To where is the deterioration of security and the economy leading Sudan?

By Salah Shuaib

December 25, 2015 (SSNA) — In following what is happening in Sudan, one cannot be sure about what issue should be addressed first. Perhaps people are unable to read all the bad news pouring out of the country via social media every day. Such stories reveal some of what is going on, but Khartoum’s media suffers under the restrictions of Sudan’s constitution and the theoretical interpretation of its contents. Moreover, the Sudanese media is restricted from reporting real news; articles that address the roots of events and issues are often suppressed by the government. In addition, print media is suffering from a decline in readership, a lack of journalistic professionalism, and daily confrontations with a heavy press industry. 

The biggest challenge now for Sudanese newspapers is how to deal with President Omar al-Bashir’s announcement that he intends to care personally about the media. The president’s statement struck many in the press as threatening in tone. Of course, the private media channels owned by Sudanese Islamists have been eager to hide the truth by distracting people with programs that do not deeply address serious issues, but footnotes. 

The news leaked from inside the country barely tells us about the cruelty of the regime. Now, Sudanese officials are worried by the news covering the lack of security throughout the Sudan’s territories, including within the capital. From the first look, one will find that the roots of this problem arise from the erosion of the country’s security institutions and the judiciary’s long-standing ignorance of its responsibilities. This failure shows us that the regime’s basic priority is to maintain its own safety and security, not that of all Sudanese citizens. 

Journalistic writing on the situation in Sudan has become pointless. Given the obvious failure of the Islamist experiment, it seems unwise to suggest that achieving peace and security requires ending the war through negotiation with forces still carrying weapons, or expediting judicial procedures, or supporting the government’s forces with cars or, as the president said, using the country’s entire budget to fund the army to protect Sudan. What is strange is that some political figures and senior opposition writers are calling for reforms within the country’s security institutions to enable them to protect citizens in areas of conflict. 

Addressing the security issue in Sudan will not be achieved by issuing political statements that appeal to power to stop the war without available governmental mechanisms to do so. The deterioration in security cannot be stopped by publishing disinterested articles that call for the resignation of the minister or the director general of the police for their failure to maintain peace in the country. 

To be sure, the issue of peace and security in Sudan is connected to the nature of the authoritarian power structure that brought the lives of its citizens to this critical juncture. The issue can only be practically addressed via the creation of a state that is satisfactory to the Sudanese citizenry. There are three ways by which this theoretical state may be brought into being: (1) if Islamists were to decide to give up power in exchange for participation in an interim government, (2) if the regime were to be toppled by a popular revolution, or (3) if the country’s armed forces had the power to change the regime in favor of the state of citizenship, as they advocate. But it is foolish to imagine that Sudan’s Islamists will hand over power to the people voluntarily. In all likelihood, the security situation will continue to deteriorate; thus, it is fair to say that the fate of Sudan lies in the hands of God. 

As for the country’s economic state, there are many oddities. While the Minister of Finance says that “hard currency rises for psychological reasons”, the economic situation has become commonplace, in looking to the structural deficit in helping the position of national currency. 

Sudan’s economic news discloses how Islamist corruption has affected people’s lives. The state has become a slush fund for Islamists who control its resources, trade, and investments without transparency and accountability. They have spent all of the state’s oil revenues, destroyed agricultural projects, and exploited usurious loans that created wealthy companies for governmental officers. It appears that the Merawi Dam was not a practical answer for opposition parties, but rather a way to facilitate corruption and to bury Chinese industrial waste, as the media later discovered. 

There is no need to put forth evidence of the elements that have worsened living conditions of Sudanese citizens, who have stopped participating in industrial, agricultural, and livestock production, or whether, as a result, these citizens have emigrated, gone searching for gold, been concentrated in camps for displaced persons, enlisted in armed movements, and so on. 

In light of this societal development, Sudan’s Islamists turned out to be the biggest investors in the Gulf countries’ subsidies, notwithstanding the latter’s being in violation of their political principles and its endangerment of the lives of our troops engaged in Yemen’s war, in which sectarian, regional, and international conflicts intersect. 

President Bashir has shown us that, for the sake of his own personal safety, he is ready to sacrifice the lives of these thousands of helpless Sudanese sent to Yemen to fight on behalf of another state. He and his inner circle unashamedly promise Sudanese that these subsidies will boost the country’s treasury resources to soon alleviate the suffering of the citizenry. States are not administered by outside subsidies, however, but by facilitating instruments for production and employing the minds of economists, agricultural experts, and other professionals to better the conditions of the country. But how does the Islamist experiment benefit from the efforts of others it originally came to get rid of their duties, despite their high qualifications and achievements? 

For the foreseeable future, there appear to be no ready solutions for the security, economic, and other problems affecting the lives of Sudanese citizens. The country’s tragedy will continue worsening until the occurrence of one of the scenarios anticipated by a number of political experts. Perhaps the regime’s opponents and respected readers are aware of these scenarios and their potential consequences. But the question is, for how long will non-politicized elites continue in their ignorance of supporting the mobility of the people to get rid of Islamist despotism (this if we imagine that the elites involved in politics have failed to play their major role)?

Salah Shuaib is a Sudanese writer and journalist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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