Political Islam in Sudan: A Focus on External Rivalries

Media Coverage | August 12, 2020

Writing for African Liberty, EWI Program Assistant for the Middle East and North Africa program, Desirée Custers, discusses the connection between political Islam and extra-regional actors in Sudan, arguing that external rivalries can impede the democratic transition.

Sudan’s recent measures to decrease strict Islamic restrictions clearly show the country’s break from a radical form of Islamic ruling associated with the former president Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019. This article will focus on the relationship between political Islam and extra-regional actors in Sudan, arguing that external influences could negatively affect Sudan’s transition towards a democratic government in the face of increased economic and social pressure.

Islam, the Sudanese Revolution, and External Actors

Although the break from a strict Islamic rule stems from the decades-long political mismanagement by al-Bashir’s Islamist National Congress Party (NCP), it should not be seen as independent of Sudan’s political environment, in which extra-regional powers use an Islamic political narrative to advance their geostrategic interests. As such, Turkey and Qatar are considered backers of political Islam and are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Sudan’s al-Bashir was an offspring. By contrast, the UAE and Saudi Arabia oppose Islamic political ideologies. These intra-Sunni politics are played out among others in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Sudan. 

Click here to read the full article on African Liberty.

Click here to read an Indonesian translation of the article on Republika.co.id.