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Here’s the paradox: successive governments in Khartoum have managed their peripheries on the basis of individual bargaining. It is sometimes derogatively called “Jellaba politics” with reference to the northern Sudanese traders who dominate the retail business in small provincial towns. The ruler cuts deals with members of the provincial elites—administrators, tribal chiefs, militia commanders, rebels—on [...]

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After the end of the oil rents, it has become much more complex… and much more like the 1990s. President Bashir has to bargain both with those making demands on his resources (the Islamists, the Ministry of Defense, and armed rebels) but also with financiers (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, military industries, the government’s financial institutions).

This is not an auspicious context in which to make peace…

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More important for President Omar al Bashir than the shortage of money is the fact that the squeeze is where it hurts him most: the discretionary budget available for him as ruler. How does he obtain his “political budget” necessary to stay in power? That is the topic of the next (penultimate) post.

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There’s a cycle of violence in the Sudanese peripheries. This post looks at Darfur. In the first phase of the cycle, there is an extremely violent contest between two contending forces. On the one side is the Sudan Armed Forces, paramilitaries and other security forces, and hired militia. On the other side is a coalition [...]

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In the figures in the previous post, the level of defense spending is shown. It rises but not as much as the overall government spending, and hardly at all as a percentage of GDP. Let us examine those figures more closely—with the caveats that post-2006 defense spending estimates are subject to big margin of error, [...]

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Profile in Practice

On May 23, 2014 By

My career has been spent with one foot in policy and activism, and the other in research and teaching. I have worked for human rights organizations, the African Union and the United Nations, and academic institutions—focusing on the problems of peace, human rights and humanitarian action, particularly in northeast Africa.

I first went to Sudan in 1984 because the University of Khartoum was then the world’s intellectual center for refugee studies, the immediate precursor of humanitarian studies. The flow of intellectual capital was from Sudan to Europe and America.

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