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Saudi, UAE fear for Sudan interests post-Bashir: Analysts

AFP  |  Dubai 

With in turmoil following the ouster of their ally Omar al-Bashir, Gulf powerhouses and the UAE are following events closely as they seek to protect their interests, analysts say.

plays a key role in the regional interests of and its allies, siding with against Shiite and providing troops in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in the war.

And after weeks of silence on Sudan's political turmoil, and the UAE on Sunday released a lukewarm reaction to Bashir's toppling, calling for "stability" and a "peaceful transition".

"Saudi Arabia and the are by nature averse to all popular movements or revolutions," said Karim Bitar, at the for International and Strategic Affairs.

"These are powers that largely privilege the status quo. They fear that any effervescence, any national protest movement, will lead to an -- that there will be contagion."

Tens of thousands have protested outside headquarters since April 6, initially to urge the military to back their demand that Bashir be removed.

Thousands have remained encamped there to keep up the pressure on a military council that took power after ending Bashir's three-decade rule on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both voiced backing for the transitional council, with promising an aid package to the people of "in order to alleviate suffering", according to a statement published by state agency SPA.

"The Gulf states are watching Sudan with apprehension and will do everything possible to ensure that the transition happens in continuity, meaning that Sudan remains under military control," Bitar told AFP.

Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for nearly 30 years, broke ranks with Saudi Arabia's regional arch-nemesis after Riyadh's intervention in the war, sending much-needed troops to battle rebels linked to alongside the Saudi-led coalition.

has risen as the of the transitional council -- a move analysts say is not unwelcome in some Gulf states.

"All sides in the Gulf want to maintain some sort of stability," said Andreas Krieg, a at London.

"Burhan has no ties to the Islamist deep state and has been one of the main liaisons of Sudan to the UAE during the war.

"Burhan appears to be more prone to accept the UAE's policy of zero tolerance towards political Islam than others."


As Sudan looks to the future, the Gulf monarchies are watching closely.

"The Gulf states don't want a violent transfer of power. They don't want another tragedy like Libya, or Iraq," said of the Geneva-based

"The only way is a peaceful transfer of power," he added.

"In Sudan and Algeria, change is inevitable. The military institutions will supervise the change and hand over power to the civilians."

One Gulf state that has remained silent on the Sudan protests is Qatar, locked in a nearly two-year-old diplomatic standoff with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and

and its allies severed all ties with on accusations the emirate was too close to and to Sunni extremists including the and

Gas-rich had wielded some influence over Bashir's regime before joined ranks with Riyadh in the Yemen war.

With Bashir gone, it remains to be seen whether Sudan will continue to fight in Yemen -- and whether will support the new government.

"has its own reasons to object because it had some sort of influence on the previous regime," Alani said.

"Qatar has an objective of supporting Islamists in power because they have some sort of influence over this sort of regime."

And while Qatar has "a tendency to support opposition movements," the country's historic proximity to the Bashir regime leaves it in an uncomfortable position in the interim, according to Bitar.

But across the board, Bashir's ouster is a pivotal moment for the Gulf.

"One shared goal across Gulf states is maintaining Sudan's stability -- preserving the institutions of the state while reform and transition takes place," said of the

"We are not in the Gulf of 2011, completely allergic to transition," Dickinson told AFP.

"Leaders here understand that autocratic governments that do not perform cannot survive. The question is how they should fail.

"With so much fragility across the greater region, there is a sense here that a managed transition could be the best way forward.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 15 2019. 10:20 IST
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