The brutal Egyptian model in Sudan

ALI ABO REZEG
Published 18.06.2019 00:00

At least two months have passed since Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC) assumed power following the ousting of long-time President Omar al-Bashir.

Al-Bashir was ousted in a military coup after months-long protests erupted throughout the country against his party's bid to edit the Constitution and against the government's corruption and mismanagement.

The protests were organized and called by the forces of the Freedom and Change Declaration, most notably, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which is comprised of a handful of trade unions, youth groups and activists.

Since the ousting of al-Bashir, no progress has been made between the TMC and the opposition forces, who insist that the TMC should hand power over to a fully civilian government.

However, many developments have recently taken place and showed that the Sudanese generals are following in the footsteps of their Egyptian counterparts, and the notorious Egyptian experience is being copied to contain and undermine the Sudanese uprising.

That was noticed in different moves the TMC undertook since they came to power on April 11. Starting with their alliance with the region's counterrevolution coalition, the Sudanese army resorted to excessive force to disperse any form of opposition to their decisions. They also learned from the Egyptian army junta how to instrumentalize the Salafist groups to foil any attempts for change.

Only days after the removal of al-Bashir, delegations from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rushed to Sudan and held many talks with Sudanese military leaders. The visitors pledged to provide Khartoum with the aid and cash it needs to overcome the economic crisis which was worsened due to the months-long protests.

Sudan's military leaders replied with steps that were easily taken as an attempt to side with the counterrevolution axis in the region. It became obvious with TMC leaders' visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt respectively and their decision to close the headquarters of Qatar's Al-Jazeera in Khartoum, a move that was totally rejected by the Sudanese opposition and human rights activists.

Following three or four rounds of talks with the opposition, the Sudanese military, as well, took a violent route dealing with the protestors. More than a hundred Sudanese youth were found killed in a brutal way after the military broke up the youths' sit-in for no guilt, but their dream of a developed, free and prosperous Sudan is still alive.

The heinous military crimes resemble the Egyptian army's brutality against the Rabaa sit-in in the summer of 2013, which led to the deaths of more than 700 protesters.

The military junta in Sudan would not have dared to behave in such a way before having the approval of the aforementioned coalition. It seems that Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi reassured the TMC that they would back them and handle their crimes on regional and international levels.

The current and earlier actions of this axis in Egypt, Libya and Sudan prove that the only project these countries have is a region governed by military dictators.

The third aspect that showed the TMC copying the infamous Egyptian model was the military's exploitation of religious groups – mostly Salafist ones – in the country. The TMC provoked these groups by claiming the opposition forces were largely controlled by "anti-Sharia atheist figures."

Following these claims, religious groups in Sudan were calling for widespread protests in the country to "protect" Sharia. This is same course the Egyptian Salafist Al-Nour Party followed against the post-revolution government before the party's leaders allied with the military against the first-ever elected president, Mohammed Morsi.

If they continue to behave in this manner, these Salafist groups will be used as the army's knife later to stab the uprising in the back. The Egyptian experience also told us that such groups are used for a while, appeased by small privileges, while many were later pushed aside and deprived from political involvement.

* Ph.D. student at Yıldırım Beyazıt University's Department of International Relations

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