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PLO: US puts pressure on Sudan to settle Palestine refugees

MEMO | September 28, 2020

The United States is putting pressure on Sudan to accept settling Palestine refugees on its soil, member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Bassam Al-Salhi, was reported saying by Anadolu yesterday.

“Special sources told me that the ongoing normalisation talks between Washington, Israel and Sudan include Sudan’s possibility to resettle [Palestine] refugees on its soil as part of the deal of the century,” Al-Salhi said, in reference to the US ‘peace deal’ for the region.

He stated that “this is part of the conspiracy against the Palestinian cause,” stressing the issue between Israel and Sudan goes beyond the normalisation of ties.

The PLO official called on Sudan “to reject being dragged into these American-Israeli plans in order to maintain its interests and future.”

Resettling Palestine refugees had been raised dozens of times by Israel and the US mainly in Egypt and other host countries; however, Al-Salhi said, proposing to resettle them in Sudan is new.

Sudan did not issue an immediate comment on the remarks, but the country’s officials have several times denied reports about the possible normalisation of ties with Israel despite several meetings between Sudanese and Israeli officials.

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

US asks Sudan to normalize ties with Israel in return for coming off terror list

Press TV – September 26, 2020

The United States is pressing Sudan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in return for removal of the Northeast African country from a US list of states that sponsor terrorism.

Three Sudanese government officials familiar with the matter, however, told Reuters news agency on Thursday that Khartoum is resisting the linkage of the two issues.

“Sudan has completed all the necessary conditions” an official said on condition of anonymity. “We expect to be removed from the list soon.”

Back in 1993, the US designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, cutting it off from financial markets and strangling its economy over allegations that the government of former longtime leader Omar al-Bashir was supporting “terrorism.”

Sudan’s interim government took power last year after Bashir was overthrown by the army following mass popular protests. It is set to remain in office until elections in 2022.

Sudanese officials argue that their country’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism is now undeserved as Bashir’s regime has been toppled, and Sudan has cooperated with the US on counter-terrorism ever since.

Earlier this week, US officials indicated during talks with Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, that they want Khartoum to follow the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain in establishment of ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

“Sudan made clear to the American side that there is no relationship between removing Sudan from the terror list and exploring relations with Israel,” another Sudanese government source stated.

Even if a normalization deal is struck between Sudan and Israel, the US Congress must still pass a necessary legislation to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity.

Sudan wants the legislation passed before it reaches a $335 million financial settlement with victims of al-Qaeda terror attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Sudan’s lawyers in the United States said it had already paid an additional $72 million to victims of the families of 17 US sailors, who were killed during an attack on the USS Cole while it was docked in Yemen’s Aden Port in 2000. The attack was apparently sponsored by slain al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden who was living in Sudan prior to the attack.

“We want to ensure the passing of the immunity law so that we can put an end to the settlements matter,” a Sudanese official said.

In February, Sudan’s ruling council head Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan met with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda, sparking anger among politicians and public at home, where anti-Israel and pro-Palestine sentiments run high.

Sudan has been widely tipped to be the next Arab country that would normalize ties with Israel after the UAE and Bahrain agreed to do so as part of US-brokered agreements.

Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani during an official ceremony hosted by US President Donald Trump at the White House on September 15.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital view the deals as betrayal of their cause.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas protested the normalization deals with Israel, saying they will be fruitless as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation and refuse to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Kuwait reiterates unswerving support for Palestinian cause, nation

Meanwhile, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid Al Sabah highlighted on Friday that his country firmly supports Palestinians in their struggle to achieve their inalienable rights and to establish an independent sovereign state with Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Addressing the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sabah emphasized that “the Palestinian cause still has a central, historical and pivotal place in our Arab and Muslim worlds.”

He noted that Kuwait’s principled and firm position is to support the Palestinian people in their struggle to obtain their legitimate rights.

The Kuwaiti prime minister then underscored the significance of resumption of so-called peace negotiations between Palestinians and the Israeli regime, stating that the talks should bring an end to the Israeli occupation and lead to creation of an independent Palestinian state on the borders before June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Bahraini regime forces arrest poet critical of normalization with Israel

Separately, Bahraini regime forces have arrested a literary figure after he criticized the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom’s normalization with the Israeli regime.

Bahraini activists said the forces arrested the poet Abdul Hussein Ahmed Ali, days after he published a poem in condemnation of the deal, the Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror news website reported.

“I am not flattering to those who speak this day … Let them hear my words far and wide … Bahrainis are proud, honorable and noble, and do not accept the pledge of allegiance to a criminal and a perpetrator,” a part of the poem read.

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sudan: US conditioning removal from terror list on normalisation with Israel

MEMO | September 7, 2020

The United States (US) has conditioned Sudan’s removal from a list of states sponsors of terrorism on its normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel, Sudanese Foreign Minister, Omer Ismail, announced yesterday.

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo combined, during his visit to Khartoum in late August, the two files of the normalisation and the removal of Sudan from the terror list,” Ismail told local Al-Tayyar newspaper, adding that it was “important to fulfil defined conditions for normalisation, even if it is the will of Sudan.”

He stressed that his country’s transitional government did not have the “authority to make such a decision [to normalise ties with Israel],” referring to remarks made by the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok during Pompeo’s recent visit to Khartoum.

Sudan has been widely tipped to be the next Arab country that would normalise ties with Israel after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to do so as part of a US-brokered agreement in mid-August.

September 7, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Sudan PM to Pompeo: Government has no mandate to normalize with Israel

Press TV – August 26, 2020

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has dashed America’s hopes for quick normalization with Israel, saying his government has no mandate to establish ties with Tel Aviv and any such a decision should wait until after the transitional period ends in the African country.

During talks in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday, Hamdok “clarified” to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the country’s transitional period “is being led by a wide alliance with a specific agenda — to complete the transition, achieve peace and stability in the country and hold free elections,” Sudanese government spokesman Faisal Saleh said in a statement.

It “does not have a mandate beyond these tasks or to decide on normalization with Israel,” Hamdok was quoted as saying.

The Sudanese prime minister also reaffirmed the importance of separating normalization of ties from a US decision to remove Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, Saleh pointed out.

Sudan’s interim government took power last year after longtime leader Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by the army following mass popular protests. It is set to remain in office until elections in 2022.

Pompeo arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday to push for Sudan’s normalization with Israel, two weeks after the US brokered a highly contentious peace deal between the regime and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Following the talks, the US State Department said in a statement that Pompeo and Hamdok discussed “positive developments in the Sudan-Israel relationship.”

Sudan which has no formal relations with Israel has been cozying up to the regime over the past year.

In February, Sudan’s leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the chairman of the ruling council in the country, met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Uganda, sparking anger among politicians and the public at home, where anti-Israel and pro-Palestine sentiments run high.

After the US announced the UAE-Israel deal, Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Haidar Badawi Sadiq said in an interview with Sky News Arabic that “there is no reason for the hostility to continue between Sudan and Israel,” in comments that drew Netanyahu’s praise and raised speculation that Khartoum may be the next in line to normalize with Tel Aviv.

The Sudanese official was, however, sacked shortly afterwards over “unauthorized” comments, with Sudanese Foreign Minister Omer Ismail saying that his ministry “didn’t discuss the possibility of relations with Israel in any way.”

Palestinians have derided the UAE’s decision to normalize with Israel as “backstabbing,” with President Mahmoud Abbas warning other Arab countries against following Abu Dhabi’s lead.

Pompeo in Bahrain to talk normalization

Pompeo visited the Israeli-occupied territories before arrival in Sudan.

Later on Tuesday, Pompeo left Sudan for Bahrain as part of a tour aimed at getting more Arab countries to follow in the UAE’s footsteps.

Palestinians have denounced the agreement as a “betrayal” of their cause.

Meanwhile, there are reports that an Israeli delegation and top aides to US President Donald Trump will fly together on board an Israeli airliner directly from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on Monday for talks on cementing UAE-Israel normalization deal.

Netanyahu said in a video statement that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, US Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and other US officials will escort the Israeli delegation led by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

A high-ranking US administration official confirmed the participation of Kushner, O’Brien and Berkowitz, and said former US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook would also be on the flight.

Talks will focus on ways to promote Israeli-UAE cooperation in various sectors, Netanyahu added.

August 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Pompeo Lands in Sudan to Push Normalization with Israel

Palestine Chronicle | August 25, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Sudan on Tuesday on a tour urging more Arab countries to normalize ties with Israel, following the US-brokered Israel-UAE agreement.

Pompeo, the first American top diplomat to visit Sudan since 2005, arrived on a historic “first official non-stop flight” from Tel Aviv, he tweeted from the plane.

Israel remains technically at war and has no formal diplomatic relations with Sudan, which for years supported hardline Islamist forces under its former strongman Omar al-Bashir.

But its new transitional government has vowed to break with the Bashir era following his ouster last year amid popular pro-democracy protests.

Pompeo was to meet Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sovereign Council Chair General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to discuss continued US support for the civilian-led transitional government “and express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship”, the State Department said.

Sudan, which has launched sweeping social and political reforms, now hopes Washington will soon take it off its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism as it seeks to fully re-integrate into the international community.

Closer ties with US ally Israel would help, and both sides have already taken a series of steps, muddied however by mixed messaging from Sudan.

The Pompeo visit comes as Sudan is in deep economic crisis — having suffered decades-long US sanctions and the 2011 secession of the country’s oil-rich south.

Grappling with high inflation and the coronavirus pandemic, the country badly needs to attract more foreign aid and investment.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Sudan parties reject normalising ties with Israel

MEMO | August 24, 2020

Sudan’s Ba’ath and Popular Congress parties have rejected any attempt to normalise ties with Israel, considering it an occupation power in Palestine, Quds Press reported yesterday.

Both parties said in a joint statement issued on Saturday that “Israel is an occupation state that occupies beloved Palestine.”

They stressed that “it is impossible and it is not right to normalise relations with the Israeli occupation state.”

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Communist party declared its opposition to the normalisation of ties with Israel, reiterating its support for Palestinian rights and principles.

These statements came following remarks made by the former spokesman of the Sudanese Exterior Ministry Haidar Badawi who said that his country is looking forward to normalising ties with Israel.

The ministry denied his remarks and sacked him.

However, the Deputy Head of Sudan Sovereignty Council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has recently met with a senior Israeli official in the UAE and discussed promoting his country’s relations with Israel.

 This comes just weeks after US President Donald Trump announced a peace deal between the UAE and Israel brokered by Washington.

Abu Dhabi said the deal was an effort to stave off Tel Aviv’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, however, opponents believe normalisation efforts have been in the offing for many years as Israeli officials have made official visits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country which had no diplomatic or other ties with the occupation state.

Netanyahu repeated on 17 August that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.

READ ALSO: Sudan’s foreign policy is in question following the revelation of secret talks with Israel

August 24, 2020 Posted by | Zionism | , | 1 Comment

US Supreme Court heaps more damages on Sudan in embassy bombing cases

MEMO | May 18, 2020

The US Supreme Court dealt a legal setback to Sudan on Monday, ruling that the African nation cannot avoid punitive damages in lawsuits accusing it of complicity in the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

Siding with hundreds of people hurt and relatives of people killed in the bombings, the justices ruled 8-0 to throw out a lower court’s 2017 decision that had freed Sudan from punitive damages awarded in the litigation in addition to about $6 billion in compensatory damages. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the case.

The case hinged on the Supreme Court’s view of a 2008 amendment to a federal law known as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act allowing for punitive damages. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2017 upheld Sudan’s liability but ruled that the amendment was made after the bombings occurred and could not be applied retroactively.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in Monday’s ruling that for claims made under federal law, “Congress was as clear as it could have been when it authorized plaintiffs to seek and win punitive damages for past conduct.”

The ruling also ordered the D.C. Circuit to reconsider its decision that the foreign plaintiffs who sued Sudan under state law in the United States also could not seek punitive damages.

Starting in 2001, groups of plaintiffs sued in federal court in Washington under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally bars claims against foreign countries except those designated by the United States as state sponsors of terrorism – as Sudan was in 1993. A federal judge found Sudan liable and awarded the plaintiffs $10.2 billion, including $4.3 in punitive damages.

Sudan has faced a deepening economic crisis since the 2019 overthrow of its longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

President Donald Trump’s administration had urged the justices to side with the plaintiffs who sued Sudan.

Twelve Americans were killed in the August 7, 1998, attacks. The lawsuits involve 567 people, mostly non-US citizens who were employees of the US government and their relatives.

The damages had been imposed by default because for most of the litigation Sudan did not appear before a lower court to counter accusations that it harbored and provided support to the Islamist militant group al Qaeda. Sudan denied the allegations.

The truck bombs that detonated outside the embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania marked the first large-scale al Qaeda attack.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Sudan to Compensate Families of USS Cole Victims

teleSUR | February 13, 2020

The new Sudanese government has agreed to compensate the families of sailors killed in an Al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole warship 20 years ago, state news agency SUNA said on Thursday, part of government efforts to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The report said the settlement had been signed on Feb. 7. It did not mention the amount paid in compensation, but a source with knowledge of the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Sudan had agreed to settle the case for $30 million.

The 17 sailors were killed, and dozens of others injured, in the attack on Oct. 12, 2000, when two men in a small boat detonated explosives alongside the Navy guided missile destroyer as it was refueling in the southern Yemeni port of Aden.

Khartoum agreed to settle “only for the purpose of fulfilling the condition set by the U.S. administration to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism”, SUNA said, citing the justice ministry.

Being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism makes Sudan ineligible for desperately needed debt relief and financing from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Removal from the list potentially opens the door for foreign investment.

“The government of Sudan would like to point out that the settlement agreement explicitly affirmed that the government was not responsible for this incident or any terrorist act,” the justice ministry said in its statement, cited by SUNA said.

The announcement comes two days after Khartoum and rebel groups agreed that all those wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide in the Darfur region should appear before the tribunal. The list includes Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

The U.S. sailors’ relatives had sued Sudan under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally bars suits against foreign countries except those designated by the United States as a sponsor of terrorism, as Sudan has been since 1993.

Sudan did not defend against the claims in court. In 2014, a trial judge found that Sudan’s aid to al Qaeda “led to the murders” of the 17 Americans and awarded the families about $35 million, including $14 million in punitive damages.

Sudan then tried to void the judgment, arguing the lawsuit was not properly served on its foreign minister, violating notification requirements under U.S. and international law.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down the bid by the families last year.

February 13, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan closing Hamas, Hezbollah offices to rebuild US ties

MEMO | December 17, 2019

In an attempt to re-establish ties with the US and to lift sanctions imposed on it, Sudan is set to shut the offices of the Hamas and Hezbollah resistance movements in the country, both defined as terrorist organisations by America, according to a source cited by Middle East Eye (MEE).

The decision follows Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok’s visit to Washington earlier in the month. Hamdok became the first leader of Sudan to visit America since 1985 and he held talks aimed at bridging the relationship between the two states after years of sanctions and international isolation, especially with Sudan being placed on the US list of states sponsors of terrorism after hosting former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the nineties.

Post-revolutionary Sudan witnessed the ousting of long-term President Omar Al-Bashir who is currently serving a two-year sentence on charges of corruption, and the inauguration of the country’s first civilian prime minister in three decades. Hamdok has argued for the necessity of Sudan being removed from the US’ blacklist citing the need to improve the economic situation, which is edging towards hyperinflation leaving Sudan among the countries with the highest inflation in the world. The economic crisis is primarily what brought protestors out onto the streets last year. Addressing the UN General Assembly in September, Hamdok said that the revolution aimed at ending Sudan’s pariah status, reiterating that Sudan inherited international sanctions and that “it was the former regime that supported terrorism”, not Sudan’s people.

The Sudanese source who spoke to MEE said: “The government will close the offices of Hamas and Hezbollah and any other Islamic groups designated as terrorist groups that has presence in Sudan, because Sudan has nothing actually to do with these groups and the interests of Sudan are above everything.”

However, the office closures are likely symbolic in nature, said Cameron Hudson, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Africa Centre, given that operations of both organisations have been dormant in the country for years. “The announcement that they are formally closing the offices suggests to me that they were essentially dormant, although not formally closed,” he said.

Nevertheless, the move is interpreted by some as a gradual alignment of Khartoum with the interests of the US and its regional allies. In 2016 Sudan ended diplomatic ties with Iran in the wake of the attacks by protestors on the Saudi embassy in Tehran which was in response to the execution of the Saudi Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr. Two months prior to the severing of ties with Tehran, Sudan reportedly received $2.2 billion for taking part in the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen, although Sudan is now scaling back its military involvement in the conflict.

Israel for its part had accused Sudan of channelling arms from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Sinai desert and is alleged to have bombed Sudanese munitions warehouses and factories in the past.

Sudan has also sought Qatar’s support in its efforts to be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which it expressed at a reception hosted by Qatar’s Ambassador to Khartoum, ahead of Qatar’s National Day.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan’s new PM wants to withdraw troops from Yemen

Press TV – December 6, 2019

Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has vowed to withdraw troops from the Saudi-led war in Yemen, saying his country’s role should be limited to assisting in a political resolution of the conflict.

“The conflict in Yemen has no military solution, whether from us or from anywhere in the world,” Hamdok told the Atlantic Council, a US-based think tank, on Thursday.

He added that the war “has to be resolved through political means,” and that his country will seek to “help our brothers and sisters in Yemen and play our role with the rest to help them address this”.

Sudan has been one of the main contributors to the so-called Saudi coalition against Yemen, formed in 2015 in a bid to install a pro-Saudi government in Sana’a and crush Yemen’s Houthi Ansarllah movement.

According to reports, up to 40,000 Sudanese troops were deployed in the country during the peak of the conflict in 2016-2017.

Late October, however, Sudanese officials said the country had withdrawn thousands of troops from Yemen, with only a “few thousand” remaining.

Speaking on Thursday, Hamdok said “not many” Sudanese forces remain in Yemen.

Hamdok, who is leading the country’s transitional government in a power-sharing pact with the military, further stated that he will be “absolutely” able to withdraw the remaining troops from Yemen.

The new prime minster said his government had “inherited” the deployment in Yemen from Sudan’s former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir who was ousted following a popular uprising against his rule in April.

Hamdok pledged to “address” the country’s involvement in the Saudi-led war “in the near future” without further elaborating on the matter.

While Sudanese officials have abstained from publishing official casualty numbers in Yemen, Yemen’s armed forces have said a total 4,253 Sudanese troops have been killed in the conflict.

The developments come as the Saudi-led mission in Yemen has come to a standstill due to the resistance and increasingly sophisticated attacks of Yemeni forces.

Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Riyadh’s most influential partner in the war, was reported to have withdrawn most of its troops from Yemen.

UAE officials have reached the conclusion that the war has become “unwinnable” and that the Houthis will eventually “have a role in the future in Yemen”, reports said.

Fearing a long-lasting quagmire in Yemen, Riyadh has also been reportedly seeking to negotiate an end to the conflict through discussions with the Houthis.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 1 Comment

Understanding Saudi Arabia’s Role in Post-Coup Sudan

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | April 18, 2019

In previous times, when Saudi Arabia sought to intervene in the affairs of foreign nations, it did so overtly. Whether funding foreign masjids to advance Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam or sponsoring militant groups with unambiguous links to Riyadh, it used to be that when Saudi Arabia wanted change in a foreign nation, there was no real attempt to hide such developments.

Under the de facto leadership of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, this has partly changed. While western media has struggled to form a cohesive narrative through which to portray military strongman and US citizen Khalifa Haftar’s ongoing attempt to take Tripoli, Haftar’s own movements make it clear just how much Saudi Arabia is backing the renegade military man who once fled Libya as a traitor in the late 1980s.

Haftar was in Riyadh where he met the Saudi monarch just days before he began his assault on Tripoli. It has further been reported that Haftar has received millions of dollars from Riyadh. Thus, it is clear that in spite of Riyadh’s US partner’s support of the fledgling and endlessly corrupt Tripoli regime, Saudi Arabia along with its Egyptian and Emirati allies are firmly behind Haftar.

Recent events in Sudan have served as a reminder to the world that whilst long serving and recently ousted President Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989 with the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, since then, Bashir had become something of a post-ideological/poly-ideological political survivor. At various times Bashir has been friendly with and had disputes with countries as diverse as Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Gaddafi’s Libya, Assad’s Syria, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. In many ways, the only two nations with whom Bashir has had consistently good relations were China and Russia. In respect of just about every other country that seeks strategic relations with Khartoum, Bashir’s career was something of a geopolitical game of ping-pong.

Recent years however had seen Bashir’s Sudan greatly improve relations with Turkey and also Turkey’s closest Arab ally Qatar. To this end, Turkey has signed an agreement with Khartoum to construct a modern port at the location of a once prominent Ottoman Port at Suakin. Yet whilst this apparently win-win project did not immediately radiate political overtones, there were in fact many to be found. Suakin was a traditional Ottoman port of call for those on the Hajj to the Holy City of Mecca. From Suakin, pilgrims would take a short maritime journey to Jeddah before moving on to Mecca. For Saudi Arabia, this was seen as a Turkish attempt to influence what could once again become a major route for those on the Hajj. As Turkey and Saudi Arabia continue to compete for influence among the region’s millions of Sunni Muslims, Riyadh certainly took notice of the Turkey-Sudan port deal.

Although Sudan continues to provide mercenaries to the Saudi coalition in nearby Yemen, Bashir’s juggling act between Saudi Arabia on the one hand and the Turkey-Qatari partnership on the other, proved to be one that has self-evidently been a source of consternation in Riyadh.

To be sure, issues of poverty, corruption, genuine human rights concerns and a general political fatigue in the face of Bashir’s lengthy rule were in fact sources of the protests which led to the former President’s ouster. That being said, the rapidity with which Sudan’s new military rulers have moved against Bashir suggests that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

Reports have now emerged that Bashir is under arrest whilst the country’s new self-proclaimed rulers issue frequent statements of extreme disapprobation against their former boss. This combined with the fact that Turkeys’ calls for calm and moderation are becoming increasingly vocal whilst Saudi state media is celebrating the fact that Sudan’s new regime has refused to receive Qatar’s foreign minister, makes it clear that the new forces in Khartoum are acting in a manner that leans heavily towards Riyadh and away from the Turkey-Qatar partnership that Bashir had been drawing ever closer to in his final years in power.

Although the situation in Khartoum remains fluid to the point of being chaotic, it is already becoming clear that while the origins of the coup where in many ways organic, the management of events since the ouster of Omar al-Bashir has been one that is incredibly favourable towards Saudi Arabia whilst being notably less so to Turkey and Qatar.

This likewise proves that in the age of Muhammad bin Salman, direct intervention into foreign nations via religious groups and militants has been replaced by using Riyadh’s economic influence to force rulers of poorer nations to do as Saudi Arabia wishes.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Arab Spring returns home to uncertain welcome

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | April 12, 2019

The Arab Spring has returned to the Middle East after nearly six years in exile. It was in July 2013 that reversing the tide of democracy in Egypt that swept away the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coalition with the backing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to remove the elected President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, from power and suspended the the country’s constitution of 2012.

The Arab Spring never quite recovered from that trauma. There is a nifty aphorism of obscure origin that ‘History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes.’ The return of the Arab Spring to Algeria and Sudan in the recent weeks fits into that description. The similarity with the past lies in the undeniable fact that the Arab Spring is riding the wave of anti-regime protests in both Algeria and Sudan, triggered spontaneously by enormous public hatred of the regimes for their brutal repression, corruption, indifference to poverty and the intolerable conditions of day-to-day life.

In Sudan, the tipping point came four months ago over the government decision to triple the price of bread. In Algeria, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came in February when then President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would seek a fifth-term in office, whereupon tens of thousands took to the streets.

In the sheer spontaneity of the Arab Spring revolt in Sudan and Algeria, time seemed to stand still since 2013. First in Algeria, after some six weeks of protests, and in Sudan within days, after four months of protests, the dictators got ousted. But in reality, things are never quite the repetition of the past — protests this time around are on a significantly higher scale. Lessons may have been learnt from the tragic example of Egypt where a heroic popular struggle that brought the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammed Morsi to power ended in the blood-soaked 2013 coup led by General Sisi. The tragic saga of the Arab Spring in Egypt showed that entrenched ruling elites do not relinquish power simply because of militant mass protests.

Thus, both in Algeria and Sudan, there is popular resistance to the all-too-familiar pattern repeating — the army generals stepping in as the apparent saviours to remove the unpopular, detested dictators from power — Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir — but then, only to usurp power and establish military dictatorships, as had happened in Egypt. In Algeria, the protestors are openly shouting ‘No repeat of the Egyptian scenario.’ In Sudan, the exhortation to the protestors is: ‘Stay put and guard your revolution. To comply with the curfew (imposed by the generals) is to recognise the clone rescue government (led by the army.)’

However, the spectre that is haunting the masses in both Algeria and Sudan is the danger of bloody counterrevolution. Leadership is lacking among protestors and they lack the machinery or cadres to coordinate opposition to military-police repression. Meanwhile, the entrenched elite is co-opting the middle class and trying to lull protestors to sleep with (false) promises of a democratic capitalist future. The military junta in Algeria is promising to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, while the counterpart in Sudan has voiced its intention to hold democratic elections in two years.

In Sudan, there is also the added factor of foreign interference. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi openly said this week, “We cannot afford a leadership emerging in … Sudan that tolerates, or even worse condones, militant Islamic activity. This is why … we are keeping a close eye on any possible transition of power in Sudan.” The reference is to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Of course, it is a phoney argument, since the Brothers in Sudan have historically rejected union with the Egyptian branch (forming an alliance instead with the Sudanese Ansar-Ummah political bloc in support of Sudanese independence.) Sisi’s real worry is that if Sudan takes the democratic path, Muslim Brotherhood that has dominated Sudanese politics will surge to take the elected leadership, as had happened in Egypt in 2011, and that would rekindle the clamour for democracy in his country too.

Alex de Waal at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University writing for the BBC assesses that “the cabal (that usurped power in Sudan) is aligned with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, Qatar and Turkey have lost out. The new leadership dissolved the ruling National Congress Party and reportedly arrested many veteran Muslim Brothers.”

“They are busy telling Western countries that the Islamists had planned a coup, which needed to be forestalled by the army takeover, and that the protesters demanding democracy are also Muslim Brothers in disguise. It’s not a very convincing story, but it points to future tensions because the Islamists still have a strong following in Sudan.”

Sadly, in the emergent “multipolar world order”, there are hardly any takers for democracy or the Arab Spring — except, arguably, Turkey, Qatar and Iran — especially if it smacks of political Islam The big powers feel cozy with dictatorships. On Wednesday, the US and Britain issued a statement effectively backing the pre-emptive military coup in Sudan. At a meeting with Sisi on April 9 (who was on an official visit to the US at the invitation of President Trump), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked the dictator “for his leadership in advancing Egypt’s and the region’s security and stability, including through counterterrorism efforts and countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence.”

April 12, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | Leave a comment