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Qatar-GCC crisis unsettles Sudan

The government in Khartoum is caught in the middle of the bitter dispute between Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir watches the joint Sudan and Saudi Arabia air force drill at the Marwa air base, near Meroe some 350 kilometres north of Khartoum, on April 9, 2017. 
The drills were aimed at improving the operational capacities of the two air forces, improving techniques related to air operations and promoting cooperation. / AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY        (Photo credit should read ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
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Illustrative of the extent to which Sudan and Qatar have deepened bilateral relations, Khartoum is not joining Riyadh and its allies in punishing Doha for allegedly promoting terrorism. Yet, for Sudan, which relies heavily on economic support from Qatar as well as the three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members confronting Doha, the council’s diplomatic row and its timing are dreadful.

On June 6, the Khartoum government offered to pursue “reconciliation” efforts between Qatar and the Sunni Arab states that have severed ties with Doha. Expressing “deep concern” about the standoff, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry demanded that regional states “work together to overcome this dispute.” Unsettling for Khartoum is that the row threatens to directly undermine Sudan’s national interests in several ways given its foreign policy history and the country’s current domestic political environment.

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