Note: This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill and was written by the Enough Project’s Founding Director John Prendergast and Senior Policy Advisor Omer Ismail.
In an unexpected move at the end of last year, Sudan’s President Omar Bashir traveled to Russia and appealed to President Vladimir Putin for protection from the United States. Strangely, this occurred only a month after the United States prematurely moved towards normalizing relations with the very abnormal government of Sudan by removing comprehensive sanctions on the country. Bashir purchased fighter jets from Russia and discussed with Putin the creation of a Russian military base on the Red Sea.
Is this the opening salvo in dragging Africa into a new Cold War, in which tinpot dictators play Russia and the United States off against each other on the African side of the strategic Red Sea corridor? Bashir’s regime has a three-decade history of brutal oppression of ethnic and religious minorities, including forced displacement, endless and forgotten wars, mass killings, the demolition of churches, and extreme religious intolerance. Internationally, it has supported terrorist and extremist groups, destabilized its neighbors, and is designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Sudan is one of the most corrupt and economically mismanaged countries in Africa, so new investment resulting from sanctions relief, including by a U.S. corporate trade mission to Sudan in early December, will not benefit Sudan’s people, but rather a small group of regime leaders who control economic activity. Further, terrorist networks, traffickers, and other transnational criminal operations will also see opportunities to exploit the loose edges of expanding illicit financial activity…
Click here to read the full op-ed in The Hill.