Archive: August, 1986

Sudan’s Foreign Policy

Aspects of Sudanese Foreign Policy:
‘Splendid Isolation’, Radicalization and ‘Finlandization’


Mohamed Beshir Hamid


This chapter is an extract from Sudan since Independence: Studies of the Political Development since 1956, (R.K. Badal et al eds., Gower, London, 1986). The last section draws extensively from an article by the author, “the ‘Finlandization’ of Sudan Foreign Policy: Sudanese-Egyptian Relations since the Camp David Accords” in Journal of Arab Affairs, Vol. 2 No. 2, Spring, 1983 (Fresno, California) and from his contributions of the Sudan annual chapter to Africa Contemporary Record (London) from 1976 to 1985.

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The foreign policies of successive Sudanese governments since the period of self-determination had been characterized by a curious pattern in which policies changed course, or were aborted or reversed in a way that indicated the lack of any consistent or long-term foreign policy strategy. The first national government of Isma’il al-Azhari, elected in November 1953 on a platform calling for union with Egypt under the slogan of ‘Unity of the Nile Valley’ had by December 1955 opted for Sudan’s complete independence. The military regime of General Ibrahim ‘Abbud – despite, or perhaps because of, its rather consistent record of passive withdrawal and non- involvement in foreign affairs – had managed by 1964 to dissipate the goodwill it had initially generated with Egypt, and to alienate Sudan’s African neighbours by its harsh and brutal policy in southern Sudan. The radical foreign policy initiated by the first provisional government in October 1964, had ended by July 1965 in a new retreat to conservatism. The Numayri regime undoubtedly beat all records for policy reversal by making a complete U-turn from a pro-Soviet stance in 1969 to a pro-Western posture by 1976 – a reversal of policy which, not coincidentally, ran parallel to that of Egypt. Read more

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