KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The recent encounter between General Abdelfattah Alburhan, Chairman of the Sovereign Council (the head of state) and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was received with utmost fury from all of the Sudanese political organizations.
The two men had met Tuesday in Kampala, in a meeting arranged by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
Though Burhan has said nothing about the meeting other than that Israel has got its request for allowing aircraft heading to and from Israel, the Israeli Premier had blown the propaganda drum that the two countries have engaged in a course for normalization of relations, a claim Burhan has denied without giving details on what had actually happened in the meeting. Burhan had further said he was leaving the rest of the matter for the civilian government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
In any case, it is the meeting itself that unleashed a wave of sharp criticism inside Sudan and in its Arab neighborhood, given Sudan’s decades-long position against the Zionist state and its colonial practices against the People of Palestine.
The Sovereign Council (a combination of military and civilian members) has not said a word on the matter, apparently contented with a personal statement from Burhan justifying the move.
Said Burhan in a written statement read out by the Army official spokesman: “We have taken this move in the very interest of the country’s national security.”
“We have acted in good faith to serve the national security and to realize the high interests of the Sudanese people,” Burhan has said.
In a later development Burhan said the meeting was in response to talks with U.S officials that started three months back. This last statement from General Burhan is probably a response to press Middle East reports, quoting the Washington Post newspaper that meeting was engineered by the United Arab Emirates “with the knowledge” of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In a apparent response to local criticism that the Council of Ministers (the executive) should have taken note of the proposed meeting, Burhan said he had told Premier Hamdok two days before the occurrence, a claim the Council of Ministers Official Spokesman Faisal Mohammad Salih denied following a cabinet meeting early Thursday morning.
In addition to the ban on Israeli aircraft flight in the Sudanese airspace, news reports said Israel was also concerned with about 2000 Sudanese nationals stalled in the Hebrew State and how to repatriate them to their home country. Citizens returning from Israel were routinely arrested and investigated upon their return to Sudan, for fear of acts of espionage. Israeli jets had on some occasions bombarded sites in Sudan it claimed in connection with the belligerency in Gaza, Palestine.
In Burhan’s statement about U.S engagement with the Sudan on the matter of Israel one cannot but mention the decades- long U.S listing of Sudan as a sponsor of international terrorism. The U.S. after the ouster of Omar Albashir, has been promising to remove the Sudan from this list but nothing of material has happened. Whenever talk is renewed on the matter between the two sides, the US would come out with a new precondition.
The lifting of Sudan from this list is crucial for Sudan, given the acute economic hardship that necessitates borrowing from the international lenders, including the IMF and the World Bank, two organizations dominated by the US. Sudan is also in bad need for debit cancellation that could allow the nation to borrow from other world donors, including European countries and financial institutions. There the Sudan requests for funding hits the US rocks, given the US financial primacy that can obstruct any tangible economic dealing with the Sudan.
Apart from the wrangling between the executive and the state council, the political organizations have also reacted sharply to the meeting of Burhan with the Israeli leader.
All shades of opinion from the far right to the far left continue to condemn the incident:
THE FORCES FOR FREEDOM AND CHANGE (FFC)
This is Premier Hamdok’s popular constituency. It is a grouping of political parties and civil society organizations that amounts to over seventy entities and that lead the protests that saw the downfall of General Bashir.
Said the FFC in a statement: “We had no prior knowledge about a scheduled meeting between General Burhan and Netanyahu and we were not consulted on the matter in anyway. This meeting is wrong and can cast negative shadows on the political situation in the country.”
The FFC also said the Constitutional Document governing the transitional period until when democratic elections are organized in 2022, had stipulated that foreign relation were the concern of the Council of Ministers not the Sovereign Council.
“Accordingly, we refuse any violations of the Constitutional Document,” said the FFC statement.
It said it will stand by the rights of the people of Palestine until they attain their freedom and establish their independent state.
THE FAR LEFT
This is represented in the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), a firebrand opponent of the military and its interventions in the politics of the country.
The SCP, in a statement, described Burhan’s meeting with Netanyahu as “treason.”
“We reject the steps for normalizing relations with the State of Israel, as dictated by the Party’s Fourth Congress when it supported the establishment of a Palestinian independent state, with the City of Jerusalem as its capital,” it said.
“This meeting is a stab in the back, treason and contravenes the bonds of common struggle between the peoples of Sudan and Palestine,” it further said.
The Party has also condemned the statement by the Army that approved Burhan’s move.
THE CENTER PARTIES
- The National Umma (Nation) Party
This is Sudan’s second political party in terms of power base. It collected a count of 4 million votes in the 1986 general democratic elections, topped only by the Democratic Party that collected 4.5 million of the public votes.
The Party’s leader, Former Prime Minister Mr. Sadiq Almahdi, has considered the Burhan- Netanyahu incapable of doing the country, the Arab countries or the Palestinians any good.
“This trend from Israel of courting Arab countries individually slams the door finally in the face of any fair, comprehensive peace,” said Almahdi in a press conference.
“The Israeli Premier is pursuing a policy of confrontation with the international resolutions on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict,” he said.
“Cooperation with Netanyahu is a crossing of the redlines. The man is facing criminal charges in his own country and is taking a racist course in leading his country upon the basis that Israel is a purely Jewish state,” he said.
-The Democratic Unionist Party (the Revolutionary Legitimacy)
This is a splinter group from the Democratic Unionist Party and draws its following from some parts of the Gezira State of Central Sudan.
The group’s leader Siddiq Alhindi considered in a statement the meeting “a coup against the Sudanese revolution, its consequences and its path.”
“We refuse normalization with Israel because it contravenes the basics of Sudan’s foreign policy and Sudan’s known position in support of the Palestinian cause,” said Alhindi.
-The Democratic Unionist Party (Proper)
Judging by the results of the 1986 elections in which the party topped the list of winners by 4.5 million votes, the party can still be seen as the country’s biggest political organization in terms of power base. The party is spearheaded by the Almirghani family and its Khatmiyya religious Sufi group.
This party is always very reserved, avoids controversies and disputes. For this, its foes often accuse it of avoiding talk on hot issues. “They always avoid touching hot potatoes,” its adversaries often slander it.
This may be true given the fact that the party has so far kept silent on this event.
THE FAR RIGHT
This current is represented by a collection of fiery Islamists. The current includes the Sudanese Popular Congress (SPC) of the late Hassan Alturabi and other groups, all of which advocate the application of Islamic Sharia law in the country.
The SPC, in a statement, considered the meeting “a stab” to the Palestinian cause and a “staining” of the country’s image.
“We categorically reject this mean step that contradicts the Sudanese People’s positions, their values and principles that always stood in support of the people of Palestine,” said the party.
The party has urged the civilian government for “an honorable patriotic position that returns things to their normal path.”
Another hard line Islamic group, the Current for the Support of Islamic Sharia, also very sharply condemned the move. A group leading figure, Mohammad Abdelkareem, appeared on TV fuming with condemnation of the move which he described as a betrayal of Islam and Muslims.
THE CENTER LEFT
This current is represented by the Pan-Arab socialist parties: the Ba’ath Party and the Naserite Party.
-The Ba’ath Party has rejected the meeting between Burhan and Netanyahu and warned Burhan against “falling into a trap of normalizing relations with Israel.”
“Burhan had done what the defunct regime of General Bashir had failed to do,” the party said in a statement.
“This move is a setback, an ugly drawback in the progress of the Sudanese revolution,” it said.
“Palestine is not for sale or political bargaining,” it said.
The party said it rejects the meeting “and all its consequences.”
-The Naserite Socialist Democratic Party draws its thought from the Late Egyptian Leader Jamal Abdelnasir that advocates what is called: Arab Socialism and Arab unity.
A leader in the party, Lawyer Sati’ Alhaj said “we always consider Israel a cats paw for the designs of the American imperialism in the region.”
“In Sudan we had many bitter experiences with Israel that lead to the breakaway of Southern Sudan in 2011. Israel was behind this break up of the country and is now striving to establish a new country in Western Sudan,” he said.
RESENTMENT IN BURHAN'S OWN COURT
In a serious development, one of Burhan’s senior technocrats has quit his job in protest of the meeting.
Director of the political administration in the State House (The Republican Palace) Rashad Farraj Altayeb has resigned his prestigious office following the meeting between Burhan and Netanyahu.
“After long years in the service of my country and my great nation, I now find it difficult to continue with my job, now that I am obliged to serve a government whose head is seeking to normalize relations with the Zionist entity that occupies the Holy Alaqsa Mosque, kills our people in Palestine and attacks, undeterred, our Arab and Muslim countries,” he said.
E N D