The Warsan

Deadly Path for Sudan: Russian base and Libyan-style government

Two ways towards prolonging the war and condemning Sudan to death: letting the Russians open a base in Port Sudan and establishing a government in El Fasher based on the Libyan model.

By Yasir Arman

June 10, 2024

Somalia was originally one people and one land, a nation sharing strong ties with the Sudanese, speaking one language, following the same religion, and is ethnically homogeneous. Yet despite this, civil war wreaked havoc in Somalia, dividing its people and its land. What, then, will it do to Sudan, a country so rich in diversity?

The warring parties are unable to achieve a military solution. Indeed, even if this were possible, it would not bring sustainable peace or unify the people and the country. Both sides are preparing to dismember or partition their homeland for their own immediate advantage. The army, which is suffering from a shortage of infantry, is not looking for solutions, but for new weapons such as drones, modern jet fighter and digital artillery to make up for its lack of infantry. They do not care if they destroy the country’s entire population and infrastructure in the process. Ultimately and ironically, the army wants the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to become their junior partner! General Yasir Al-Atta has said that he is ready to sacrifice 48 million citizens to achieve this. Therefore, if Sudan’s population is 45 million, this means that he would have to borrow 3 million victims from neighbouring countries!


The army leaders are aware of the geopolitical changes in the Red Sea, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East. Their first preference would be to get support from the United States and Western countries. But if that is not available, they will seek alliances with countries in the Sahel, which have rebelled against the West and turned to the Russians, and with other countries hostile towards the West, at this time of global changes and tensions. They are thereby dragging Sudan, at its weakest point, into regional and international conflicts. This is a familiar playbook initiated and used by Bashir and the National Congress Party, which was halted by the December Revolution.


It is well known that Russian intervention in Syria started with acquiring a naval base. These prospective alliances will anger several neighbouring countries that do not want to see foreign bases on the Red Sea. In the divided United Nations Security Council, the Port Sudan clique will align with those who can provide them with protection, hence creating both friends and foes for the army and shifting the conflict between the warring parties from a competition over power and resources to a new path leading to the division of Sudan itself. As the proverb says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

El Fasher and the Libyan Model:

In its quest for legitimacy, the RSF has hinted that if it takes control of El Fasher, it might form its own government, independent of Port Sudan, which would mean the division of Sudan’s territory, governance, power and resources. Such a government would then control the international borders with five countries: Libya, Chad and the Central African Republic, as well as part of Egypt and South Sudan. International borders are sources of relationships, trade, and weapons. The fighting in El Fasher has revealed tribal and social rifts between supporters of the army and the RSF, and, if the RSF were to establish its own government, it would experience the same political and tribal divisions. This would be even less stable than the Libyan model due to Sudan’s complex composition, offering little legitimacy, creating more internal divisions, and requiring greater responsibility towards civilians, thereby leading to the division of Sudan and Darfur itself.

The Competition for Legitimacy and Sovereignty:

The warring parties are fighting over legitimacy and sovereignty, which has already been seriously eroded and collapsed altogether when the nation’s capital and the symbols and buildings of the state were turned into ghost houses. More than 11 million refugees and IDPs have been displaced and it is them who represent the sovereignty and will of the people. Sudanese people today are displaced, humiliated at airports and entry points, and ironically within their own country too.

When the value of human beings is crushed, the meaning of sovereignty and legitimacy is lost. Port Sudan’s eroded legitimacy is the legitimacy of the state, not of a government, stemming from the international community’s desire to preserve the Sudanese state without supporting the government. If the international community were to declare Sudan as stateless or lacking sovereignty, it would create problems and obligations for the international community; starting with identity documents and citizenship, requiring procedures and responsibilities that the international community is unwilling to undertake.

It is therefore treating Port Sudan as the de facto representative of the Sudanese state. Nevertheless, even the African Union, which is closest to us, suspended the government after the October 2021 coup.

Real legitimacy and sovereignty will not be achieved by mortgaging Sudan to regional and international interests and establishing foreign bases, something that has been rejected by the national movement from the very beginning. What is puzzling, is that some people in Port Sudan are ringing the auction bell and welcoming all countries wishing to establish bases on the Red Sea coast or the river.

All such bases are harmful, as demonstrated by the Libyan model, which the beloved Libyan people are trying to get rid of, to unify the Libyan state and build a single Libyan army. In both cases, it would mean heading towards prolonging the war, more civilian suffering, and the sacrifice of more soldiers from the sons and daughters of the homeland on both sides.



The Solution is Stopping the War and Accelerating the Political Process to achieve

Sustainable Peace:

What our country needs to serve the interests of all its people is to link the civilian-political track with the military track. The African Union’s call for civilians and Egypt’s call for civilians track also need to be linked and subsequently coordinated with the military track in Jeddah to reach a long-term humanitarian ceasefire, with regional and international monitoring on the ground. This would create an environment for the return of civilians to their homes, the delivery of humanitarian relief, the opening of roads, the protection of civilians, and their active participation in an open political space.

Addressing the root causes of the crisis by rebuilding the state, establishing a single professional army, and completing the December Revolution in a single interconnected process that would lead to civilian democratic governance, stability, development, and citizenship without discrimination. Going down the path of opening foreign bases or following the Libyan model will only prolong the war and prove fatal for Sudan.

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