The delicate nature of the security situation in Sudan was highlighted by a deadly shooting in Gabra earlier this week. Authorities arrested 11 alleged militants after a fight in which five members of the Sudan General Intelligence Service were killed.
Analysts blame the violence on the presence of foreign rebels in the country and the transitional nature of the military-civilian government that has ruled Sudan since 2019, when President Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the military after months of protests.
Khalifa Siddiq, a professor at the International University of Africa in Khartoum and an expert on Islamic groups, told VOA that Sudan’s proximity to other troubled states contributes to the problem.
“The Gabra incident,” Siddiq said, “has not been removed from that context. During this transitional period, Sudan is facing a security crisis with open borders to hot spots in the region. For example, Siddiq pointed to Libya and Somalia, where the jihadist group al-Shabaab operates.
“Sudan’s borders with Chad and the Central African Republic are also porous,” he said.
Sudan’s history of terrorism dates back to the 1970s and was enhanced during the 1990s, when it harbored al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. was found to help. Washington removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terror only after removing al-Bashir and paying $335 million in compensation to victims of several terror attacks.
Siddiq pointed to a number of factors driving extremist groups to work in Sudan.
“among them is the presence of the United Nations” [and] African Union soldiers under UNAMID and its successor UNITAMS, which he said are “foreign multinational forces operating in a Muslim country” that “encourage extremist groups to rise up and counter them.”
Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center who previously served as the US special envoy to Sudan as well as former White House Africa director, agreed with Sidique.
“There are real security threats in the country and a competent, competent and professional security service is needed to address those security threats. That much is not in doubt,” he said, “I think the challenge that Sudan is facing today is He is facing beyond these legitimate threats.”
role of armed forces
Hudson said the killings in Gabra this week, and last week’s attempted coup, should not be used by Sudan’s military as an excuse to undermine the civilian-led government of Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok.
“It will likely be used by the military to demonstrate that they need a major role in getting the country running again,” he said. And this week’s shooting “underscores the need for a broader dialogue on security sector reforms and the role of the military going forward in the country.”
As military and civilian officials in Sudan’s transitional government alleged that last week’s coup attempt led to last week’s coup, observers said the situation exposed the fragile military-civilian partnership in Sudan’s government.
IS. no clear link to
Last year, Hamdok survived an assassination attempt after his convoy was targeted with explosives while he was on his way to his office. Hudson said it was not clear whether the recent incidents were linked to the attempted murder.
Officials did not release information on the nationality and motives of the militants linked to the latest incidents in Sudan.
“My understanding is that [the Gabra incident] is different, that there are pre-government elements, [including] Islamists, who are present in the country. I don’t think they are the same thing as an Islamic State cell,” Hudson said. “I think there hasn’t been any demonstration that there is overlap between elements of the former regime and the more radical terrorists — you know, the international terrorist elements. That link hasn’t been established.”