Category Archives: Sudan Revolts

Update on the Uprising

As has been the case on no few occasions over the years, when one wants to know what is going on in Sudan, one simply needs to go to Eric Reeves’ website. Reeves offered a comprehensive analysis of the events ongoing in Sudan in an article published on Saturday. Here, I would like to offer a brief summary for those without the time to access Reeves’ more extensive one.

Sudan’s economy is in shambles. The NCP government has been forced to eliminate subsidies on fuel. The protests currently ongoing are directly in response to that action, but indirectly are the result of an unsustainable situation. Subsidies were based upon sales of the oil now belonging to South Sudan. Sudan simply does not have the income to maintain them any longer.

Neither can the NCP regime continue indefinitely to fund the police state necessary to maintain order with a population becoming increasingly hostile. Subsidies help to keep the population content. The police apparatus keeps the lid on rebellion. With failure of subsidies AND a weakening ability to fund the police apparatus, the regime cannot endure. The pending economic collapse will accelerate if subsidies are reinstated. The government simply cannot afford to fund it any longer.

Eric Reeve’s summed up the situation well:

There is no exit for the regime, not after years of gross mismanagement of the economy, endemic graft, massive self-enrichment, misguided spending priorities, and a vast and expensive system of political patronage.  The value of the Sudanese pound will fall even faster; the cost of imports will grow at a devastating rate; inflation will accelerate, though not with the precipitous nature of the nearly 100 percent increase in the price of fuel and cooking oil that has been experienced over the past six days. Reinstating subsidies would also ensure that the IMF abandons the regime.

There is no way to predict which way al-Bashir will jump; but if he remains committed to “confrontation,” we may be sure that it will be bloody and may well be long, given the nature of the response already in evidence.

We can expect the situation in Sudan to continue to deteriorate so long as the Bashir regime remains in power.

The Only Thing Necessary

Edmond Burke said:

The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

The problem we face today is that good men are more than willing to speak and far less than willing to do. They look at Syria and say, “Look at the dead children in white sheets! Stop!” and they look at Sudan, if they look at Sudan at all, and sounding like Dr. Seuss’ Once-ler say, “Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!” but they do nothing and let the Once-ler go on making thneeds – ruining the world, or in the case of Sudan, go on killing innocents. Today there is rebellion in the streets of Sudan and rebellion in Syria. The best we can do is to suggest to immoral murderous dictators that we would rather they not kill?

One could make the argument that in Syria we see only bad options. There is the regime of Assad on the one hand, an ally of our enemy Iran, who has used chemical weapons against his own people, and on the other hand, rebels led by Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, not exactly our friends.

In Sudan, perhaps believing that the Sudan Revolutionary Front SRF is not capable of rising to power at this point, we see only the regime of Omar Bashir or another terrible option. This perception of Sudan would be grossly in error. The SRF can lead and how can we allow a regime we already know to be genocidal to remain in power if we have any option to end their reign?

But we spend our time searching for good options, for allies, as a dowser searches for water, blindly hoping, pretending that we will simply come upon them. In so wandering aimlessly, we let evil triumph again and again.

In what scenario in Syria now will evil not triumph; if we allow the choice to be between Assad and Al Qaeda? In what scenario in Sudan will evil not triumph; if we allow the choice to be between Bashir and a failed state? Our obligation is not only to try to choose the better of evils, but to try to create non-evil options if we can. We must DO something or evil will certainly flourish.

There is no concern that America will not speak out about perceived evils around the world. We have quite a set of pipes! The question is whether or not we will act to stop the evils. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has a simple motto which more than aptly applies:

What you DO matters!

Protesters in Nyala Attacked and Killed

Radio Dabanga reports that a protest against rising commodity prices in the Southern Darfur city of Nyala was met by teargas and gun fire. Medical authorities report eight killed and fifty wounded, nine of whom are in critical condition. The killed include one child, six students, and a businessman according to the report. The students had, during the course of the protest, attacked and burned two police stations, a gas station, and the administration of education building in Nyala. Other reports insist that there were many more casualties in Nyala so the figures may change.

The news from Nyala comes on a day when reports have been received from people in Blue Nile of bombardment of civilian areas. Help Nuba received a report that the SPLM/N spokesperson Arnu Nugutulu stated that the Sudan Armed Forces carried out air strikes in several places that led to the killing and injuring of approximately 14 people. Antonovs dropped 37 bombs on the villages of Aura, Baleila, Magaf, Aneeli and Dakka resulting in the death of three people and injuring eleven others. In addition to that, there is a loss of 30 cattle.

A Sickeningly Happy Smile

I don’t know about you, but I feel sick when I look at the picture of Omar Bashir’s beaming smile as he shakes hands with Salva Kiir. Bashir looks like a child who has just been told that if he shakes this man’s hand, he gets to go to Disney World. I can’t help but wonder how either man could smile at the other, much less beaming like that. Bashir is a war criminal.

Then again, looking at the situation in which both men find themselves, if they have made any progress toward an oil transfer agreement, how they can smile might actually be understandable. South Sudan’s economy is in a shambles and is only deteriorating faster as the days pass and oil does not flow. Without oil flowing, right now South Sudan is closer to becoming a failed state than prospering one. Salva Kiir is in jeopardy of becoming the leader who ran South Sudan out of business.

But Sudan is not much better off. It’s economy is in a free fall and subsidies which were essential in placating the masses so that they would not rise up against the Khartoum Regime have had to be removed. There are mass protests in the streets. Foreign governments and investors would not think about investing in Sudan or even loaning it money. In addition to the protests, rebel groups in the west, south, and east all are challenging it and the ones in the south are fighting, fairly successfully, for control over the last oil reserves the nation possesses. Opposition parties have gained enough momentum to publicly challenge the ruling party and there is for the first time in a long time, a reasonable hope for regime change.

Thus, the smile, that sickeningly happy smile.

Peace and a renewed flow of oil solve the major problems that both men face. Sudan needs it badly. South Sudan is probably in as good a negotiating position as it could hope for. Khartoum can’t afford to delay the opening of the spigot. So, a tentative agreement that allows the oil to flow.

“We’ll deal with the border region later. No one attack the other. We both need the money.” That is the obvious discussion. Mutual butt-saving.

In South Sudan, Salva Kiir will be able to fulfill promises for his suffering people and things will dramatically improve. Peace will bring massive investment and growth. The economy in the South could boom. The people will be vastly better off in the short run especially. Kiir’s butt saved.

But this will certainly put a damper on change in Sudan. The Khartoum Regime will strengthen. The inevitable collapse will not merely be delayed for a bit, but perhaps it will no longer be inevitable at all. Bashir’s butt saved.

The return of subsidies will quell demonstrations. In Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Eastern Sudan, there will be a newly strengthened Sudanese Armed Forces and police presence. Opposition leaders will suddenly become silent, at least the ones who do not go missing. Things could get a lot worse.

I know that it is a stretch to read to much into the smile of a consummate liar, but I just get the feeling that he’s not lying. Bashir seems genuinely happy. That makes me sick.

Appeasing the Opposition and the Politics of Bread

A little under two weeks ago, I wrote that with the economic crisis and ongoing protests in Sudan that:

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 regime seems now to have made a choice. I has chosen to cede some power to the internal opposition. According to an article in the Sudan Tribune, the regime is seeking “alternation of power.” I am not sure if what is implied is an alteration of the current standing of the minority parties or a true alternation of power with the National Congress Party NCP at some point not being in charge. I cannot at this point envision the latter as being a primary option at this point for the regime.

It is not insignificant that in addition to discussing changes in the distribution of power that the regime is strengthening discussion of creating an new Islamic constitution. This was discussed in March and caused discord among the opposition because the Popular Congress Party PCP is in favor of it along with the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood, but the National Consensus Forces NCF saw it for what it is, a way to splinter the opposition so that the regime can maintain power. The PCP at the time backed down when the NCF accused the regime of:

Forging an alliance with “religious fanatics” in order to prolong its rule of “tyranny”.

Al-Turabi, as leader of the PCP, has distanced himself and his party from these discussions, but clearly this is a carrot being offered by the NCP in an attempt to split the internal opposition. The question is whether or not it will be accepted.

Meanwhile, Sudan is now facing both a bread shortage and significant inflation of food prices. People are now having to stand in long lines for bread in Khartoum. The regime reversed a decision to lift subsidies on wheat which would have immediately increased the cost of wheat by over 50%, something recommended by the minister of finance in order avoid economic catastrophe.

The regime is facing calamity and has very few options left with which to stave it off. It simply cannot continue to fund the military and police to the extent it has been doing so while its people starve, but neither can it continue to subsidize the cost of food substantially.  The fact that the regime has chosen not to be fiscally responsible out of fear of strengthening the rebellion will lead to a downgrading of its credit and a diminishing ability to address financial concerns going forward. Sudan is heading for a cliff with a deteriorating ability to turn away.

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.

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.