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Tuesday, April 28, 1998 Published at 18:49 GMT 19:49 UK

World: Analysis

Sudan's war - why doesn't the world act?

The people of Sudan have suffered through a 15 year civil war and famines which have been worsened by it.

But while the outside world continues to send humanitarian aid, it is unlikely to intervene militarily to end the conflict.

The UN will not step in because it does not have the consent of the warring parties necessary for the despatch of a peacekeeping force, and an military intervention under Chapter VII of the UN Charter is considered to be untenable in military and logistical terms.

The experience of the UN in Somalia has contributed to increased scepticism over the role that such a mission can play.

The EU has imposed an embargo on the supply to Sudan of weapons, ammunition, spare parts and other military equipment, but Russia and China oppose a global arms embargo.

Neighbours aid rebel fighters

The Sudanese regime is extremely isolated, and has made enemies of its neighbours, who accuse it of exporting radical Islam so as to forge a regional sphere of influence.

The Ugandan Government is heavily backing the SPLA which is the main military opposition in the Sudan. The Sudanese Government in turn is thought to be backing armed Ugandan groups carrying out guerrilla raids into Ugandan territory.

Eritrea is a strong backer of the Sudanese opposition grouping the National Democratic Alliance, though because of a defence pact between Eritrea and Ethiopa, Sudan is thought unlikely to attack it.

Egypt, too, is concerned about Sudan's stake in the Nile. It is also concerned about Sudanese encouragement to Egyptian Islamic groups.

The attempted assassination of the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, at the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) summit meeting in Addis Ababa in June 1995 was allegedly carried out by three men who were given refuge by Sudan.

The Sudanese authorities denied that they knew of the whereabouts of the suspected terrorists.

Since 1993, Sudan has been listed by the US as a state sponsoring terrorism.

Briefing from BBC Research

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