The Sudanese power claims to be discussing with Russia to relaunch a naval military base project in the Red Sea. The United States threatens General al-Burhane with "consequences" if an agreement is signed with Moscow.
The Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb—and the Red Sea with it—attracts military covetousness. An international strategic issue that owes nothing to the fact that more than 40% of world maritime traffic passes through this strait of a few tens of kilometers. So, inevitably, when we talk about a possible Russian presence in the region, especially when it is military, on the side of Washington, we see red.
In Sudan, while he was the target of two international arrest warrants issued in 2009 and 2010 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, Omar el-Bashir s was turned towards Russia. He had convinced Moscow in 2017 to open a Russian military base on the Red Sea, in exchange for an agreement that allowed Khartoum to acquire SU-30 fighters and surface-to-air missiles.
El-Bechir had "proposed to Putin that Sudan be Russia's gateway to Africa and invited Russian companies to participate in the development of its oil industry", summarize Hicham Mourad and Admiral Patrick Hébrard, of the Foundation for strategic research, in a report devoted to the Red Sea. But after the forced departure of the Sudanese dictator, the military base finally remained at the project stage.
Sovereignty, yes, but...
However, according to general al-burhane, it could well be reborn from its ashes. He referred to “discussions” with Moscow regarding this Russian naval base on the Red Sea coast in recent days. What annoy the Americans who also seemed already aware.
“Some reports indicate that Russia is trying to implement the agreement it signed with ousted President Omar al-Bashir in 2017 to establish a military base that would give it access to the Red Sea. All countries have the sovereign right to decide which other countries to cooperate with, but these choices of course have consequences,” threatened US Ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey.
The United States had already tried, in 2014, to prevent Djibouti from signing a military agreement with Russia. Washington had worked successfully, but had been unable to prevent the installation of a Chinese naval base two years later. The White House would take a dim view of the Russian-Sudanese project being revived, especially in this period of conflict in Ukraine.
Already, the American diplomacy affirms that the signing of this agreement “would isolate Sudan from the international community” and “would harm the interests of the country”. Before ensuring, not without a certain irony, that the United States could be "a good partner for Khartoum".