Alwaght-A year after fall of the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir following the popular protests and the army coup of April 11, the African country still faces an economic crisis and the public discontentment continues. The efforts by the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdook have been slow and even halted. As the political instability continues amid the meddling of the military leaders in the political process, the future of the government is at risk from a set of aspects.
Last Thursday, a protest was held near the military headquarters, with the protestors calling for the removal of Hamdook’s government. New York Times in its latest report on Sudan said that the government and Forces of Freedom and Change Coalition were worried that the military could orchestrate a coup against PM Hamdook. This comes while lately there have been efforts to destabilize the civil government. In early March, Hamdook survived an assassination plot in the capital Khartoum. What is the cause of Sudan's civil government failure to improve the conditions while the West, Arab actors, and African Union announced support for it?
The US blackmails Sudan using sanctions
One of the biggest challenges is the ever-surging inflation and huge public debt. Add to this the negotiations with the insurgents. A majority of the Sudanese still stand in long lines waiting to buy their basics or fill their car gas tank.
The most important program announced by PM Hamdook upon his assumption of the post in August last year has been pushing to lift the US sections on the country, in place since decades.
To restore investment and revive the national economy, Sudan has so far urged Washington several times to remove its name from the list of the state sponsors of terrorism. The Americans have so far rejected the calls and only made some conditional promises.
Aware of the extreme pressure the Hamdook government is grappling with, the US uses the economic sanctions instrumentally to get to the side of the White House policies Khartoum and especially the military council as an important part of the power structure. The confrontation of the Islamists, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, is one of the key American aims in Sudan. Also, the US exploits Hamdook’s need for negotiations as a proper opportunity to drag Sudan into the ground of Washington-favored regional games.
The White House presses the government and the military commanders to initiate the process of diplomatic normalization with the Israeli regime. In early February, the media reported that the chairman of Sudan Sovereign Council (SSC) Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu met in Uganda and discussed thaw. Shortly after, Sudanese military spokesman stated that “preliminarily” the two sides agreed that commercial flights from South America to the Israeli regime fly through the Sudanese airspace. Under al-Bashir, Khartoum did not recognize an Israeli state. To appease Israelis and Americans, Sudan, in a though symbolic but considerable move, in December closed down the offices of Lebanese Hezbollah as one of the most crucial and powerful branches of the Arab world’s anti-Israeli resistance which strongly stands against normalization with Tel Aviv.
These measures against the anti-Western forces continue in Sudan. On April 13, the SSC dissolved Al-Da’awa Al-Islamiah charity and seized its assets. The move was made under a so-called anti-corruption campaign by a council’s branch. The excuse was that the first statement of al-Bashir after the military coup of 1989 was found at the charity’s office. Critics rejected the claims, saying that the SSC targets any party and organization having Islamic approaches, even if the target is a charity working in favor of needy people. Salah Manaa, a member of the SSC, asserted that Islamists will never return to power in Sudan.
While the government of PM Hamdook and even the military council were hopeful that the reforms will help lift the US embargo and the anti-Hezbollah ban and also deployment of the troops to the Saud-led Yemen war will draw the Saudi economic support, their expectations were not met. The only move by the US was lifting sanctions on 157 Sudanese companies which did not leave a tangibly positive influence on the declining Sudanese economy.
Division in the power structure
Since the new government came to power, efforts were made to reform the highly discriminatory legal system and also fight the corruption networks affiliated with the remnants of the al-Bashir regime and the formerly-ruling Sudanese Congress Party. But what since the beginning overshadowed these efforts was the presence of the remnants of the former regime in the new power structure in the country.
On April 11 last year, the military ousted al-Bashir from power and formed the Transitional Military Council as a caretaker body. This did not end the demonstrations, however. It even led to the deterioration of the situation and the violent crackdown of the military on the protestors. A new government was formed only after the civilian leaders and military commanders negotiated a power-sharing deal. The sharing of power did not reduce differences and distrust, however.
The Forces of Freedom and Change see the military’s hands behind the Thursday protests against the government. The protestors carried banners that read “no to starvation” and “people and military are one” and also “Hamdook must be ousted.”
Amid the state of emergency announced because of the coronavirus outbreak, some sources in the government told the New York Times the revolutionary forces are worried that a coup against the government is possible by the previous regime’s affiliates who are present in the military and the military council. The central council of the Forces said that it held an emergency meeting on Saturday and formed a committee to take preemptive measures in the forthcoming hours to repel a coup plot.