for the international community, better a controversial regime than chaos –


For three weeks, the demonstrations are multiplying everywhere in the country. Sudan of Omar al-Bashir proclaims his suffering on the streets. But yet, "All parts in the region (Middle East) are at loggerheads but they have somehow agreed on Bashir", says Abdelwahab al-Affendi, an academic at the University Institute of Studies in Doha. Promoting continuity in this Arab country of North Africa, "They think that any alternative may not be favorable to them".

Sudan has been plagued since December 19 on the occasion of demonstrations caused by the increase in the price of bread. These protests quickly turned into a protest against Omar al-Bashir, the biggest challenge the president has faced since he came to power in 1989, experts say. Twenty-two people died, according to an official report; but international NGOs speak of at least 40 deaths.

Support from neighboring countries

While President Bashir is disputed in his country, he still enjoys the support of his regional allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. "Egypt fully supports the security and stability of Sudan, which are fundamental to its national security"last week President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi told a close advisor to the Sudanese president he received in Cairo.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses his supporters during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, January 9, 2019. An intervention after three weeks of anti-government protests. (AP Photo / Mahmoud Hjaj)
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses his supporters during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, January 9, 2019. An intervention after three weeks of anti-government protests. (Photo AP / Mahmoud Hjaj) Mahmoud Hjaj / AP

After the deterioration of relations in 2017, when Bashir accused Egypt of supporting Sudanese opponents, Cairo and Khartoum recently overcame their differences. In particular, Sudan revoked the ban on imports of products from Egypt in October, imposed for 17 months. And a few days after the protests began, the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani even invited the Sudanese president to offer his help.

Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia "I'm against any kind of successful insurrection" in Sudan, according to Mr. Affendi. "They think that if it happens, they will be next" on the list, with the 2011 Arab Spring in memory.

A European diplomat on condition of anonymity notes that Bashir's foreign policy "It is driven by economic pressure from all sides".

Sudan's economy suffered much from the US embargo imposed in 1997 on Khartoum's alleged support for Islamist groups. The regime had welcomed Osama bin Laden in the '90s.

The fear of being next on the list …

The enhanced cooperation with Washington has certainly allowed the removal of this embargo in 2017 but, according to experts, this did not have the expected results, especially since the United States has kept Sudan in the list of countries that support the "Terrorism". To survive, Sudan must find other partners.

In December 2018, a few days before the start of the protest, Bashir met his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, becoming the first Arab head of state to visit Syria after the eruption of the conflict in 2011 According to experts, the idea was to approach Russia, an unshakeable ally of the Syrian regime and the undisputed power in the Middle East.

In 2016, the Sudanese president released his Iranian ally for Saudi Arabia, joining Teheran's regional rebel-led Ryad coalition in Yemen. According to media reports, hundreds of Sudanese soldiers are fighting among the coalition ranks in Yemen. "In return, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates gave Bashir just enough to stay afloat"says Affendi, referring to financial aid in Khartoum.

Nobody wants Sudan to collapse

Other powers like China have invested billions of dollars in Sudan in the last few decades. "For countries like China and Russia, Sudan is a gateway to Africa"says the diplomat. "Whether it's them or the Westerners, nobody wants Sudan to collapse". But not everyone works the same way to support it.

If the United States and the European Union "Do not support Bashir" -Researched by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and genocide charges in Darfur (west) – work with Khartoum to ensure that "Sudan remains stable", says the European diplomatic source.

Because any instability in this country could lead to a new wave of migration to Europe, according to this same source. The strategic position of Sudan in the Horn of Africa is an advantage for Bashir, said Amal el-Taweel, an analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for political and strategic studies in Cairo. "International and regional powers will not let Sudan crumble", he told AFP, saying that everything now depends "How will the balance of power on the road evolve". According to the researcher, these powers also fear this"A new bulwark of extremists" come to Sudan because of instability.

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