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Sudan

National rivalries and policy clashes complicate peace-making efforts

A multilateral bid to end the war of the generals in Khartoum is in the balance as a regional crisis looms

The latest attempted ceasefire in Sudan announced by Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, and publicly agreed by both warring parties – the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – gives foreign mediators three days to open more substantive negotiations about the future of the country's political transition.

Mediators from the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are meant to take the lead. But they will be navigating a sea of geopolitical interests as they start work.

Professing its commitment to a ceasefire, Egypt's government will be more determined than ever to ensure the victory of the SAF and  General Abdel Fattah al Burhan after the killing of one of its senior diplomats in Khartoum by RSF fighters. In the opening hours of the conflict around the Merowe air base, RSF fighters captured several Egyptian officers who were released after protracted negotiations.

Libya's rogue general Khalifa Haftar, according to multiple sources, has been supplying military equipment and ammunition to the RSF. The Gulf states have been widely criticised in Sudan for their backing for military leaders and lack of interest in free elections in the country. Similar critiques have been made against Russian and Chinese diplomatic interventions.

Others argue Western governments did too little to back the efforts of Sudan's brave democracy activists and to sound alarms about the dangerous rivalries between the country's two leading military figures. Some European officials are accused of failing to press hard enough for a durable transition in Sudan in the face of divergent regional pressures.

The Greek government faces allegations that it broke EU law by selling the illegal Predator spyware programme to paramilitary forces in Sudan. Last week, following weeks of interrogation by the opposition, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, a junior foreign affairs minister in the conservative Greek government, admitted that it had granted permission to export the Predator software to Sudan, where it is believed to have been used by the Rapid Support Forces led by Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti'.

Varvitsiotis told local media this week that 'the export licence given to Predator and Sudan has nothing to do with the civil war. The civil war was not caused by this.'

The European Parliament's PEGA Committee, an inquiry committee investigating the use of illegal spyware across the bloc such as the Pegasus software used by Morocco, is also looking at the export of Predator spyware from Greece to Sudan, Madagascar and Saudi Arabia, as well as allegations that the companies involved in the so-called Predatorgate were engaged in tax evasion (AC Vol 64 No 4, Qatargate fuels Rabat's schism with Euro MPs).

The European Commission says that it demanded a response by the Greek government to the allegations but is yet to receive it.

Greek opposition lawmakers say that the software was transported by plane from Cyprus to Khartoum, in late 2022 and delivered to the RSF led by Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti'. They also contend that the Predator software was used by Hemeti's forces to monitor the SAF of Hemeti's ally turned rival, Gen Burhan (AC Vol 64 No 8, Missed deadlines are part of the plan).

The scandal is making waves in Greece, where general elections are due on 21 May and the governing New Democracy party holds an opinion poll lead of around 5% over the left-wing Syriza party.



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