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The Sudanese Afterparty

Since Sudan split into two countries about a year ago, few of the hopes of any national self-determinists have come true. North and South still clash over border issues, ethnically offensive rhetoric flies, especially from al-Bashir’s government in the north, and, most importantly, both economies are in ruins. Take Sudan:

When South Sudan seceded last year, it took three quarters of the country’s oil production with it, leaving Khartoum so strapped for dollars the central bank has resorted to trading gold.

The bank now prints money to buy local gold at high black-market currency rates and then sells it for dollars on the global market at the much lower official exchange rates, officials and traders say.

What’s left of Sudan seems to be falling apart. Rebellion has cropped up from all sides, and it is no wonder why it did: Sudan has run out of money and al-Bashir’s brutality continues to oppress. What’s more, as Bashir runs out of money he will find it increasingly difficult to pay the salaries of police and military forces,.

What comes after Bashir is hard to predict, but it probably won’t be very nice — and it could be perfectly horrible. Horrible as in mass starvation, bloodbaths, national disintegration. Sudan’s problems are so deep seated, and society has been so degraded by decades of brutality, misgovernment, sectarian hatred and religious fanaticism that it’s hard to see grounds for much hope.

I was lucky enough to visit Khartoum a few years ago, and met some wonderful people: brave journalists, seriously engaged and patriotic intellectuals, educators, people working on women’s issues. The memory of those people keeps me from utter despair. Somewhere in Sudan there’s a better and more hopeful country that wants to emerge.

But for now, there’s not much chance of that happening. This is what a failed state looks like and, sadly, Sudan is one of the worst.

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  • Pete Drum

    Ah, but the British no longer have any control over the country, and that is the only important thing to some people.

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