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Sudan and the ‘Poor’ State - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sudan is a country that has always been described as a ‘rich’ Arab state, on account of its agricultural capacity, mineral reserves, readily available water supply, fertile geography, and the capabilities of its diverse populace. However, the political disarray in Sudan has meant that this potential is only ‘theoretical’, and just black ink on white paper, providing neither profit nor nourishment.

The people of Sudan have endured a diverse political menu of problems. At times, the country championed a right-wing ideology, whilst on other occasions it leaned towards the socialist camp, whereby the public became “the brothers of the struggle”, and the ruling leaders were “the comrades”. Then came the sudden decision to apply Shariaa law. Politicians seized upon young delinquents, and cut off their hands as a punishment for stealing. However, they forgot to apply the same punishments to those [in power] who were “consuming” public money. After this ‘selective’ application of Shariaa was overlooked, an emergency system of governance was installed with its iron fist, prisons and secret police. Then the democratic trend returned, along with political parties, after a coalition government was formed promising civil authority, and parliamentary elections. It was a period of media freedom, bold platforms and an active parliament, yet the ruling government was weak, erratic and fragmented. Most recently, a military coup occurred [in 1989], known ironically by the term “the National Salvation Revolution”, (in a manner similar to the July Revolution in Egypt, which was initiated by a military coup, launched by a handful of officers).

The National Salvation Revolution led to the abolition of newspapers, the suspension of parliament, and the imprisonment of opposition members. A military government was installed, with its senior members controlling the country’s resources and companies. Discontent became clear amongst those who felt that their care, attention and development had been neglected. Voices were raised crying out injustice, and subsequently began to call for independence, and a way out of this odious hegemony. All this was happening under the watchful eye of the current Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir.

Today, al-Bashir sees the south of his country, and the major source of oil wealth, preparing to secede from the motherland, and thus disprove the pretense that Sudan is a homeland to accommodate all. He must assess his position, even if just a little, and realize that he has now seriously entered a stage of political bankruptcy. Sudan is no longer a low-income country economically, but its poverty has been inflicted by al-Bashir’s politics. This political poverty is characterized by the ‘threat’ that Sudan will implement Shariaa law in the event of a separation between the north and the south!

Al-Bashir’s threat to implement Shariaa law comes across as if he is threatening to use a nuclear weapon or oil as a weapon, and to this we say; Brother, adopt Shariaa law or don’t adopt it!

Al-Bashir’s final political playing card is to become the ‘Wali al Faqih’, or the spiritual leader of the National Salvation Revolution. He has already described himself as military, then political, then electoral, then southern, Darfuri, northern, and national, and finally economic. Now he must play the religious role!

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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