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The Beginning of a New Term - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Just two weeks after his so-called presidential re-election, he ended the victory celebrations and began the torture campaign. The most important decision made by the re-elected Sudanese President [Omar al Bashir] was to mount a new offensive in the Darfur region and during the offensive, al Bashir’s forces proudly stated that they had killed 108 insurgents and arrested the 78-year-old opposition leader Sheikh Hassan al Turabi. This is precisely how al Bashir began his new term in office. He proceeded on the 20-year-old path of violence, wars and arrests in the largest country in Africa and the Arab world.

Al Bashir won international silence regarding his presidential win in exchange for Southern Sudan. He pledged and signed an agreement granting Southern Sudan the right to vote for independence in 2011. This makes al Bashir the first ruler in the modern history of Sudan to relinquish national soil, or rather, give away half of the country’s territory. Southern Sudan is inevitably heading toward secession after al Bashir agreed and signed what can be called the right to vote for remaining under- or gaining independence from- Khartoum. If the South votes for independence, it would be the biggest case of secession in the Arab world since the end of colonialism.

Al Bashir thinks that the Sudanese people will remain silent when the time comes for Southern Sudan to secede and declare its independence; the whole world, not just the Sudanese people, will turn against him and those who remained silent will cry out in protest and pursue him. Al Bashir will eventually be tried, not only for the appalling crimes he has committed against the people of Darfur but also for what he has done to Sudan as a whole.

Many people in Sudan today have chosen to remain silent out of fear. The West gave al Bashir its blessing because it wants to settle the problem of Southern Sudan once and for all. This is just a temporary period. The West knows that al Bashir will not be president forever; somebody else will come and take over whether through elections or a coup d’etat. The latest elections in Sudan made the main political parties realize that al Bashir used them as false witnesses to a forbidden marriage, merely to justify the secession of the south.

Al Bashir ordered the arrest of Sheikh al Turabi because the man refuses to remain silent. Of all Sudanese opposition leaders, al Turabi has the most right to criticize al Bashir as he was the only religious leader who supported him during the 1989 coup believing that al Bashir’s government would come to the rescue just as al Bashir promised. To his disappointment, al Turabi came to discover, as years went by, that al Bashir used him so that he could rise to power and gain legitimacy before turning on him.

What caused al Bashir’s anger and panic was that the Rai al Shaab newspaper, run by al Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP), published a detailed feature on the suspected cooperation between al Bashir’s regime and the Iranian regime. Al Bashir hastened to confiscate all issues of the newspaper available on the market and to block access to its website. He arrested and led al Turabi to an unknown destination, most probably the horrific Kobar prison in Khartoum.

If al Bashir believes that others are unaware of his dealings with the Iranians, and are unaware of the existence of Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ camps and of a special weapons factory in Sudan [affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards] and covert Iranian attempts in Khartoum to infiltrate the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt then he is certainly mistaken. The presence of the Revolutionary Guards in Sudan is no longer a secret; however, it is al Bashir’s persistence in trying to hide that is inexplicable.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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