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.
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!
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.
Posted in Khartoum, Khartoum Regime, Sudan, Sudan Revolts, Uncategorized
Tagged bashir, Bread, Food Prices, Inflation, Khartoum, NCF, ncp, Opposition, PCP, Subsidy, Sudan, Sudan Revolts, Wheat Subsidy
From Peace Prize to Paralysis
Published: June 9, 2012
IN THE NUBA MOUNTAINS, Sudan
Kristof writes : “This [ the Khartoum regime] is a regime whose leader has been charged with genocide, has destabilized the region, has sponsored brutal proxy warlords like Joseph Kony, has presided over the deaths of more than 2.5 million people in southern Sudan, in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains — and the Obama administration doesn’t want him overthrown?
In addition, the administration has consistently tried to restrain the rebel force here, led by Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu, a successful commander who has lived in America and projects moderation. The rebels are itching to seize the South Kordofan state capital, Kadugli, but say that Washington is discouraging them. … Abdel Aziz … seemed mystified that American officials try to shield a genocidal government whose army is, he thinks, crumbling.”
“In both Syria and Sudan, the Obama administration seems stuck behind the curve.”
“In Sudan, we should disable the military runways that bombers take off from to attack civilians in the Nuba Mountains, or destroy an Antonov bomber and make clear that we’ll do the same to others if Sudan continues to bomb its people. Then we should support efforts by private aid groups to bring food and seed into the Nuba Mountains, by airdrops in this rainy season when roads are impassible.’