Alwaght- A week after the general sit-in began in the country, the Sundance military council forces attacked peaceful protestors killing over 100 and injuring more. The violent response to the protestors drew strong reactions from the international community which seeks rule transfer from the military to the civilians. The military council initially rejected to shoulder the responsibility and tried to shift the blame on non-related elements. However, the military admitted the massacre, saying that it was aimed at saving the security. In a statement, the military rulers said that the attack did not come to end the strike, rather, it came to remove the risks for the people’s lives originating from the sit-in site nicknamed “Colombia” in the capital Khartoum.
The incident came after the talks with the representatives from Change and Freedom Movement failed on the makeup of the transitional structure and military council’s chief General Abdel Fatah Abdel Rahman al-Burhan and his aide visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to discuss the crisis in Sudan.
The incident is never natural because the three countries since the beginning of the crisis in Sudan actively worked to influence the political future in the key African country. The trio pushed towards President Omar al-Bashir’s ouster. Afterwards, they shifted their course joining forces against the revolutionary movement in a bid to block the realization of the revolutionary ideals in the country.
Following the iron fist response to the sit-in, which is called by many a coup against the revolution, we should expect the opposition to move away from negotiations over power sharing with the military council, a development that will further intensify the crisis in the country. Yaser Arman, a member of the CFM accused the military of a coup, saying that he will cut off all contacts with the military council. The military leaders, on the other side, halted all agreements with the opposition and announced general election within nine months.
What has motivated the backers of the military council to give a green light to repression of the protests?
Failure of gradual containing plan
A look at the performance of the military council that took the rule after removing al-Bashir indicates the fact that the military men predicted the end of the demonstrations with the removal of the president. They thought within two years they could install another military ruler in an effort to rebuild the toppled regime. Shortly after al-Bashir removal, Awaz bin Ouf, then military chief, said that a military council will take the rule until elections are held within two years. He suspended the constitution, dissolved the local governments, and announced a state of emergency for three months. The UAE and Saudi Arabia on the heels of the revolution said they will offer an aid package of $3 billion to help the military council deal with the economic crisis. It then became clear that the military council seeks domination over the transition council. This scenario earlier had been applied to Yemen by the Persian Gulf Arab states.
However, what was raging on the ground did not match their calculations as the civilians, backed by the international community, insisted on the right to control the transition body. As the military men rejected to bow to the demands, the revolutionary leaders asked people to remain in the streets. The revolutionary alliance warned that if the military avoids to handover the power, the transportation sector and the state employees will go on strike.
An awareness of the Sudanese people’s opposition to their country’s involvement in the Yemen war, led by Saudi Arabia, apparently sent into anxiety Riyadh and Abu Dhabi rulers about the success of the revolution in Sudan. In the recent meetings with the military rulers, the two countries tied the delivery of aids to Sudan’s continued presence in the Yemen War. It was this pressure that made Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Sudan’s deputy military chief, say after meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that “Khartoum stands with the Saudi kingdom in the face of Iranian and Houthi threats and attacks,” in reference to Saudi Arabia’s archrival in the region and the revolutionary force that resists the Saudi aggression in Yemen.
Repressing the revolution Egypt-style
The military council and its backers are optimistic that crackdown and violence will keep the protestors from continuing their pressures for a civilian rule, paving the way for an engineered election to bring to power a favored figure from the military. This echoes Abdel Fatah el-Sisi’s grab on power in 2013 in Egypt after removal of democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi. The army attacked pro-president rallies in the capital Cairo and killed many and injured more. Mass arrests and executions ensued.
To implement this scenario, buying time is of great significance for the military council. El-Sisi, whose council led the African Union since February, on April 23 called on the bloc to give the Sudanese military council more time to help arrange what he called “democratic transition.” The call extended the 10-day ultimatum to three months.
But the strong resolve of the demonstrators to materialize their demand for civilian rule has made it quite tough for the military rulers to implement their scenario. Sudanese Workers’ Trade Union Federation, which accounts for a large part of the protest body, in a statement called on the people to take to the streets for a sit-in. The University Professors Association also reacted to the army clampdown and invited people to continue civilian disobedience until unseating of the military council.
Additionally, some Arab and Western countries object to the military council’s measures against the protestors. Add to this the impossibility of continuing international silence like what happened in dealing with Egypt and Bahrain repression.