Crisis In Sudan: What Next and Lessons for Nigeria
Sudan, the largest African country in terms of Land mass has over the years been running from one crisis into another. This Almighty Sudan, at a point in their history, split into North and South Sudan. Efforts to help negotiate Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 and all international intervention and persuasion to ensure a smooth separation of North and South was punctured.
A referendum in the South in January 2011 resulted in an overwhelming vote in favor of separation. Oil has been one of the remote causes of conflict between the two. After independence, the fact that about 75 percent of Sudan’s oil is extracted at the border that separates the two countries which leaves the North with crashing revenues, hence, attempts to control territories along the border line creates other unresolved issues. Still, the duo struggle with internal political and tribal conflicts as they build states on woefully inadequate institutional foundations.
The failure of efforts thus far to bring peace to Sudan, does not guarantee the chances of avoiding new conflict, both trans border and internal, as the countries’ continued in impoverishment. Hence, curent happenoings have shown that the transition of Almighty Sudan to two Republics is not the end of a conflict but rather the beginning of multiple ones. Enough on both Sudan and South Sudan.
Sudan, a country which highly relies and survives on foreign aid, as earlier analyzed, is not a stranger to conflict. Nevertheless, fighting is tearing apart the popular capital city, Khartoum, of the nation which lies in an unstable region bordering the Red Sea, Sahel and Horn of Africa. On Saturday April 15 2023, intense hostility broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The clashes have led to the deaths of over100 people and left nearly 1100 injured. The fighting has also sent thousands fleeing for safety, as another possible civil war threatens to destabilize the region.
The clashes erupted amid an apparent power struggle between two factions of the military regime. The SAF, which are unapologetic loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s ruler, while the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a para military and collection of militia, took sides with the former warlord, Gen Mohamed Hamdan, popularly called, Hemedti.
The struggle for power started in 2019 uprising that ousted from power, the popular dictator, Bashir, who intentionally built up formidable security forces that he deliberately set against one another when the need arises. Bashir founded and funded RSF, popularly known as Janjaweed to crush a rebellion in Dafur. He later transformed the Janjaweed into an organised paramilitary force with military ranks before deploying them to crush a rebellion in South Darfur and other places of interest like libya. A Secured Nigeria correspondent in war torn Dafur described the Janjaweed as, “evil on camel”. The RSF, led by Gen Hemedti, and the regular military forces under Gen Burhan cooperated to oust Bashir in 2019.
A transition to a democratic civilian-led government was altered after a power-sharing deal with the civilians who led the protests against Bashir, which was supposed to bring about a transition towards a democratic government, was interrupted by a coup in October 2021. An eventual conflict of interest appeared inevitable. Since then, the Sudan Armed Forces has been facing weekly protests, renewed isolation and deepening economic woes.
Summary of Identified Rifts
1. Demands for civil control of the military.
2. Merging of the RSF into the SAF.
3. Call for handover of lucrative military holdings in agriculture, trade and other industries by civilians, a lucrative venture and source of income for RSF.
4. The pursuit of justice over allegations of war crimes by the military and its allies in the conflict in Darfur from 2003.
5. Anger over the killings of pro-democracy protesters in June 2019, in which military forces are implicated. Activists and civilian groups have been calling for Justice and there are suspicions over delays to an official investigation.
How Nigeria Could be Affected by Rifts in Sudan
Sudan is in a Volatile Region around the Red Sea, the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa.
A look at Sahel
The Sahel is an area crossing 6,000 kilometres from East to West Africa. It covers many geographic, agro-ecological systems, 12 countries and is home to 400 million people, including some Nigerian citizens. The region of the Sahel, according to United Nations strategy, includes,10 countries (Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria). Nigeria is one of the Sahel countries.
Several of Sudan’s neighbours – including Ethiopia, Chad and South Sudan – have been affected by these unresolved conflicts. Sudanese refugees have fled the recent fighting to the neighbouring countries, including many who have crossed into Chad. The question is, if thousands have crossed into Chad, chad is a neuighbor to Nigeria and one of the Sahel region, possibly, Nigeria could experience inflow of refugees.
The Nigerian Army has inn the past conducted Exercise Sahel Sanity’ to mitigate the spate of banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other related crimes bedeviling Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger states. The exercise was said to be designed to flush out armed bandits, terrorist groups and other criminal elements hibernating in the forests of Dumburum, Gando, Subobo and Kagara in Katsina, Zamfara and parts of Sokoto states. Since these forest have been hibernating terrorists in the past years, fighters from Sudan, who are loosing grip or running from government’s hammer could find their way into these regions with their small arms. In a bid for survival, they could cooperate with existing criminals to rain terror on Nigerians and they could establish their own terror kingdom.
Nigerian Army has also been deploying troops in Dafur Sudan before the advent of terrorism in Nigeria. If the Sudan crisis explodes beyond this level, there could be the need for regional intervention for peace keeping or peace enforcement as the case maybe. Hence, Nigeria Army, a respected Army in peace keeping operations could be required.
Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and many other world powers are struggling for influence in Sudan. Western powers fear the potential for a Russian base on the Red Sea, to which Sudanese military leaders are not opposed to. Hence, Saudi Arabia, US and Britain, formed “Quad”, an organisation that has sponsored mediation in Sudan in collaboration with the United Nation and the AU.
Though, Nigeria has always maintained non aligned status in international politics, nevertheless, with the recent congratulatory message and invitation from Zelesky, the Ukranian President to the President elect of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he could be strategically plunging Nigeria to align with Ukraine, silently against Russia. With the ongoing crisis, Russia could offer help to SAF to destabilize the country the more in order to achieve its aim in the Red Sea which the military government is open to. If Tinubu takes an open side with Ukraine, then Nigeria unknowingly becomes Russian enemy and get entangled in the ongoing unresolved heat and cold war in the international politics.
Lessons for Nigeria (SecuredNaija Opinion)
New Constitution for Nigeria
North and south Sudan struggle with internal political and tribal conflicts as they build states on woefully inadequate institutional foundations. Nigeria also has this challenge, building a nation on faulty foundations, a forced 1999 constitution, which has been the bone of contention from where issues of restructuring is emanating from. This faulty foundation has not balanced the political and economic foundation of the nation which is a time bomb to behold. The incoming administration need to stand up to this and ensure a new constitution representing the aspiration of all, is institutionalized.
Need to Stop Songs of War by Spokesmen of Leading Political Parties
Two indigenous generals of Sudan has plunged the country into a possible civil war, Gen Mohamed Hamdan, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan will not be forgotten easily in the history of Sudan for negative reasons. The spokesmen of the leading political parties in Nigeria who have been heating up the polity, singing war songs by their uncultured narratives and communications should be careful not to lead the country to war. The ethnic profiling between the Ibos and Yorubas in Lagos also need to stop.
Need for Vigilance at the Lake Chad Region
The Nigerian government needs to be very vigilant in the lake chad region to forestall any possible incursion into Nigeria by militants from Sudan. This is necessary to avoid what the crisis in Libya caused Nigeria in the North east, which boosted the activities of Boko Haram and ISWAP. Increase troops and immigration activities in the geo political zones bordering Chad and Niger.
Nigerian Armed Forces should Begin Training for Possible Peace Keeping in Sudan
The Nigerian Army needs to be proactive, to start training for Peace Keeping operations in Sudan. They have done very well in containing terrorism at the home front, it is time to take back their mantle of leadership in Peace keeping operations. Sudan mighjt be the next point of call to do this.
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long Live those who promote peace and secured environment in our nation.