sudan pulling the brink

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sudan pulling the brink

Sudan is on the threshold of disaster. On June 3, paramilitary forces opened fire on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Khartoum, killing over 100 people and injuring hundreds more. Now, the hope of a smooth transition to civilian rule gives way to fear that the country will go the way of Yemen, Syria and Libya.

There are a few weeks, the army seemed to be the demonstrators. In April, after months of protests against President Omar al-Bashir, the army forced him to resign Bashir. The commander of the quick support forces (RSF) gVirt_NP_NN_NNPS < gVirt_NP_NN_NNPS < paramilitary General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (better known as Hemeti), even claimed that he had refused an order by Bashir to open fire on protesters.

The Bashir regime, in power for nearly 30 years, was replaced by the Transitional Military Council (TMC), led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, with Hemeti as his deputy. But the protests continued, maintaining demanding a transition to civilian rule. This led TMC to initiate negotiations with representatives of the Association of Sudanese professionals, who led the protests.

These negotiations were initially promising, but their tone changed abruptly after Burhan and Hemeti return visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – countries that had supported the regime of Bashir. There would be plenty of money on the table for the generals – who have particularly close links with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE – if they consolidate power and avoid a political opening.

The Saudis and Emiratis have several objectives. They hope to avoid a democratic precedent for the region, make a lot of foot soldiers for their wars in Yemen and elsewhere, secure access to fertile farmland, and a foothold in the geo-strategically sensitive Horn of Africa. Their tactics are not new: in 2013, they supported a bloody crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Cairo by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who became the de facto leader of Egypt after a coup military removed the democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi from power.

But as the repression in Cairo and the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pursuing a flawed and shortsighted strategy in Sudan. Certainly Burhan and Hemeti can ensure that Sudanese troops continue to arrive in Yemen. But the massacre RSF to Khartoum from over war crimes in Darfur earlier, effectively prevent the Sudanese people – and the international community – to always accept the rule of TMC. Moreover, channeling money to the army of Sudan will do nothing to address the grievances driving social unrest.

These grievances are partly economic. Decades of mismanagement meant that the economy could not withstand the decline in oil revenues after South Sudan (home to 75% of the oil reserves of Sudan) gained independence in 2011. During the last five years the government had to cut public spending to 18% of GDP to a paltry 10% today. Military spending now accounts for at least 30% of the public budget Sudan. In 2018, Gulf foreign support loss triggered a massive devaluation of the currency, causing inflation to soar to 70%.

But the protesters’ complaints are also political. Large sections of the population aspire to democracy and the rule of law. They are tired of watching the successive governments funnel benefits to a small group of Northern tribes who looted the rest of the country, in alliance with the security forces and business crony.

As these complaints persist, so will the instability. In fact, for the past 50 years, Sudanese resisted the violent rule of the government. Darfur and the Nuba mountains to the west and south of the Blue Nile in the east, violent conflicts continue to rage.

The attack on RSF will exacerbate that fight. Already, protesters rejected an offer by the TMC to reopen negotiations, and called for civil disobedience until the military regime falls. It is difficult to see how South

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