Tag Archives: Khartoum

An Israeli Strike on Sudan’s Weapons Factory

There are conflicting reports about what happened overnight at the Yarmouk weapons factory just south of Khartoum.  The Sudan Tribune reports that Sudanese officials are denying reports that any foreign entity was involved and that the explosion was occurred during routine maintenance of the facility. However, the Times of Israel quotes Minister of Information Ahmed Belal Osman as saying that four aircraft coming from the east struck the facility. The Sudanese minister is quoted as saying that Sudan believes that Israel carried out the attack and that Sudan may seek to take the matter to the UN Security Council.

Weaponry from China and Iran is evidently stored and distributed from Yarmouk in addition to whatever weaponry the factory produces itself. It is entirely possible that Israel did indeed strike the factory. Israel has said nothing about the matter, its usual response to such questions.

Some might ask, why would Israel strike Sudan? It is possible that at least some of the weaponry that reaches the Gaza strip originate in Sudan. Iranian weapons delivered to Sudan could be destined for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or others in Gaza. Considering the rocket barrages now faced by Israel and the recent cross border attacks against Israeli soldiers, it is entirely possible that Israel chose to strike at the source of the weaponry used. We will likely never know.

The extent of the damage at the factory is unknown at this time.

UPDATE*****November 25, 2012

We now firmly believe that Israel did in fact strike the complex in order to take out 40 shipping containers most likely filled with long range rockets destined for Gaza. Iranian ships docked at the Port of Sudan only a few days after the strike and were likely there to transport the weaponry to the Sinai Peninsula where they would be smuggled into Gaza. Here are a few articles that add more details.

From J.E. Dyer on October 24

From the Guardian Newspaper citing the Satellite Sentinel Project on October 27

Fiddling While Sudan Burns

Furious is the word that best describes the reaction to efforts made by the United Nations, African Union, United States and Europe to improve the economic state of Sudan even as it continues to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching hundreds of thousands of people in the Nuba Mountains. The international community is so focused on prevention of fighting between Sudan and South Sudan that it has chosen to wholly abandon the demand of requiring Sudan to allow humanitarian access into rebel held areas of South Kordofan and is actively counteracting its own sanctions regimes against the genocidal government of Sudan by promoting investment. This insanity must cease!

How is it reasonable to claim to maintain sanctions on the government of Sudan while holding a conference in Vienna that seeks to promote investment in that very nation? How is it reasonable to demand that South Sudan transport oil through Sudan’s pipeline to the tune of billions of dollars worth of income for Sudan, while claiming to maintain sanctions as the United States is currently doing? The answer is that it is not reasonable at all. By doing these actions, the United States, European nations, the United Nations and African Union are all enabling the government of Omar Bashir to continue functioning, to continue to abuse, oppress, and murder the citizens of the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, and Blue Nile.

Whether or not Nero fiddled while Rome burned as the statement goes, concern about Sudan should not be for propping up a faltering genocidal dictator facing a very appropriate rebellion in his nation, but for aiding those who are being harmed by Bashir’s government. The United States and its allies in Europe need to change the tune they are playing on Sudan and play something that uplifts not just the mood of the people but lifts their very lives from the brink of oblivion. We cannot afford to fiddle around. Let’s Help Nuba, the people of Blue Nile, and the people are Darfur put the fire out and let us do it now.

Americans Exerted “Extreme Presure”

According to South Sudan’s Chief Negotiator, Pagan Amum:

It is true that the Government of South Sudan and the negotiating team, including myself personally as a chief negotiator were subjected to extreme pressure from the Americans, British, the Norwegians…and they were forcing us to give away the resources of South Sudan.

This is according to an article in the Sudan Tribune. Amum further accused the international community of siding against South Sudan on borders as well as oil. The South Sudanese Chief Negotiator continued saying that:

They were telling us…if Khartoum is taking your oil, let them take it. Continue to pump the oil. [But] When we told them the people of South Sudan have the right to own their resources and if Khartoum is taking their oil, then we will stop the flow, they said no, no.

Worse, the deal has now turned South Sudan into a major donor to Khartoum. South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar, stated that the deal ” has unfortunately left a huge gap of oil revenues lost to Khartoum.” According to Vice President Machar:

South Sudan will continue to lose 17% of its total oil revenues every year for the next three and a half years.

Additionally:

South Sudan will also lose $4.97 billion of debt relief which Khartoum owed South Sudan, but is now pardoned per the agreement. There will also be an additional cash grant of $3.03 billion to be paid by South Sudan to Khartoum to improve on its economy.

Thus, it appears to be the case that the genocidal actions of the Khartoum regime are totally irrelevant and that the international community, including the United States government, is working hard to support the continued strength of the murderous and tyrannical Khartoum regime by ensuring needing cash flows while negotiating against the interests of the democratic and free nation of South Sudan. If Pagan Amum and Riek Machar’s statements are remotely trustworthy, IN-justice has been served.

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.

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 Revolts – The Khartoum Uprising is Gaining Strength

Significant clashes took place between protesters and police yesterday in the regional capitals of Madani and Al-Obayid, but also in the capital of Khartoum, where protests have been limited in size and primarily involved students. The police have thus far responded with the use of tear gas. The regime is trying to play down the protests by arguing that it is no big deal that university students are protesting. However, the Sudan Tribune reported that:

According to many witnesses, Friday’s protests were perhaps the most serious in the nation’s history since NCP took power 23 years ago.

Right now, it is fairly easy for the Khartoum regime to believe that the protests are primarily a response to the austerity measures put in place and that they will be weak and fleeting. Without the backing of the military, protests alone have little chance of success, even with international condemnation of efforts to quell them by the military. However, should the regime choose to employ significant violence, it could result in isolation from the African Union and Arab League.

What would change the situation substantially is if the military would change sides. This is much more likely to occur when soldiers are ordered to commit atrocities against civilians. Yet, this regime has already given those orders repeatedly. This is a regime that has committed genocide against segments of its own population and that is actively trying to starve hundreds of thousands of people now. The regime is likely to become more violent if it feels a real threat of collapse. Would there be any doubt that the leaders of the regime would face death in the aftermath of a successful revolt?

As the revolt continues, so will the violence increase. Not to be forgotten will be the millions of people who will be in danger of starvation, who will face severe health problems, and who will have weak governmental structures in place, if any at all, to aid them in the midst of the fighting. Hundreds of thousands are already in jeopardy of starvation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Help Nuba!