SUDAN: Reactionary Military Attempts to Quell Masses

by Zein Amari

Months after President Omar Al-Bashir violently repressed protests against his rule, killing forty, now the military that deposed him has taken up the role of putting down the rebelling Sudanese masses.

On June 19, 2019, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) said that it would hold negotiations with the opposition about a transfer of power. According to Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, “we are ready to continue negotiations with the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces,” going on to admit that several coup attempts within the TMC had already happened.

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Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Chairman of the TMC and de facto head of state in Sudan

Burhan feigned regret over what had happened to protesters during a sit-in at army headquarters, with multiple reports that 118 people were killed by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on June 3. In a public address, he maintained the lie that the number of people killed and injured was inflated.

The Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), a loose alliance of various political parties, associations, and trade unions, said in a statement that it won’t accept the TMC downplaying the massacre. Many believe that the massacre from the RSF was orchestrated by Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Daglo, who was the leader of a gang of off-shoot militias, the Janjaweed, that were accused of carrying out genocide and other crimes against the masses from 2003 to 2008.

In December 2018, the Sudanese government turned to cuts in food and fuel to avoid economic collapse brought on by US sanctions and loss of oil revenue. Along with the devaluation of the Sudanese Pound, the austerity measures sparked an uproar from the masses. Taking advantage of the situation, the military led a coup against Bashir, arresting him on charges of corruption and established the TMC.

The TMC had originally called for a three-month state of emergency and a transitional period of two years to prepare for a civilian government, while the opposing DFCF has been calling for a faster transition.

While Bashir was still in power, he reached out to ally Saudi Arabia for help, but his plea fell on deaf ears. After Bashir was ousted, however, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent $3 billion in aid to the TMC. The two Gulf states are seeking to maintain their relationship with Sudan so that its military will continue to support Saudi forces in the war on Yemen.

The United Nations, in particular Germany, Britain, and now the US, are pushing for negotiations between the TMC and DFCF. Under the guise of concern for democracy, these imperialist nations, mainly US imperialism, support the transition to a civilian government in order to return to the prior exploitation and oppression of Sudan.

German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said in reference to the TMC, “Legitimacy cannot come from the barrel of a gun.” Contrary to this pacifist fantasy, the TMC has maintained its political power precisely through its monopoly on violence in the country.

As has been reported, the masses distrust the TMC, but the leaders of the DFCF, who previously called for a general strike and other forms of resistance, have encouraged workers to go back to work following the massacre. The general strike resulted in the most trafficked areas of the capital city Khartoum being deserted, yet leaders of the protests said in order to avoid further escalation with armed forces they will cancel the strike.

As many of the Sudanese people have said, this is a struggle for democracy. In the era of world revolution, it must be a struggle for New Democracy, one that is achieved through People’s War. Rather than agitating the masses to action in response to the massacre and doubling down on the strike, the DFCF leadership has chosen conciliation out of fear of more violence.

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Lone protester stands with Sudanese flag.

It is not wrong to want to defend the masses, but surrendering on their behalf at a moment of heightened class struggle, before anything was really won, only serves to fortify the military regime, which will exact violence on the masses anyway, only now it will do so with less risk of popular retaliation.

Despite these setbacks, the Sudanese people will triumph. Each time the Sudanese ruling class is forced to pivot to a new regime, the weaker its hold on the state, and by extension imperialism’s grip loosens. With every massacre used to check the rising tide of the masses, the greater the surge of the next wave of rebellion.