HomeSudanU.S. offers Sudan economic incentives to prevent opening of Russia's naval base

U.S. offers Sudan economic incentives to prevent opening of Russia’s naval base

The divergences between the power system of the military and civilian apparatus reverberate most directly on Sudan's foreign policy, as the case of Russia's naval base in Port Sudan clearly demonstrates.

According to leaks from the Arab press, last September 15 the United States has reportedly offered the government of Sudan a substantial financial aid package as a condition for the cancellation of its agreement with Russia to develop a naval logistics base in Port Sudan.

The offer would have come at the height of an intense period of cross negotiations between Khartoum and Moscow, on the one hand, which last year reached an agreement in principle for the development of a a naval logistical support base, and between Khartoum and Washington on the other, which does not intend to grant Russia to increase its naval projection capabilities in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The U.S. economic offer would have been considered attractive by Sudan, whose Parliament has not yet ratified the agreements defined last year with Russia for the development of the infrastructure project of Port Sudan.

Also the Russian press, however, has leaked some information on the issue, interpreting it as an attempt of the Sudanese government to increase the price of the agreement and obtain more concessions from Moscow. According to the Russian media, in fact, Sudan would have agreed last year with Moscow to guarantee a contract of twenty-five years connected to the opening of a logistic support base capable of hosting up to four ships at the same time, with a permanent garrison of about 300 naval personnel. In exchange for this agreement, Russia would be committed to provide Sudan with armaments and spare parts for its air and land vehicles.

After the strong political pressure from the United States, and the contextual offer of a rich program of economic incentives, however, according to the Russians, Sudan would have developed the plan to revise its commitments trying to negotiate with both Moscow and Washington an improved result. Khartoum, in fact, would have explicitly asked Moscow not only to revise the agreement in terms of time – making it become five years and renewable up to a maximum of 25 years – but also in its economic terms – Sudan now asks for economic support as well as technical and military assistance.

A negotiating strategy that risks of upsetting both the United States and Russia, determining a potentially very dangerous political and economic result for Sudan in this delicate phase of transition.

This ambiguous position of Sudan with respect to the United States and Russia is also a direct expression of the domestic political dualism between the military and civilian components of the Sudanese transitional institutions.

Adele Sariach
Adele Sariach
Analyst per l’Africa dell’Institute for Global Studies, presso la sede di Bruxelles (Belgio). Ha studiato Relazioni Internazionali in Sud Africa e ha vissuto in Camerun, Tanzania e Nigeria. L’ambito professionale di interesse di Adele Sariach è quello dell’analisi dei sistemi politici dell’Africa Occidentale e Centrale, con particolare riferimento all’evoluzione degli autoritarismi e delle dinamiche etnico-tribali.


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