What Is Sudan?
Sudan is a country in Northeast Africa. Officially, it is called the Republic of Sudan. If you’ve been anywhere in touch with Sudan for the last few years, you’re probably somewhat familiar with how much turmoil the nation has seen. Sudan has seen a pretty much constant state of military conflict for the last six years, with its former head of state Omar Al-Bashir having been removed from power very recently. This all sounds really complicated, so we’ll give you a quick and distilled run-down of what’s going on. But first, some background.
Where Is Sudan Located?
Sudan sits soundly in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It also shares a coastline on the Red Sea to the northeast.
In terms of physical size, Sudan is Africa’s third-largest country (~1.9 million square kilometers / ~730,000 square miles). It houses somewhere around 42 million people, with a yearly population increase hovering around 2.4%. Sudan’s capital is Khartoum, which sits at the junction between the Blue and White Nile rivers.
Officially, the Sudanese population speaks English and Arabic, and their religion is primarily Islam. In fact, somewhere around 97% of the Sudanese population follows that religion. There’s also Roman Catholic presence in Sudan, but it’s extremely weak in comparison. As to what form of Islam Sudan practices, the population is split primarily between Sufi and Salafi. Much of Sudan’s government receives its support from the Salafis, however.
Further reading: History of Bir Tawil – Land Left Unclaimed
Brief History of Sudan
Since Sudan’s capital resides on the confluence of two major waterways, the region has a long history, dating back to the Kingdom of Kush (800 BC). It is a region that has been conquered and reconquered quite a few times, though it spent a good chunk of time recently under Egyptian and British control. By 1956, Sudan would declare its independence, holding a ceremony on 1/1/1956 wherein the British and Egyptian flags were finally lowered, and the Sudanese one raised. Up until that point (roughly 17th century), Britain and Egypt had shared control over Sudan.
The rush of independence wouldn’t last long, though. By May 25, 1969, a coup was staged. 1971 would see another coup, due to disputes over communism. For a short time a Sudanese Communist Party was installed. Then there was a 20 year civil war where Sudan split itself between northern and southern regions.
Far more recently, Colonel Omar Al-Bashir staged a coup and installed himself and a military government. This occurred June 30, 1989. By 1993, Al-Bashir had claimed both executive and legislative power over Sudan, making Sudan a single-party state in 1996 under the National Congress Party.
Having adopted a conservative legal system based on Sharia Law, Sudan retains crucifixion, stoning, and public flogging as legal punishments. No surprise then, that among other things, Sudan has come under fire from other nations for human rights violations. This came to a head with the War in Darfur, where allegations of apartheid against Sudan’s non-Arab population came about. The UN estimates 300 thousand fatalities (the Sudanese government attests 10 thousand) and ~3 million displaced individuals (the Sudanese government attests 450 thousand), and the war in Darfur is still considered ongoing.
Related post: Is Egypt Part of Asia?
Crisis in Sudan
Things in Sudan right now are, to put it very lightly, messy. On April 11, 2019, Al-Bashir was detained by another military coup. This detainment followed months of mass protest against his rule. But not many details are coming out of Sudan on the matter. As recently as May, he was charged with being involved with the killing of protesters. Now, prosecutors are currently investigating Al-Bashir for money laundering and financing terrorist acts.
Since the removal of Al-Bashir, the US has started to become more diplomatically involved with Sudanese politics. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also since sent an aid package to Khartoum, as well as a large cash injection to Sudan’s central bank to help their currency get back on its feet.
Protests as of right now still continue in Sudan, given that only Al-Bashir has been removed. His generals and other appointed officials still remain in power, and the protests aren’t going to stop until a civilian-led government is installed (according to Sudanese activists).
The UN remains concerned regarding human rights in Sudan, using the phrase “human rights abyss.”
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