Sudan may turn into civil war if Al-Bashir takes the agressive route
"Al-Bashir can not even provide meals for the thousands revolutionists in his detentions," said Dr Shaza. "For the first time in history, they are asking families to bring food to the prisoners." .24 Februari 2019 22:28
Dr Shaza al-Mahdi, a Sudanese political activist who lives in the US. (Dr Shazad al-Mahdi for Albalad.co)
Responding to on going revolution, two days ago, Sudan's President Umar al-Bashir announced the state of emergency accross his country for a year. He also decided to dissolve federal and provincial governments.
To get support from the Sudanese Army, Al-Bashir putting major army leaders in the new government. According to Sudanese political activist who has lived in Virginia for the last ten years, Dr Shaza al-Mahdi, is hoping to cut off anyway that puts the Army in support of the revolutions.
But she warns that Sudan can turn into civil war if Al-Bashir takes the agressive route. "He may do this but he much weaker and may not get the support," said Dr Shaza in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp today.
President Al-Bashir has announced the state of emergency for a year and has dissolved federal and provincial government. What do you think about the latest development?
Al-Bashir is trying to buy sometimes by these decisions as the protests are growing in numbers and extending in wider geographic locations. He is also trying to contain the Sudanese Army.
In two previous historical revolutions in Sudan in 1985 and 1964 the people have overthrown similar dictators, but the major victory was because the Sudanese Army supported the revolution. Now, by putting major army leaders in the new government (prime minister is now the same as the minister of defense), he is hoping to cut off anyway that puts the Army in support of the revolutions.
The State of Emergency law is an exceptional law that gives extra power to the army and disable political life, prevents protests, and puts a harder grip on any civil movement. He is also dissolving the government because in a way it is a bankrupt government where they have huge debt that can not meet a redundant government and its governors salaries.
Al-Bashir can not even provide meals for the thousands revolutionists in his detentions. For the first time in history, they are asking families to bring food to the prisoners
Do you think Al-Bashir will contain this situation or become worse for him?
He is much more isolated than ever. He is even turning to become a problematic president for his own political party (NCP) and the Muslim Brotherhood who brought him in power.
He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) plus he can not run for another election unless he amend the constitution which he was trying to do recently. It is also the biggest mass protests in 30 years, people across different affiliations are protesting against him in a very unifying momentum.
The short answer for all these reasons is no, I dont think so.
Is this the right momentum for the Sudanese people to launch the revolution?
Yes, they do not have other option. Inflation in Sudan is 75%, worst than Yemen and Syria, prices are hiking and the infrastructure are lacking very fundamental needs, plus the corruption is higher than ever. Mainstream Sudanese people do not have much in hands to be patient.
According to you, which countries are willing Al-Bashir to stay in power?
Qatar was the first to publicly announces that they support Al-Bashir but then according to RT news agancy, they didn't promise to give him money which is what he needs to remain in control. Saudi and United Arab of Emirates may have some interest in leaving him in power since he was a strong partner in the current war in Yemen and for historical reasons.
Egypt also has a very confusing position and the US may not be in favor of a strong shift. That is why in a recent BBC report they were trying to provide some safe exit plan, let Al-Bashir go and leave his party in power, just changing faces.
But at the end, no matter who wants what, the Sudanese citizens are the ultimate determining factor in this formula and they are apparently want him to step down.
If there is no support from powerful countries, like the US and Europeans, how the revolution in Sudan can be successful?
Honestly, the revolution in Egypt was successful despite the fact that the US didn't want Mubarak to go. They do have some influences in the state after Al-Bashir but not necessarily at this stage, plus they all have their own interest.
The EU signed Khartoum Process and gave millions of Euro to Al-Bashir to help stop illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The US wants Sudan to collaborate in the war against terrorism and it is doing what US wants, so they do not have genuine agenda to support the revolution.
Having that said, the media is playing a strong role specially on the era of Trump. The Washington Post and NYT have been reporting on this daily and supporting the revolts. As I said earlier, in best cases they will only support exit plan for Al-Bashir to step down in exchange of freezing the ICC arrest warrant as leaked by the BBC. The report is on my twitter if you want to listen to it.
In your prediction, will Al-Bashir step down this year?
Well, he wanted people to wait for 2020 election and they don't. So I guess he will be stepping down this year. If not, in 2020 he won't be elected neither his party if we have fair election.
Learning from other countries like Libya, Egypt, and Syria, do you convince this on going revolution will not destabilize Sudan?
The major difference is that we did it before twice and received our two only democracies in our modern history. The other difference is that the Muslim Brotherhood were always in opposition and after revolution they became powerful and always ISIS or Muslim Brotherhood are to blame for destabilizing the countries.
But in Sudan, they are the ones in power, the opposition is almost secular or moderate islamists. Therefore the outcome will be different, the only reason that may drive the country into chaos is if Al-Bashir decided to take the aggressive route - yes more aggressive than this - to defend his power and turn the country into another civil war country.
He may do this but he much weaker and may not get the support.
In the revolution, we need a charismatic leader. Who is the leader of on going revolution in Sudan?
There is no one leader that could apply to this. The leader now that’s organizing the protests is an entity called the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), an umbrella of different unions including doctors, engineers, journalists etc.
Its leaders are secret for security reasons. The spokesperson of this group is Dr. Alasam and he is in detention since he was announced the spokesperson. SPA announced the Declaration for Freedom and Change as a draft for a transitional government of qualified people.
Since the most of the opposition political parties joined this declaration, 17 of the known political parties were arrested two days ago. The communist political party leader is 88 years old and he is in detention along with 3000 others, 60 were killed so far since December.
So it's not a situation where you can identify a leader otherwise everything will be ruined. Having that said the country is moving towards institutionalized leadership and not the one person leadership model which we have had for along time.
Which is the best political system should be applied in Sudan after Al-Bashir overthrown?
We are tryin to work for a country that could manage its huge diversity and establish the state of law, justice, and accountability, where democracy would be established in light of a well written constitution. We have always had the parliamentarian system and I believe it's fine as long as its members are elected, under whether a prime minister or president or even both.
But everything has to agree on in the transitional period. We do have lots of home work, we lived in dictatorship for most of our life. I myself was raised under this regime and I don't know any president but Al-Bashir.
Do you agree that the independence of South Sudan was the set back in Al-Bashir rule?
It was one of his biggest mistakes. Al-Bashir was trying to undermine 10 millions Christians by establishing the Islamic state in Sudan, and was trying to undermine all those of African origin by stating that Sudan is Arab country, creating division in a country that looks at the Arab Muslim as higher ranking and have more privilege than the non-Arab Christians.
Plus he ran one of the longest civil war in our history that exchausted all resources and killed thousands of young Sudanese. The international community had his agenda in supporting this process. South Sudan sucession didn't solve the country’s problem. We still have similar one in Darfur, is going to be separated too?
We now have two failing states in Sudan and South Sudan. None of them had a problem resolved and I guess it was all Al-Bashir’s mistake and mismanagement.