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Sudan Prepares for Fresh Turmoil After Prime Minister’s Exit

Thousands will take to the streets of Sudan today to show Abdalla Hamdok’s resignation won’t end calls for civilian rule.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
Sudanese protest against coup.
Sudanese protest against coup.
Sudanese protesters gather during a demonstration against the October 2021 coup in the capital, Khartoum, on Jan. 2. AFP

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Sudan braces for fresh pro-democracy protests, OPEC+ ministers meet to discuss oil output policy, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is hospitalized.

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Sudan at a Crossroads 

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Sudan braces for fresh pro-democracy protests, OPEC+ ministers meet to discuss oil output policy, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is hospitalized.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Sudan at a Crossroads 

Tens of thousands of Sudanese are expected to take to the streets today across the country in a renewed call for civilian rule, a little over two months since the military seized control of the political transition process that began in the aftermath of the 2019 revolution.

The protests are a sign that Sudan’s pro-democracy movement is undeterred even as its short-term hopes faded on Sunday following the resignation of Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister. Hamdok had only held the position for six weeks after he was reinstated to the role following a period under house arrest.

“This is the last nail in the coffin on the transition period. I think the revolution is still alive and well, but the transition to civilian rule is stopped in its tracks at this point,” Cameron Hudson, an East Africa expert at the Atlantic Council, told Foreign Policy.

With Sudan back to square one, a restive citizenry could provide the seeds for new turmoil. Security forces have shown they are willing to kill; three civilians were reported shot in protests on Sunday, bringing the overall number killed since the October 2021 coup to 57, according to a count by the Sudanese Central Doctors Committee.

With Hamdok gone, the United States and the international community no longer have the excuse of adopting a wait-and-see approach to Sudan’s coup, Hudson said, with more direct action needed—whether by sanctioning Sudan’s economically influential military leaders or at least threatening them—to convince them to change course. Hudson points to an amendment put forward by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons in November 2021 to sanction military leaders as evidence that they can be swayed by Washington: Two days later, Hamdok was released from house arrest.

“I think if Washington decided to take a harder line, they would see some response from the junta in Khartoum. They just haven’t,” Hudson said.

So where could Sudan go next? Amgad Fareid Eltayeb, a former assistant chief of staff to Hamdok until February 2021, lays out an in-depth strategy for both the international community and actors within the country. Fareid calls for a more inclusive political transition than has previously been allowed, and he suggests that street-level resistance committees—the beating heart of the protest movement—be brought into the process.

International backing of a new transition, Fareid writes, would be “immeasurably cheaper than the costs and consequences of allowing the collapse of the democratic transition in Sudan later.”


What We’re Following Today

OPEC+ meets. The oil-producing states of OPEC+ meet today to discuss output policy, with the group expected to stick to plans to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day in February. OPEC ministers are also likely to soon sign off on a new secretary-general, with Kuwaiti Haitham al-Ghais considered a shoo-in to replace Nigerian Mohammad Barkindo once his term ends in July.

Nuclear opposition. Germany on Monday signaled its opposition to a European Union proposal to include nuclear technology as part of its climate strategy, a position that puts it at odds with France, which is planning to build new nuclear plants in the coming years. “We consider nuclear technology to be dangerous,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said, citing the problem of nuclear waste disposal. Despite Germany’s objections, nuclear power has come roaring back to the global energy debate. Jason Bordoff, writing in Foreign Policy, explains why.


Keep an Eye On

Bolsonaro’s health. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro suffered another health scare on Monday and was admitted to a São Paulo hospital to undergo tests for an intestinal obstruction. Although he may yet undergo surgery, Bolsonaro’s condition is not considered life-threatening, with the Brazilian leader posting photos from his hospital bed on Monday giving a thumbs up.

Haiti’s security. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry survived an assassination attempt on Saturday, his office announced on Monday. The attackers, branded “bandits and terrorists” by Henry’s office, targeted the leader at a ceremony to mark the country’s 218th anniversary of independence. One person was killed and two more were injured in the assault, local media reported.

Erdogan to Saudi Arabia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Saudi Arabia in February, according to a video he posted on social media on Monday, in a sign of warming relations with the Gulf kingdom. Erdogan had previously cast himself as a champion of justice following the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018 but has since dropped his more caustic rhetoric. Erdogan’s trip comes after Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Saudi Arabia in May of last year.


Odds and Ends

South Korean authorities have warned residents to be wary of their feline friends, as Seoul’s Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters issued a warning over the fire risk posed by cats in the home. Officials recorded over 100 cases of fires started by cats over the past three years, with easy-to-use electric stoves blamed for some of the cat-created conflagrations.

“We advise pet owners to pay extra attention as fire could spread widely when no one is at home,” Chung Gyo-chul, an agency official, told the Korea Herald.

Correction, Jan. 4, 2022: A previous version of this article contained a misspelling in the name of incoming OPEC Secretary-General Haitham al-Ghais.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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