Sudan is a country that has been ruined by over 40 years of “civil” wars in which the big imperialist powers have been involved from the start. The various armed conflicts have left over two million dead in South Sudan and Darfur, and led to a general impoverishment which has given rise to numerous hunger revolts against the military and Islamist regimes which have succeeded each other since “independence”.
Beginning in December 2018, Sudan has been shaken by a powerful social movement composed of strikes and massive demonstrations which have been violently repressed by the Islamo-military regime, resulting in hundreds dead and thousand imprisoned or “disappeared”. At the start the movement was spontaneous with a massive presence of workers and the poor: “people want bread (the price of which was tripled on 18 December), fuel, cash, medicines… as long as the petty bourgeoisie that was not interested in politics could prosper or just survive, the frustrations of the poorest layers of society were not enough to launch a big protest movement. But the economic paralysis obliged the white collar workers to line up with other workers in the food queues”. In fact, massive strikes broke out again and again, paralysing the main cogs of the economy and administration, to the point where the military/state bodies dumped their great leader, Omar Al Bashir, in order to placate the “streets”. At the beginning this was a movement initiated by the working class which has a numerical weight in a country where the oil sector is a significant part of the economy, which came out onto the streets against the degradation of its living conditions.
However, a part of the bourgeoisie was very quickly able to exploit the weaknesses of this movement. In a country where the proletariat remains very isolated, has little experience of the traps lying in wait for it, the bourgeoisie did not have much difficulty in derailing this movement onto the terrain of settling scores between various factions vying for control of the state. The “democratic” forces around the Association of Professionals of Sudan (APS) were able to contain and channel the movement by calling for “the transfer of power to a transitional civil government in which the army would participate”. The social movement was rapidly taken over by bourgeois organisations whose primary aim was the installation of a “democratic government” that would do a better job of managing national capital. “In October 2016, a nucleus was formed around the grouping of three entities: The Central Committee of the Doctors, the Network of Journalists and the Democratic Alliance of Lawyers. At the end of 2018, the APS sealed the union of fifteen professional bodies which supported the demonstrators who had come onto the streets on 19 December to protest against the high cost of living, the day after a decision to triple the price of bread. Very quickly demands linked to the economic crisis and the fall in purchasing power evolved into calls for the fall of the regime”. This Association also managed to federate all the opposition parties into a collation ranging from the Republican Party to the Stalinists and including the Islamists and certain armed groups.
The social movement thus became the open expression of a purely statist and bourgeois orientation, for which the working class would soon pay a price. Last August, a technocratic “transitional” government was named under the leadership of an executive organ composed of six civilians and six military leaders. When we know that the army leaders who had carried out the bloody repression against the demonstrations (between 180 and 250 deaths in less than six months) have maintained the same posts in the repressive apparatus (defence and interior) in the new “transitional” government, there can be no room for illusions about the ending of the poverty and killings suffered by the working class and the oppressed strata.
As for the hypocritical concert of applause from the media and all the big sharks who welcomed the so-called “change of regime”, like Macron who rushed to announce “unconditional support for the democratic transition” following a meeting with the new president Abdalla Hamdok on 30 September. We should not be fooled: the population faces more poverty and more massacres.
What’s more, Sudan is under the influence of a whole number of imperialist powers (especially those in the Gulf) which the regime depends on to survive: “In Sudan, the head of the Military Council of Transition (MCT) got the ‘green light’ from Saudi Arabia and its regional allies to launch the repression against the demonstrators who had for several weeks (since 6 April) been camping out in front of military HQ in Khartoum – this was underlined by a Sudanese military expert. According to this specialist who wants to remain anonymous, the destruction of the protest camp on 3 June had been discussed during the recent visit of general Abdul Fattah Al Bourhan, the leader of the MCT to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. And according to an Algerian-Sudanese analyst, on 21 April, Ryad and Abu Dhabi announced that they would pour 3 billion dollars into Sudan. They wouldn’t have done this without getting something in return. What they expected was not democracy but the preservation of their economic interests”.
Obviously, the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates in Sudan can’t be explained by purely economic interests, but also, and above all, by their desire for hegemony in the face of their imperialist rivals. Sudan participates directly in the slaughter in Yemen, with 14,000 soldiers at the disposal of the murderous Saudi regime. We should also recall that the same coalitions of murderers are confronting each other in Sudan, Libya and Syria for the same reasons, i.e. the preservation of their sordid capitalist and imperialist interests.
Amina, November 2019