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Africa

Generals of Eternal Career

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The juntas of the countries of West Africa, it seems, are not going to leave Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso have suffered four coups in less than the last two years. The Community of West African States, ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African Countries), is scared, and for good reason, by the prospect that the example may be contagious. The organization is trying by all means to push the generals who have been sitting in their chairs to transfer power to democratic governments, without excluding coercive measures. As a rule, the military, coming to power, announced that they were here for a short time. Literally bring order to the country. Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya has been in charge of Guinea since September 2021. This amazing character was appointed by former President Conde as the commander of the Special Forces troops. To do this, he was called from abroad and given the rank of lieutenant colonel. And before that, he did not serve in the Guinean army at all, but history knows similar examples. Doumbouya received his education in France, in the Foreign Legion, then appeared in Israel, then in Senegal and Gabon. He is married to a Frenchwoman, the father of three children, for which he is called an "atypical military man." As usual in the region, he also overthrew the president of the country, Alpha Conde, who appointed him. First of all, he promised to return civil power to Guinea. To begin with, political figures and representatives of the country's civil society were invited to the conversation. A "Transitional Charter" was drawn up, the program of which includes the development of a new Constitution and the holding of "free, democratic and transparent elections." At the same time, none of the participants in the transition process – neither military nor civilian – has the right to stand for future elections at any level. No renegotiation is allowed. And then the previous president introduced an amendment that allowed him to run for a third term, which caused unrest in the country. The text mentions human rights countless times and promises that at least a third of women will be in all government bodies. And no "witch hunt". But until this reign of democracy has arrived, Colonel Dumbuya heads the National Reconciliation and Development Committee. He is also at the head of the National Council of the Transitional Period, this is the legislative body. He also appoints a civilian prime minister.  At the same time, the Charter does not say anything about, in fact, the duration of the transition period. It "will be determined as a result of an agreement between the living forces of the nation and the National Reconciliation and Development Committee," the text says. Then there was a clarification – the figure "three years" sounded semi-officially. But ECOWAS considered that it was probably a long time, but 24 months would be quite enough. And in this case, Guinea will be able to avoid such tough sanctions as were imposed against Mali, for example. Nothing is yet known about the current leader's further political ambitions. The Guineans themselves do not exactly support him, but rather hope that the promises will come true. The West expresses the same cautious wishes. But where this transition period will lead the country is not very clear. Oswald Panado, a political scientist and expert in the field of international relations, writes on the pages of the Young Africa magazine published in Paris: "The promises of the military, who are not prepared for the leadership of the state, are always broken on the rocks of harsh political realities." The situation in Burkina Faso is very similar. The local junta overthrew the acting president as a result of popular unrest, that is, at the request of the workers. Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who became the head of state, was specific: the transition period will last three years, the constitutional order will be restored in 2025. As long as I'm in power. The Transitional Charter, as in the case of Guinea, was worked out with the participation of parties, trade unions, representatives of civil society, youth, women and victims of jihadists. But how to conduct democratic elections? The peculiarity of this power is that even according to official statistics, 40 percent of its territory is not controlled by the state. Since 2015, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups have been operating in Burkina Faso*. The result is thousands of dead and almost 2 million refugees. By the way, the January coup itself was a protest against the inaction of the authorities, hence the "requests of the workers." But ECOWAS did not take into account these seemingly just popular demands. Burkina Faso's participation in the organization was suspended because the military came to power, and they, according to ECOWAS, are not always in a hurry to transfer power. Nevertheless, the organization agreed with the Charter's provision, which states that the Prime Minister will necessarily be a civilian, the transitional Government will consist of 25 ministers and neither the head of the Cabinet nor these ministers will be able to nominate their candidates for future authorities. After signing the Charter, negotiations between ECOWAS and the Burkinis began, and as a result, it was possible to reduce the transition period to two years, so theoretically it remains to wait until 2024. In Mali, one coup was not enough. No promises of change were believed here. The signed Settlement Agreement of 2021, exhausted by the political struggle and the lack of any guarantees for the security of the people, is at the stage of its last breath. The new government was supposed to weaken the role of the military in the leadership of the country. But it lasted only a few hours. The events unfolded like in a movie. The former prime minister managed to tell Agence France-Presse by phone: "I can confirm that Goita's people came to me to take me to his residence." At this point, the conversation was interrupted by short beeps, the prime minister is still in the camp, and Goita became vice-president for the transition period. And yet, recently, ECOWAS has managed to achieve some progress in negotiations with Bamako. Presidential elections will be held in 2024, that is, the initially announced five-year transition period is no longer relevant. It remains to convince the Malians that the head of state cannot be a military man. There are still disagreements here. Two characters who are considered "moderate" have been appointed to the new government, and to two key posts – the Ministries of Defense and Security. In other words, "fewer than others who participated in the 2020 coup." All this allowed ECOWAS to ease the financial and economic sanctions imposed against Mali. However, the military still make up the majority in the leadership at all levels. Mali is turning into a center of jihadism in West Africa, especially since the French have announced the end of their operation "Barkhan" and the withdrawal of their units. Even after the appearance of weak signs of at least some movement, Emmanuel Macron still prefers to keep his distance and refrain from comments. * Organizations banned in the Russian Federation

Algeria – Russia's strategic stake

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text In early April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced an imminent visit to Algeria. "We say "better late than never." But I will proceed from your logic, "the sooner the better," he told his Algerian counterpart Ramtan Lamamre, who was in Moscow as part of the delegation of the League of Arab States (LAS). These words clearly indicate that Russia and Algeria urgently need to discuss very important issues that require coordination of efforts. Moreover, Russia has long been ready for this ("better late than never"), and Algeria is only now "ripe" and needs quick solutions ("the sooner the better"). It seems that we are talking about developing a new action program in a number of areas, in fact, a joint strategy for the coming period. The most important problem for Algeria is the rivalry with Morocco for leadership in the Maghreb. In recent months, the situation here has undergone significant changes. Thus, Rabat achieved recognition of its sovereignty by prominent European players, primarily Spain, which was initially involved in solving the problem of Western Sahara. Madrid abruptly changed its position and in early March approved the Moroccan plan for the autonomy of the Western Saharan provinces as part of the Fatimid kingdom. This naturally led to the recall of the Algerian ambassador from the Spanish capital, and also had a generally negative impact on the overall state of Algeria's relations with Europe. After all, none of the Europeans condemned the Spanish demarche. Algeria's relations with the United States also developed negatively. At the end of March, the head of the US State Department visited the country Anthony Blinken, who toured the region. At the same time, the organization of his visit was perceived here almost as an insult: Blinken flew to Algeria from Rabat and flew there just six hours later, while he spent the night on Moroccan territory twice. This gesture speaks more eloquently than any words about the priorities of American policy in the region. Indeed, Rabat received assurances from the United States of the stability of the supply of new weapons; in addition, Israel joined the efforts to support the Moroccan military potential. All this has left Algeria in no doubt that a new escalation in the Maghreb is inevitable and, therefore, it is urgently necessary to build up its own muscles. The development of the situation around the Algerian borders is also pushing for this. In fact, the country found itself in a ring of instability: in the west – Morocco and Western Sahara, in the east – Libya, in the south – Mali, where the French with their operation "Barkhan" They have stirred up a hornet's nest of Islamist terrorists and Tuareg rebels, and Niger, where the same Frenchmen moved after their shameful expulsion from Mali and where the same scenario can be expected to repeat. In these difficult conditions, Algeria does not have the opportunity to turn to its seemingly most natural partner – Paris. Relations with the former metropolis are in a bad state because of France's inappropriate, according to Algerians, and clumsy attempts to recall its former dominance in Africa. In Algeria, as well as in Mali, these attempts were received with extreme irritation, which is unlikely to be overcome in the near future. Against this background, Russia looks like the only reliable and time-tested ally, cooperation with which allows Algeria to be confident in its abilities in the face of the many challenges it faces. It is hardly a coincidence that, just before Anthony Blinken's visit to Algeria, talks were held in Moscow between the leadership of Algerian intelligence Noureddine Macri and the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. At the same time, the parties "confirmed the unchangeable nature of the strategic partnership relations between Russia and Algeria." The most important component of this partnership is the supply of Russian weapons, thanks to which Algeria has the most powerful army in the North African region. The volume of military-technical cooperation between the countries is measured in billions of dollars and there is every reason to believe that they will grow. The dynamics of the situation around Western Sahara leaves Algeria no other choice. Joint military exercises of the two states are becoming a new area of cooperation in the field of security. For the first time they were held last year on Russian territory. In November of this year, the second such maneuvers will take place, already in Algeria. Although they are still limited in nature, nevertheless, such exercises can make a significant contribution to the creation of an anti-terrorist barrier on the eastern and southern borders of the country. In the current conditions of extreme instability of world markets due to the sanctions war unleashed by the West against Russia, cooperation in two other important areas, namely, in the energy and food sectors, is of particular importance. Since the EU intended to abandon the import of Russian energy carriers, it faced the problem of replacing them, primarily due to supplies from the Middle East and North Africa, located near Europe. The Americans have taken it upon themselves to convince the Arabs to join the sanctions war against the Russian Federation and increase the production and export of oil and gas to Europe. But, surprisingly, they did not meet with understanding even from their seemingly closest allies on the Arabian Peninsula. Some hopes were pinned on Iran, with which Washington was ready to renegotiate the "nuclear deal". But this number did not pass. Algeria remained. It seems that Washington understood perfectly well that it would not be possible to persuade him, not only because of his traditional sympathy for Russia, but also because of acute geopolitical differences over Western Sahara. However, Anthony Blinken made such an attempt during his visit – apparently for the sake of clearing his conscience – and was refused. True, Algeria does not mind making good money on the current situation: just the other day Italy signed a contract with it for oil supplies designed to mitigate the consequences of the European embargo on "black gold" from Russia. It is possible that this will somehow help the Italians, but Algeria is definitely not able to satisfy the "energy hunger" of Europe, even if it tried. Thus, there is a situation in which revenues from Algeria's oil and gas exports have increased many times and are likely to grow in the foreseeable future. At the same time, it will maintain a favorable balance of the global energy market for Russia, in which Europe does not receive any real hopes for the success of its blockade of Russian hydrocarbons. This position, apparently, will be appreciated in Moscow, whose gratitude can be expressed in providing truly invaluable assistance in the most relevant direction today - food. After all, as it is now quite clear, the events around Ukraine have triggered the mechanism of the global food crisis, which will hit Arab and African countries the hardest. Algeria is no exception. Of course, the degree of its dependence on grain imports is not as great as, for example, Egypt. Nevertheless, any prolonged shortage of basic foodstuffs will inevitably undermine socio-political stability and revive the specter of the "Arab Spring", which the country's authorities have repeatedly coped with with such difficulty. To plunge once again into the abyss of mass riots will mean for Algeria to lose in the rivalry of Morocco. This is unacceptable for him. And, perhaps, the only thing that can protect him from this danger is the supply of Russian food at preferential prices. Russia has already increased such supplies to Algeria more than twice last year. Probably, the consolidation and further development of this trend was discussed at the talks of the Algerian delegation at the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation at the end of March – about the same days when Blinken visited Algeria. If this is the case, then Russia has every chance to actually become a guarantor of stability in the largest North African country and consolidate its presence in the Arab world, in the Mediterranean and on the African continent. As a result, Algeria may turn into a truly strategic ally of Moscow during a critical period of transition of the world system of relations to a new quality. Photo: brookings.edu/

Russia will get access to the Red Sea

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text In late February – early March, one of the most influential people in Sudan, Mohammed Hamdan Daklo, better known in the Arab world as Hmeidti, visited Russia. He holds the second most important post in the power hierarchy of the Sudan, being the Deputy Chairman of the Sovereign Council of the Republic. Hmeidti is a very interesting and colorful personality. He began his career in his native Darfur (western Sudan) as a commander of a small detachment accompanying caravans of traders plying between Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Chad. Having earned authority, connections and good capital on this, Khmeidti became one of the founders of an entire irregular army – the famous Janjaweed. With such a force behind him, he became part of the country's top leadership and army command. Being one of the closest associates of Abdelfattah al-Burhan, who led the military coup last fall, Daklo, apparently, is now responsible for building a new system of international relations in Khartoum. Apparently, the Sudanese military has no illusions about the prospects of winning the sympathy of the West, which sharply criticized their actions and relies on the destabilization of the situation in the country and the escalation of the conflict between various Sudanese factions. Therefore, the interest shown by Khartoum in the topic of resuming cooperation with Moscow became completely logical. The program of General Daklo's visit was very eventful. Suffice it to say that he was accompanied by the Ministers of Finance, Agriculture, Minerals, and energy. Khmeidti himself was received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, and also participated in a working meeting with representatives of Russian business at the CCI site. This alone speaks quite eloquently about the seriousness of the intentions of both the Sudanese and Russian sides, their focus on developing truly large-scale cooperation. But even more significant was the fact that the negotiations in Moscow were not affected by the situation around Ukraine and the beginning of the Russian special operation in this country. The Sudanese delegation arrived in the Russian capital on February 22 and left it on March 2. Thus, it was made clear that Khartoum is distancing itself from Western efforts to isolate Russia in the world and does not intend to make its interests dependent on one or another position of the United States and its allies regarding the events in Ukraine. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that the Sudan expresses the common opinion of the Arab States on this issue. For Russia, this circumstance is of great importance, especially given the growing interest of our country in promising areas of interaction with the Arab-African world. Moscow has long sought to establish close relations with Sudan, bearing in mind the potential for developing cooperation in the fields of energy, mining, and agriculture. This latter area, without any doubt, will take one of the leading places in bilateral cooperation against the background of a sharp increase in world prices for food and, especially, fertilizers, of which Russia is the largest exporter. Providing Sudan with preferential terms for the purchase of Russian grain and fertilizers in the current conditions will help to avoid the constant threat of mass starvation and can become a significant contribution to ensuring social stability in this Arab African country exhausted by coups. Sudan – along with Egypt, Algeria, the Central African Republic, and Mali – is considered in Moscow as one of the key states on the Black continent, partnership relations with which will allow Russia to expand the horizons of its foreign policy and strengthen its presence in this part of the world. Including the military, because security issues are extremely acute here. And, as is already obvious, it is necessary to take care of ensuring the safety of transport routes and the freedom of navigation of vessels under the Russian flag, otherwise the West is about to revive privateering, having exhausted the possibilities of "peaceful" sanctions. In this context, the issue of establishing a Russian naval base on the Sudanese coast of the Red Sea is of particular importance. An agreement on this was reached during the time of President Omar al-Bashir, but after his overthrow, the new "democratic" authorities in Khartoum announced the freezing of the project, hinting at its inconsistency with Sudanese interests. However, after they, in turn, were pushed out of power by the military, the issue of the Russian base was again actualized. This topic was of most interest to the journalists who met General Daklo on his return from Moscow. To their questions, he replied that there are many states in Africa where foreign military bases are located, and he does not understand why the possibility of a Russian base in Sudan attracts so much attention. What is it really about? It is planned to create a naval station in Port Sudan, designed for the repair and refueling of ships of the Russian Navy (including ships with nuclear propulsion systems), as well as to replenish their stocks and change crews. At the same time, no more than four warships could be here at the same time, as well as up to 300 military and civilian personnel. To provide the base with everything necessary, including materials, equipment, weapons, ammunition, food, etc., Russia would have the right to use other ports and airfields on Sudanese territory. This base will complement and strengthen existing bases in Syrian Latakia, Tartus and Khmeimim, becoming the most important Russian stronghold in Northeast Africa and the Middle East, reopening for Moscow the possibility of a direct presence in the strategically important region of the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa. Russia's presence here as a strong and responsible player can significantly affect the recovery and stabilization of the situation, which is steadily heating up due to the rivalry of regional states, fueled by external players. Examples are the periodically erupting internal conflicts in Somalia and Ethiopia, the creeping spread of Islamist terrorism in the countries of East and South-East Africa, the long-running dispute over Ethiopia's construction of a giant dam "Renaissance". Under these conditions, active military-technical cooperation with Russia, of which the base in Port Sudan should become a part, can become a sufficient guarantee of maintaining the stability of Sudan, the key to its successful development. Khartoum is well aware that in today's extremely turbulent international situation, it is hopeless to seek security guarantees in an alliance with the United States and the West as a whole. The events in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, as well as in the CAR, Mali have shown that the West is powerless. He himself admits that his power is only enough for catastrophic destabilization, for destruction; he is not able to create something durable and viable. Sudanese politicians have already got Washington to remove Sudan from the list of states that are accomplices of terrorism. This, apparently, is the maximum that America could do really useful. At the same time, Khartoum fulfilled the main condition of the Americans – it recognized Israel and began the process of normalizing relations with it. Thus, he expanded the horizons of his foreign policy, enlisted the support of such influential countries as Israel and the UAE. At the same time, ties with Turkey, which received a naval base on the Sudanese coast, were significantly strengthened. All this speaks to the pragmatism of the Sudanese strategists, who quite rightly considered that a unilateral orientation to the West deprives them of prospects and opportunities for maneuver. However, neither Turkey, nor the Emirates, nor Israel have sufficient qualities to become a strategic, anchor partner. All of them are somehow connected with the United States, whose behavior in the region is extremely unpredictable. While Russia itself is a powerful pole in global politics, it can also act as a strategic partner of China in the implementation of the global Belt and Road initiative, which is being joined by more and more new states around the world. From this point of view, Sudan's return to the idea of opening a Russian base on its territory acquires logic and meaning that go far beyond the banal bargaining: we are bases for you, you are money for us and guarantees of regime stability. Which, of course, is present. But, in addition, wider horizons are opening up than the merciful removal of the label "accomplice of terrorists".

Elections in Libya: risks and prospects

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Only about a month remains before the elections in Libya scheduled for December 24, which many analysts and experts call nothing less than "fateful" for the state torn apart by the civil war. At the same time, there are more and more unexpected turns. So, on November 16, the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar officially registered as a candidate for the presidency of the country in the eastern city of Benghazi. In this context, British experts from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) note that this initiative of the Field Marshal may fail, and it's not even that at one time he was declared a war criminal by the Government of National Accord (PNC). The problem is that, according to the legislation of Libya, which, however, is incomplete today, a person with a criminal record or dual, triple, etc. citizenship cannot run for president. Recall that Haftar, who at one time had ties with the National Front for the Salvation of Libya and the CIA, planned an invasion of Libya, but Muammar Gaddafi then prevented such a course of events by staging a coup in Chad, where Haftar was. As a result, the Americans evacuated the Field Marshal and 350 of his supporters to the States, where he was granted American citizenship. After that, Haftar lived for about 20 years in the city of Vienne, West Virginia. However, the EIU adds in this context that since the election rules are still unclear, Haftar may have some leeway. For example, a field marshal may abandon his military role in the Libyan crisis, which is provided for in the electoral legislation procedures proposed by the Libyan House of Representatives. In addition, on November 14, it became known that the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al–Islam Gaddafi, who has not been an active political figure in the country for the past ten years, also registered as a presidential candidate. However, despite his strong ties with local tribes, he is subject to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2011, according to which he was not convicted. Despite the extreme politicization and, I'm sorry, the uselessness of such an organization as the ICC, for Gaddafi, this may prove to be a serious legal obstacle. In addition, in the same 2011, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested by militias from the city of Zintan while heading towards Niger. Already in 2015, the Court of Appeal in Tripoli handed him a death sentence, which, however, was never carried out, since the Zintans refused to extradite him. Moreover, after a certain time, Gaddafi was released altogether. The Institute of the Middle East (IBV) emphasizes that the return of Seif al-Islam to Libyan politics is due, contrary to a number of statements by various analysts, not because he is a "Western project", but because he has established contacts among the Muslim Brotherhood (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) and other jihadists. As well as a significant amount of compromising material on their local figures. In addition, he has control over the extensive foreign holdings of the family of the former Libyan leader, enjoys the support of his Gaddaf tribe. But the most important thing, as noted in the IBV — "it was Seif al-Islam who at one time was behind the project of incorporating moderate and not-so-Islamists into the political structure of the Jamahiriya at the last stage of his father's rule." It should also be noted that the Libyan military prosecutor, in turn, also complicated the situation for both candidates by officially asking them to suspend their candidacies, emphasizing the significant risk that the elections will be disrupted as the election campaign begins. At the same time, the country's Supreme National Election Commission announced that after completing the registration process, the electoral body will check the credentials of candidates, and then announce who is eligible to run. In this regard, analysts at the Economist Intelligence Unit believe that both Haftar and Gaddafi will eventually be banned from running. And this forecast has really already begun to come true, albeit partially so far. On November 24, Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam was excluded from the electoral lists for "legal reasons". Abdel Hamid Dbeiba, the Prime Minister of the Interim Government of National Unity (PNE), became another unexpected candidate for the elections for some. This decision was probably a surprise because he had repeatedly stated earlier, and also had a number of agreements that he would not run for the presidency. But even his inability to keep his own word is not the main problem. Analysts from the Institute of the Middle East note that, firstly, at the beginning of 2021, his appointment to the post of head of the Government of National Unity implied that Dbeiba was to become a neutral figure whose main task was the unification and integration of institutions and authorities. Which, of course, he couldn't handle. Neither the political nor the economic split in the country has been eliminated. Moreover, the LNA, led by Haftar, still controls most of the east of Libya. Secondly, in order to run for the presidency, Dbeiba had to leave the post of prime minister, as well as refuse to perform state functions at least three months before the elections. The IBV notes that all the other candidates, who are already more than 23, have fulfilled this condition, but Dbeiba has not. Thirdly, the very appointment of Dbeiba to the post of Prime Minister was very ambiguous. At the hearings within the framework of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum under the auspices of the UN, a number of participants directly accused the politician and a former businessman from Misrata of corruption. Nevertheless, he became a compromise figure, which satisfied most of the participants. At the same time, it would not be superfluous to add that another presidential candidate, Akil Saleh, ex–speaker of the House of Representatives, even expressed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Dbeiba for misuse of budget funds, as well as for a skew in the distribution of funding in favor of Tripolitania and to the detriment of Cyrenaica. Speaking about the elections in general, we note the fact that the situation in Libya has been more or less stable over the past year. Moreover, investors and international observers even suggested that after the election campaign, a government could be formed as early as early 2022, which would allow for the implementation of post-war reconstruction projects in the country. Moreover, all major investors and countries with their interests in the African state, including Russia, China, the EU, as well as Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, etc., will fight for them. EIU analysts even forecast real GDP growth of about 12%, which will be facilitated by high oil prices and, as a result, high export revenues. And according to Fitch Solutions estimates, real GDP will grow by another 4.6% in 2022, and by 6% in 2023. At the same time, nominal GDP in 2021 will amount to 10.3 billion dollars, in 2022 – 11.9 billion, and in 2023 – 13.3 billion. The population will also continue to increase. According to forecasts, this year it will reach 6.96 million people, and in 2023 it will reach 7.12 million. The growth of nominal and real GDP, the creation of a stable government and government in general – all this could really create conditions for the influx of large investments and, as a result, the beginning of the revival of a once prosperous African state. In this context, the elections scheduled for December 24 should be considered as a key risk to the stability and prospects of Libya. If controlled elections are held in the country, which will not lead to protests or a new round of civil war, then there will be chances for the implementation of positive scenarios, and if the situation in the country heats up, there will be no talk of economic growth, attracting foreign investment and at least some prosperity. At the same time, a significant number of factors can provoke a new crisis. Including the non-admission to the elections of any of the candidates, be it Haftar, Gaddafi, which has already happened, as well as Saleh or Dbeib. A number of analysts, including from the Economist Intelligence Unit, believe that the rather tense political situation in Libya may lead to the postponement of elections to 2022, even despite the fact that the process of registering candidates has already begun. The IBV, in turn, also emphasizes that today it is not clear how the security of polling stations will be ensured in Libya, whether the judiciary will be able to promptly and fairly resolve disputes related to elections, as well as how likely punishments will be carried out. Can election organizers guarantee that independent observers will have access to polling stations, even in remote areas? Has the Supreme National Election Commission organized an independent external audit of the voter register? All these questions suggest that if the elections take place, their results will be extremely doubtful and each of the candidates will try to challenge them. In Libyan realities – probably with the use of weapons. Such a scenario is also a significant risk that will remain on the agenda regardless of whether the elections are postponed or not.

Coup in Sudan: causes and consequences

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text A new round of internal political crisis in Sudan led to a military coup. On October 16, the situation escalated to the limit when thousands of soldiers and their supporters staged a sit-in at the presidential palace, provoking clashes between supporters of the army and civilian authorities amid a significant shortage of bread and fuel across the country. Among the demonstrators were both the military themselves and their supporters from the rebel group of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SOD/M), whose leader Minni Arko Minnawi is also the current governor of Darfur, and the Movement for Justice and Equality (JEM), led by Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim. Against this background, negotiations were held between the military and civilians on the dissolution or at least a significant change in the Cabinet of Ministers of Sudan. The civil bloc in Sudan is represented by a coalition consisting of the Party for Freedom and Change (FFC), the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), resistance committees, trade unions and other civil society organizations. On October 25, all entrances to Khartoum, the capital of the African state, were blocked, as well as strategic roads and bridges of the city. The military surrounded the airport, and major airlines stopped flights to the air harbor. Against the background of how the city was blocked, supporters of the civil forces took to the streets, calling for "resisting the attempts of the military to usurp power in the country." As a result, after the meeting of the head of the ruling Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, mass arrests began in Khartoum. The head of the government and his chief adviser were detained. Several ministers, members of the Sovereign Council who were civilians, as well as the Governor of the capital were arrested. According to the Institute of the Middle East (IBV), after some time, reports began to arrive that many leaders of political parties were arrested in Sudan. Recall that the crisis in the country has been going on since 2019, when the Sovereign Council came to power after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir. According to the agreements reached between the representatives of the civilian bloc and the military, the Council was to govern Sudan for 39 months, and after that – to pass parliamentary elections. However, after a peace agreement was reached with the rebels and the authorities from South Sudan in 2020, the elections were postponed as far as 2024. As a result, there is a situation in the country when there is simply no legislative authority and it will appear no earlier than in 3 years. That is, there will be no one to certify the most important documents, agreements and laws for the country. Moreover, the constitutional declaration implied that General al-Burhan was to hand over the leadership of the Council to a civilian after 21 months, that is, back in May 2021. The IBV emphasizes that the reason for the coup was the desire of Prime Minister Hamdok to carry out a radical reform of the armed forces, which would significantly weaken the positions of the military leadership and "actually put an end to any serious influence of the power bloc on the country's politics and economy with a clear prospect for its representatives to soon be arrested by the ICC in The Hague." Such prospects did not contribute in any way to the continuation of the joint rule of the military and civilians, effectively putting an end to the agreements of 2019. Experts note that it is the fact that the military was "pushed to the wall" that explains why they took such a risky and unpopular step, which is likely to lead to negative consequences, including from the West. The American analytical center IHS Global Insight, in turn, notes that the protests are most likely largely organized by the military and the leadership of the security service to demonstrate their growing support of the population, mainly in rural areas, in contrast to the stronghold of democracy in the capital. Experts also emphasize the high organization of the protests, their planning and logistical support. For example, a Global Insight source in Khartoum confirmed local reports that buses were unloading passengers from other regions, including Eastern Sudan, at protest sites. Another indicator of concerted efforts to put pressure on the civilian leadership is the ongoing blockade of roads and key infrastructure in Eastern Sudan, including Port Sudan and the Khartoum-Port Sudan highway, by influential tribes associated with the army leadership, in particular the head of the Sovereign Council, General Al-Burhan. The ongoing month-long blockade of Port Sudan has resulted in an estimated $83 million in losses for the already weakening Sudanese economy. At the same time, blocking the transport infrastructure may lead to an even greater shortage of key goods, including fuel, wheat and medicines. The Americans also note that since the signing of the agreement on the Sovereign Council in 2019, the military has been actively trying to maintain power over civilian authorities and institutions during the transition period. At the same time, the possible departure from the post of head of the council of al-Burhan, most likely, will put him at risk of lawsuits from the civil government-led Committee for Empowerment, established in 2019. The military is also fomenting popular protests to put pressure on the civilian leadership to transfer power to influential tribal groups in resource-rich strategic areas such as Darfur and Eastern Sudan in order to ensure their loyalty. However, Global Insight believes that the military is unlikely to seek a direct coup. The United States and multilateral organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed to restore relations with Sudan only when a Sovereign Military and civilian Council is formed, and most likely will not want to continue normalizing relations or provide financial support to Sudan in the face of a military coup. In such a scenario, they are more likely to reinstate targeted sanctions and suspend critical access to debt relief and financial support initiatives. At the same time, the United States is "deeply alarmed" by the events in Sudan. "We reject the actions of the military and call for the immediate release of the Prime Minister and others who have been placed under house arrest," said Deputy White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated: "The United States strongly condemns the actions of the Sudanese armed forces," calling for the restoration of a civilian-led transitional Government. In turn , the representative of the US State Department , Ned Price , noted: "In light of these developments, the United States is suspending the provision of $700 million in emergency aid allocations from Sudan's economic support funds." He also added that American officials have not been able to contact Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, and added that the US views the army's actions as a "military takeover." The IBV reports that according to a number of Western diplomats and other sources close to Hamdok, negotiations began between the two sides last week to resolve the current political crisis. Most likely, we are talking about an attempt to conclude a new power-sharing agreement. "This may not be a direct dissolution of the government or serious changes to the constitutional declaration signed in August 2019, but a kind of broad reshuffle that may provide a larger percentage of the quota for the distribution of power to the rebels and supporters of the military," the sources say. This confirms the version of Global Insight, according to which the military will not go for a direct seizure of power. Cameron Hudson, a member of the Atlantic Council and a former American diplomat, notes that the Sudanese security forces will look for a way to avoid direct responsibility and try to find a compromise. "The security services must have an exit strategy, they are cornered and afraid of what will happen to them if civilians eventually get their way. We also know that these leaders are not going to voluntarily go to the arms of the ICC or to the Kobar prison. They should feel that if they give up power, they will survive in the future Sudan; this will require compromises that may be unpopular," he said. Undoubtedly, if the Sudanese military still decide to seize full power, this step will be perceived extremely negatively in Washington. Especially in the context of the past and failed intra-Sudanese negotiations with the direct participation of the United States, when on October 23, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman met with Hamdok, General al-Burhan and paramilitary commander Mohammed Hamdan Daglo. "Feltman stressed that the United States supports a civil democratic transition in accordance with the expressed wishes of the people of Sudan," the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said in a statement. Recent events in this context emphasize that the military ignored everything the Americans were talking about. And in this case, if anyone supports the Sudanese security forces, it will be the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. What 's not thick… As a result, Russian experts, as well as in the American Global Insight, come to the conclusion that today we are not talking about a classic military coup in Sudan. Rather, it is "removing a number of unacceptable military figures from the chessboard and replacing them with those who are ready to compromise with them."