Western Diplomats? Exit Leaves Raw Emotions in Battle-Torn Sudan

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Sudan has fallen into warfare for a ninth day, killing hundreds and forcing thousands of civilians to flee the country. It has dashed hopes of a peaceful transition to civilian rule, four years after the ouster of long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Fighting broke out April 15 between rival generals who have been vying to control the nation. Their war has shattered the fragile peace forged in 2021, when they were allied to stage a coup to overthrow Bashir.

What Happened?

It was a momentous day at the embassy. It was also a stressful one, if you were an American government employee or a spouse of such a person. In a single day, the United States evacuated more than 70 people, most of them to Djibouti, where they are being treated as foreign guests rather than nationals. A few stayed home with their families, despite the fact that the embassy was on lockdown and that a lot of the city’s hotels had shuttered for good.

The best part was that there were no small arms fires to be seen. The evacuation was a success, thanks in no small part to the efforts of American spies in Khartoum and their counterparts on the ground in Djibouti. Those who made the trip are looking forward to some R&R in their new digs, and the rest of us are just hoping that the country will be able to pull itself together as soon as possible.

The Exodus

The Israelite Exodus from Egypt is one of the most cherished and celebrated stories in the Jewish faith. It tells of the oppression of Israel as enslaved people in Egypt, their flight from slavery and their journey to freedom and the Promised Land under the leadership of Moses.

The ten plagues, the Passover, the parting of the Red Sea and the giving of the Ten Commandments are just some of the key events in this historical account that have become a staple of religious devotion. But this book also tells of the foundational tenets of the Jewish ethic, which emphasizes that no human value has absolute importance and that all human claims are relative to God alone.

However, there is growing evidence that the Biblical Exodus story was a literary construct created during the 13th century BCE by a writer whose work was influenced by the literary style of Manetho. Romer argues that this author borrowed plotlines from Manetho to form the exodus narrative in his biblical books.

Evacuations in Djibouti

Sudan’s military has killed 330 people during fighting between rival factions that has pushed the country into what the United Nations calls an emergency humanitarian crisis. Many hospitals are shut and others have run out of supplies.

The violence has also fueled a growing panic among international aid workers and diplomats who fear their nationals may be trapped. American officials are weighing an evacuation of U.S. Embassy staff in Khartoum, according to two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The Pentagon plans to send additional military forces to Djibouti, where it operates a base, to prepare for an evacuation operation. The move is designed to offer the administration an option to launch an evacuation in case the situation worsens, a person familiar with the plan told POLITICO.

The Future

Raw emotions are roiling in battle-torn Sudan. Diplomatic exodus shatters centuries of peace in the capital, Khartoum, while warlord rivalry in the peripheries swells a hunger crisis and wreaks havoc on government.

Western allies must proceed with sensitivity. In particular, they need to avoid pushing civilian political forces to find a way forward on an externally imposed timeline, or to act in a manner that shatters their coalition.

The main civilian opposition is a broad coalition of veteran opposition elites, political parties, formal civil society groups and neighbourhood committees, all largely aligned in their goals to topple Omar al-Bashir’s government but lacking a cohesive vision for the future.

The military seized power in April 2019, after months of mass protests, to stem an uprising against Bashir’s rule. In August, after a series of agreements with armed opposition groups, military leaders signed a Constitutional Declaration that transferred most power to a civilian administration, established the Sovereign Council and pushed late 2023 for elections to put in place a fully civilian government.

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