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Sudan and the Unbearable Lightness of Islamism: From Revolution to Rentier Authoritarianism


The regime ruling Sudan since 1989 represents a pioneering experiment in the field of Islamist politics, being the first case in which a movement affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood managed to conquer power and hold on to it for a considerable time. During the late 1990s, internal and external pressures threatened the survival of the regime, leading the ruling class to abandon its ambition to represent a model of revolutionary Islamic governance. Oil exports provided a catalyst for this pragmatic shift, intensifying patronage-based relations at the expense of ideological affiliation. Seen from a political economy perspective, the Sudanese experience proves the flexibility of Islamism as an ideology, but also its failure as a political practice to constitute a real alternative to the authoritarian dynamics that are widespread in the MENA region.
Keywords: Islamism, Sudan, Islamic economy, rentier state, oil