Revolutionary Sudan: Hasan al-Turabi and the Islamist State, 1989-2000
by J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins
Leiden: Brill, 2003. 300 pp. $96.
Reviewed by Yehudit Ronen
Tel Aviv University
Middle East Quarterly
This multi-faceted scholarly analysis of Sudan's domestic and foreign politics during Turabi's decade-long era in power ranks as one of the best, most up-to-date, and comprehensive studies on the subject.
Burr and Collins have vast first-hand knowledge, stemming from different fields of engagement and academic disciplines and likewise from direct personal involvement. (Collins is an internationally acclaimed expert on Sudan, Africa, and the Nile River; Burr is a former State Department official who served in Sudan as an aid logistics director.) They generate a remarkable description of the functioning and principle characteristics of Turabi's National Islamic Front regime—the seventh to govern Sudan since independence in 1956, yet the first of a militantly Islamist nature.
The authors produce an extensive and profound analysis, dwelling on the political agenda of Turabi, which largely overlapped with the agenda of the Sudanese state during the 1990s. Yet the authors seem intentionally to exclude the issue of the country's devastating civil war from the core of the discussion. (Perhaps this is because both authors have already discussed Sudan's internal armed-conflict in previous works.)
Revolutionary Sudan illuminates less-known aspects of Sudan under Turabi; some topics read as if they were part of a thriller. Especially noteworthy among them are the firm ideological, political, and economic ties between Turabi and Osama bin Laden, the Sudan-Iran friendship, Sudanese oil and China, Sudan and Carlos the Jackal, the plot to assassinate Egypt's president Husni Mubarak, and what the authors refer to as the Iran-Iraq-Sudan axis and Bosnia. Sometimes these connections seem unreal, but this well-documented study and vivid portrait of Khartoum's political life remind us that this was the real Sudan under the "Islamic Project" of Turabi.
 Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins, Requiem for the Sudan: War, Drought, and Disaster Relief on the Nile (Westview Press; 1995).
Related Topics: Radical Islam | Yehudit Ronen | Spring 2004 MEQ
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