American argument: why Sudan refused from the Russian naval base on the Red Sea

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American argument: why Sudan refused from the Russian naval base on the Red Sea
American argument: why Sudan refused from the Russian naval base on the Red Sea
10 June, 10:06Politics
The intention to sign an agreement on the construction of a base on the Red Sea to support the Russian Navy allowed Sudan to conduct successful negotiations on cooperation with the United States, which considers our base in Africa extremely undesirable.

Victor Kuzovkov

When at the beginning of December last year Russia signed an agreement with Sudan on the creation of a logistics center for its navy in that country, many in our country had various questions regarding the expediency of this agreement. Say, it is far away, and unnecessary, and expensive, and such a fad, just four warships and three hundred personnel. The questions are, in part, reasonable, because it is quite difficult for an ordinary man to understand why his taxes should be spent on a military base somewhere on the very edge of the Earth.

But in this case, life itself answered most of these questions. Moreover, rather rudely - after the sharply intensified contacts of the new leadership of Sudan with the Americans, we were literally "asked to leave." No, not yet so rudely, while diplomatic channels, correct formulations, assurances of deepest respect for each other are still being used ... But nevertheless, the very posing of this issue against the background of sharply intensified US-Sudanese contacts makes us unambiguously understand that in Washington they considered Russian a base in the Red Sea is an extremely undesirable target. That is, in the context of the existing US-Russian confrontation, it turns out that the MTO point of the fleet in Sudan was not at all useless for Moscow.

But let's talk about everything in order. Russia really planned to strengthen its position in the region. And the place chosen for this, if not ideal, then very, very good. The Sudanese port of Port Sudan, located almost in the center of the Red Sea, was initially more suitable for creating a fortified MTO point than, for example, the Syrian Tartus. At the same time, literally in recent years, we have witnessed the importance of this port in the effective deployment and functioning of the Russian military contingent in this country.

In addition, the strategic importance of Port Sudan due to its geographical location cannot be overestimated. Yes, it is not so convenient from the point of view of controlling access to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, but the Red Sea, as the most important transport artery, is very well controlled from there. And if so, then this automatically means control over the transportation of oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe, and the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of Europe's maritime trade with Southeast Asia.

Let's not forget about another interesting point - according to the agreements between Moscow and Khartoum, the S-400 air defense missile system, which Russia was going to place in the vicinity of Port Sudan, was supposed to cover the PMTO. This means that such interesting points on the map as Mecca located in Saudi Arabia or the Saudi port of Jeddah, through which maritime trade of the largest monarchy of the Persian Gulf, largely goes under the control of Russian air defense and missile defense systems.

The agreement between Moscow and Khartoum was signed in December 2020. And surprisingly, immediately after that, contacts between Sudan and the United States sharply intensified. And on May 20, a very important event for Sudan took place - the United States lifted all restrictions imposed on this country for supporting terrorism. Earlier, we recall, Washington accused Khartoum of organizing the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, supporting some terrorist organizations in Palestine and Lebanon, and blowing up the American destroyer Cole in the port of Aden.

Sanctions against Sudan have been in place for many years, and the situation began to slowly change only in 2019, after the ouster of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Moreover, the new Sudanese leadership itself has embarked on a course of rapprochement with the United States, agreeing, for example, to pay American citizens who have suffered from terrorist attacks, 335 million dollars in compensation.

By a strange coincidence, it was in December 2020 that Washington removed Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism. It was this decision that became the basis for the recent lifting of US sanctions against Khartoum. Then things went even more fun - American special representatives became frequent in Khartoum, loans are provided to Khartoum that allow it to pay off the World Bank, the Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Gabriel Ibrahim asked the United States for help in "shaping the country's investment climate", American and European banks were allowed to work in Sudan.

Given that Sudan, devastated by a long and very bloody civil war, is in dire need of foreign investment, such actions by the Sudanese authorities can be called quite rational. True, taking into account one nuance - it was the Western countries that actually recognized the split of the former Sudan, recognizing the independence of South Sudan, which was previously part of a single state. Therefore, such a position of the current leadership of Khartoum, in general, is not at all impeccable in the eyes of the local military and patriots. But here it is probably difficult for us to judge what the real patriotic Sudanese want more - justice or, after all, to eat ...

One way or another, we can admit with some degree of self-irony - this time even the Africans bred us. That is, the agreement between Moscow and Khartoum became a good position for their bargaining with the Americans, and nothing more. And our geopolitical interests turned out to be a real empty phrase for the new Sudanese leadership.

At the same time, of course, it is not yet worth bury the agreement once and for all. The restraint shown by the Russian Foreign Ministry on this issue indicates that Moscow has not yet finally buried the agreement. And the Sudanese themselves, in the person of the Chief of the General Staff of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Mohammed Osman al-Hussein, are not yet declaring a complete breakdown of the agreement, but of its revision.

Khartoum motivates its position by the fact that the agreement has not been ratified by the parliament of this African country, which means that it cannot be considered effective. The aim of the current Sudanese leadership, it is stated, should be to determine the real interests of Sudan in this agreement.

Does this mean that Sudan intends to keep the agreement? In fact, this is very doubtful. Most likely, it will appear in diplomatic reports for some time, while the new masters of Khartoum improve their negotiating positions with the Americans. When Sudan gets from Washington everything it wants to achieve, the denunciation of the agreement with Moscow will become the final cherry on the cake that the Africans will present to their American partners.

Of course, the officials of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the authorized employees of the Kremlin, may have a special view of this situation, due, for example, to better awareness than ours. But they are no less likely to outsmart themselves once again, replacing pragmatism and professionalism with their hopes to please their superiors.

And, by the way, about pragmatism. Probably, we should once again marvel at this very pragmatism of the Americans. It would seem that until recently, the United States was ready to literally wipe this Sudan into powder. The degree of relations between Khartoum and Washington was so low that only, probably, the unwillingness of the White House to get involved in another local conflict, potentially similar to their adventure in Somalia, kept them from very sharp movements. But as soon as the regime changed, and by no means on the noteworthy democrats, and now the United States is actively developing relations with the new leadership of the country, demonstrating the coordinated work of analysts, diplomats, military men, and politicians.

In this situation, we can only be glad that we did not have time to properly invest in PMTO. Yes, it is a pity for the missed opportunities, but there seems to be nothing to be done about it. Perhaps the most logical thing now would be to stop dancing to the Sudanese tune and close the project, leaving Khartoum alone with the Americans.

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