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Global Geopolitics

Africa

AFRICA

  • SUDAN: With the approval of the construction of a naval hub in Port Sudan (see GGN November 2020) Russia will extend military reach in the strategically important Red Sea, a disputed zone between China, Russia and the Western powers. China, now Russia’s partner for plans for Africa, opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti which gives also a prominent presence in the Red Sea. It seems no coincidence that the Trump administration announced last month that it was lifting decades of sanctions off the Sudanese government.

SOURCE: SPUTNIK

 

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Expert Analysis

Russia’s Red Sea Base In Sudan Is A Recalibration Of Its Intra-Ummah Balancing Act

Russia’s Red Sea Base In Sudan Is A Recalibration Of Its Intra-Ummah Balancing Act

16 NOVEMBER 2020

Russia

Russia’s draft deal to open up a Red Sea naval base in Sudan amounts to a strategic recalibration of its careful “balancing” act between the GCC and Turkey after moving more closely to the latter following the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which in turn shows how important Moscow regards its “Ummah Pivot” as being by seeking to maintain equally excellent relations with all majority-Muslim countries without any of its bilateral relations being misperceived as directed against any third country in this civilizational sphere.

A Deal Three Years In The Making

Some observers were surprised by reports late last week that a Russian government website published details of a draft deal pertaining to Moscow’s plans to open up a Red Sea naval base in Sudan, but this was actually something that’s been openly discussed for the past three years already. The author wrote about former President Bashir’s public invitation for Russia to do exactly just that during his visit to the Eurasian Great Power in November 2017 in his piece titled “Here’s Why Russia Might Set Up A Red Sea Base In Sudan”. The geopolitical situation has considerably changed since then following his overthrow last year, which the author also recently analyzed at length in an article about how “The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering”, but some of his insight from that time is still relevant.

Russia’s Silk Road & “Democratic Security” Interests

For instance, Russia indeed hopes to gain influence along China’s prospective Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road that he first identified in early 2017 and which is expected to terminate precisely in Port Sudan, which is where Moscow plans to open up its naval base. There are still domestic military dimensions to this draft deal which could be taken advantage of by Sudan, though not necessarily in terms of preventing the country’s further Balkanization considering the recent peace deal between its warring sides. More specifically, they likely relate to the “Democratic Security” strategies that the author summarized in his October 2019 piece written during the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit about how “Africa Needs Russia More Than Ever, And This Week’s Sochi Summit Proves It”, in which some hyperlinks are now broken but can still be accessed via other sites.

The “Ummah Pivot”

The most pertinent point made in his prior topical analysis, however, relates to Russia’s “balancing” act. The hyperlinked piece from the preceding sentence introduced the author’s concept of the “Ummah Pivot”, which he describes as the recent prioritization of Russia’s relations with majority-Muslim countries stimulated by the West’s anti-Russian sanctions of the past six and a half years. Many observers predicted Russia to “pivot eastward” in the face of that economic warfare campaign, but in reality, the country ended up pivoting southward towards the international Muslim community (“Ummah”) in order to optimize its continental “balancing” strategy by incorporating a third element (the Ummah) into this supposedly binary choice between East (China) and West (EU).

The Unofficial Russian-Turkish Alliance

In the present geostrategic conditions, there’s little doubt after the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War that Russia and Turkey are the new power duo in the “Greater Mideast”, which the author coined “Putogan” in his latest analysis on the topic titled “Analytical Reflections: Learning From The Nagorno-Karabakh Fiasco”. Less than a week prior, he noted that “Russia & Turkey Stand To Lose The Most From A Biden Presidency”, predicting that the simultaneous pressure that might likely be placed upon them in that scenario could result in them being pushed into an unofficial alliance out of pragmatic necessity. That potential outcome would risk giving off the optics that Russia is a partisan player in the cold war between Turkey and the GCC, however, hence the need to preemptively recalibrate that aspect of its “balancing” act within its larger “Ummah Pivot”.

The Unofficial Russian-Emirati Alliance

Post-coup Sudan is practically a GCC protectorate nowadays, and it wouldn’t have been possible for Russia to clinch its draft deal for a Red Sea naval base in Port Sudan without the approval of the North African state’s new Gulf overlords. They seemingly understand the importance of improving military interoperability with Russia through the joint naval drills that they’ll likely carry out in the Red Sea upon this agreement’s conclusion. The UAE in particular is the most important extra-regional player in this strategic waterway as a result of its newly established bases in Eritrea and the de-facto independent Somali and Yemeni regions of Somaliland and South Yemen, as well as its hegemonic influence over Ethiopia after brokering its historic peace deal with Eritrea two years back. Russia has also been seeking to cultivate closer state-to-state military ties with the UAE as well.

The Syrian Convergence

Unofficially allying with the UAE in this trans-regional space could “balance” its unofficial alliance with Turkey elsewhere in the “Greater Mideast”, thus reinforcing the impression that Russia is indeed the neutral partner that it presents itself as being in the Ummah. This in turn preemptively thwarts any misperception about the grand strategic motives behind its “Ummah Pivot”, thus helping it to maintain its careful “balancing” act in this civilizational space. The two halves of its intra-Ummah “balancing” act might ultimately converge in Syria where Turkey and the GCC are intensely competing in this geostrategic state where Russian influence undoubtedly predominates. It would be a diplomatic masterstroke if Moscow was able to leverage its “balancing” act in pursuit of a lasting political solution there, though it’ll still take lots of time and skill to achieve, if ever.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Sudan, Horn Of Africa, Red Sea, UAE, Turkey, Ummah Pivot, Balancing, China, BRI.


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Global Terrorism

Africa

AFRICA

  • SUDAN: US special envoy to Sudan met with member of the Sudanese Transitional Sovereignty Council to discussed removing Khartoum from the state sponsor of terrorism list.

SOURCE: MIDDLE EAST MONITOR

 

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AFRICA

  • SUDAN: Russia will open a naval base in Sudan, which will be able to host nuclear submarines. Is the first for Russia in Africa since the Cold War.

SOURCE: UA WIRE ORG

 

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Global Energy Stategic Resources

Africa

AFRICA

  • ETHIOPIA: Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have once again failed to agree on a new negotiating approach to resolve their years-long dispute over the controversial dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile River (to become the world’s longest and a lifeline supplying water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses).

SOURCE: ZBC NEWS

 

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Global Geopolitics

Middle East

MIDDLE EAST

  • Hezbollah -Iran’s main proxy and ally in Lebanon– has condemned that Israel and Sudan normalized ties. Incite the Sudanese against the current government and seeks Sudanese people to get them to protest any normalization with Israel. Iran has done the same threatening Bahrain and the UAE.

SOURCE: THE JERUSALEM POST

 

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Expert Analysis

The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering

The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering

29 OCTOBER 2020

The Sudanese-

The Sudanese-”Israeli” peace deal isn’t a spontaneous act of reconciliation like it’s misportrayed by some as being but the result of lots of behind-the-scenes maneuvering including last year’s military coup and recent reports that Saudi Arabia will secretly pay Sudan’s agreed-upon $335 million in compensation to US victims of terrorism.

The Road To Recognition

Sudan, which was once ruled by one of the most anti-Zionist governments in the world, announced that it’ll normalize “relations” with “Israel” following the planned signing of a US-brokered peace deal between the two decades-long foes. This wasn’t a spontaneous act of reconciliation like it’s misportrayed by some as being but the result of lots of behind-the-scenes maneuvering over the past few years. It’s important to trace the sequence of events in order to obtain a better understanding of how something as significant as this development came about. It wasn’t by any means an impulsive decision, but one that was at least several years in the making and entirely the result of external meddling into Sudanese affairs.

The Yemen Factor

Former President Bashir was deposed in a military coup last year during large-scale protests reportedly as a result of his armed forces’ refusal to use violent force for dispersing the increasingly riotous unrest. Prior to that “deep state”-driven regime change, the country had gradually aligned itself with the GCC throughout the course of its ongoing War on Yemen, having previously been more closely affiliated with Iran in the years prior. The North African state’s “pariah” status due to its earlier hosting of Osama Bin Laden and support of militant anti-Zionist causes abroad gave it few options other than partnering with the Islamic Republic and China. The War on Yemen, however, was the cynical “opportunity” to change all of that, or so President Bashir thought.

The large-scale dispatch of Sudanese troops and mercenaries to the conflict zone coincided with the country cutting its ties with Iran in January 2016, after which it was for all intents and purposes under the GCC’s near-total influence. The period from that moment until the military coup can be interpreted in hindsight as the time when that not-so-secretly-”Israeli”-backed military bloc extended its sway throughout the country, relying on its newfound leverage over the powerful armed forces. This set the stage for the regime change that would later follow and subsequently transform Sudan into a GCC protectorate for lack of a better description. Its new GCC-allied military leadership then began to seriously consider “normalizing” ties with “Israel” in earnest.

The stumbling block to the country’s removal from international isolation has always been its designation by the US as a so-called “state sponsor of terrorism”. Former President Bashir mistakenly thought that this could be nixed in exchange for contributing so much to the GCC’s War on Yemen, yet that never materialized since the real quid pro quo was recognition of “Israel”, which would have generated even more serious unrest than the anti-government protests that uncontrollably spread throughout the country in spring 2019. For that reason, the former leader refused to take such a fateful step, though it was ultimately his undoing since he might have been able to secure the military’s loyalty in the face of those regime change riots had he done so.

The GCC’s “Deep State” Scheme

The only way for him to have politically survived that unrest would have been for the military to support his reported decision to use lethal force in quelling them. They didn’t though, not because they sympathized with the protesters, but because they were no longer loyal to the country’s internationally recognized leader due to the massive inroads that the “Israeli”-backed GCC made in flipping this “deep state” institution against him over the preceding years. It wasn’t actually former President Bashir’s decision to make upon thinking about it, but the GCC’s, and they needed him removed in order to advance the “deal of the century”.

It’s unclear whether or not they played a role in inciting the regime change unrest at the time, but they almost certainly ensured that it wouldn’t be quelled by the armed forces that were more loyal to the GCC than to former President Bashir. Upon his removal, the military leadership then sought to recognize “Israel” with the GCC’s support, but Sudan first had to be removed from the US’ “state sponsors of terrorism” list, which is where Saudi Arabia comes in. Although the UAE is arguably the stronger of the two GCC leaders right now, Saudi Arabia still regards itself as the bloc’s “big brother”, which might be why reports have recently circulated that it offered to pay Sudan’s agreed-upon $335 million compensation to US victims of terrorism and their families.

Although it can’t be known for certain, those reports certainly seem credible since Sudan is among the world’s most impoverished nations and couldn’t realistically afford to pay such an enormous sum without some sort of secret support. Iran described the planned payment as a “ransom” to be taken off of the US’ “state sponsors of terrorism” list, which is actually a pretty accurate description even though it seems like it’s Saudi Arabia that’ll end up paying this fee instead of Sudan. Some Sudanese seem to agree with this assessment as evidenced by former Prime Minister Mahdi’s condemnation of it. His criticism is notable since he currently heads the country’s largest political party and presumably reflects popular sentiment in this respect.

The American Agenda

Without paying this “ransom” (regardless of whoever ultimately foots the bill), Sudan would never have been taken off the US’ list, which in turn would have created uncomfortable optics for “Israel” if a state regarded by the American government as a “state sponsor of terrorism” officially recognized it. For this reason, it can be surmised that the real quid pro quo was recognition of “Israel” by the post-coup military authorities in exchange for Saudi Arabia secretly paying its agreed-upon compensation, with the end result being the deepening of the “Israeli”-GCC axis’ influence in a geostrategic part of Africa. From an American perspective, this is the ideal outcome since it satisfies all of the US’ interests.

A former leader who had previously partnered with Iran was removed under the pretext of a “patriotic” military “restoring democracy” in accordance with the “people’s will”, which thus provides the cover for it go against the legitimate will of the people by subsequently recognizing “Israel”. The protests that this move might provoke could easily be put down by the “democratic military” with lethal force like they could have done in spring 2019 when confronted with the regime change riots but instead chose not to do out of loyalty to their “Israeli”-backed GCC patrons. Back then without any public decision to recognize “Israel”, it would have been condemned by the West as a crime against humanity, yet now it can be ignored or even justified by them.

The lessons to be learned from this are several. The first is that authoritarian states (the objective description of which shouldn’t be interpreted as expressing any value judgement) are most easily influenced through their “deep states”, particularly their military and intelligence factions. Second, economically desperate states impoverished by years of intense sanctions might try to break their “isolation” by participating in foreign military adventures, which in turn inadvertently leads to their “deep states” being co-opted by their newfound “partners”. Third, this external meddling can be exploited during times of national crisis to encourage regime change which finally leads to the targeted state coming under the full control of a foreign government.

Concluding Thoughts

Looking forward, this model could realistically be repeated elsewhere across the world, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll always succeed. Former President Bashir’s biggest mistake was thinking that allying with the “Israeli”-backed GCC would eventually provide an exit from international “isolation”. What he should have instead done was double down on relations with China while staying out of the War on Yemen. Even if he still went through with cutting off ties with Iran as a “goodwill gesture” towards the GCC, he could have still retained enough strategic autonomy through an enhanced partnership with China to remain in office, deliver economic benefits to his people, and enable Sudan to retain its de-facto independence instead of become someone else’s proxy.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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MIDDLE EAST

  • Underpinned by the United States, Sudan normalise ties with Israel, shortly after Bahrain and UAE did, and after President Trump announced the remove of Sudan from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list. Sudan has agreed to designate Lebanese Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as part of the deal.

SOURCES: AXIOS ALARABIYA

 

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Global Anti-Goverment Protests

Sudan

SUDAN

  • Sudanese protesters returned to streets. They have taken to the streets in Khartoum and across the country over dire living conditions and a deadly crackdown on demonstrators in the east earlier this month.

SOURCE: ABC NEWS

 

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Global Terrorism

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AFRICA

  • SUDAN: The United States has removed Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism after the government in Khartoum agreed to pay £250 million in compensation for al-Qaeda attacks on two US embassies in east Africa in 1998. The deal, which means the effective end of sanctions, paves the way for Sudan and Israel to normalise ties.

SOURCE: TIMES OF ISRAEL

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