Daily Review: Failing to Address the War in Sudan Is a Choice

Daily Review: Failing to Address the War in Sudan Is a Choice
A resident looks out at smoke drifting over the city in Khartoum, Sudan, April 22, 2023 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

Today’s Top Story

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said he is urgently investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the city of al-Fasher, in the Darfur region of Sudan. The U.S. special envoy to Sudan also said parts of Sudan are in famine after more than a year of civil war. (AP; Reuters)

Our Take

By nearly all measures, the civil war in Sudan is a massive crisis. Nearly 14 months since fighting broke out between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, at least 15,000 people have been killed, more than 10 million people have been displaced and more than half of the country’s 49 million people need aid. There is strong evidence that the warring parties have committed war crimes, with echoes of the genocidal violence that took place in Darfur two decades ago.

And yet, despite the enormity of the crisis, the civil war in Sudan has received little to no international attention or diplomatic engagement. It would be perplexing if the reasons why weren’t so familiar.

Even before the war broke out, there were clear signs that Sudan was facing a spiraling crisis. The “transition” to civilian rule that began after a military coup in October 2021 almost immediately stalled, leading to political paralysis and institutional collapse. In September 2022, Yasir Zaidan wrote for WPR that Sudan was on the brink of state failure.

Whatever minimal attention was paid to that risk was overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which remained the case even after the conflict in Sudan fully broke out in April 2023. And for the past eight months, the country’s deteriorating humanitarian situation has been sidelined by the war in Gaza and efforts to address the conflict and crisis there.

Meanwhile, the civil war has only been worsened by the involvement of outside powers. The UAE, a U.S. partner, has supported the RSF in the conflict as a way to support its own interests in the Horn of Africa, where Abu Dhabi has become a major power. In response, the Sudanese government has forged closer ties with Iran, essentially importing Middle East rivalries into the civil war. As a result, the UAE’s support for the RSF has undermined both its own and the West’s interests.

And yet, the West has taken little notice. The U.S. and Europe remain focused on the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and Sudan’s crisis is not yet driving the kind of mass migration into the EU that would get European countries to pay closer attention.

For the West, Sudan’s civil war is still flying under the radar. But considering the war broke out in full view and the humanitarian crisis is well documented, the inaction cannot be traced to ignorance of the situation there. The failure to address the crisis, or at least its exacerbating factors, ultimately amounts to a choice.

On Our Radar

Four instructors from Cornell College, in Iowa, were attacked and injured in a public park in China yesterday. The instructors were in China for a teaching partnership with a local university. China’s Foreign Ministry said the motivation for the attack was unclear, but that it appeared to be an “isolated incident.”

The incident is unlikely to boost people-to-people exchanges between Chinese and U.S. universities, which are extremely lopsided, with far more Chinese students electing to study in the U.S. than vice versa. It’s an issue the Chinese government is seeking to address, even as their efforts alone are unlikely to make much of a difference, as Mary Gallagher wrote in April.

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Cuba’s tourism sector has yet to recover from the double shock of reimposed U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s just one of the issues contributing to the country’s economic crisis, which as Robert Looney wrote in February, the government has shown little capacity to address.

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British PM Rishi Sunak has unveiled his Tory Party’s campaign manifesto, pledging to cut taxes and decrease immigration ahead of general elections on July 4, which the party is expected to lose. Members of the Conservative Party have grown concerned over Sunak’s lackluster campaign to win back voters. But as Alexander Clarkson wrote last week, blaming Sunak as a flawed messenger won’t fix the content of the message.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang is set to visit Australia and meet with PM Anthony Albanese later this week as part of a regional tour. The visit once again underscores the improved tone of bilateral relations since Albanese took office in 2022. But as Michael Clarke wrote in October, the shift in tone is likely to only be a short-term fix.

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