“As we approach nearly two months of violent internal conflict in Sudan, the chances of a peaceful resolution seem increasingly remote. For many Americans, Sudan may ring a distant bell as the location of the atrocities of the early 2000s — but with so many international crises competing for our attention, this latest development may well fail to capture the public’s attention. While certainly understandable, this is also short-sighted. The fact is, the fate of Sudan is extremely relevant to American interests, and the U.S. government has a vital role to play in averting a catastrophe.

“Sudan is one of the most coup-prone countries on earth. In the first 20 years of independence, the country experienced 16 coups, three of which were successful. Two years after the civilian-led reform movement ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir and ushered in a mixed military-civilian government in August/September 2019, that brief experiment was itself overturned in a coup instigated by the now-rival military factions, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in October 2021. Tortuous negotiations followed and a civilian government was close to being declared in April 2023.

“The outstanding issues that delayed the signing of an agreement returning civilians to power included the incorporation of the RSF into the SAF to create a unified military. The failure to resolve this issue produced the current breakdown. Unfortunately, few anticipated the disagreement escalating to this point, as evidenced by the fact that no evacuation plans were made by the hundreds of international NGOs, the 16,000 American citizens living in Sudan, or embassies in the country. As a result, the international community has been caught flat-footed and must scramble to prevent the conflict from turning the country into a charnel house and destabilizing the wider region. …”

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