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- Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan
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- Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan
There have been encouraging steps since the military leadership and civilian opposition signed a constitutional declaration sealing the power-sharing agreement at a ceremony by the Nile in Khartoum. The parties named representatives to an eleven-member sovereign council that is to steer the country to free elections over the 39 months following 17 August. A widely respected economist, Abdalla Hamdok, became prime minister four days after the ceremony, and a new cabinet took office on 8 September. That is just one challenge among many. In addition to being a potential spoiler, the security establishment is fragmented, unaccountable and subject to dangerous internecine rivalries.
Forcing the issue could result in confrontation at a time when the last thing Sudan needs is more conflict.
Darfur: The International Community's Failure to Protect | Crisis Group
Then there is the challenge of maintaining the unity of the extraordinarily broad civilian coalition — named the Forces for Freedom and Change — that has been at the vanguard of the uprising. Comprising professional associations, civil society groups, unions, political parties and armed groups, the coalition has had its own internal struggles. It will need to deftly manage them lest the security establishment use fissures in its unity to peel off constituents and weaken it politically.
The transitional government should focus on ending these conflicts. The generals have already seen that strong-arm tactics of the sort used to quell prior movements — for example in — are not likely to work here. That is an outcome for which the security forces will almost certainly not wish to be blamed. Diplomatically, regional actors especially Ethiopia and the AU played a key role in unlocking talks after the 3 June massacre and should continue to stay closely involved.
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The deal will be all the stronger if Western powers, including the U. There is also much to do on the economic front. Donors, including the U. The benefits of a successful transition are potentially enormous, and the cost of state failure would be vast. Until recently, it was hard to imagine a moment of opportunity like the country now faces. It would be a mistake to squander it. Mass protests and a military coup have ended the year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir.
Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan
The same events have also released centrifugal forces in Sudan that could spark renewed violence if not contained by a coherent transition to civilian rule. It is disinclined to relinquish these assets; thus, it could stymie reform. The generals continue to receive backing from powerful Gulf monarchies and Egypt, which view them as a bastion of stability in the Horn of Africa and a source of manpower for military ventures in Yemen.
Negotiations between the civilian opposition and a military council representing the security establishment over a transitional agreement were fraught with tensions over the division of power. The standoff culminated in a violent crackdown on 3 June, when paramilitary forces killed up to protesters in the capital Khartoum.
The deal contemplates a transition to elections at the close of a month period of reforms overseen by a civilian-dominated cabinet and legislature. It also lays out the terms for forming the institutions that will see the country through the coming period. The Council moved swiftly to name a prime minister — economist Abdalla Hamdok — and a cabinet with the military assigning the interior and defence portfolios. The cabinet will report to a legislative council, two thirds of which the civilian opposition will appoint, and which is expected to fashion a constitution pending elections.
A general will head the sovereign council for the first 21 months of the transition before handing it over to a civilian for the remaining eighteen months pending elections. These include the urgent task of transforming a deeply dysfunctional economy and bringing an end to long-running rebellions in areas that Khartoum has historically neglected. Meanwhile, segments of the army and security services appear to resent the more powerful paramilitaries, which could easily spark feuding among the generals themselves. It argues that the deal offers the best — and only viable — framework for addressing these challenges, steering the country toward reform, and avoiding the very real possibility that the country is instead pulled toward spiralling violence.
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Sanctions on Sudan? Unlike many of his peers, Omar al-Bashir survived the Arab uprisings relatively unscathed. It was subsequent setbacks that caused his eventual fall: an economic slump; the ensuing street protests in regime strongholds, including across Khartoum; the alienation of core constituencies, including within a regime security architecture beset by schisms between the armed forces and paramilitary units; and eroding support from sponsors in the Gulf.
The spark for the revolution was a rapidly declining economy.
Bashir had maintained his power by repressing political opposition, fighting costly counter-insurgencies in peripheral areas and underwriting his factious security sector with patronage-driven expenditures that ate up, by some estimates, 70 per cent of the national budget. While, in , the U. Protests began in the south-eastern cities of Damazin and Sennar on 13 December over the tripling of bread prices and rising cost of other staples, as well as shortages of medicine, fuel and cash. Many ATMs in banks had run dry, and queues at petrol stations stretched for kilometres.
Opposition parties, professional associations and unions marched and staged strikes. By 19 December, when the snowballing demonstrations reached Atbara, a railway town and historic bastion of unionism in River Nile state, protesters were demanding regime change.
Sennar and Damazin are both located in Blue Nile state — of which Damazin is the capital — in south-eastern Sudan. The regime responded by arresting suspected leaders, compounding the anger on the street. Previous protests centred in Khartoum, for instance in and , had struggled to expand beyond student and middle-class youth activist circles. By contrast, the December demonstrations erupted outside the capital and leapt across geographic and class divides.
At several points during the uprising, women outnumbered men at protests. By bringing workers and professionals into the streets, the association evoked memories of previous popular uprisings in and , also led by trade unionists. Workers, students and professionals were key players. Hide Footnote On 1 January , the SPA struck an alliance with 21 other organisations in a joint declaration calling for a national transitional government to replace Bashir.
The militants trained in Sudan and reportedly enjoyed the support of elements of the Bashir administration. Gosh is not believed to have played a direct role in supporting the militants, but amid the international outrage over the failed attack it appears that Bashir felt he needed to show he was taking action against senior figures.
In , the Sudanese leader appointed Gosh director of the newly established NISS, only to remove him yet again in , as a result of power struggles within the NCP. In , following release of WikiLeaks cables showing that Gosh had considered exploiting the International Criminal Court indictment of Bashir to muster a coup attempt, the tensions intensified.
Bashir ordered Gosh be arrested in Among its members were senior officers from the Sudanese Armed Forces; General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo known as Hemedti , leader of the RSF, the paramilitary group that Bashir increasingly relied upon as a praetorian guard; NISS officials including Gosh, whom Bashir was still keeping close; and a police representative.
Despite his position on the committee, ruling party figures say, Gosh soon began working in earnest to oust Bashir. By April, managing the daily protests had depleted state funds: the treasury had to cover four months of overtime costs for police and other security agencies. Meanwhile, inflation surged to as high as 70 per cent, emptying the pocketbooks of ordinary Sudanese.
On 6 April, protesters marched to army headquarters in Khartoum, as well as to military installations in other cities, and staged a sit-in.
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At this point, Bashir still appeared confident that he could ride out the uprising. While he remained an international pariah — the only sitting head of state ever indicted by the International Criminal Court — he had developed important security and economic partnerships with Gulf states and Turkey, which he may have believed would help him hang on to power.
As Crisis Group has described elsewhere, starting in , the Gulf Cooperation Council developed a common policy of bringing Sudan closer into its orbit. When the Saudi-led coalition launched its campaign in Yemen in , its interest in the partnership intensified, as Sudan was possessed of both potential troops for the venture and a long Red Sea coastline that the coalition wanted, for strategic reasons, to ensure was in friendly hands.
For Bashir, the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen presented an opportunity. In , short on cash and eager for sanctions relief, he sought to solidify his alliance with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi by deploying roughly 10, RSF members and some regular army soldiers to fight alongside Saudi and Emirati troops. For one thing, the Saudis and Emiratis harboured suspicions of Bashir, who maintained relations with their rivals Qatar and Turkey.
Bashir also alienated Riyadh and Abu Dhabi with his refusal to purge Islamists from his political machinery, security services and state bureaucracy. He is transactional: he goes to Qatar when it is convenient, and he goes to the UAE or Saudi Arabia when it is convenient. The coup against Bashir came quickly and decisively. Within a few days, they began agitating against Burhan. The talks exposed divisions in the military council between hardliners and others willing to compromise. Some of the council grumbled that the deal conceded too much without giving the security establishment sufficient protection from an opposition-controlled legislature.
One activist advising FFC negotiators said the May talks broke down because the military council leaders felt boxed in by their own concessions, especially that the FFC would have two-thirds control of the legislature. Crisis Group telephone interview, June On 28 and 29 May, the opposition alliance, pushed by elements such as the Communist Party, organised a general strike that shut down much of the country.
It also spread to government agencies seen as regime strongholds, such as the Central Bank and federal and state ministries. The standoff continued until 3 June, when security forces brutally dispersed the ten-week sit-in that had formed outside army headquarters on 6 April. Opposition medics and media outlets documented that the raid killed up to people. Western diplomats told Crisis Group that though RSF and NISS elements were the main perpetrators of the attack, the military council as a whole appears to have endorsed the strategy to clear the encampment, if not the extreme brutality meted out.
Crisis Group interviews, Nairobi, June-July Some diplomats believe that Gulf powers were sufficiently embarrassed by the perception that they greenlighted the 3 June violence that they shifted toward supporting a negotiated political deal. Increasing hostility from the U.
Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan
The bloody 3 June crackdown marked a turning point. The attack, coupled with a string of arrests, a total shutdown of the internet and a ban on public events, served to re-energise and reunify the opposition alliance. Some sources suspect that certain factions, namely the Umma party, were on course to strike a separate deal with the military council. The massacre on 3 June put an end to those schemes and dampened dissension within the opposition.