Category Archives: Khartoum Regime

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.

SPLM-N Seeks a Humanitarian Ceasefire

The SPLM-N would like to sign a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Of course, the Khartoum Regime will not agree to this because it has been working hard to create the famine in the first place by bombing civilians working in fields and making it impossible to plant crops. The regime in fact, believes that it can force the SPLM-N to disarm by creating such a horrendous famine that the SPLM-N will lay down its arms in the hope of bringing relief to the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Meanwhile, the international community has thus far refused to place enough pressure upon Khartoum to relent and to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered or to work toward sending that aid through South Sudan into the region. Famine and the rainy season are the friends of Khartoum. Those who wish to deliver humanitarian aid to the starving civilians are their enemies.

Sudan Expels Aid Groups from Eastern Sudan

Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) has ordered the seven aid groups working in eastern Sudan in the states of Kassala, Red Sea, and Gadaref to suspend their work. HAC’s primary job is to protect the regime from criticism. It is not primarily interested in helping to fix the problems caused by the overwhelming centralization of power and resources by the Khartoum Regime or allowing to be fixed by anyone else.

As the humanitarian organizations are working to remedy problems largely caused by the Khartoum Regime or whose remedies are impeded by the Khartoum Regime, it would not be surprising that they would point out the inadequacies of the Khartoum Regime in their work and potentially to recommend changes.

What all of the “marginalized” peoples of Sudan and South Sudan need to understand is that the cause of their problems is ultimately the same, the Khartoum Regime does not care about them and will not allow their lives to improve substantially at the expense of the Khartoum Regime if it can at all be avoided.