U.S. Africa Expert Says Sudan's African Neighbors Taking Increasing Role in Its Civil War

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 1998 | Go to article overview

U.S. Africa Expert Says Sudan's African Neighbors Taking Increasing Role in Its Civil War


U.S. AFRICA EXPERT SAYS SUDAN'S AFRICAN NEIGHBORS TAKING INCREASING ROLE IN ITS CIVIL WAR

As civil war continues between Sudan's predominantly Muslim government in the north and largely Christian or animist tribes in the south, the country's African neighbors are taking sides, giving the conflict wider geopolitical implications for the region, according to Michael Chege, director of African studies at the University of Florida.

Chege says that Egypt, Sudan's neighbor to the north, has long opposed the NIF. "Egypt has been trying very hard to build a coalition with some credible Sudanese activists from the north and south to oppose Al-Bashir's government, but so far with little success," Chege stated.

Chege says that the governments of Ethiopia, Uganda, Eritrea, and Rwanda all have been supporting the rebels in southern Sudan with money and arms. They are opposed to a government based strictly on Islam, and would prefer a more moderate and less ideological regime. In response, Sudan has been siding with the Laurent Kabila faction in the civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The Kabila government is now opposed to the governments in Uganda, Rwanda, and probably Ethiopia and Eritrea," Chege explains. "Though they [the Sudanese government] have no love for Kabila, it is the concept of the enemy of my enemy is now my friend. Kabila is receiving Sudanese support from Khartoum." Chege also charges that Sudan is funding rebel groups in Uganda and Eritrea. "This makes for a highly unstable geopolitical calculation in the region."

Chege labels the government in Khartoum a terrorist one because, he says, the NIF is an offshoot of the old Muslim Brotherhood. He describes the NIF as the military organization of President al-Bashir and Speaker of the Parliament Hassan al-Turabi.

The NIF came to power in a coup in 1989 as the previous government of Al-Saddiq al-Mahdi was close to a peaceful agreement involving autonomy and mutual religious toleration with John Garang's forces.

One of the roots of the Sudanese conflict is the oil in the south, Chege explains. …

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