The Washington Institute has recently been sponsoring a series of discussions about sudden succession in the Middle East. Each session focuses on scenarios that might unfold if a specific ruler or leader departed the scene tomorrow. Questions include these: Would the sudden change lead to different policies? Would it affect the stability of the respective countries involved, or the region as a whole? What would be the impact on U.S. interests? Would the manner of a leader's departure make a difference? The discussions also probe how the U.S. government might adjust to the new situation or influence outcomes.
This essay, second in a series resulting from these sessions on succession, looks at the extremely fluid situation in Sudan, where on April 11 the military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir. The move followed months of peaceful protests, and appeared to mark a major turning point for the country. Still, what comes next remains uncertain, even as an interim military council has promised that the new government will be civilian run. A surprise to some will be Sudan’s tradition of democracy and vibrant civil society, possibly offering hopes for a more pluralistic, open country that could inspire similar movements elsewhere in the region.
ALBERTO FERNANDEZ is a former U.S. diplomat who is currently president of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), which includes Al-Hurra, and a previous vice president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). He served as U.S. chargé d’affaires in Sudan from 2007 to 2009, as coordinator for strategic counterterrorism communications at the U.S. Department of State from 2012 to 2015, and in senior diplomatic positions in the Middle East and Africa. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the U.S. government or MBN.