IN the last few weeks the new Sudanese leader, Gen. Abdel-Rahman Swaraddahab, has sought normalized relations with neighboring Ethiopia and Libya and their superpower ally, the Soviet Union. The Reagan administration has much to gain and little to lose from this process and should resist a knee-jerk reaction to oppose the Sudanese initiatives. An end to the hostility fostered between the Sudan and these three nations by former President Jaafar Nimeiry will help stabilize the current regime in Khartoum and enhance the security of the Sudanese nation, will facilitate the relief of starving Ethiopians and Sudanese, and will serve long-term American interests in the region. The new regime in Khartoum should be a great relief to the Reagan administration, which could have seen violent clashes in Khartoum between demonstrators and the American-trained and -equipped security forces of the unpopular and oppressive President Nimeiry. General Swaraddahab is a well-regarded, devout, but not fanatic officer whose family has long historical ties to Egypt, through its attachment to the Khatmiyya sect, which has fostered links with Egypt since the 19th century. It is clearly in the interest of the United States -- and of the Sudanese people as well, at least in the short term -- to see Swaraddahab's regime settle into stable rule in Khartoum. There are strong pressures on the new regime to establish a civilian -- and ultimately a democratic -- government. This may not take place, and it certainly will not occur if the generals continue to worry that younger, more doctrinaire officers might take advantage of political instability.
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