Some military takeovers are carefully orchestrated, plotted in secret for months; others are haphazard affairs conjured in the heat of the moment. The coup in Sudan last week was neither. It had looked like a strong possibility for a year and a half; then, with four weeks to go, it was heralded by a round of strenuous manoeuvring and astroturfing. Yet the timing was awkward and the execution sloppy, and now General Abdelfattah al-Burhan, the head of the junta, is facing off against intense domestic and international pressure.
Ethiopia’s latest civil war is being closely observed by Ethiopia’s neighbours, Sudan and South Sudan, but also – from further afield – by Egypt. For Cairo, water is the issue, and the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. On 28 November, Egypt’s president, Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, arrived in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to meet with his counterpart, Salva Kiir. Sisi was accompanied by the head of his intelligence service. Egypt had just completed two high-profile joint military exercises in Sudan. At the Marwa air base near Khartoum, the Sudanese military chief of staff had vowed to deter the country’s enemies and protect its borders.