Photo Credit, BBC News.
An African Union soldier surveys an abandoned village in Darfur, 2006.
According to Al Masry Al Youm, Sudan and Egypt will be working more closely together on targeted investments. Is this good news?
We hear a lot about Egypt's neighbor, Libya, and the war of liberation that is going on there. Meanwhile, Sudan is undergoing its own spectacular democratic transformation. There has been a lot of focus on the Arab Spring. Yet, the pressure for democracy, and indeed--more meaningful democracy-- has also been taking place in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Sudan, among other locations in Africa.
The South of Sudan is now independent. Darfur is fighting for its freedom, and the hegemony of the Northern Sudanese government is crumbling. I am lucky that I work with, and went to school with, one of the world's foremost authorities on Darfur, Dr. Hamid Eltgani Ali. Dr. Ali argues that the Northern Sudanese government is a bankrupt and failed state. Like Egypt and South Sudan, argues Dr. Ali, North Sudan needs to move forward on the path to peace and democracy.
Although it is positive, in principle, that the Egyptian Government is working with its neighbor to increase economic development, it is a mistake to negotiate with the Northern Sudanese government about anything. Egypt is negotiating with the Northern Sudanese government about joint investments between the two countries in the area between Cairo and Khartoum. This cooperation will occur in the disputed "Halaib Triangle," which includes the three main towns of Halayeb, Abu Ramad, and Shalatin.
The bad news is that working with the Northern Sudanese government is an exercise in futility. Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir came to power in a coup in 1989. According to the BBC, he has ruled Sudan "with an iron fist," since that time. The Northern Sudanese state uses excessive force against opposition forces, in particular illustrated by its "scorched earth" policy against Darfur. He is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. If the Arab Spring has anything to teach us, it is that the days of unelected, brutal, corrupt dictators are numbered in North Africa, and the Middle East. Egypt should heed its own experience of January 25th, and refuse to do business with Bashir.