While much attention has focused on the creation of a new country in Southern Sudan, it is worth explaining that Sudan proper is also a totally transformed country. On that point, Rebecca Hamilton offers some smart commentary in the New York Times on the fragility of Sudan’s ruling National Congres Party.
As Bec shows, the new old Sudan is teetering on the edge.
The N.C.P. is more vulnerable than it has been in years. The most telling whisper of the regime’s fragility comes not from any report produced out of New York or Brussels, but from the tea stalls that line the streets of Khartoum.
Rising sugar prices mean that a sugar-laden glass of tea — the primary calorific intake for many impoverished Sudanese — has gone up by almost 50 percent in the past three months. New austerity measures have lifted government subsidies on bread and fuel, stretching meager household budgets to breaking point. When the opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi suggested that a popular uprising was on the cards last month, he hit a sore spot; the N.C.P. arrested him immediately…
[P]etro-dollars dispersed through a vast patronage network have been vital to enabling him maintain his grip on power. And the bulk of these oil revenues are about to head south. Bashir’s senior adviser predicts the northern economy will take a hit of “not less than 30 percent.” Absent the benefits they are accustomed to, the loyalty of Bashir’s supporters will be tested.
Rising food prices, secession movements, and diminished profit from oil exports does not a stable government make.