Since Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese leader, was forced to step down in April by pro-democracy street protesters, the governing Transitional Military Council has received strong backing from the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Bashir and Saudi Arabia have a long and tangled history. For many years, the two were sworn enemies. But since 2014, Saudi Arabia has co-opted Bashir to remove him from Iran’s sphere of influence. Money flowed in and Saudi lobbying helped remove United States sanctions on Sudan. Iranian cultural, medical and military facilities were closed and diplomats expelled.
In 2015, Sudanese troops joined the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Similarly, the UAE wanted to ‘turn’ Bashir from his Islamist roots, and thus deprive its long-term enemy the Muslim Brotherhood of a safe haven in Khartoum.