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Another coup in Sudan. What it means for Belarusian authorities?
How another coup in Sudan will affect Belarusian interests - arms supplies and gold mining.
A military coup has taken place in Sudan for the second time in the last two years. The military arrested members of the transitional government, which was formed after the military coup in 2019. Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamduk has been detained.
Just a month ago, already former Sudanese authorities said that they had prevented an attempted coup d'état by "supporters of President Omar al-Bashir ousted more than two years ago."
The fact is that since August 2019, Sudan has been governed by a transitional civil-military administration, which came to power by overthrowing former President Omar al-Bashir, a longtime friend of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Euroradio decided to see if another coup would somehow affect Belarusian interests in Sudan.
Officially, Belarus supplies agricultural and automotive equipment to Sudan. Exports repeatedly grew at an "explosive" rate.
While in 2006, Belarus exported $2.5 million worth of products to Sudan, in 2008, this figure reached nearly $37 million. And in 2013, it set a record for the entire history of trade relations between the two countries, reaching 70 million dollars. Based on the published information, only tractors were regularly supplied there, and the other item shipments were sporadic.
However, most of the exports are labeled as "closed positions," including precious metals, tobacco, aviation equipment, and weapons. In 2013, for example, $50 million worth of closed positions were delivered to Sudan.
But starting in 2017, exports began to plummet, and only once in 2019 reached nearly $27 million, of which $21 million was in closed positions. Then there was a military coup in Sudan, and the head of the country, Omar al-Bashir, was arrested. Since then, exports have gone downhill, reaching only $9.5 million in 2020, of which only $250,000 was in closed positions.
Weapons for an old friend
It is safe to say that a large part of the closed exports to Sudan are weapons. Belarus and Sudan have significant experience in joint military and technical cooperation.
Belarus has supplied a large number of weapons to Sudan since 1996 despite international sanctions. According to the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI), from 2013 to 2015 alone, Belarusian arms supplies to Sudan amounted to about $113 million.
In 2015, a joint Sudanese-Belarusian company S&B Aviation company Ltd was registered in Sudan. It specializes in the maintenance, repair, and modernization of aircraft and helicopters, training and education of flight crews and engineers.
The issue of gold mining in Sudan by Belarusian companies was raised during Omar al-Bashir's visit to Minsk in 2018. Then it emerged that the Sohra Mining company of Belarusian businessman Alyaksandr Zaitsau would be engaged in mining.
"To improve mutual settlements in trade, we have agreed that Belarusian companies will mine gold on your territory. Your subsoil is very rich in this metal. I am grateful to you for the decision to provide us with the second deposit for gold mining," said Alyaksandr Lukashenka at a meeting with Omar al-Bashir.
As in the case of Zimbabwe, mining permits were "pushed through" at the highest level here. For example, in early 2017, Sohra Mining explored one of the provided sites for gold mining, but it turned out to be unpromising.
In 2018, it emerged that the company was allocated another site, which started to be explored by Belarusian specialists. There were talks about exploring another site closer to the Nile.
However, a coup in 2019 probably put an end to gold mining in Sudan. Since then, there has been no information about the project.