Unsurprisingly, the "Sudan Problem" did not go away with the South's secession in 2011. Civil war, driven by concentration of power and resources in the hands of a small elite, continues to plague the country, and threatens to lead to further disintegration. Divisions within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), growing popular unrest, and a steady national economic meltdown also could send this country off the rails.
Sadly, 10 years ago, the situation was almost identical -- only then Khartoum was fighting against the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), representing the entire South, whereas now government coffers are drained by ongoing fighting against the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of major rebel groups from Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states. The victims, as always, are the civilians caught in the middle. As it did in the South, the government has sought to use access to humanitarian aid as a bargaining chip, essentially using mass starvation as part of its military strategy.
The only lasting solution is a comprehensive one, bringing all of Sudan's stakeholders together to reform how power is wielded in a large and diverse country. Over the long term, the status quo -- incessant warfare, millions displaced, billions spent on aid -- is intolerable for all parties. If it is to be resolved for good, the NCP and international players will need to offer much more than at any time in the past -- the former a process of genuine all-inclusive dialogue, the latter economic and political incentives.
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