Sudan and the 'licking elbows' theory
Sunday, 01 July 2012 15:20 GMT
The name that Sudanese protesters gave their last Friday protests "the Friday of Licking Elbows", had me confused for a long time. I failed to understand what it referred to, until I realised that it is nearly impossible for anybody to lick his own elbow --I then learnt that it attributed to earlier comments by the leaders of the ruling National Congress Party who said that the transfer of the Arab Spring "infection" to Sudan is as impossible as somebody licking his elbow. So, the protesters were saying that they accepted the NCP challenge.
I tried to review the official statements and reactions of NCP officials against the groups participating in the protests, that had initially broken out against new economic austerity measures and price rises, but quickly turned to political protests against the regime itself. However, I failed to find a single sentence or a single description that was not said and reiterated before by the ousted regimes of Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, and needless to say Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
Sudan's President have described the protesters as an "offbeat minority", a description which could be considered the Sudanese equivalent to Gaddafi screaming at his people "WHO ARE YOU?", or the Syrian regime's preferred expression in referring to the protesters as "intruders".
The government explained the crisis with a conspiracy theory, and accused anonymous foreign and internal fronts of trying to exploit the economic crisis. What's worse, the ruling party has found it strange that social protests turned to political demands, using the issue as evidence that they were based on a plot targeting both the state and the people. So, the regime found a solution in opening the door for oppression which includes judicial verdicts against protesters - to be whipped.
All the justifications by the Sudanese regime for their oppression against protesters were made before by the ousted or still struggling Arab regimes. Sometimes those excuses are literally copied. One could find himself saying "I have watched this movie several times before", so nothing new would happen, but we would still be amazed by the congruence between Arab regimes and their insistence on copying the same failed strategies of each other. They will never be able to learn, nor have some sense of creativity regarding reasonable justifications for their failure.
The current regime in Sudan is not the oldest in the region, there are much older ones where the ruler's seat is passed from one aging ruler to another, according to this "obsolete" system of allegiance. These regimes feel proud to have the eldest minister of interior in the world, as well as the eldest prime minister, eldest foreign minister, eldest head of municipality and even the eldest editor-in-chief, along with other world records which fairly deserve to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Perhaps those people can't recognise that the "oldest records" are added to their list of disadvantages rather than their list of honours.
However, the Sudanese regime is on the verge of completing a quarter century in charge. By coincidence, today marks its 24th anniversary, and this is a long enough period (not to say a record) by the measures of democracy, power transfer and human rights. So, it is normal that this period will invite rejection and rage, even if the ruling regime is chaired by angels and not humans, besides being on that took over in a state, which split after 20 years with the NCP in power, and God only knows how many states will emerge out of Sudan in the future.
The Sudanese people are rightful to protest and defend their rights for food, dignity, wealth and security. They have the right to elect their own leaders. They have the right to smell the air of Spring and change, without being accused of treason or disbelief, and of course without being whipped in the streets. They have the right to enjoy their social diversity, away from the ideological and religious fears.
The adoption of Sharia (Islamic Law) in Sudan, as well as giving a religious touch to the ruling regime and the state itself, has resulted in the separation of the south, while more open and liberal policies could have easily maintained the unity of the state regardless of the efforts of the "plotters". However, instead of learning a lesson and trying to reshape the state into a more civilian model, we have seen the regime getting more extreme in implementing Sharia, saying that "as the 'Christian' south has already separated, the Muslim majority in the north have the right to enjoy more of Sharia".
Taking into regard that all these disasters are met with tough economic conditions, which have been exposed to endless wars in almost all the regions of Sudan, it is understandable that people are saying "enough is enough". I believe that the protests taking place in Khartoum, Om Durman, Kisla and other Sudanese cities, are paving the way for a "Sudanese Spring" that will draw more attention from the international media in the near future.
However, exactly like what is happening in Syria, regional and international powers which have scores to settle with Omar al-Bashir's regime, will surely try to exploit the popular movement in Sudan to achieve their own objectives. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be useful for the Sudanese regime to say that the events are pushed by foreign plots - such charges proved useless for Gaddafi's regime in the recent past, and will be proven useless for Bashar al-Assad's regime in the near future, so will the Sudanese regime learn? Otherwise, history will be soon repeated in the large Arab state, which is expected to be converted into an archipelago of tiny states, each for a certain tribe, clan, or language.
God save Sudan and the Sudanese, and protect them from hegemony and arrogance, division and separation, and the endless series of civil wars.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.