June 11, 2009 – The alert to the dying constitutionality of the National Union Government (NUG), the transitional government that entrenched the Brotherhood’s military coup violent reign since June 30th, 1989, to the signing days of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in the year 2005, up to the designated date of running national elections in July 2009 by provision of the peace treaty, was interestingly announced by two intellectuals at the extreme ends of the Sudanese political spectrum: al-Tayeb Zain al-’Abdin, a former top official of the Muslim Brotherhood political party, the coup beneficiary National Islamic Front (then the ruling NCP), and Farouq Abu Eissa, a liberal politician, former Secretary General of the Arab Lawyers Union.
The agreement of these two different politicians on the termination of this violent totalitarian regime, which continued to bleed the Sudanese body with uninterrupted killings, robberies, and grievous hurt, is indicative of the ultimate triumph of wisdom and the prevailing truth of righteousness from whoever it might emerge. Would the faltering junta listen? Not yet, unfortunately! Instead, many indications reflect the NIF/NCP rejection of the constitutional realities terminating their rule, as the top officials of the regime continue by unabated plans to curtail public liberties to destroy the national economy for partisan gain.
Chief of these indications is the NIF/NCP ferocious attacks on the peace partner, the SPLM, by the chief executive of the party Omer al-Bashir who threatened to ban SPLM activities in the North, besides an earlier media assault by the chief spokesperson of the ruling party Ghazi Salahaddin at the National Assembly accusing the South authorities of wasting billions of dollars without accountability. These public attacks are deliberately planned at a time the ruling party should be quite prepared to step down for an All-Sudanese Transitional Government to run the national elections in the best mode and manners attainable, in full collaboration with autonomous national and international monitoring groups.
STATE VIOLENCE BREEDS POPULAR VIOLENCE
Twenty years of the Brotherhood governance, however, generated significant lessons to the Muslim world, in general, and the Sudanese, in particular. When the Brotherhood NIF allied with dictator Nimeiri (1979-1985) to transform from a negligible political group to a major opposition party in the elected Constituent Assembly of 1986-1989, sizable sections of the electorate were impressed with the fast-growing richness of the Brotherhood by the Faisal Islamic Banks and the quick-fix they managed to maintain after the Nimeiri fall in April 1989 since they evaded successfully deserved trials for their corrupted dealings prior to the April Popular Uprising.
Noted by many writers, the NIF emergence as a newly-established Sudanese “religious” elite attracted thousands of the educated, unemployed, city and village youth to join ranks of the party disappointed in the poorly equipped, rather fragmented, disorganized long years’ persecuted liberal parties of the Umma, the DUP, and the communists’ main political parties in the country.
The increased growth of the SPLM/A new group, however promising it appeared, was not parallel to the experienced Brotherhood civilian movement (since the 1950s) with the large professional and technical support it excessively gained from state management positions in the Nimeiri State and the continuous financial and organizational pouring support from the International Brotherhood Movement in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, and other nations.
But the ascendancy of the NIF to a totalitarian regime modeling the Iranian brutal politics and forcing cultural, ideological, and political change over the indigenous structures by civil wars, acts of genocide, state terrorism, abuse of authority, sequestration of property, and other crimes against humanity was violently resisted too by the largest sections of the population in South and North Sudan. The first lesson heavily drawn from these brutalities was that no government, no matter how it might be supported by national collaborators or international jinn, would subdue the People of Sudan.
PAGES OF FINANCIAL CORRUPTION
On another page of the Brotherhood 20-year’s dying government, the publicities of the NIF/NCP financial and economic corruption was indeed unprecedented. The wisdom anticipated of a departing government, however, is not shared by the NCP ruling groups or the state-managers working in their service in the public service, or those gearing and engineering a huge wealth of Sudan Treasury in the partisan interests of the NCP mentor, the economic giant of the International Muslim Brotherhood intercontinental and global businesses.
One such rejection of the constitutional death certificate of the Brotherhood 20-year dictatorship came without fear from the minister of agriculture Al-Mut’afi and the governor of Gezira al-Zubair, who dared to privatize for partisan interests the country’s backbone development project that shouldered with cotton and wheat production the country’s main revenue, before the oil boom, for almost a century.
The minister and his governor collaborated with a show of violence terrorizing the farmers of Gezira in the capital city of Medani only to process one of the cheapest tenders of state property (whole establishments of agricultural engineering, a railways department, Sudan cotton ginning mills, and two national factories for spare parts and clearance of irrigation channels in the million hectares project!). The only beneficiary of this unprecedented privatization was GIAD, an international business that never before had any existence in Sudan until the Bashir coup surrendered the wealth and the communities of the People of Sudan to the Brotherhood’s wealth-thirsty “religious” groups.
The NIF/NCP demeanor towards the state property or the interests of people is well-documented in hundreds of cases involving NIF robberies of private property (as is the well-known cases of Magdi and Girgis who were extra-judicially killed early in 1990 to justify the robbery of their monies by a member of the NIF Revolutionary Council), the appropriation of state factories and enterprises by NIF businesses, the destruction of Sudan Railways, Sudan Airways, and many other national economic and financial firms.
Added to the annual embezzlement of billions of dollars by government officials or supporters (according to Auditor-General reports), there would be so much desired by the succeeding governments of Sudan to 1) collect in detail the stolen treasuries; 2) determine personal responsibilities of state personnel/NCP leaderships; and 3) put to trial the accused before the Independent Judiciary to restore public monies and state credibility.
International testimonies are by far more transparent than many national or regional reports possibly were. Added to several international agencies on state financial transparency, the well-reputed International Monetary Fund and the World Bank diplomatic style in exposing government’s performance could not conceal the dramatic failures of the Sudanese economy and the serious loopholes in its public finances, despite big strides by the oil revenues in late years. Let us examine a few examples from the record.
THE WORLD BANK TESTIMONY
“After more than a decade hiatus of WB engagement in Sudan,” Report No, 41840-SD discussed in a synthesis report “Sudan Public Expenditure Review” (December 2007). The country’s political economy was seen in terms of a futile political and security context with weak human development outcomes. “The vision of fiscal decentralization is a key aspect of a unified and peaceful Sudan, potentially addressing inequalities and the most causes of the conflict.”
The WB recipe to reform public spending/accountability touched deeply upon the consequences of oil exploitation, which facilitated an increase in national wealth but “brought a myriad of problems, additional pressure for expenditure, and reduced pressure to undertake key fiscal reforms to ensure stability, in addition to limited information and monitoring procedures.” For this writer the WB diplomatic mention of “rent-seeking behavior” is indeed exemplified by the fact the Sudan Auditor-General documented about tens of millions of dollars placed in the hands of al-Bashir Presidency every without reference in the Ministry of Finance.
The WB stated that Sudan has thus far not benefitted fully from the recent rise in global oil prices, “since much of its crude production is now of a lower quality and had been fetching unexpectedly low prices.” This heart-breaking evaluation, however, must not pass unwatched. The government’s fire walls around the oil deals have aroused continuous inquiries in the National Parliament to no avail.
But the oil contribution with a fluctuating 45% average since 2000 should never blur the fact that the revenue pumped into government hands by the tax-payers, individuals or companies, for high taxation, high customs, and low salaries (if ever paid) to the working force is a major component of the budget despite the disproportional spending on education, health, agricultural compensations, or any income-generating projects to alleviate poverty in the marginal regions. In fact, the largest share of the country’s annual monies is largely possessed by the Federal Government, regardless of relative improvements in the transfers made to the South and the Northern States.
Oil deals are the state leverage a totalitarian regime would never surrender. And most likely, the dying regime would step down with all oil secrets tightly kept in its own hands. China and the Asian shareholders Qatar, Pakistan, Malaysia, and India, nonetheless, are held accountable before the Sudanese for the transactions and secretive commissions of Sudan oil with the NIF/NCP rulers.
Another significant area of the WB report spoke about the federal government’s 60 + percent annual total expenditures of the total budget (after allowing about 30 percent to the Government of South Sudan by CPA). That leaves unfulfilling resources to the States with meager spending on roads, education, and health compared to big monies for defense, security, and the presidency classified funds: “In the national level, budget credibility is hampered by limited costing and prioritization of sector and thematic policies during the budget preparation operates, as well as execution volatility.”
The Khartoum reluctance to provide adequate flows of money to the States is thoroughly explained in the NIF/NCP policy to retain the largest amounts of funds under the President, Vice-President Taha, and the federal ministers of oil and minerals, defense, and security over all legitimate needs of the States to sustain agricultural products, expand education and health, and maintain better living standards for rural Sudan.
One glance at the most recent sale-out of the Gezira Scheme key factories and railways, together with the open strike by all universities and high institutes of education against the government’s default to pay regular salaries and other reimbursements suffices to assess the steep crisis of partisan policies that ravaged the national economy for 20 consecutive years of Brotherhood rule.
The WB noted that “deviations from approved budget have improved since 2000, though 2006 experienced a low 87 percent execution rate due to oil revenue shortfalls. Development funding is a key component for CPA implementation and poverty reduction but has been volatile and heavily concentrated in a handful of large endeavors.” The WB evaluative document concluded in the fact that, “Notwithstanding ongoing efforts by the authorities, public financial management systems in Sudan are generally weak.”
The 1986-89 elected government was destined to face out many of the problems inherited from the Nimeiri regime (1969-85). Little wonder, the partisan single party presidential system of the Brotherhood totalitarian regime reproduced the same crises in public spending: negligible funds for the basic needs pauperizing the bulk of the poor farmers, workers, and employees of the State versus partisan expenditures and abuses of the treasury to fatten the ruling elite.
The succeeding government of the NIF/NCP-controlled Government of National Unity will find the same fate: inheriting a faltering economy, rubbed treasury, and mountains of technical and professional shortcomings in the management of the nation’s finances (For detailed articles on the WB Report as well as commentaries on the Auditor-General annual reports that supported with financial analysis the WB evaluations of the country’s public expenditures management, see Issue 29 of the Sudanese Human Rights Quarterly, forthcoming; shro-cairoupdated.org).
IMPORTING ANOMALIES IN THE SUDANESE LIFE
It is not all about politics and economics; it takes more than that to rule a people, let alone a Sudan composed of hundreds of ethno-regional entities with multi-linguistic, multi-religious, and multi-social societies.
The worst pages perhaps of the NIF dying rule are pertinent to the human rights record that made of the Sudan Government an international culprit, killing everyday a number of citizens by extra-judicial court sentences or clandestine air bombardments or displacement in the Sahara and other deadly environments, as is taking place in Darfur for more than 5 consecutive years. Not only that; but the regime transgressed all sisterly relations with the surrounding nations: Chad, Eritrea, Uganda, even Egypt by protecting Brotherhood allies in a shameless attempt on the life of President Mubarak in Addis Ababa.
The occurrence of human rights violations in the course of governance is possible and is accountable all over the world. But the breadth and depth of the NIF/NCP gross human rights violations is anomalous, simply because committing the worst typologies of national or international human rights violations is an organic part of the governance toll of the regime.
Consider for a moment the years’ daily causation of death by starvation and killing deprivations for millions of the Darfur innocent citizens. Consider the tortures in the Ghost Houses (an Iranian-taught method of harassing political enemies the NIF top security official ‘Ali Nafi’ studied in the opening months of the NIF military coup in June 89). One ever memorable case is the killing of a popular doctor, Ali Fadl, in a ghost house by members of the NIF Salvation Revolutionary Council for political reasons.
Another example is the unprecedented killings of 200 or more officers in Juba, as well as 28 officers and much more regulars in Khartoum, by death squads of the ruling junta in cold blood in the early 1990s. before these dates, however, hundreds of citizens were eliminated in ghost houses all over the country of which only a few were made famous in Khartoum by the politicians who condemned publicly the NIF junta in and outside the country, as soon as they were released from jail.
OBAMA SPEECH AND THE MUSLIM WORLD
The obama visit to Egypt, the largest Arab Muslim nation, and his speech before a significant gathering of Egyptian political and intellectual audience at the University of Cairo was widely discussed by Muslims throughout the world. For many reasons, the speech was apt to receive this popularity. Not only that the eloquent Obama attracted a billion plus Muslims to listen carefully to his words; but the speech inspired the listeners throughout the globe with an unprecedented equalitarian mode of addressing fellows of a religion to which he doesn’t personally belong, but might have occasionally known in the course of his life.
Obama succinct emphasis on the similarities, rather than the differences between his Christian religion, Judaism and Islam, the three Abrahams-descent monotheistic religions, was another source of admiration to his speech. Instead of arousing tensions and schisms between major religions in the world, the American President stressed the similarities between these religions in the deep concerns for the right to life and the right to the good life with freedoms and human rights - virtues that both the Abrahams and the modern international human rights norms cherish and struggle to apply together with billions others of the planet’s population.
Particularly important, Obama outlined the common agenda that Muslims, Christians, and Jews should work together to make true in the face of the common threats facing their lives in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Subsequently, the agenda are extended to bring together close cooperation in trade, academia, technology, and a developing list perhaps of mutual benefits to the two partners, America and the Muslim World.
The Obama speech was amazingly applicable on a number of states in the Muslim World. Of these, we will not fail to read the case of the so-called “religious” rule of the NIF/NCP mongers in the Bilad al-Sudan:
The President’s pledge not to ignore sources of terrorism; his belief that violence is a dead end, for “Whoever saves a person is as he has saved all mankind,” as he cited the Holy Qur’an, and his emphasis that a transparent government does not steal from people, beside his concerns for the right to speak one’s mind and select who rules, religious freedoms, women’s rights, and staying together in shared objectives and mutual economic interests comprise a program for which violent, suppressive, dehumanizing, war mongering regimes are not possible candidates.
An all-Sudanese, democratic, non-partisan transitional government is the right candidate to serve the People of Sudan and to improve the country’s failing image in the international arena.
Interestingly, the largest Muslim Brotherhood group in Egypt reacted strangely to the Obama’s visit. A day or two before the visit, the Jazeera Channel hosted a top speaker of the group who spoke loudly against the visit claiming that, “it would divide the Muslim peoples against themselves, and is not prone to improve the situation of Muslims in Palestine, Pakistan, or Afghanistan.”
As usual, the Brotherhood speaker did not care to mention a million Darfuri Muslims brutalized in Darfur by the Sudanese Brotherhood ruling junta, the same displaced humans about whose humanitarian affairs Obama, his predecessor President Bush, and the American peoples at large have been gravely concerned as is the Sudanese and the International Community since the early days of the crisis.
The anomalous position of the Egyptian Brotherhood came ahead in the hour immediately following the Obama speech: the chief leader of the group welcomed Obama and requested the American administration to open a new page in the Brotherhood-USA relations!
The Obama Administration might pay attention to the role the Egyptian Brotherhood and the kindred are yearning to play perhaps to reduce tensions between peoples in conflict in the area, especially the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Darfur-Government of Sudan conflict, the Turkish-Kurds conflict, the Taliban-Pakistan, and the Taliba-Afghanistan conflicts, etc.
The question though is whether the Brotherhood would transform its own original “religious program” inherited from Leader Al-Bana (1952) that committed the group to the grandiose duties of “liberating the Islamic nations from foreign influence” and “setting-up Islamic systems of rule in the liberated societies.” These obligations never were confined to sheer ideological propaganda; but they were actualized in a number of attempts to up-side-down the State of Egypt, and were used further to topple and to rub the State of Sudan by the Brotherhood’s military and civilian groups in the June 1989 coup.
With this tumultuous record, a legitimate question is outstanding: Would the Brotherhood groups in Egypt or elsewhere ever live peacefully with the other political parties and civil society groups to be able to play a sincere role of national and regional reconciliation in the Middle East and other locations?
WHAT COMES NEXT? A FEW PREDICTIONS
The experience of the Sudanese Brotherhood in governance since 1979 with dictator Nimeiri, through the 1980s in the democratic government of Sadiq al-Mahdi, up to the 20-year single party dictatorship of Omer al-Bashir shows clearly the non-credibility of the Brotherhood groups to rule over Muslim nations peacefully.
The Brotherhood may succeed in sharing civilian democratic life without violent transformation of power relations by military coup or other chaotic techniques only if the Brotherhood denounces its own code of politics, the ultimate law that since 1952 governs the daily programs of the group to this day.
The Sudanese, whose unique social fabric and deep potentialities for pluralism and diversity have permanently resisted and/or overthrown totalitarian regimes by all means possible, will never subscribe to the Brotherhood system(s) of rule.
The costly, failing, and most tragic years of the Nimeiri/NIF/NCP controlled governments suffice as the clearest evidence for this political prediction: Sudan will march to democratic rule, no matter how much time or effort it takes for rejecting regimes to surrender in the final analysis to the Will of People, then to account for major crimes before national and international courts.
* The author is a sociologist at the Department of Social Work & Sociology in Tennessee State University, Nashville TN, USA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org