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“Sudan’s Deep State” New Report Details Massive Corruption and Theft of Oil, Gold, and Land in Sudan

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“Sudan’s Deep State” New Report Details Massive Corruption and Theft of Oil, Gold, and Land in Sudan

Posted by Enough Team on April 25, 2017

Policymakers from the U.S. and around the world should initiate a strategy that addresses root causes of Sudan’s violent kleptocracy

The Enough Project’s new report published today, “Sudan’s Deep State: How Insiders Violently Privatized Sudan’s Wealth, and How to Respond,” details how a powerful inner circle within Khartoum has privately expropriated oil, gold, and land for massive self-enrichment and to maintain control through the use of starvation as a method of war, the indiscriminate bombardment of its own civilian populations, and an array of militias notorious for ethnic cleansing.

Dr. Suliman Baldo, Senior Advisor at the Enough Project, said: “Sudan’s deep state is a complex construction of grand corruption and brutal power. An inner circle in power has privatized the country’s natural wealth, its oil, gold, and land. To protect their ill-gotten gains and to ensure the survival of the regime, those who rule Sudan devote disproportionate resources to a bloated security and intelligence sector, and neglect essential social services. The resulting economic power of the security and intelligence apparatus creates catastrophic structural deformities in Sudan’s economy, inhibiting the private sector and entrepreneurs from adequately contributing to the nation’s prosperity and the basic welfare of the Sudanese people. An array of government militias is tasked with providing deep layers of protection for the regime, which in return grants these militias total impunity for the atrocity crimes they routinely commit against the population.”

Omer Ismail, Senior Advisor at the Enough Project, said: “Unlike many other corrupt or repressive governments, President al-Bashir’s regime is willing to engage in the most extreme tactics, including ethnic cleansing, the use of starvation as a method of war, and the indiscriminate bombardment of civilian populations. It is this combination of extreme violence, authoritarian rule, and massive self-enrichment that qualifies the current system as a violent kleptocracy where state capture and hijacked institutions are the purpose and the rule, rather than the exception.”

John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project, said: “Sudan’s violent kleptocracy must be confronted directly. Concerned policymakers from the United States and around the world should initiate a strategy of smarter financial pressures and increased accountability that addresses the root causes of Sudan’s violent kleptocracy. Only more effective pressure on President al-Bashir and his inner circle will succeed in advancing important national and global security goals, such as safeguarding the integrity of the global financial system, combating corruption, deterring future support for terrorism, and strengthening human rights.”

Link to full report:


  • “Sudan is a failed state for the millions of displaced people living in IDP camps in Darfur, for those living in conflict areas and cut off from humanitarian assistance in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and for those struggling in marginalized communities in eastern Sudan or in the sprawling informal settlements outside Khartoum. However, Sudan is an incredibly successful state for a small group of ruling elites that have amassed great fortunes by looting the country’s resources for personal gain. In that sense, Sudan is more of a hijacked state, working well for a small minority clique but failing by all other measures for the vast majority of the population.”
  • “The system of rule by al-Bashir’s regime in Sudan is best characterized as a violent kleptocracy, as its primary aims are self-enrichment and maintaining power indefinitely. To pursue these aims, the regime relies on a variety of tactics, including patronage and nepotism, the threat and use of political violence, and severe repression to co-opt or neutralize opponents and stifle dissent.”
  • “The regime’s initial tenacity in attacking, torturing, and killing members of the professional and working classes and purging the professional, technically competent civil service that could potentially ensure government function and check the regime’s power established the precedent of impunity that continues today.”
  • “Regime kleptocrats have thus far outwitted and outlasted all efforts to achieve peace in Sudan because they feel no pressure to act differently given the impunity that they have enjoyed for decades.”


The report states that to more effectively support peace, human rights, and good governance in Sudan, policymakers should construct a new policy approach that attempts to counter and ultimately dismantle Sudan’s violent kleptocracy.

A More Comprehensive and Inclusive Peace Process and Constitutional Convention: A credible constitutional convention and internationally-supported peace process can lead to lasting peace in Sudan.

  • International Peace Process: A comprehensive and inclusive peace process with strong U.S., regional, and international support can check these maneuverings and allow internally-driven reforms to take hold.
  • Constitutional Convention: A constitutional convention could provide a new path for Sudanese people to discuss the governance and power-sharing questions that they most seek to resolve among themselves.
  • Enhanced U.S. Diplomatic Engagement: Strong U.S. diplomatic engagement with Sudan is necessary to advance an international peace process. To support this process, as well as to achieve important national security objectives, the Trump administration should appoint a new special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.

Financial Pressure: To provide the necessary leverage for a revitalized peace process and constitutional convention, Sudan’s violent kleptocracy must be confronted directly. Accordingly, U.S. policymakers should use the enhanced diplomatic engagement measures outlined above to support a strategy of financial pressure and increased accountability that addresses the root causes of Sudan’s violent kleptocracy.

  • Stopping Illicit Financial Flows: Kleptocratic elites rely on illicit financial flows and international economic partners for personal enrichment and to ensure safe haven for their ill-gotten gains. U.S. policymakers, regulators, and law enforcement officials should work together, and in concert with foreign government officials, to stop illicit financial flows from Sudan. Kleptocratic elites rely on illicit financial flows and international economic partners for personal enrichment and to ensure safe haven for their ill-gotten gains.
    • Enhancing and enforcing anti-money laundering measures
    • Sharing information and supporting multilateral efforts
    • Asset recovery
  • Implementing Modernized Sanctions to Create Leverage to Support Accountability and Advance Human Rights: Policymakers from the United States, the European Union, and other concerned stakeholders should construct and implement a modernized sanctions framework to target the assets of the individuals and entities most responsible for mass atrocities, serious human rights violations, and grand corruption within Sudan.
    • Sectoral sanctions and sanctions on key regime institutions and entities, with a 25 percent threshold for ownership or control
    • Anti-Corruption sanctions designations
    • Mitigating the unintended negative effects of sanctions
    • Transparency for business conducted in Sudan
  • Addressing Conflict-Affected Gold: A sizeable part of Sudanese gold is conflict-affected, entailing a high risk for money laundering. To help address this concern, the U.S. Treasury Department should issue an advisory for Sudanese gold, given the industry’s extreme vulnerability to money laundering and smuggling.
  • Fighting Corruption Through Other Means: U.S. officials and leaders from the United Kingdom, European Union, and EU member states, along with other concerned countries and organizations, should prioritize combating corruption in Sudan. In Sudan, corruption is closely linked to armed conflict, massive human rights violations, underdevelopment, and poverty.
    • Criminal investigations and prosecutions
    • Supporting Sudanese civil society and media
  • Engaging Sudan’s Political and Financial Supporters: Policymakers should engage Sudan’s political allies and financial supporters to pressure the Sudanese government to work toward a lasting peace.

Link to full report:

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606[email protected].

The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention research and policy non-profit organization, builds leverage for peace and human rights in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones by working to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough, and its investigative partner The Sentry, aims to counter armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of ivory, gold, diamonds, conflict minerals, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at