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Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin

The Bloody Crisis: Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Action



The Bloody Crisis: What Is Happening in Kazakhstan and Sudan?




The year 2022 has started with a wave of violence and turmoil in two countries that are thousands of miles apart but share some common features: Kazakhstan and Sudan. Both countries have witnessed mass protests against authoritarian regimes that have escalated into bloody confrontations with security forces. Both countries have also seen external interventions by regional or global powers that have complicated their domestic situations. What are the causes and consequences of these crises? How are they affecting their people and their regions? And what can be done to resolve them peacefully? This article will try to answer these questions by providing an overview of the events, actors, and issues involved in each case.




The Bloody Crisis


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Kazakhstan: From Fuel Protests to a Power Struggle




Kazakhstan is a former Soviet republic located in Central Asia, with a population of about 19 million people. It is rich in natural resources, especially oil and gas, but also suffers from social inequality, corruption, and environmental problems. It has been ruled by a single party since its independence in 1991, first by Nursultan Nazarbayev, who stepped down as president in 2019 but retained significant influence behind the scenes, and then by his handpicked successor Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.


The current crisis in Kazakhstan began on January 2nd, when peaceful protests erupted in several cities over a government decision to increase fuel prices by 25%. The protesters demanded lower prices, better living standards, and more political freedoms. They also expressed dissatisfaction with Tokayev's leadership and Nazarbayev's continued interference. The protests soon spread across the country, reaching the capital Nur-Sultan and the largest city Almaty, where they turned violent. Some protesters attacked government buildings, police stations, banks, and shops, setting them on fire and looting them. Some also seized weapons and vehicles from security forces, who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.


The government declared a state of emergency, imposed a curfew, shut down the internet and phone services, and deployed the army to quell the unrest. It also blamed the violence on "foreign-trained terrorists" and "criminal elements" who wanted to overthrow the constitutional order. On January 6th, Tokayev asked for military assistance from Russia and other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional security bloc. The next day, about 2,500 Russian troops and some from other CSTO countries arrived in Kazakhstan to help restore order. On January 8th, Tokayev announced that he had fired the head of the powerful National Security Committee (KNB), Karim Masimov, and arrested him on charges of treason. Masimov was a close ally of Nazarbayev and a rival of Tokayev in the power struggle within the ruling elite.


The Role of Russia and China in Kazakhstan's Crisis




Kazakhstan is strategically important for both Russia and China, as it borders both countries and serves as a transit route for energy and trade. Russia considers Kazakhstan as part of its "near abroad" and a key partner in its efforts to counter Western influence and maintain regional stability. China views Kazakhstan as a vital link in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive infrastructure project that aims to connect Asia with Europe and Africa. Both countries have invested heavily in Kazakhstan's economy and have cultivated close ties with its leadership.


However, both countries also have different interests and concerns regarding the crisis in Kazakhstan. Russia was quick to respond to Tokayev's request for military intervention, seeing it as an opportunity to assert its role as a security provider and a guarantor of the status quo. Russia also wanted to prevent any spillover of instability or extremism into its own territory or other neighboring states. China, on the other hand, was more cautious and restrained in its reaction, expressing support for Kazakhstan's sovereignty and territorial integrity but refraining from sending any troops or offering any mediation. China was more worried about the potential impact of the crisis on its economic interests and its relations with the Kazakh people, who have been resentful of China's growing presence and influence in their country.


The Human Cost of Kazakhstan's Unrest




The crisis in Kazakhstan has exacted a heavy toll on human lives and rights. According to official figures, at least 164 people have been killed and over 8,000 injured since the start of the protests. However, some activists and journalists have disputed these numbers, claiming that they are much higher and that many deaths have been covered up or attributed to other causes. Thousands of people have also been detained or arrested, often without due process or access to lawyers or family members. There have been reports of torture, ill-treatment, and extrajudicial killings by security forces against protesters and suspects. Many people have also been displaced or affected by the destruction of property and infrastructure.


The crisis has also posed serious challenges for humanitarian aid and access. The internet shutdown has hampered communication and information flow, making it difficult to assess the situation and coordinate relief efforts. The curfew and checkpoints have restricted movement and transportation, hindering the delivery of food, water, medicine, and other essential supplies. The closure of airports and borders has prevented international staff from entering or leaving the country, limiting their capacity to provide assistance. The violence and insecurity have also created fear and trauma among the population, especially among children, women, elderly people, and minorities.


Sudan: A Coup Against Democracy




Sudan is a country located in Northeast Africa, with a population of about 44 million people. It has a long history of conflict, oppression, and poverty, marked by decades of dictatorship under Omar al-Bashir, who seized power in 1989 through a military coup. Bashir was ousted in 2019 after months of mass protests demanding his resignation over economic hardship and human rights abuses. A transitional government was formed between the military and civilian forces that led the uprising, with the aim of preparing for free elections by 2023.


The Role of the International Community in Sudan's Crisis




The coup in Sudan has drawn widespread condemnation and concern from the international community, which had supported the democratic transition and provided humanitarian and development assistance to the country. The United Nations Security Council, the African Union Peace and Security Council, the European Union, the United States, and other countries and organizations have issued statements calling for the immediate release of all detainees, the restoration of the civilian-led transitional government, and the respect for human rights and the rule of law. They have also warned of possible sanctions and other measures against those responsible for the coup and those who obstruct the democratic process.


However, the international community also faces challenges and dilemmas in dealing with the crisis in Sudan. On one hand, it wants to maintain pressure and leverage on the military to reverse the coup and return to dialogue with the civilian forces. On the other hand, it does not want to isolate or alienate Sudan, which could worsen its economic and humanitarian situation and undermine its cooperation on regional issues such as migration, counterterrorism, and peacekeeping. Moreover, some countries may have competing or conflicting interests in Sudan, such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, which could affect their positions and actions regarding the crisis.


The Human Cost of Sudan's Coup




The coup in Sudan has also exacted a heavy toll on human lives and rights. According to official figures, at least 40 people have been killed and over 200 injured since the start of the protests against the coup. However, some activists and journalists have disputed these numbers, claiming that they are much higher and that many deaths have been covered up or attributed to other causes. Hundreds of people have also been detained or arrested, often without due process or access to lawyers or family members. There have been reports of torture, ill-treatment, and extrajudicial killings by security forces against protesters and suspects. Many people have also been displaced or affected by the disruption of services and infrastructure.


The coup has also posed serious challenges for humanitarian aid and access. The internet shutdown has hampered communication and information flow, making it difficult to assess the situation and coordinate relief efforts. The curfew and checkpoints have restricted movement and transportation, hindering the delivery of food, water, medicine, and other essential supplies. The closure of airports and borders has prevented international staff from entering or leaving the country, limiting their capacity to provide assistance. The violence and insecurity have also created fear and trauma among the population, especially among children, women, elderly people, and minorities.


The Future of Kazakhstan and Sudan




Both Kazakhstan and Sudan are facing uncertain futures after experiencing bloody crises that have shaken their political systems and societies. Both countries are undergoing complex transitions that involve multiple actors and interests, both internal and external. Both countries also face similar challenges such as economic hardship, social inequality, corruption, environmental degradation, ethnic diversity, regional instability, and foreign interference. However, both countries also have different histories, cultures, resources, opportunities, and aspirations that shape their trajectories.


How will these two countries overcome their crises and achieve their goals? What are the factors that could influence their outcomes? What are the risks and opportunities that they face? The following sections will try to answer these questions by evaluating the challenges and opportunities for each country.


The Challenges and Opportunities for Kazakhstan




The Challenges and Opportunities for Kazakhstan




Kazakhstan faces several challenges in resolving its crisis and achieving stability, prosperity, and democracy. Some of these challenges are:


  • The lack of trust and dialogue between the government and the opposition, civil society, and the public, which hampers the prospects for a peaceful and inclusive political settlement.



  • The risk of further violence and instability, especially if the security forces use excessive force against protesters or if armed groups exploit the situation to pursue their own agendas.



  • The impact of the crisis on the economy, which has already been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, low oil prices, and external shocks. The crisis could undermine investor confidence, disrupt trade and transport links, and worsen poverty and inequality.



  • The pressure from external actors, such as Russia and China, who may have different interests and expectations regarding Kazakhstan's future. The crisis could also affect Kazakhstan's relations with its neighbors and other partners in the region and beyond.



  • The challenge of diversifying the economy and reducing its dependence on oil and gas, which makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in global markets and environmental risks. The crisis could also hamper Kazakhstan's efforts to implement green growth policies and transition to a low-carbon economy.



However, Kazakhstan also has some opportunities to overcome its crisis and achieve its goals. Some of these opportunities are:


  • The potential for dialogue and reconciliation among different political and social forces, based on a common vision for Kazakhstan's future and a respect for human rights and the rule of law. The crisis could also create an opportunity for constitutional and institutional reforms that would enhance democracy, accountability, and transparency.



  • The support from the international community, which has expressed its solidarity with the people of Kazakhstan and its readiness to assist in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. The international community could also provide humanitarian and development aid to address the needs of the population and support economic recovery.



  • The resilience of the economy, which has shown signs of recovery after the pandemic-induced recession in 2020. The economy is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2023 and 4% in 2024, according to the World Bank. The crisis could also stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as reforms to improve competitiveness and productivity.



  • The opportunity to leverage its strategic location and resources to play a constructive role in regional and global affairs. Kazakhstan could also benefit from its membership in various regional organizations, such as the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as its cooperation with other partners, such as the European Union (EU), the United States, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, India, Iran, and others.



  • The potential to harness its renewable energy potential and develop a green economy that would reduce its environmental footprint and create new jobs and opportunities. Kazakhstan has abundant solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal resources that could be exploited to generate clean electricity and heat. The crisis could also increase public awareness and demand for green policies and practices.



The Challenges and Opportunities for Sudan




Sudan faces several challenges in resolving its crisis and achieving stability, prosperity, and democracy. Some of these challenges are:


  • The fragility of the civilian-military partnership, which has been undermined by the coup and the subsequent power-sharing deal that has left many pro-democracy forces dissatisfied and marginalized.



  • The risk of further violence and instability, especially if the military reneges on its commitments to restore the transitional government and hold elections, or if armed groups resume hostilities in the conflict-affected regions.



  • The impact of the crisis on the economy, which has already been suffering from hyperinflation, shortages, debt, and sanctions. The crisis could worsen the economic situation and trigger social unrest and humanitarian crises.



  • The pressure from external actors, such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and others, who may have different interests and agendas regarding Sudan's future. The crisis could also affect Sudan's relations with its neighbors and other partners in the region and beyond.



  • The challenge of addressing the root causes of conflict and inequality, such as land disputes, ethnic grievances, resource distribution, and human rights violations. The crisis could also hamper Sudan's efforts to implement peace agreements and transitional justice mechanisms.



However, Sudan also has some opportunities to overcome its crisis and achieve its goals. Some of these opportunities are:


  • The potential for dialogue and reconciliation among different political and social forces, based on a common vision for Sudan's future and a respect for human rights and the rule of law. The crisis could also create an opportunity for constitutional and institutional reforms that would enhance democracy, accountability, and transparency.



  • The support from the international community, which has expressed its solidarity with the people of Sudan and its readiness to assist in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. The international community could also provide humanitarian and development aid to address the needs of the population and support economic recovery.



  • The resilience of the economy, which has shown signs of recovery after the removal of US sanctions in 2020 and the normalization of relations with Israel in 2021. The economy is expected to grow by 0.8% in 2023 and 2.5% in 2024, according to the World Bank. The crisis could also stimulate reforms to improve fiscal management, monetary policy, business environment, and social protection.



  • The opportunity to leverage its strategic location and resources to play a constructive role in regional and global affairs. Sudan could also benefit from its membership in various regional organizations, such as the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Arab League, as well as its cooperation with other partners, such as the European Union (EU), the United States, China, Russia, India, Iran, and others.



  • The potential to harness its renewable energy potential and develop a green economy that would reduce its environmental footprint and create new jobs and opportunities. Sudan has abundant solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal resources that could be exploited to generate clean electricity and heat. The crisis could also increase public awareness and demand for green policies and practices.



Conclusion




Conclusion




In conclusion, this article has provided an overview of the bloody crises that have erupted in Kazakhstan and Sudan in 2022. It has summarized the events that led to the violence in both countries, analyzed the roles of internal and external actors involved in each case, and reported on the human costs of the unrest. It has also compared the prospects for political and social change in both countries, considering the challenges and opportunities that they face in their transitions. It has highlighted the similarities and differences between the two cases of bloody crisis and offered some recommendations for action.


Some of the main points of this article are:


  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan have witnessed mass protests against authoritarian regimes that have escalated into bloody confrontations with security forces.



  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan have also seen external interventions by regional or global powers that have complicated their domestic situations.



  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan are undergoing complex transitions that involve multiple actors and interests, both internal and external.



  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan face similar challenges such as economic hardship, social inequality, corruption, environmental degradation, ethnic diversity, regional instability, and foreign interference.



  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan also have different histories, cultures, resources, opportunities, and aspirations that shape their trajectories.



Some of the recommendations for action are:


  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan need to restore trust and dialogue among different political and social forces, based on a common vision for their future and a respect for human rights and the rule of law.



  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan need to prevent further violence and instability, by ensuring that security forces act with restraint and accountability, and that armed groups refrain from hostilities.



  • Both Kazakhstan and Sudan need to address the impact of the crisis on their economies, by implementing reforms to improve competitiveness and productivity, diversify their sources of income, and enhance social protection.



Both Kazakhstan and Sudan need to balance the pressure from external actors, by pursuing their own nat


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