‘USA should cooperate with Gulf states to pressure Sudan economically’: Enough

Sudan’s growing economic dependence on the Gulf states means that those countries now have more leverage to press the country’s ruling party to agree to political reforms, according to the USA-based Enough Project.

Sudan’s growing economic and financial dependence on Persian Gulf countries means that those countries now have more leverage to press the country’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to agree to political reforms and negotiated compromises with the opposition, according to the USA-based activist think-tank Enough Project.

“Diplomats frequently say they do not have leverage against the regime in Khartoum, John Prendergast, founding director of the Enough Project, says. “While that claim is debatable, what is clear is that staunch American allies like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar have significant influence over President Al Bashir.”

The strong relationships of Sudan with the Gulf states, in particular Iran, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have been a cornerstone of foreign policy in Khartoum for decades, Enough Project’s Senior Advisor Omer Ismail notes in The Many Faces of al-Bashir: Sudan’s Persian Gulf Power Games. “Although those countries have been at odds with one another on many issues, Sudan’s leaders have managed to maintain fruitful relations with all.”

In this way, the Khartoum regime benefits from financial support from Qatar, military cooperation with Iran, and commerce with Saudi Arabia. Its links with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have grown too, by the burgeoning Sudanese gold trade.

Exports of gold, particularly produced from North Darfur mines, have become a significant source of foreign exchange for the Sudanese government. Yet, as the 13-page report reads, the country’s Central Bank’s gold purchases have also “exacerbated currency inflation, and further complicated the economic crisis, continuing to leave Sudan heavily dependent on Persian Gulf countries for funds, foreign exchange, and investment”.

Therefore, “US policymakers should take advantage of strong relationships with Gulf allies to ask that these states use their considerable leverage to support a push for an end to Sudan’s deadly internal wars”. Qatar should be encouraged not to make further cash infusions into Sudan’s Central Bank, Saudi Arabia not to comply to Al Bashir’s requests for financial support in exchange for Sudanese participation in the Yemen coalition, and the UAE is to “remove conflict-affected gold from the global supply chain and serve as a constructive partner in international efforts to change the calculus of Sudan’s leaders”.

The Enough Project was conceived in the USA in 2006 by a small group of concerned policymakers and activists. Based in Washington, DC, works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve crises of genocide and crimes against humanity.

In recent years, the Enough Project has been lobbying for intensified diplomatic efforts to push the Sudanese ruling party to agree on a comprehensive peace. According to the think-tank, the US government will only gain influence in Khartoum, when it strips the Sudanese regime of its wealth.