far beyond Sudan
The third-largest country in Africa by land mass, Sudan shares borders with seven countries in an unstable region. The current violence there is bound to have a significant impact on the economic, social, and political realms not only within its neighboring nations but also throughout the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa because of the social, tribal, and economic linkages; as well as the entire globe, especially for those who have established economic ties with the country.
The primary exports of Sudan include gold, which generated $2.85 billion in 2021; groundnuts, crude oil, and sheep and goats. The nation is also a significant exporter of gum Arabic, a crucial component in numerous food industries.
Sudan imports raw sugar, refined petroleum, wheat, medicines, and automobiles. The present clashes could disrupt this trade and engender economic challenges for Sudan and its trading partners.
Since the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, formerly known as the Janjaweed insurgency, and subsequent failed to take power by force on April 15, the Sudanese people have experienced war crimes unprecedented in the recent history of the country, and atrocities committed by the paramilitaries including to killings, abductions, torture, looting, and rape, as well as the destruction of thousands of public and private institutions and ministries, including hospitals and water and electricity stations. The public sector has also been hampered, and economic activity has halted entirely. These offenses have led to the displacement of numerous Sudanese citizens, or their departure to neighboring countries such as Egypt, Chad, and South Sudan.
As Sudanese citizens prepared in April to celebrate the final agreement ushering in a civilian government, the paramilitary leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo caused a hindrance to the democratic transformation process. This obstacle is a significant setback and a shock to the Sudanese people and the international community. Dagalo refused to integrate his paramilitary forces into Sudanese within a reasonable time, proposing instead a 10-year period for integration when the parties signed the framework agreement inDecember 5 2022, and started to discuss security sector reform, which is one of five contentious issues in the framework. This proposal aims to extend the two-year transitional period and two terms of the future elected government, while integration of the paramilitaries is limited to two years. This allows future elected governments to prioritize critical issues such as the economy, development, and building democratic, justice, and constitutional institutions.
To illustrate some of the regional ramifications of the paramilitary rebellion, the influx of numerous Sudanese to Egypt will undoubtedly add a significant economic burden.
Sudan shares a tribal affinity with Chad, which has witnessed a significant exodus of Sudanese from Darfur. This movement has both economic and security consequences. The paramilitary leadership has attempted to assume Chad’s control to monopolize the entire region.
Subsequently, after the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict, South Sudan experienced a transitional period during which many South Sudanese citizens were forced to return, as well as several Sudanese citizens who had fled the war. This has increased commodity prices and inflation, particularly for the nation, which heavily relies on its food imports from Sudan. Clashes in Sudan could seriously interfere with oil shipments and force economic collapse in South Sudan, as around 90 percent of the country's economy is based on oil transported through the pipeline to Port Sudan. Furthermore, the spread of weapons in the country with the support of the paramilitaries could further aggravate the situation.
After the paramilitary rebellion, they disrupted traffic between Sudan and the Central African Republic, causing sharp increases in commodity prices and acute food insecurity in the Central African Republic, especially in the northern region, which depends mainly on Sudan for its food.
Ethiopia is currently being impacted by new and escalating clashes in the Amhara region, which borders Sudan. The recently signed Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front underscores the importance of Ethiopia putting forth every possible effort to preserve peace in the country. Moreover, many Ethiopian refugees residing in Sudan have returned to their country, thereby imposing additional economic hardship.
One of the primary factors contributing to the military coup in Niger was the involvement of the previous president, who had tribal ties with the paramilitary leader and supported the Rapid Support Forces by sending troops into the conflict in Sudan.
Furthermore, it should be noted that a significant 90 percent of Sudan’s external trade is conducted through Port Sudan, which is a substantial commercial sea gateway for its landlocked neighbors. Therefore, any port disruption could exacerbate the already acute shortages of essential commodities, particularly food.
The paramilitary mutiny and its associated effects in the region can pose global security threats, as evidenced by the fact that the sub-Saharan region, according to the Global Terrorism Index, accounted for 48 percent of global terrorism deaths in 2022. Given the current turbulent circumstances, this trend will probably escalate and spread to other regions of the world, particularly in the presence of non-state actors and the proliferation of weapons.
Europe, whose economy has been adversely affected by the conflict in Ukraine, will be confronted with resource shortages as this region is viewed as a vital source of vitality, providing essential elements and basic materials to numerous European nations, which are expected to be halted due to its instability.
Additionally, the paramilitary insurgency and its regional and global consequences have had political and diplomatic ramifications, straining diplomatic relationships between nations.
These effects of conflict extend far beyond the borders of the country involved. Some of the consequences of the war include regional destabilization, humanitarian crises, economic fallout, global security threats, and diplomatic implications. The international community must acknowledge the interconnectedness of these effects and collaborate to address the underlying causes of conflicts, promote peace-building initiatives, and provide assistance.
Most importantly, the international community must maintain internationally recognized and agreed guidelines and principles by supporting state institutions, isolating and condemning the paramilitaries, and contributing to Sudan’s rehabilitation when the rebellion ends.
- Ali Mohamed Ahmed Osman is charge d’affaires at the Sudanese Embassy in Tokyo.