Problems on hold
The lands and peoples of Egypt and Sudan are closely linked through their geography and history. The River Nile, Egypt’s lifeblood and major water source, flows into Egypt from Sudan, making the land of Egypt thus the natural downstream extension of Sudan, and Sudan the natural southward extension of the land of Egypt. Another strong bond between the two countries is the historical intimacy between the people of Egypt and the people of Sudan. It was thus no surprise that Egyptians have been observing with keenness and concern the recent political and revolutionary upheaval in Sudan.
Some two months ago, the pent-up wrath of the Sudanese people exploded against the autocratic, tyrannical rule of the despot Omar al-Bashir whose corrupt, discriminatory, divisive policies had led to bitter, prolonged civil wars that terminated with South Sudan splitting from Sudan and forming an independent State; and with Darfur likely to follow suit if international efforts at conciliation fail.
Any observer of the recent turmoil in Sudan will not fail to see the parallels with the Egyptian uprising of 25 January 2011, considered by the international media to be among the so-called Arab Spring uprisings. Back then, repressive political practices and rising prices led the people to revolt. As the people’s unplanned, unorganised protests steadily escalated, the ruler stepped down and the military took over, tasked with supervising a transition period that would lead to the establishment of a democracy. However, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was waiting in the wings; the Islamist movement had meticulously organised its ranks and groomed them to step in and exploit democracy to reach the pinnacle of power and later discard all democratic practice. The result was disastrous, and led to Egyptians in their millions taking to the streets on 30 June 2013, demanding the overthrow of MB rule. The army sided with the people; the Islamist regime was toppled, and Egypt became a secular State.
Egypt’s 25 January 2011 appears to be replaying in Sudan today. The Sudanese popular uprising led the military to topple Bashir, and call upon Sudan’s various political forces to come together for a national dialogue that would set a time and political plan for a transitionary period that would lead to democratic elections and set the stage for a democratic, secular Sudanese State. The military would run the country during the transition period.
We in Egypt followed closely what was going on in Sudan. We sincerely hoped our Sudanese neighbours would succeed in joining hands to set a plan that would lead them to cross over from the darkness of despotism to the light of freedom, democracy, and prosperity.
It appears, however, that Sudan is going down the path Egypt trod back in 2011. Just as the MB in Egypt hijacked power from the nascent popular uprising, the MB in Sudan is attempting to do so. Given that Sudan’s MB movement was the godfather of Bashir’s regime, it obviously is not giving in to the aftermath of his overthrow, since it perfectly understands that the ‘change’ demanded by the Sudanese people is a change from the teachings, tyranny, and power the MB wielded over every aspect of Sudanese life. It is thus staging a bitter fight against that, and in the process exploiting all the instruments it has at hand: power, militias, and arms to abort the Sudanese people’s revolution. It attempts with all its might to sow discord and enmity between the Sudanese people and their military forces which are working hard to protect the revolution. This explains the unchecked violence now on the Sudanese street, the runaway protests and the casualties which are all put to the account of Sudan’s armed forces.
As the horrible news of the situation in Sudan circulated worldwide, international response ranged from condemnation of the Sudanese military for suppressing the revolution and seizing power, to demands of handing power to a civil government, to the punitive measure of suspending Sudan’s membership in the African Union.
Whether these moves are well-intentioned and wish Sudan to have a civil government, or ill-intentioned and wish the MB to seize power in Sudan, the fact remains that no one understands what is going on in Sudan as Egyptians do, because they have been there before. If Sudan falls into the hands of the MB it will turn into a non-State as Libya did, and this means that Egypt will be surrounded by two chaotic failed States at its longest borders, on the east and south. This is perhaps the aim of the Muslim Brothers who still cannot get over the fact that Egypt has slipped through their fingers in a manner frequently described as nothing short of miraculous. Egypt has gone through what Sudan is today undergoing, and was only saved from the dire fate of MB rule through the unity of the Egyptian people and army, and through the grace of God.
The political reports that tackle the Sudanese predicament are not ignorant of the MB conspiracy to drive a wedge between Sudan’s people and army. I pray that the Sudanese would have the vision and wisdom to realise that, and not to allow themselves to be led into the same mess Egypt fell into in the wake of the 25 January 2011 uprising.
16 June 2019