In the Horn of Africa, a region at the strategic crossroads of the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel, political changes are on a scale that has not been seen since the post-Cold War period. However, the risks and opportunities for the United States that cause these tectonic shifts have largely been neglected. As the development situation in Sudan shows, however, the region is at a turning point, which will determine its generation course.
In medicine, the "golden hour" is the period during which the urgency of treatment determines the patient's likelihood of survival. The response of the United States, or its absence in the coming days and weeks to events in Sudan, will determine whether it is more stable and slips into reform or into the abyss.
Following a four-month mass demonstration of the Sudanese military, President Omar al Bashir resigned on 1
State failure in Sudan, a country with a population twice as many as Syria, would be catastrophic for the United States and its European allies. The resulting tidal wave of instability that would spread across North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Arabian Gulf would undermine US efforts to counter terrorism, illegal trafficking, and illegal migration, threatening one of the world's most important trade routes Red Sea connecting Europe and Asia .
But the US reaction to the changes in the Horn of Africa in general and in Sudan in particular has struggled with the events. Sudanese protesters, tormented by the experiences of Libya and Syria, have committed themselves to non-violence. However, the Trump government's policy was anchored until the withdrawal of Bashir in a process of bilateral normalization with Khartoum, which began under the Obama administration. This was a signal whether the United States was in the Bashir regime or not. Since Bashir's defeat, the United States has been on a par with the timetable for the establishment of a civilian government. As a result, the United States is now operating out of a credibility deficit under the forces of change.
The Sudanese people are at the forefront of this transition, and it should stay that way. However, the pace and scale of developments requires far greater attention and support from the West, not from the nature of governance, security or economic regulation, but rather from incorporating the political and financial resources of the United States in order to address a potential reform agenda support long-term stability. To this end, the United States and its partners should urgently formulate a detailed road map for restoring the country's economic viability, which will allow regional states to move towards a civilian transition.
The United States must also use its influence to mitigate competition between the powers of the Middle East for dominance in the Horn of Africa – Turkey and Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other – what the fragmentation in Sudan could stimulate.
The camp is likely to prevail over the other, their tug-of-war has led to rapid militarization of the wider Red Sea. The commitment by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week to provide $ 3 billion to Sudan's military council could easily lead other regions to support other elements in Sudan.
Finally, Congress can ensure that the administration has sufficient resources. Focus on strategic objectives. The transition in Sudan can only succeed if the United States, in coordination with its allies and partners, provides the necessary political and financial investment to meet the scale of change and the opportunities it brings. This probably means additional funding for the Congress and support for a debt relief process when a civilian transition takes place in Sudan. A successful transition will ultimately be far less costly than the political, security and humanitarian costs of its failure.
For Sudan, this will be an outbreak, and the United States will waver at its own risk.
Payton Knopf is Advisor to the US Institute of Peace and former Advisor to two US Presidential Representatives for Sudan and South Sudan during the reign of George W. Bush and George Mitchell's US Special Representative for the Middle East peace Obama Government