Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 31 December 2018

Going Solo


By Alsir Sidahmed

After more than a week of demonstrations and emerging signals of a new order in the Middle East, Sudan seems to be poised to go solo into unchartered waters.

Eleven days after President Omer al-Bashir’s surprise visit to Syria in what was seen as the first step to break the regional political isolation of leader of the Syrian regime Bashar Al-Assad, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that it was reopening its embassy in Damascus.

The UAE step gives credence to the interpretation that al-Bashir’s visit was in fact coordinated in advance to start the process of rehabilitating al-Assad and his regime and bring him back from the cold.

The moves signal an emerging new order in the region, whereby Russia, Iran and Turkey will have the upper hand. The surprise decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw his troops from Syria without an advance warning and preparations and even without any coordination with supporting local forces like the Kurds or regional and international allies who came together to fight ISIS sends a strong message that the Trump administration is not keen in playing a significant role in the region. And it is up to Moscow, Tehran and Ankara to shape course of events starting with Syria, where Ankara and under the pretext of fighting the Kurds is preparing to move in.

The eventual rehabilitation of the Syrian regime is an acknowledgement from the Gulf States in particular of the reality that Al-Assad regime is here to stay. More important it concurs to the Damascus argument that the uprising against it was fueled basically by the Islamists under their various banners. The current leaders in Saudi Arabia and UAE are no longer strangers to such argument, if not outright supporters.

These changes come at the time Sudan is undergoing one of its main challenges, where both the economic and political crises are intermingling in an unprecedented way that poses serious questions about the future of the regime and whether it will be able to take the necessary steps to overhaul itself and face up to mounting challenges.

However, despite the fact the Ingaz regime is known to be Islamist, but for many in the region they can live up with the regime they have known for long. And that is a better option than dealing with a new regime that revives unwelcomed memoirs of the Arab Spring.

The cold reception of the popular uprising in the region is not new as far as Sudan is concerned. The past two uprisings of 1964 and 1985 in Sudan that resulted in regime change were not welcomed in both the Arab and African regions. Simply put they have produced a multi-party political systems, with a good margin of freedom, but that is an unwelcomed political development in the region.

The irony is that both the Ingaz regime and its opponents are going on solo without any significant support as seen clearly throughout the region in the absence of any positive reaction to support the regime and bail it out in its hour of dire need, nor even providing some lip service that could be seen as moral support to the opposition in its popular uprising. And the lesson to draw from all this is that Sudan on both sides of the regime and its opponents has to take its future path into its own without banking in anyway on some foreign help.

This is another factor to take into consideration while looking for a historic deal through an honest national reconciliation able to make a remarkable breakthrough. It is hard to expect a genuine change in Sudan’s political scene that does not include segments of the Islamists, while at the same time it is hard to expect the viability of the continuation of the status quo, which for all practical purposes seems to be running out of time.

At the time there is a need for a creative political imagination to reach out to Islamists sitting on the fence and persuade them to be part of the block for change, it is the duty of those very Islamists who see how their dreams and program ended in this ruinous way to stand up to their colleagues who are running the show with a red flag.

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