Category Archives: Khartoum Regime

Nerve Gas May Have Been Used Against Protesters

Reports this morning from Omdurman are that the Khartoum Regime used tear gas in heavy quantities against the crowds of protesters and directly into Al-Sayid Abdel Rahman Al-Mahdi Mosque, the epicenter of Friday’s protests. The mosque is the base of the Ansar religious sect affiliated with the opposition National Umma Party (NUP). The Sudan Tribune reports that the government may have used “nerve gas” as well at the mosque.

Police fired tear gas into the mosque as soon as the prayer service ended in an attempt to disperse the crowd quickly. They then used rubber bullets against those who tried to protest the dispersal. The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested many people who were in the area. Maryam Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, NUP member and daughter of the party leader, reports that during the attack on the mosque, the police used a type of

“Nerve gas” that caused paralyses, twitching and suffocation among dozens of worshippers.

Seeking Peaceful Resistance amid Violent Oppression

As the number of refugees flowing into South Sudan continues to increase along with the severity of the famine and drinking water crises in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, protests in Sudan against the Khartoum Regime continue. The government is using tear gas, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition to disperse protests. They are also evidently beating protesters and preventing people from accessing health care. A Standing Committee of Sudanese Physicians press release from June 29 stated that:

We witnessed the police force and large numbers of regime thugs take control of Omdurman ‘s hospital A&E entrance to prevent those injured from gaining access to the admission desk to receive treatment.

Yassir Arman, Secretary General of the SPLM-N, said in a press release from July 5th that:

As of now, more than 1,500 activists are in jail. Some of them are subject to torture including some leaders from the SPLM-N.

Meanwhile, the Khartoum Regime may indeed be allowing some aid into South Kordofan, but only into areas controlled by the regime and only if distributed by organizations supported by the regime. In other words, humanitarian aid is not at all being allowed to reach those most in need, those being attacked by the regime.

The resistance to the regime continues. In Khartoum, the opposition parties have gone to the extent of creating a “Democratic Alternative Charter” that calls for the end of the rule of the regime, but seem to be doing so primarily, if not solely, based upon economic issues and, in particular, the ending of gas subsidies. The parties do not seem to be interested in sharing power with those not in Khartoum.

This brings up more from Yassir Arman’s press release. He stated that:

The SPLM-N and the SRF will continue to support the non-violent and peaceful paths of the uprising. The uprising will continue, and the SRF, in our last meeting, resolved the following: 1) to support and to seriously be involved in the peaceful uprising; 2) to set a mechanism that will enable effective participation of the SRF supporters; 3) to look for a comprehensive alternative with other political forces. Ending the war is a priority that cannot be done without the SRF.

Help Nuba Supports The Peaceful Revolts

A Brief Statement by Help Nuba in Support of the Peaceful Revolts in Sudan

Help Nuba, an organization led by Iowan representatives of the Nuba, Darfur, and South Sudanese communities along with representatives of the UN Association of Iowa, Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian and Episcopal religious and community leaders and a growing number of supporters from around the United States along with members of the Sudanese and South Sudanese communities from around the world, calls on all people of conscience to support the peaceful revolts occurring in Sudan against the oppressive Khartoum Regime which has committed genocide in Darfur and seeks to do so in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile as well.

We stand with those who seek freedom, justice, peace and security in Sudan.

The Economic Crisis in Sudan and Revolution

This week, Sudan offered to admit humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile under certain (unacceptable) conditions, including only allowing organizations approved by the regime to distribute the aid. The conditions for the admittance of aid offered by the Sudanese are clearly both a delaying tactic and a barely veiled attempt to weaken the position of the SPLM-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which have been able not only to hold off the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) but to soundly defeat them on the field of battle.

The Khartoum Regime is facing a slew of crises that are building upon one another.

First, the independence of South Sudan took with it the vast majority of the oil resources.

Second, the battle of Heglig resulted in two major losses for Sudan, even after South Sudan returned control of Heglig to Sudan. The flow of oil out of Heglig from Sudanese sources was greatly reduced due to damage to the installation there and the flow of oil through the pipeline from South Sudan was completely shut off, virtually eliminating the two primary sources of income for Sudan. This has led directly to an even bigger problem.

Third, the resulting economic crisis is forcing changes that do significant damage to the ability of the Khartoum regime to maintain power.

  • It can no longer provide subsidies for gasoline and food that keep the populace happy. It has already eliminated the gasoline subsidy and may be forced to lessen or eliminate food subsidies as well as a result of pressure on the prices due to hyper inflation. It is one thing to offer $2 worth of bread for $1 and something entirely other to offer $10 worth of bread for $1. As the real price increases, the subsidy becomes untenable.
  • It can no longer borrow large sums of money even from China because the fear of hyper inflation is so great that nations are concerned that the loans would not be repaid at all or would be paid back at pennies on the dollar. Without oil flowing through the pipeline, Sudan can’t borrow money.
  • It can no longer support the bureaucracy necessary to maintain a police state. The cost of maintaining a fighting force substantial enough to hold off rebel groups on multiple fronts, maintain a deterring presence on the South Sudanese border in disputed territories, and maintain control in the streets in the center of the country is immense. As the need for police support in the interior of the nation increases, the Khartoum Regime will have no choice but to abandon the periphery or offer significant compromises to the internal opposition groups.

The implications of this choice are profound. The regime has a choice of how to weaken, but not to avoid weakening. It can try to maintain some control by ceding some power to the internal opposition, hoping to quell rioting, or it can risk a complete collapse by defending the periphery while continuing to fight in the center as well. The choice would appear obvious except for one problem.

No matter who will run the country in the near future, there will be overriding economic problems. Let us imagine for a moment that the regime would collapse and the SRF would take over the entire country after a major fight. The nation, emerging from this conflict, would have extremely limited financial resources and millions of people facing food insecurity. The oil industry would take time to build up. The new government would need to devote substantial resources to maintaining security and much of the Arab wealth would flee the country in fear of the new regime. Sudan could become a failed state in rapid fashion with a resulting humanitarian crisis dwarfing the current problems facing the nation.

While there is hope for positive change in Sudan and the revolts occurring right now are a good sign that it might happen. Things could easily take a turn for the worse. This is a regime that has committed genocide already. To imagine that it could not use extreme violence against protesters would be delusional.

The best case scenario at this point would be for the Khartoum regime to willingly go into exile while a regime that includes the SRF, if not one led by the SRF, would work with willing parties in Khartoum to create a peaceful transition of power that allows for immediate and  massive international investment in Sudan and in the border region of South Sudan, enabling the rapid growth of oil related income for the two nations.

Let us hope for a peaceful transition of power that leads to rapid economic growth. Anything else may not be enough for hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan and South Sudan who are already struggling to survive.

Sudan Says that It Accepts Humanitarian Access

Sudan today said that it will accept humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile as long as there are observers from the African Union and Arab League to monitor it. The deal requires the immediate cessation of hostilities. Clearly this is the primary aspect of the agreement. The fact is that the regime cannot continue to fight a losing battle against the Sudan Revolutionary Front in South Kordofan while also facing severe economic troubles and protests in the streets.

It may well be necessary for there to be a ceasefire in the south so as to allow humanitarian access to save the tens of thousands of people whose lives are in jeopardy, but it is also clear that Sudan could not in the near term return to full scale combat readiness. The Sudanese government will need to shift finances from military to domestic spending and once that shift takes place, the SAF will be worse off against the SRF than it is today. This is great news if it actually happens, that Sudan lets in humanitarian aid, but even if it does not, the very fact that it is considering doing so is an indication that the resolve and ability of the regime to maintain its previous policies is significantly weakened.

Opposition Calls for Overthrow of Khartoum Regime

Growing dissatisfaction with austerity measures imposed by the administration of Omar Bashir’s government, opposition parties are calling for the overthrow the government. Students are protesting in large numbers in the streets shouting, “The people want to overthrow the regime!” The opposition parties and rebels groups in Sudan separately made similar calls yesterday. According to the Sudan Tribune:

The opposition forces say the austerity plan announced by the government did not affect the huge budgets of the army, police, security apparatus, and sovereign sector which acquire 70% of wages and salaries line or 56% of the whole 2012 budget.

This is not only the sign of a regime in severe economic difficulties, it is the sign of a regime on the verge of collapse. Governments cannot abandon care for the general needs of their population. Further, it is clear that Sudan’s ability to continue fighting, much less to improve its capabilities on the battlefield through increased military spending, are non-existent.

Ahmed Hussein Adam, the foreign relations secretary of the Darfur based rebel group known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that:

What is happening in Sudan these days is the beginning of a true revolution.

Media Silenced in Sudan

The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Sudan told three Sudanese newspapers on Sunday not to distribute their print runs. According to the Sudan Tribune:

The privately-owned dailies Al-Ahdath, Al-Watan and Al-Jarida received orders from the NISS not to distribute their print run on Sunday without giving them any reasons.

The newspapers have been instructed not to report on interactions with rebel leaders from Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile or with South Sudanese officials. It would appear that the Khartoum regime is also unhappy with reports about the removal of fuel subsidies or criticism of the National Congress Party (NCP).

The absence of a free press in Sudan and the expulsion of NGOs operating the regions of conflict make it even more difficult to obtain information about the situations in the border regions and easier for the Khartoum regime to worsen the abuse of their populations. Problematically for the regime, however, is the fact that this type of action also gives the internal opposition the ability to argue that the NCP is simply doing this to hide information that would benefit them politically, something that may well be true in this case. In the context of protests called about rising prices in Sudan, the NCP may have felt compelled to try to silence the media.