Sudan Matter: Last weekend U.S. military special operations forces pulled off a successful emergency evacuation of American government personnel from the U.S. embassy in Sudan’s capital Khartoum—amid ongoing violence that has left hundreds dead. Yet, the threat still remains for an estimated hundreds or thousands of Americans trapped in the conflicted zone, where dead bodies continue to pile up in the streets.
The conflict comes from a power struggle between two rival Sudanese generals, former allies, who had joined forces in 2019 to overthrow the brutal dictator Omar al-Bashir. With the return to civilian rule, the two have been battling for control since the beginning of April. One faction claims to be trained by the Russian Wagner group.
According to Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, a respected expert on MENA geopolitics and founder of the global non-profit, Ideas Beyond Borders (IBB), this could be a long civil war. “The two fighting groups are crushing civil society and the conflict is making it difficult for pro-democracy activists and leaders to have any voice in the future of the nation. They are the ones losing the most.”
“In my opinion, Sudan matters, and it matters a lot,” says al-Mutar. “Whatever happens, militarily or politically in Khartoum will ripple across some of the most fragile parts of Africa.”
“In addition, Sudan represents a critical staging ground for formidable global power brokers. For years, Russia has wanted to establish a military base in Port Sudan, giving its warships access to and dominance over one of the world’s busiest and most contested sea lanes.”
Al-Mutar is emphatic that the U.S. should focus immediately on ways to support and ultimately extricate American citizens who want to escape a tenuous and rapidly deteriorating environment. “At the same time,” he comments, “we need to evaluate why the State Department is bereft of connections to either side of the conflict, leaving us without any influence or brokering chips.”