Despite a government-led national dialogue in 2016, violence in Sudan persists in Darfur and elsewhere. Peace talks between the government and the armed opposition are deadlocked, while hundreds of thousands of displaced people are blocked from getting humanitarian aid. For over 20 years, the U.S. Institute of Peace has worked to build an inclusive peace in Sudan through expert advice and training. The Institute currently hosts youth leaders who conduct research on peace in their communities. USIP also supports a regional database of laws on sexual and gender-based violence.
The announcement on February 8 of a new Cabinet in Khartoum—the product of a peace accord signed by Sudan’s transitional government with several armed groups in October 2020 through a deal brokered by South Sudan—offers hope that the broader inclusion of political leaders can help address Sudan’s pressing challenges and create peace dividends. Unfortunately, the lengthy process of selecting new Cabinet members revealed additional fractures among both signatories to the peace deal and civilian political elements that seemingly offer competing visions for the transition and beyond.
Sudan’s transitional government has signed a peace agreement to end a number of long-standing conflicts and civil wars. USIP’s Susan Stigant says this is a positive sign for democratic progress, as “one of the promises of the revolution was to seek peace,” but cautioned that the real “work only begins once the ink is on the paper.”
With the UAE and Bahrain having joined Egypt and Jordan in declaring peace with Israel, those asking “who’s next?” often look enthusiastically westward, toward Khartoum. Adding new chapters to the Abraham Accords is in the U.S. interest, but so is a successful transition in Sudan. And the sequence of these steps is critical. A unified Sudanese government with a popular mandate will be better able to forge a warm and sustainable peace with Israel, whereas a rushed Israeli-Sudanese agreement has the potential to unravel Sudan’s transition and generate renewed support for Sudan’s Islamists and their foreign backers.
The states on the western side of the Red Sea to the south of Egypt and the Arab states from the east of Egypt through the Arabian Gulf have long been considered distinct regions. This is increasingly a distinction without a difference, however, as these states now operate more as a common political, security, and economic zone.
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