When it comes to making castles in the sky, no one can beat 79-year-old US president Joe Biden. He thinks with his outdated Russia policy, he would be able to stymie the rise of Russia in the African continent. Alas! He is destined to face defeat and humiliation only. This is exactly what appears to have taken US by surprise in Sudan this time.
U.S. officials have been closely following the port base deal between Khartoum and Moscow for years. It was first made public in late 2020. US feared that if the deal went through, it would give Russia a major stronghold in the Red Sea. The Red Sea witnesses at least 30% of the world’s container traffic each year. This will be the first-ever military base of Russia in the African continent. The US managed to keep Russia waiting by providing millions of dollars worth of aid to Sudan in 2020, which led to Sudan delaying the Port base deal. But the deal is back on the track.
Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the coup and de facto head of state, has avoided alienating the West. However, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, the deputy head of the nation’s ruling military council, was in continued contact with Russia. So, Sudan appears to be walking a tightrope between Russia and the West. However, the West has already declared Sudan its foe officially, since it denies cutting off ties with Russia completely.
And this backfired. Russia and Sudan finally agreed for the port base deal recently which has put the Biden administration in a fix. As part of this military facility agreement, Russia will build a base that can accommodate the deployment of nuclear-powered ships. The base will be leased to Russia for 25 years, with 10-year renewals occurring automatically until one party objects. Now, this is a game-changing move. 90% of Sudan’s maritime traffic is handled by the Port Sudan. This facility will assist Russia in maintaining control over the Red Sea, Bab El Mandeb Strait, and ultimately the trade that passes through the sea.
Biden is perturbed by this base deal and is now punishing Sudan citing “National Security and Foreign Policy” as reasons for extending his sanctions on Sudan. As per Joe Biden, “The situation in Darfur continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
He added, “Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13067, as expanded by Executive Order 13400, with respect to Sudan.”
The naval base agreement between Sudan and Russia has the United States alarmed. It even made an attempt to break up the Russia-Sudan ties by bribing and coercing Sudan. After obtaining assistance from the US, Sudan kept the port deal with Russia on the backburner, but eventually it had to cave into the pressure being exerted by Russia.
The northeast African region is completely unaffected by the global hegemon. A new naval facility in Sudan cannot be stopped.