Amidst the intense fighting and failed ceasefire attempts, a new danger to the Sudanese has emerged. During the street-to-street battles, one of the warring factions captured the central public health laboratory in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, a city of approximately five million people, when the fighting began. Mishandling of the biological specimens used for developing vaccines for various deadly diseases could lead to the release of harmful pathogens. In addition, most frontline fighters are poorly educated and would not know what they are handling. The US State Department closed down the embassy in Khartoum and evacuated 70 staff and families. A catastrophic disease outbreak is possible with no US or allied forces of sufficient numbers in Sudan to secure the research laboratory.
Sudan Could Face a Biological Crisis
This new threat in Sudan comes as the White House has explained US actions will be “helping from afar” as thousands of Americans have been left to fend for themselves to escape the fighting. Helping from afar is vaguely reminiscent of former President Obama’s “lead from behind” 2011 Libyan policy. However, when the US has no presence and consequently little influence, the idea of trying to help the 16,000 abandoned US citizens in Sudan from a distance is about all that is left. What that looks like as President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters the US was providing support remotely. “The US also is placing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets over the route from the capital, Khartoum, to the country’s main seaport, the Port of Sudan, to scope out safety threats, Sullivan said,” Military Times reported. However, Sullivan did not explain how the reconnaissance information would be transmitted to the evacuees on the ground.
Europeans Take the Initiative in Evacuating from Sudan
Many European nations, on the other hand, took a different approach. Euronews reported France and Germany, using their fleets of C-130 cargo aircraft with short takeoff and landing capability, airlifted out of the international airport at Khartoum, French aircraft evacuating 388 and Germany moving 311 people, of various nationalities. With intense battles raging around the Khartoum airport, “Germany and France began their own evacuation process. Germany took over air traffic control, and five flights had departed between late on Sunday and Tuesday lunchtime,” Dan Sabbagh of The Guardian explained.
Italian Air Force C-130s airlifted approximately 200 people from the Khartoum airport. The UK is making preparations to extract some 4,000 British citizens. Press reporting said the airlift from the Sudan’s capital could be extremely dangerous. “The stark warning from senior British officials came as an RAF C-17 aircraft landed in Port Sudan for troops to carry out reconnaissance for the extraction of around 4,000 people who have been stranded in the country,” Kim Sengupta reported for the UK’s Independent.
Several press reports compared what’s happening in Sudan with the botched US withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 2021. Clearly the US would want to avoid a similar outcome. Since the Biden administration has not attempted to implement a more robust non-combatant evacuation operation in Sudan, the White House cannot be accused of bungling it. Unfortunately, that nuance may be lost on US evacuees waiting for the threat analysis to be passed to them on their walking tour to the Port of Sudan.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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