The North East African country is in crisis for long. Conflict and poverty have never left this once oil-rich country behind. The long rule of Omar al-Bashir and the civil war have plunged the country into darkness which did not go away even after his fallout. Cultural, religious, economic, and political divisions have led to bloody civil wars in modern-day Sudan.
In 1979, Colonel Omar al-Bashir staged a bloodless coup with the support of a group of military officials. After the revolution, the country developed a new political system and Sudan became a country of one-party government. He then banned all forms of politics in the country. He came to power and waged war against the guerrillas. On October 16, 1997, he declared himself President of Sudan. The country also held presidential elections that year. He was the only candidate. President Bashir once had a friendly relationship with Dr. Hassan al-Turabi. Dr. Turabi was a great intellectual in the contemporary Muslim world. He has held various important positions, including Speaker of the Sudanese Parliament, Foreign Minister, Law Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister.
But since taking power, relations with Bashir’s government have been weakened. He remained one of the main critics of President Bashir’s long rule. In three decades of running the state, Omar-Al-Bashir has managed the state by maintaining military rule as well as creating a civilian political structure and founded a party called the National Congress Party. The failed to receive the support of all mainstream Islamist parties. Such as Dr. Hassan Turabi opposed General Bashir’s government until his death.
In the 1990s, the United States declared Sudan a terrorist state, accusing of human rights abuses and terrorist activities in Darfur. They launched a missile strike on Khartoum on suspicion of having an al Qaeda base. Then, Washington has imposed strict economic and trade sanctions on Sudan for 20 years since 1998. Charges were brought against the government of then-President Omar al-Bashir too. As a result, the country was deprived of the support of the World Bank and the IMF. As a result, the economy has shrunk further due to conflicts across the country as well as trade sanctions.Hence, years of internal clashes and the sanctions immensely deteriorated country’s economy & trade.
Behind the partition of Sudan in 2011, a number of vested interests worked & made a new Christian state on the world map under the auspices & military support of the USA & Western imperialists, South Sudan has been fighting for two decades to break away from Muslim-majority North Sudan. 2 million people have been killed in the long 20 years of armed conflict. Besides, there is an account of the loss of properties. Sudan is the third largest oil producer in Africa, and its oil reserves are located in Christian-dominated South Sudan, which is the reason why the USA is eyeing South Sudan. The common interests of the western countries are here. Especially in the world, where are oil reserves, there is a conspiracy of the United States.
These large powers are sometimes indirectly or directly involved in the riots that have been going on in Sudan for two decades. The West has always provided financial and military assistance to all those forces working for their own vested interests. Sudan is no exception. The West has worked together to divide Sudan on religious grounds. They also continued their struggle for recognition as a separate state, which eventually became a reality through a referendum. The way the West forced Indonesia to separate East Timor is as same as dividing Sudan on the basis of religion.
Although Bashir was a “controversial figure”, he followed “independent principles” despite many pressures. When Bashir agreed to the independence of South Sudan, his attitude towards Darfur was still aggressive. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) charged him with genocide, rape, assault on civilians in Darfur and looting. Two international warrants were issued against him in 2009 and 2010. Even on this mounting pressure, he won two elections in 2010 and 2015. His latest election, however, was boycotted by opponents.
Political analysts say, the fall of President Bashir was fueled by the West and a few Arab countries seeking to seize Sudan’s natural resources. Boris Dolgov of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences said, Western countries had long been pushing for the removal of Omar al-Bashir. These countries were trying to seize the resources in Sudan. Dolgov said, Western countries had already begun to seize South Sudan’s resources long ago. And now as Sudan’s current military is pro-west, western companies are prioritised in extracting mineral resources in the country.
Like other crises in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies plotted in Sudan too. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have providing financial support to the Sudanese military to oust General Bashir. It has already borrowed huge sums of money to cope with the country’s ailing economy. The influence of these countries in Sudan has further increased since the fall of Umar al-Bashir. Qatar and Turkey, on the other hand, have long-standing good relations with Khartoum. Qatar has heavily invested in agriculture and food of the African country.
President Erdogan and Omar Bashir had good ties. When Bashir allowed Turkey to build a naval base in ‘Saukin’ to balance the power in the region- it made Riyadh & Abu Dhabi more furious than before because Saukin is an important port city. Oil tankers commute in the Gulf region through this waterway. To protect its security, the United States, China and Saudi Arabia set up military bases in Djibouti long ago.
The last few years in unstable Sudan have been marked by an economic crisis. The crisis has escalated, especially since South Sudan separated. The big reason of which is that three-fourths of the country’s extracted oil is in South Sudan. The depreciation of the currency and the rise in the price of goods caused dissatisfaction among the people.
Due to ongoing political instability, the prices of agricultural products continued to rise. In addition, the price of bread doubled when the government reduced subsidies on bread. Protests erupted across the country since the commodity prices rose. Mass people in major cities, including Khartoum broke out. The protests, which began with food price hikes, later turned to demands political change and the fall of the government.
Despite being freed from thirty-year-rule, there is no sign of a sudden return to democracy in the Muslim country of North Africa. The army overthrew Omar al-Bashir and formed an interim government for two years. Sudan’s current government has been acting as a puppet of the West since the fall of Omar al-Bashir in the face of public outcry. Recognition of Israel & repealing Sharia law proves that very well.
Like the past experiences Sudan’s case tells us, what seems to be the solution might not work in place and even lead to chronic misery in long run?
The writer is an analyst on politics, international relations