Shortly after returning from the Gulf tour, Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan repressed Sudan’s democratic movement in the blood. The military has distinguished itself by providing valuable services to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), spearheading counter-revolutions in the region.
After firing on demonstrators in central Khartoum, at the cost of about thirty dead and hundreds wounded, General Burhan gave a statement on national television. The agreement painfully negotiated between the military and the protesters is canceled. In the place of the emerging civil transition, the Sudanese army will hold elections “within nine months”.
An announcement that sounded like the end of the Sudanese revolution, which started last December by protests against the expensive cost of living. Even if the protest movement calls for the fight to continue, repression may deter Sudanese from returning to the streets.
Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, 59, was totally unknown before being appointed to head the Transitional Military Council on April 12. The army had ousted the old president Omar al-Bashir. He was first general who presided over the case, but he was considered to be too compromised with the old regime, and continued to brave the curfew.
Sudanese volunteers in Yemen
His latest feat was to send troops to Yemen to fight the Houthi rebels. Why was a war waged outside the Sudanese borders? An elevator return for the Saudi and UAE sponsors, as they had been fighting Houthi rebels, backed by the Iranian rival. Since Saudi Arabia bombed from the air and the UAE could not provide enough troops on the ground, it was necessary to find cannon fodder elsewhere.
Several thousand Sudanese were deployed on the other side of the Red Sea. The General boasted of having won millions of dollars in the operation. The young volunteers enlisted to help their families, but they did not know their pay was diverted.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $3 billion to bail out the Sudanese central bank, of which $500 million has already been paid by Abu Dhabi. It is no coincidence that General Burhan had just visited these donors, all but disinterested.
In May, he visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The three Sunni countries, each held with an iron fist, have always formed the backbone of the counter-revolution against popular movements in the Arab-Muslim world. It is therefore in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi or Cairo that the decision to end the democratic movement on the eve of Ramadan’s last day may have been taken.
Further clue, General Burhan was accompanied by his deputy in the Transitional Military Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, or “Hemeti”, leader of the Rapid Reaction Forces, the paramilitary troops who led the bloody assault on protesters in Khartoum on Monday. These forces are the heirs of the Janjawid disasters, which had executed the regime’s poor works in the rebel Darfur province on the border with Chad.
The Gulf monarchies, meanwhile, are preparing for their post-oil extension to Africa. Sudan may have lost most of its oil fields with the secession of South Sudan, but it has an abundance of agricultural land and perhaps rare minerals, that are also of interest to China. It is therefore unlikely that the Sudanese military will be punished for suppressing the protest movement.
Germany and the United Kingdom have called for an in-camera meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Washington condemned the end of the Sudanese Spring, but Switzerland, which has been providing humanitarian aid for Sudan for decades, has remained silent.