Sudan has experienced a series of coups and conflicts since it gained independence from Egypt in 1956. The recent protests which began on December 19, 2018 in the city of Atbara over the rising costs of bread and fuel widened across the country leading to the demand to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir. On April 11, Sudan experienced its 6th coup as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power by the Sudanese Armed Forces amid ongoing protests after holding office for nearly 30 years. The Sudanese spy Chief Salah Gosh was also forced to resign post the coup. Salah was the second most powerful man in the country after President Bashir and a well-known figure of the Muslim Brotherhood. His courting by Obama administration and recently Mossad is widely reported.
Ironically General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf who ended the 29-year long authoritarian rule of Bashir in the 6th military coup was forced to announce his replacement within 24 hours of takeover amid continued protests. Ibn Auf is under US sanctions for supporting genocidal militias in Darfur. Lieutenant General Abdelfattah al-Burhan is the new head of Sudan’s ruling military council now. He is a veteran soldier and one of the few members of Sudan’s ruling class that has not been charged by the International Criminal Court. He has stated that he does not wish to stay in power and wants to return the country to civilian rule.
Sudan severed ties with Iran in 2016 and President Bashir sent thousands of Sudanese soldiers to fight with the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis in Yemen to gain the financial and diplomatic support of Saudi and UAE. In October 2017, America lifted most of the economic sanctions that had been imposed on Sudan for nearly two decades and began the negotiation over the removal of Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of “terrorism”. However, Bashir became skeptical of US intentions when then-US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan did not meet him during his visit to Khartoum in mid-November 2017 and US asked him not to run in the 2020 elections.
With the economy on the verge of collapse and his political career sliding into a dangerous phase President Bashir decided to engage with rival interests to stay in power playing complex foreign policy games. Bashir reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin for protection. During his visit to Russia in December 2017, he offered to construct an airbase for Russia on the Red Sea coast and to re-equip the Sudanese Army with Russian weapons, including SU-30 fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles.
As if this complexity was not enough, Bashir further signed a deal with Erdogan to lease the Red Sea island of Suakin to Turkey during President Erdogan’s visit to Sudan in January 2018. He also signed a $4 billion deal with Qatar in March 2018, to develop Suakin as Sudan’s second biggest port on the Red Sea. Bashir also become the first Arab League leader to visit Damascus since the war in Syria began nearly eight years ago. This definitely did not go down well with Saudi-UAE axis and the coup followed!
In backdrop of these events the coup in Khartoum gains significance as Sudan is one of the few remaining pro-Russia countries from the Soviet era which was mentioned by General Wesley Clark, as part of the seven target nations as stated in our 2016 book “The New Global Order”.