“Kleptocracy in Khartoum: Self-Enrichment by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party, 2011 – 2015”
Eric Reeves/Enough Project Forum Report
On December 2, 2015, the Enough Project published an Enough Forum piece, “Kleptocracy in Khartoum: Self-Enrichment by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party,” written by Eric Reeves. This piece analyses the mechanisms that the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) uses to maintain power and secure wealth, including manipulating the oil market, illicit land sales and expropriations, systemic bureaucratic corruption, financial mismanagement, and state-sponsored violence.
Khartoum’s “Kleptocrat-in-Chief,” Omar al-Bashir
Reeves defines the Sudanese government as a kleptocracy and notes “the use of the military and security services to protect the regime in continual self-enrichment.”
“For the past five years, the current regime in Khartoum has continued to engage in massive theft of Sudanese national wealth. Such theft occurs against a backdrop of some of the world’s highest rates of malnutrition as well as a series of brutal and costly civil wars. Agriculture is in decline as is the economy as a whole, largely because of the brutal kleptocracy that rules and plunders Sudan by force of arms from Khartoum.”
— Eric Reeves, report author and Senior Fellow at the Enough Project
The paper first details the economic and humanitarian implications of Sudan’s corrupt governance structure. Sudan’s dire economic circumstances are manifest through its bread, fuel, and water shortages, high inflation, and weak infrastructure. While most Sudanese economists and observers believe that military and security expenditures make up over half of the national budget, the International Monetary Fund has accepted Central Bureau of Statistics data despite significant omissions or contradictions. This lack of oversight, combined with the regime’s gross misallocation of resources, has led to Sudan’s $ billion external debt.
The dire and unsustainable economic situation has in turn led the NIF/NCP to redirect its allegiances from Iran toward Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states to secure financial support. Reeves describes this shift as “duplicitous pragmatism.” State expenditures on military and security forces ultimately enable the regime’s power through the use of force. The regime’s reliance on superior military force and state-sponsored violence has led to a long and grave humanitarian crisis. For example, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) finds that about 2 million children under 5 years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition and a 2013 Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies poll shows that 54% of Sudanese civilians wish to emigrate.
A disastrous lack of foreign exchange currency (Forex) has left Sudan unable to import sufficient, which costs the country rich in arable land some $1 billion per year. There is as a consequence a shortage of the flour needed to make bread, a staple food for many northern Sudanese. The evidence? Bread lines have been chronic for the past two years.
The piece then delves into the oil industry, land sales, and transparency issues. For example, while the Comprehensive Peace Agreement states that oil revenues would be shared equally between Sudan and South Sudan for oil extracted in South Sudan and then transported to market through Sudanese pipelines, the Sudanese government has manipulated record keeping to keep extensive revenues from South Sudan “measured in billions,” asserts Reeves. Government expropriation tactics vary in form, including taking funds from banks, contract cuts for politicians, and land sales. The state-controlled finance system also facilitates bureaucratic corruption through loopholes and misuse of various financial reporting mechanisms. These practices contribute to Sudan’s distinction as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, landing at 173 of 175 countries on Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.
French banking giant BNP Paribas assisted Khartoum survive from 2002 – 2008 and beyond. A criminal conviction of BNPP by the U.S. Department of Justice ended this nefarious assistance; but others are stepping their shoes (here a senior BNPP official)
Finally, by perpetuating violence, the regime maintains control and subdues dissent throughout Darfur and across Sudan. As Reeves notes, “the massive expropriation of national wealth by the regime has been possible only because of extraordinary expenditures of that wealth deployed to enable the army and security forces to keep popular will from being expressed.” Reeves concludes that conflict and corruption will continue in Sudan as long as the NIF/NCP remains in power and continues to amass the wealth of a nation in the hands of a few.
For more information, read the full report.
The vast majority of Sudan’s people feel only the crushing burden of kleptocracy and the consequences of Khartoum’s profligate military spending.