Elbow Licking in Sudan: The Spread and Decline of Mass Unrest in Summer 2012


Disputes between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan led to a halt in oil production in early 2012, bringing an economic crisis to both countries. On June 16, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and his National Congress Party imposed austerity measures, including the withdrawal of wheat and fuel subsidies. Demonstrations against the regime broke out at universities across Sudan in response.

Despite a National Congress Party official’s claim that trying to oust Omar Al-Bashir was like “trying to lick your own elbow,” protests quickly spread and intensified, led by student activist groups such as Girifna, meaning “We are fed up.” The movement was co-opted by opposition parties, who turned out hundreds of worshippers at affiliated mosques to demonstrate against the regime.

However, although these demonstrations were larger and persisted for longer than any Sudanese protests had in many years, they began to die out by mid-July and had almost completed dissipated by August. This video shows how Palantir Gotham can be used to integrate news media and other open source data to deliver a comprehensive understanding of major events as they unfold. In this case, we have been able to track the conflict and assess the factors behind the escalation and subsequent de-escalation of unrest in Sudan.