In This Review

Islamist Foreign Policy in Sudan: Between Radicalism and the Search for Survival
Islamist Foreign Policy in Sudan: Between Radicalism and the Search for Survival
By Mohammed H. Sharfi
144 pp, Routledge, 2020
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Sharfi’s noteworthy study of Sudanese foreign policy during the past 30 years devotes particular attention to the first decade of the Islamist regime that came to power in 1989. Sudan stands at the crossroads of Africa and the Arab world. It maintains close relations with the Gulf states across the Red Sea but is also Ethiopia’s main rival for hegemony in the region. The Islamist coalition government that formed under the aegis of the National Islamic Front in 1989 had wanted to advance through its foreign policy the cause of radical Islam and, initially at least, anti-Western ideals. As Sharfi astutely argues, the regime had to abandon some of this more ideologically driven policy in favor of pragmatism, an evolution that led to the downfall of Hassan al-Turabi, one of the founders of the NIF, and the consolidation of power under President Omar al-Bashir. The book contains case studies, including a particularly interesting chapter devoted to the fallout from Sudan’s role in the botched assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995 and an analysis of the internal or­ganization of the foreign service, whose technocrats often battled for influence with the ideologues of the NIF.