Sudan: Looking Across the Borders

2 October 2019
opinion

Sudanese politicians need to give more attention to what is going on outside their borders and the potential impact on what is going on inside the country. That should a must given the growing involvement of foreign capitals in the country's domestic affairs and in most cases with the blessing, if not direct invitation from various political forces in government and opposition.

In the five past weeks two incidents took place in the region that have far reaching implications regionally and internationally.

The first is the attack on Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq that led initially to knocking off some 5 million barrels of Saudi oil production, which is equal to 5 percent of world oil supplies. The attack did not lead to skyrocketing of prices because of oversupply, but it has far more implications in terms of geo-strategies.

Though Iran was blamed and accused by both Riyadh and Washington that it was behind the surgical attack, but it was noticeable that no retaliatory strike took place, which leaves open the possibility that such attack could be repeated.

Washington's inaction has shattered more than 70 years of perceived assumption that the United States is committed to secure and defend Saudi Arabia against any potential threat. And on its part Saudi Arabia continue to pump oil to meet world needs.

The same US inaction and desertion of its friends was repeated last week when President Donald Trump gave, in effect, green light to Turkey to launch its attacks on the Syrian Kurds with the intention of creating a safe zone to secure Turkish borders and suppress potential Kurdish mutiny inside its borders as well as encourage thousands of Syrian refugees, who fled to Turkey to go back home or at least to the safe zone.

When one adds the paralysis that engulfs Britain because of the Brexit all show to a growing phenomenon that is starting to shape world politics: the growing of populism with a clear domestic constituency and an appeal that is spreading across the western world and have been undermining, in effect, the values that the West has been standing for, preaching and trying hard to impose on the rest of the world.

That is what political forces inside Sudan needs to take note of, assess and see how to react to it.

One of the basic facts that have been highlighted by these developments is the fact that security needs to be based on geographical realities more than on perceived mutual interests thousands of miles away. The Saudi cases illustrates this point. And it makes more sense to try to reach a regional arrangements with its adversaries in Tehran and Doha and reduce its security dependence on foreign forces.

If it is rational to reach out to regional players and strike a deal that serves mutual interests, it is far more rational to work hard towards national reconciliation, build a strong domestic front that is able to face up to numerous challenges facing the country.

One of the first and foremost steps to be targeted and implemented over time is to restore different Sudanese issues scattered in various foreign capitals back home. No matter what price that may entail, it will be far cheaper than any price that will eventually be paid to this or that foreign capital.

A strong, cohesive domestic front living in harmony with itself is not only required politically, but it is important to provide the conducive environment to verge on the much needed and so far neglected economic reforms and a serious push for a take- off.

The new government has been pinning its hopes on removing Sudan from the US of countries sponsoring terrorism so as to allow it benefit economically. That is not happening with the speed the government is hoping for, which requires from the government to have a plan (B) that depends mainly on the domestic front.

One of the first steps to be taken is to boost wheat production. Already the government has set up a good stabilization price of SDG2500 per a bag 100 kgm weight. It needs to follow up on that by providing chemicals, machinery and finance to target planting one million feddans than can produce enough to meet the country's needs for a whole year.

After all it was the rising bread prices that led to demonstrations that toppled the Ingaz regime. It is high time to turn a problem into an opportunity.

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