Quartet Dissolution: has Kenya Lost its Regional Role?

Mahdi Al-Zaghdidi

Nairobi – The 41st Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority for the Development (IGAD) on Sudan concluded on Sunday, December 10, in Djibouti, with the adoption of a number of recommendations, including among other things, the decision to dissolve the Quartet, led by Kenya.
IGAD formed the said 4-member committee, or the quartet, last June to find out solutions to the ongoing conflict in Sudan, and Kenya was assigned to chair it with the participation of South Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
The final communiqué of the summit announced that Kenyan President William Ruto, in his capacity as Chair of the Quartet, submitted a report on the role played by the committee to end the conflict in Sudan, which means its dissolution and the return of efforts for resolving the ongoing conflict in Sudan to IGAD.
Al-Burhan , because of Kenya’s chairing the committee, rejected mediation efforts with the Rapid Support Forces and threatened to pull out of the organization altogether.
The President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan, had repeatedly rejected Ruto’s leadership of the mediation efforts, despite the latter’s insistence, and accused him of supporting the leader of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti), and of the existence of private relations between them. He requested that the process be led by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit.
The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had previously threatened to withdraw from IGAD if Kenya’s presidency was not changed.
The communiqué confirmed that the Commander of the RSF accepted IGAD’s proposals for an unconditional ceasefire, resolving the conflict through political dialogue, and holding a bilateral meeting with Al-Burhan.
In this regard, Antoine Galindo, head of the East Africa section of the newspaper “Africa Intelligence”, stated – in a statement to Al Jazeera Net – that one of the most important reasons for the failure of the committee lies in the differences and competition between the quartet that make it up, as each country in the committee maintains different interests with the two parties to the conflict in Sudan.
He added that IGAD was certain that the failure of the committee’s work might cause it to lose its role as a major player in resolving the Sudanese conflict for the benefit of other parties, so it sought to resolve it before it loses this role.
For its part, the United States welcomed the decisions of the IGAD summit, including the dissolution of the Quartet, affirming its full support for what was stated in the final communiqué. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, “We welcome the leadership of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development toward resolving the conflict in Sudan.”
Miller added that his country will continue to cooperate with IGAD, the African Union and other organizations to achieve political stability in Sudan.
“The most prominent player”
The United States participated in the IGAD summit meeting through its Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, along with representatives of the African Union, the United Nations, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and Britain.
Hammer had previously announced his travel to Djibouti, Qatar, and Ethiopia from December 7 to 17 to participate – in addition to the IGAD summit in Djibouti – in the Doha Forum in Qatar. He will also meet in Ethiopia with African Union officials to coordinate efforts regarding Sudan, and will discuss with Ethiopian officials the continued implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement in the north of the country.
In answer to a question from Al Jazeera Net about the American role in the Sudanese conflict, Antoine Galindo pointed out that America’s insistence, led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Mary Catherine V., to continue reviving the Jeddah talks indicates Washington’s determination to be the most prominent player in mediation in this conflict.
It is noteworthy that the United States, along with Saudi Arabia, is supervising talks between the two sides of the fighting in Sudan in what is known as the Jeddah Platform.
Shuttle diplomacy of Al- Burhan
Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan preceded the summit with a surprise visit to Kenya on November 13. Kenyan President William Ruto received Al-Burhan at the presidential palace in Nairobi. Following that meeting, an invitation to hold an extraordinary summit in Djibouti was announced.
Al-Burhan also visited Ethiopia and met with Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed in Addis Ababa, then met with Djibouti President Ismail Omer Guelleh, and it was agreed to hold the summit.
However, the Kenyan newspaper “East African” reported in a story that the President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council succeeded, during his visit to Nairobi, to convince Ruto to abandon Kenya’s leadership of mediation efforts to resolve the crisis in Sudan, and to persuade the rest of the members of the IGAD Committee to make way for the Jeddah platform as the only path to finding a solution to the Sudanese crisis.
Meanwhile, Antoine Galindo, head of the East Africa section at the Africa Intelligence newspaper, believes that Ruto’s reception of Al-Burhan in Nairobi was normal, considering that the Kenyan president is the head of the Quartet.
The same spokesman says that, given the suspicions about bias and reservations expressed by Al-Burhan, this visit can also be seen as a desire on Ruto’s part to rebalance his image and Kenya’s position as one of the most important powers in the region.
Source: Al Jazeera

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