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Sudan war threatens regional and global alliances

Conflict in Abraham Accords nation demonstrates limits of US power, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia watch anxiously.

The Sudanese civil war bears witness to the global disorder spreading in the Middle East, in the wake of the Ukraine conflict and the steady weakening of American leadership.

Sudan had raised the hopes of democrats worldwide in April 2019, when its people ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir after a quarter of a century in office, during which he had been charged with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. But such hopes were dashed in the October 2021 military coup, led by the now-warring generals Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohammad Hamdan “Hemedti” Daglo.

Meanwhile, Sudan had joined the Abraham Accords in January 2021 — an important issue for Israel as Khartoum had been the main hub for Iranian weapons smuggled to Hamas. Only two months ago, on Feb. 2, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen paid his first official visit to Sudan, to lay the ground for a peace treaty and complete normalization between the two countries. Though he was pictured shaking hands with Burhan, Hemedti at the time made it public he had no knowledge of the visit and did not meet the delegation, according to state news agency SUNA.

The huge African country, one of the poorest in the world, and with a strong history of enmity against the US, now seemed to be part and parcel of the US system of alliances in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Khartoum on Feb. 9, a few days after his Israeli counterpart, and finalized an agreement for a Red Sea logistical center for the Russian fleet in Port Sudan — meeting with both Burhan and Hemedti. Rumors were floated that Russian weaponry was on its way, and that the ubiquitous Wagner Group, the Kremlin’s unofficial spearhead in a number of African countries such as Mali, was active in Sudan’s gold-mining industry.

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