Country Listing

Sudan Table of Contents



The largest nation in Africa, Sudan has a common frontier with eight other countries. It occupies a strategic location on the continent. Its capital, Khartoum, is situated at the junction of the White Nile and the Blue Nile. Via its port on the Red Sea, Port Sudan, the nation is linked to the Arab countries of the Middle East. To the south, it is adjacent to the tropical lake country of central Africa. In the west, it is exposed to recurrent conflict among Chadian factions and potential contention with Libya. Even under stable conditions, it would be impracticable for Sudan to devote sufficient military force to ensuring the security of its entire periphery. Fortunately, few problems have arisen necessitating a strong military presence along the boundaries with Egypt, Kenya, Central African Republic, and Zaire. Threats to the stability of the border area have generally been confined to Chad on the west, Ethiopia on the east, and, to a lesser degree, Uganda in the south.

Relations between Sudan and Egypt have varied but in general in the 1970s and 1980s were characterized by differences over such matters as use of the Nile waters. Egypt subscribed to a stable, militarily viable Sudan because it regarded Sudanese territory as providing depth to its own strategic defenses, buffering it from potential threats emanating from sub-Saharan Africa. The border between Egypt and Sudan was unguarded except for minimal policing to discourage smuggling and drug trafficking.

Sudan's Darfur Province contiguous with Chad was unstable during most of the 1980s. This resulted from the combination of Chadian combatants operating from bases on Sudanese territory, Libyan troops and Libyan-supported units of the Islamic Legion crossing the border in search of rebels, and fighting among Arab and non-Arab ethnic groups (see Chad , ch. 4). Arms were easily available in the border zone. Conceivable, Libya might desist from further interference in Darfur following the victory of the Chadian rebels under Idris Deby with Libyan help in December 1990.

The 1,600-kilometer border between Ethiopia and Sudan was disturbed because both nations provided each other's insurgents with military assistance and sanctuary. In the northeast, the Sudanese government supported the Eritrean People's Liberation Front that operated from Sudanese territory at Port Sudan. The Tigray People's Liberation Front were also given facilities at Al Qadarif. Ethiopia retaliated by providing the SPLA insurgents in the south with supplies and bases. Sudan periodically accused Ethiopia of carrying out bombing raids against the estimated 100,000 Eritrean refugees living in camps and villages in eastern Sudan.

A comparable situation prevailed on Sudan's border with Uganda. In 1986 and 1987, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, accused Sudan of allowing its territory to be used as a haven in cross-border attacks by 3,000 members of the former Ugandan army loyal to the deposed dictator, Idi Amin Dada. Sudan, in turn, charged that SPLA units were receiving aid from Uganda. In mid-1990, the Sudanese government announced that an agreement had been reached providing for the establishment of border security posts and that each country would prohibit its territory from being used for hostile attacks against the other.

Data as of June 1991