Sudan Intrigues: Who is Calling the Tune?
We have seen the deflowering of Libya. We are seeing the process of self-deflowering in Nigeria. We are now seeing the monsters in Uganda under AFRICOM.
|Presidents Salva Kiir and Omar Bashir. Who is benefiting from their pulling apart? Photo courtesy|
The nation and state of Sudan has a very complex history that has brought its profound and profane flower to bloom. To really understand the Sudan and its internal crisis, one has to look at who is paying for the seeds of this profane flower of crisis.
Last month in June, hundreds of university students took to the streets of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, for seven days to protest against the soaring inflation, corruption and austerity program of the National Congress Party (NCP). On Friday June 22th, the protests after Friday prayers had gone beyond student activists in Khartoum and to Al-Obayid in north Kordofan State and other townships. Some protesters were demanding the downfall of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s and his government, which is backed by the army and Islamists for the last 23 years.
Furious and raging clashes broke out between demonstrators and the police. The government ordered a savage crackdown to stop the protests from spreading. Security forces blocked the roads around the University of Khartoum, attacking students with clubs and batons, and broke up demonstrations around the universities of Khartoum, the downtown area and Omdurman with teargas.
More than 25 students were arrested on Friday and 79 in protests in the Bahari district of Khartoum the previous day. The security forces also arrested more than 40 members of opposition groups, meeting under the auspices of the Haq movement. They also marked journalists, detaining for some hours two journalists working for Agence France-Presse and Bloomberg, and a British citizen who was taking photographs and talking to students.
The demonstrations are the first important protests since February 2011, which Bashir crushed, although there have been many neighborhood protests over rising food prices, water and electricity shut-offs, cutbacks in public services and demonstrations against the Nile damming project in the far north.
This latest agitation broke out after the Bashir's government declared plans to phase out fuel subsidies, slash jobs in the civil service—the main source of jobs for graduates—and increase taxes on consumer goods, banks and imports. The aim is to reduce the $2.4 billion government deficit, %3.6 percent of Sudan’s GDP, that is set to rise to an estimated $4 billion next year 2013.
With the removal of subsidies, the price of oil will rise by more than a third. The tax on imports is set to rise from 10 to 13 percent; value added tax from 15 to 17 percent; while the tax on banking profits will increase from 15 to 30 percent. While, this comes on top of a 35 percent hike in public transport fares. It will vastly increase the cost of living. In May, the cost of living rose by 30 percent, up from 28 percent in April.
Sudan’s opposition parties, the Umma party, Hassan Al-Turabi’s Popular Congress Party, and the Communist Party, are thoroughly discredited and no less corruptible and dishonest than the NCP. They have rejected the austerity program and are seeking to form a joint campaign to topple the regime and draft a new constitution. However, Sudan has not developed a variable left formation that could garner a secular mass presence.
The fact that the ruling elite reacted with such violence to these small demonstrations bears witness to the depth of the economic and political crisis. Sudan’s ruling clique rests upon a narrow economic and social base. Sudan’s economy, which had seen the highest growth rates in Africa following the discovery of oil in the south of the country, is now reeling after the secession in July 2011 of South Sudan where most of the oil is located. Oil revenues crashed from $6.2 billion in 2010 to $1.5 billion in 2011 and will fall to almost zero this year.
The massive oil revenues from the oil fields, the pipelines, the refineries and Port Sudan brought little relief to the grinding poverty of most of the Sudanese people, while improving and enriching the lot of a corrupt layer. Indeed, they served to accentuate the already deeply uneven development of the country, which is largely centred on Khartoum—though not Khartoum North, Omdurman and the poverty stricken “black belt” surrounding the capital—and the vast military-industrial complex of GIAD, Sudan’s largest single employer, which is 25 miles south of Khartoum.
The southern states of such an immense country, including South Sudan, reaped little benefit. They remain to this day largely without roads and other services. In Khartoum itself, half-finished high-rise buildings in the city centre testify to the gutting of the economy.
In May, Sudan allowed currency dealers to trade dollars at almost double the earlier exchange, in effect devaluing the currency, a move that will vastly increase the rate of inflation because Sudan imports so much to meet its basic needs. Some of the most elementary commodities are now out of reach for many.
In January, South Sudan shut down all its 350,000 barrels a day oil production, which used to flow through Sudan pipeline to Port Sudan. This deprived Khartoum of its sole remaining lifeline, after a bitter dispute over the fees—set at $32 per barrel—to use its pipeline and accusations that Sudan had stolen $815 million worth of its crude oil.
In April, after months of brushes, the two countries were on the brink of all-out war as South Sudan took over and destroyed the Heglig oilfield in the disputed Abyei state. In the beginning of June, talks to establish a de-militarized zone and resolve the conflict over the boundaries of the two states and the sharing of oil revenues broke down.
In addition, Sudan has been fighting rebel movements in Darfur for the last nine years, and more recently in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and accuses South Sudan of supporting the insurgents.
The conflict has been manipulated by commercial and political competitions between the United States and the European powers, on the one hand, and China, with the Western powers backing South Sudan as a means of breaking China’s domination over the oil-rich country. At the same time, the whipping up of ethnic and nationalist tensions within the country and with South Sudan serves a vital political purpose for the Sudanese ruling clique. Under conditions of social breakdown, blaming South Sudan serves as a convenient deflection from the devastating austerity measures being implemented against the Sudanese people.
The Obama administration has long sought the downfall of the regime as a means of reducing China’s hold on the region. While, Sudan has been facing stiff US sanctions, imposed since the mid-1990s following accusation by the US that Khartoum was aiding international terrorism. Despite a warming of US-Sudan relations and Sudan’s cooperation with the US “war on terror,” the Obama administration has still not lifted sanctions after earlier indications that it would do so.
The Obama administration had instigated Bashir’s indictment by the International Court (ICC) in 2009 on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in relation to the civil war in Darfur. Now the Obama administration is demanding that he be arrested and sent to the Netherlands for trial. It is seeking to use the desperate humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where insurgents close to South Sudan have refused to lay down their arms, to demand that Khartoum lift its ban of the delivery of aid to the war-torn region. It included the conflict in a recent UN resolution calling for a negotiated settlement between the two countries. This could and would provide the opening for a military intervention by a US-led coalition or its proxies in the region.
The Obama administration through Hilary Clinton issued a distrustful and cynical statement, expressing its “deep concern” over Sudan’s suppression on the demonstrations, and urging Khartoum “to respect the right of its citizens to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly in order to raise their grievances.”
These bogus crocodile tears of concern are just a cover for US intervention into the Sudan or to give US proxies a chance to dance to the profane ugly music of “Buckwheat” imperialism in Black face as they stomp the flower of the Sudan into the sullied oil corruption of empty harlots.
As we look at the development and liberation of Africa, we are never to judge its direction by the proclamations of its leaders, but the deeds of practices of those leaders and the directions those practices have led those nations.
Always follow the sense of those who pay for the seeds....For the people of the Sudan, history is on their side, but, not time.
By Malik Sekou Osei
Sekou Osei <email@example.com>
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