Bolivia Renews Diplomatic Ties with Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Bolivia Renews Diplomatic Ties with Israel

Saturday, 30 November, 2019 – 10:45
Bolivia’s Foreign Minister Karen Longaric speaks during a conference with the international press in La Paz, November 28, 2019. AFP
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has welcomed Bolivia’s decision to restore relations with Israel.

Ties were severed on Jan. 14, 2009 following Israel’s Operation Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip.

Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric made the announcement in a meeting with foreign reporters, without giving a date for the reestablishment of ties.

However, Katz said that the “Foreign Ministry has been working for a long time directly as well as through mediation of the Brazilian president to promote the renewal of relations.

“The resignation of President (Evo) Morales, who was hostile to Israel, and his replacement with a friendly administration, has enabled the process to come to fruition.”

Bolivia designated Israel a ‘terrorist’ state in objection to the war on Gaza in July 2009. Back then, Morales said Israel’s operation was evidence on its disrespect for life and basic rights.

Sudan: Hundreds March in Khartoum Seeking Justice for Dead Protesters

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Hundreds March in Khartoum Seeking Justice for Dead Protesters

Saturday, 30 November, 2019 – 12:45
FILE PHOTO: Sudanese protesters chant slogans during a rally calling for the former ruling party to be dissolved and for ex-officials to be put on trial in Khartoum, Sudan, October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
Hundreds of protesters marched Saturday through downtown Khartoum to demand justice for those killed in demonstrations against Sudan’s now ousted leader Omar al-Bashir.

More than 250 people were killed and hundreds injured in the months-long protests that erupted in December 2018, according to umbrella protest movement Forces of Freedom and Change.

Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years, was deposed by the army on April 11 after the demonstrations triggered by an acute economic crisis.

Crowds marched from a central Khartoum square to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s offices, demanding authorities deliver justice for those killed and also find out about protesters who went missing.

“Blood for blood!” chanted protesters gathered in front of Hamdok’s offices in the capital, an Agence France Presse correspondent reported.

Dozens of policemen stood guard.

“We want justice for martyrs. We are afraid that the criminals might not be judged,” said protester Nizar bin Sufian.

He said protesters welcomed Thursday’s decision by the new authorities to dismantle Bashir’s regime and former ruling party.

“But we have not seen any moves by the government to find those missing or to begin trials of those responsible for the killing of protesters,” bin Sufian told AFP.

Bashir and several senior members of his regime are in prison, while the veteran leader himself is on trial for alleged graft.

Since August, Sudan has been ruled by a joint civilian-military sovereign council headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

A transitional cabinet led by Hamdok has been tasked with the day-to-day running of the country.

The sovereign council is tasked with overseeing an overall transition to civilian rule as demanded by the protest movement.

Lack of Food Pushes S.Sudan Opposition Troops to Desert Training Camps

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Lack of Food Pushes S.Sudan Opposition Troops to Desert Training Camps

Sunday, 20 October, 2019 – 09:15
A South Sudanese SPLA soldier is pictured in Pageri in Eastern Equator state on August 20, 2015. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Hundreds of South Sudan opposition fighters are leaving cantonment sites set up to register and train them under a deal to end the country’s war, claiming lack of food and medical supplies, authorities say.

The process of gathering fighters into military camps with a view to forming an 83,000-strong unified army is a cornerstone of a September 2018 peace deal.

But the operation has been riddled with delays and lack of funding, hampering the readiness of the force.

The problem is one of the major stumbling blocks as a deadline looms on November 12 for President Salva Kiir, his longtime rival Riek Machar and other rebel groups, to form a power-sharing government.

At one of the largest opposition cantonment sites in the village of Pantit near the northern town of Aweil, hundreds of soldiers sleep under trees and are forced to shelter with locals in their mud huts, known as “tukuls,” when it rains.

Lieutenant General Nicodemus Deng Deng, who is in charge of the cantonment site, told AFP that it had been over two months since they had received any food.

“The food got finished and now we are left with no food on the ground,” said Deng, adding that about 700 registered troops had since left the camp due to the conditions.

“We do survive on community food, we go to cultivate with them, go and collect groundnuts from their farms as a way of survival,” said Deng.

The peace agreement required that at least half of the 83,000 forces be barracked, trained and deployed by September 2019.

Last week the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement, said that of 25 designated opposition cantonment sites, 24 were operational and of 10 barracks for government forces, six were operational.

However, registration was still ongoing and training had yet to begin.

‘Desperate, angry’

William Gallagher, head of the ceasefire monitoring entity CTSAMM, told AFP during a visit to Pantit that it was positive the forces there had been registered.

“However, unfortunately, many of those soldiers that have been registered have since deserted because of unacceptable living conditions,” he said.

“It is a very, very, severe problem that thousands and thousands of soldiers and their family members are facing right now across South Sudan at the cantonment sites, without food, mostly without water, and all of them without medicine of some kind and they are desperate, they are angry and they see no solution to the problem.”

Japan and China have donated money for water and rice at the cantonment sites, but western donors have been loath to fund the process, with diplomats fearing it could be used as a recruitment exercise, and citing a lack of fiscal transparency from Juba.

Meanwhile, the situation at the barracks has heaped pressure on local communities, themselves struggling to survive.

“We have (soldiers) who come to us here and they have no water for drinking and they also don’t have jerry cans for collecting water, but we the hosts are also suffering, when… our children fall sick with malaria we don’t always get medicine,” said 50-year-old Pantit resident, Ajok.

South Sudan’s war, which broke out two years after achieving independence in 2011, after a falling out between Kiir and Machar, has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced nearly four million people.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said last week that while food security has improved, more than half of the population was still going hungry and millions depend on food aid.

Machar arrived in Juba Saturday for another round of talks with Kiir in a bid to salvage the peace deal and resolve the security issue and the thorny question of determining the number of states and their boundaries.

8 of the Largest Man-Made Lakes in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

8 of the Largest Man-Made Lakes in the World

Humans (and beavers) have been manipulating water flow for millennia, but it wasn’t until recently that we developed the materials we’d need to create enormous bodies of water. Once we did, we created some of the largest lakes and inland seas the Earth’s ever held. Here are eight of the largest man-made lakes in the world.

Williston Lake | British Columbia, Canada

Credit: WildLivingArts/iStock

70 Billion Cubic Meters

Williston Lake was formed in 1968 with the completion of W.A.C. Bennet Dam, blocking the Peace River and creating the largest body of freshwater in British Columbia. Besides being a huge source of electricity, the lake’s nice to look at. It’s bordered by the Cassiar Mountains to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east, both being striking natural features. In fact, Williston Lake comes close to a fjord in some respects.

Krasnoyarsk Reservoir | Divnogorsk, Russia

Credit: Evgeny Vorobyev/Shutterstock

73.3 Billion Cubic Meters

Besides its massive size (a size that’s earned it the informal name of the Krasnoyarsk Sea), the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir’s claim to fame is being the world’s largest power plant from 1971 to 1983. In 1983, it was unseated by the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. The reservoir and the dam also appear on the 10 ruble bill, meaning most Russians have at least seen the thing in a picture, if not in person. A final note on the dam is the fact that a substantial section of the river below it doesn’t freeze over, even though it’s in frigid Siberia. This is because the water’s moving much too fast coming out of the dam and for miles downstream.

Manicouagan Reservoir | Quebec, Canada

Credit: Elena11/Shutterstock

138 Billion Cubic Meters

The Manicouagan Reservoir is a perfect intersection of human engineering and natural phenomena. Human engineering produced the reservoir when the Daniel-Johnson Dam was built in the 1960s. The natural aspect concerns the reservoir’s unique ring shape. The shape was created by an asteroid impact roughly 214 million years ago. That means Manicouagan Reservoir is actually a flooded crater, similar to Crater Lake (except Crater Lake is far younger and a volcano). There’s a theory that the Manicouagan crater is actually part of a multiple impact event spanning modern day North America and Europe.

Guri Reservoir | Bolivar, Venezuela

Credit: CarmeloGil/iStock

138 Billion Cubic Meters

It doesn’t look like the publicity around the Guri Reservoir is entirely good. For one, apparently the Guri Dam generates more carbon emissions than the fossil fuel alternative, which is about as hard to do as you’d think. There have also been some substantial blackouts in the 21st century, and the reservoir has a tendency to fall below optimum levels for electrical production. Still, it’s a big lake, right?

Lake Volta | Ajena, Ghana

Credit: Robert_Ford/iStock

153 Billion Cubic Meters

Just like all the other lakes on this list, Lake Volta wouldn’t be around without a dam to fill it up. In this case, it’s Akosombo Dam, built between 1961 and 1965. Interesting to note about Lake Volta, before the dam was built, the Black Volta and White Volta rivers used to meet, but once the lake started filling in, that confluence was wiped away. It’s a navigable lake, which was probably part of the point of building the dam. With it, the trip from the savanna to the coast and vice versa got a lot easier.

Bratsk Reservoir | Bratsk, Russia

Credit: fibPhoto/Shutterstock

169 Billion Cubic Meters

As much as we hate to play into stereotypes, it seems like Russians really know how to handle the cold. The Bratsk Dam was built through Siberian winters, far away from the things needed to build it, including supplies, laborers and construction support. But they did it anyway and ended up with the Bratsk Reservoir to show for it. The reservoir is on the Angara River and just to show it’s not a one-off, there are four other power-producing facilities on the same river, with stations in Irkutsk, Ust-Ilim and Boguchany.

Lake Nasser | Egypt and Sudan

Credit: Shootdiem/Shutterstock

169 Billion Cubic Meters

The construction of the Aswan High Dam, and by extension the formation of Lake Nasser, came with some uniquely Egyptian challenges. Namely, the fact that a large number of historical sites would be submerged by the filling lake, with the tombs and temples of Philae and Abu Simbel at the greatest risk. Luckily, the Egyptian government didn’t plow ahead the way other countries have been known to. The Egyptians worked with UNESCO to move the sites to higher ground.

Lake Kariba | Zambia and Zimbabwe

Credit: Lynn Yeh/Shutterstock

180 Billion Cubic Meters

The impressive Lake Kariba is an excellent example of lake creation done right. The dam produces plenty of electricity for the surrounding area, and its existence has given rise to a thriving tourism industry and also increased biodiversity. There was a short five-year period when the rate of earthquakes increased, but that hasn’t stuck around. What has is the tiger fish, tilapia, catfish and vundu, all supporting a strong fishing industry. And the water. A truly awesome amount of water has stuck around. It’s closer to an inland sea than anything else.

Sudan: Arab States Welcome Sudan’s Agreement on Constitutional Document

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Arab States Welcome Sudan’s Agreement on Constitutional Document

Monday, 5 August, 2019 – 11:15
Deputy Head of Sudanese Transitional Military Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Sudan’s opposition alliance coalition’s leader Ahmad al-Rabiah hold up signed copies of the constitutional declaration during a signing ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan August 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Cairo, Jeddah – Sawsan Abu Hussein, Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain and GCC, Arab and Islamic organizations welcomed the agreement reached on the constitutional document between Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) and Forces of Freedom and Change in Sudan.

Saudi Arabia praised the qualitative step, saying it will move the country towards security, peace and stability.

The Kingdom commended efforts exerted by all parties to give priority to the national interest and open a new chapter in the country’s history, according to a source at the Foreign Ministry.

The source reiterated the Kingdom’s full commitment to support Sudan stemming from the close ties between the two countries and peoples.

Egypt also welcomed on Sunday the agreement for a new period of the transitional government, describing the deal as an important step to achieving security and stability in Sudan.

The Foreign Ministry asserted its full support to the choices and aspirations of the Sudanese people as well as the state institutions.

Recent steps that were taken in Sudan, including the agreement on the constitutional declaration and the agreement to form a civilian government, prove that Sudan is back on the constitutional path, read the statement, noting that the suspension of Sudan’s membership in the African Union should be lifted.

Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the initial signing of the constitutional declaration, underlining the importance of the step in further establishing peace and stability in the country and realizing the aspirations of the Sudanese people in achieving progress and prosperity.

Bahrain appreciated the keenness of all parties on protecting the greater interest and for the efforts exerted to reach this agreement, according to the statement.

The Ministry reiterated Bahrain’s firm stance of solidarity with Sudan, especially during this crucial stage in history and its support for all that enhances Sudan’s interests and benefits its people.

For his part, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Sudan was turning over the page of the former regime and Muslim Brotherhood.

“Sudan is turning the page of the rule of Al-Bashir and the Muslim Brotherhood into a new era in its political history by turning to civil rule,” Gargash said on Twitter.

The Minister noted that the path to a state of institutions, stability and prosperity will not be filled with roses, asserting UAE’s confidence in Sudan and its people.

Also, GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani praised the signing of the constitutional document saying it is an important historic step to establish stability, security and peace in Sudan.

Zayani called upon the Sudanese people and all national forces to strengthen confidence and consensus, unite ranks and efforts, uphold national unity and embark on building a democratic and civil state in accordance with the principles of justice to achieve the aspirations of the Sudanese people.

OIC Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen also welcomed the signing between the TMC and the Forces, which paves the way for handing over the administration of the country to a transitional civilian government.

Othaimeen stressed that this agreement is an important step in the course of the political process and the fulfillment of the requirements of the transitional period.

The Sec-Gen reiterated that OIC stands by Sudan at this delicate stage to achieve the aspirations of its people for security, peace, stability and development.

Sudan: Agreement on Constitutional Declaration for Civil Governance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Sudan: Agreement on Constitutional Declaration for Civil Governance

Sunday, 4 August, 2019 – 09:45
Sudanese people celebrating after reaching an agreement between the Transitional Military Council and “Forces of Freedom and Change” on Saturday August 3, 2019 (AFP)
Khartoum – Ahmed Younes
Parties in Sudan have reached a final agreement on the constitutional declaration of governance for the transitional period.

People celebrated the agreement reached on Saturday which was also welcomed at Arab, international and domestic levels.

Sudan has now entered a new era in its political history. It has shifted to civil governance after the 30-year-rule by ousted President Omar al-Bashir, seven months of popular protests and four months of negotiations between the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), which led the popular movement and the Transitional Military Council.

The technical committee held meetings in the capital, few hours after African Union mediator for Sudan Mohamed Hassan Lebatt announced reaching the agreement on the constitutional declaration.

The meetings were aimed at setting a timetable for the arrangements to sign the agreement between the military council and the FFC.

“The two sides fully agreed on a constitutional declaration outlining the division of power for a three-year transition to elections, Lebatt said in a press statement.

The two sides reached a preliminary agreement last month following pressure from the United States and its Arab allies, amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite a civil war. That document provided for the establishment of a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan for a little over three years while elections are organized.

A military leader would head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18 months.

There would also be a Cabinet of technocrats chosen by the protesters, as well as a legislative council, the makeup of which would be decided within three months.

FCC spokesman Madani Abbas Madani said in a press conference on Saturday that the document signed is set to establish a parliamentary rule giving the executive branch and the prime ministry great authority.

“Achieving peace in the country is one of the priorities of the transitional period and opens the door to the establishment of a state of freedom and justice,” Madani stressed.

FFC legal affairs negotiator Ebtisam al-Sanhouri, for her part, said the constitutional declaration sets the stage for a parliamentary system with a civilian prime minister.

The premier will be nominated by the protest movement and confirmed by the new sovereign council, which will have a civilian majority, Sanhouri explained.

The declaration also envisages the appointment of a 300-member legislative assembly to serve during the transitional period, she said, adding that the protest movement will be allocated 201 of the 300 seats.

The pro-democracy movement would choose 67 percent of the legislative body, with the remainder chosen by political parties that were not part of Bashir’s government, Sanhouri noted.

Saudis: Sudan Detains 9 Soldiers over El-Obeid Killings

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Sudan Detains 9 Soldiers over El-Obeid Killings

Friday, 2 August, 2019 – 10:30
Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi. Sudan News Agency
Asharq Al-Awsat
Sudan’s military council spokesman said on Friday that nine soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been dismissed and detained in connection with the killing of protesters this week.

Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi added that the governor of North Kordofan state and its security council would also be held accountable for the killing of six people, including four schoolchildren, in the state capital El-Obeid on Monday.

Opposition groups have accused the RSF, led by the deputy head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, of killing scores of protesters demanding a return to civilian rule since President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April.

The RSF’s commander, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, has previously denied these claims and blamed “infiltrators” instead.

The main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), welcomed the action against the RSF members, saying it would prevent further violence.

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese took to the streets on Thursday in response to the killings in El-Obeid, and opposition medics said four more protesters were killed and many injured by gunfire in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman.

Saudi: Sudan Military Shoots/Kills 6 Students

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Sudan’s Ruling Military Council Identifies Attackers of Al-Obeid Students

Thursday, 1 August, 2019 – 12:00
Sudanese students protest in the capital Khartoum on July 30, 2019 to condemn the incidents in the town of al-Obeid. AFP file photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
A top Sudanese general has said the six protesters including four school children killed at a rally this week in Sudan’s central city of Al-Obeid were shot dead by members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Tragedy struck Al-Obeid, 400 km southwest of Khartoum, on Monday when the protesters were shot dead during a rally against a growing shortage of bread and fuel in the city.

The rally was initially stopped with batons by a group of RSF forces who were guarding a nearby bank, General Jamal Omar from the country’s ruling military council told reporters in the city late Wednesday, quoted by Cairo-based Al-Ghad television network.

“This action led to a reaction from some students who threw stones at the forces,” Omar, who heads the council’s security committee, said.

“This made some members of the force act in their individual capacity to open fire on protesters. We have identified those who fired live ammunition that led to the killing of the six.”

Sudan’s official news agency SUNA reported that the accused have been handed over to authorities in North Kordofan state.

They were sacked following orders from the RSF command and would face trial, it said.

An African Union mediator called on Wednesday for a speedy trial for those responsible for shooting the children.

Sudan Army Murders 87 Citizens At a Sit-in Protest wounds at least another 160

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL JAZEERA NEWS NETWORK)

 

Sudan says 87 killed when security forces broke up protest site

Death toll given by senior investigator appointed by public prosecutor is higher than previous official figures.

Sudan says 87 killed when security forces broke up protest site
Protesters at the sit-in area were demanding the country’s ruling military council to cede power to a civilian authority [File: Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

An investigation has found “rogue” military personnel were responsible for killing dozens of Sudanese protesters in the worst violence since the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir.

The violent break-up of a protest site by security forces in Khartoum last month left 87 people dead and 168 wounded, a higher death toll than previous official estimates, a chief investigator said.

Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said on Saturday some members of the security forces opened fire at protesters demanding the military cede power.

He told a news conference three officers violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defence Ministry, a focal point for protests that led to al-Bashir’s removal on April 11.

An order was also issued to whip demonstrators, he added.

The committee found members of the joint force tasked with clearing the Columbia area “exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square … and fired heavily and randomly”, leading to the killing and wounding of dozens.

The health ministry previously put the death toll at 61, while opposition medics said 127 people were killed and 400 wounded in the dispersal.

“Some outlaws exploited this gathering and formed another gathering in what is known as the Columbia area, where negative and illegal practices took place,” Saeed said.

“It became a security threat, forcing the authorities to make necessary arrangements to clear the area.”

Crimes against humanity

Ismail al-Taj, an opposition representative, told a news conference the investigative committee “was formed not establish the truth, but to conceal the truth” and he questioned the new death toll.

“Reality says that there are closer to 130 martyrs,” AL-Taj said, adding the committee relied on health ministry records, which he said were inaccurate.

The opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change is currently negotiating with the ruling military council to finalise an agreement for a three-year transition to elections.

Saeed gave the ranks and initials of officers he said had been charged with crimes against humanity, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give their full names.

A brigadier general, referred to only as AAM, mobilised a riot force of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on the orders of two senior officers but not members of Sudan’s top leadership, and told them to whip protesters, Saeed said.

The committee had not uncovered any incidents of rape, although the US-based Physicians for Human Rights cited local medics as saying women had their clothes torn off and were raped, he said.

Sudan’s military council, which took power after former military officer-turned-President al-Bashir was deposed, has previously denied any rape took place.

Will power be shared in Sudan?

INSIDE STORY

Will power be shared in Sudan?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

Protestor’s near the Sudanese army headquarters in Khartoum in April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When protesters forced Omar al-Bashir out of power in Sudan this April after 30 years of dictatorial role, it was an unalloyed good for the world. Bashir has been wanted by The Hague since 2008 for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, and his ouster was a key step towards a free and democratic Sudan, as well as justice for Darfuris.

But what’s followed in Sudan has been far less encouraging. Sudan’s military has promised elections, but not for as much as two years. The Transitional Military Council (TMC), the military leaders now in charge of the country, have included Bashir confidantes like Lt. General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was suspected of leading Janjawid militia massacres in Darfur. Many Sudan observers Believe that Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is the person really pulling the strings on the TMC, where he serves as vice president. Hemedti not only recruited and led many of the Janjawid fighters who brutally suppressed dissent in Darfur—he has also been accused of having recruited child soldiers from Darfur to fight in Yemen’s bloody civil war on behalf of the Saudis.

Despite the obvious dangers, Sudanese pro-democracy protesters are back out in the streets, demanding immediate transition to a civilian government. Their demands have been met with brutal violence. On June 3, security forces including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—whose members are veterans of the Janjawid militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres—killed over 100 protesters, dumping bodies into the Nile River, raping and robbing civilians stopped at military checkpoints.

Despite these horrific incidents, Sudanese citizens have continued to fight, launching a mass general strike on Sunday June 9.

The struggle over the internet

As with most conflicts today, there’s an important information component to the struggle between activists and the Sudanese military. The protests that ousted Bashir and have confronted the military have been organized by groups of middle-class Sudanese like the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors using social media, especially Facebook. Since the June 3 massacre, Sudan’s mobile internet has been largely shut down, making online organizing and reporting on conditions on the ground vastly more difficult. Sudan’s government previously shut down the internet for 68 days to combat the protests that ultimately led to Bashir’s ouster.

Facebook was an especially significant force in bringing women into the streets to protest against Bashir. Tamerra Griffin reported on a set of women-only Facebook groups that were initially used to share gossip, but which were mobilized to identify abusive state security officials, who were then hounded and sometimes chased out of their own neighborhoods. The presence of women in the protest movements and the Zagrounda chant—a women’s ululation—has become a signature of the uprising. Bashir memorably declared that the government could not be changed through WhatsApp or Facebook. His ouster suggests that the power of social networks as tools for mobilization is routinely underestimated by governments.

But now social media seems to be leveraged at least as much by the military as by the opposition. The internet has not been completely shut down—the government has been able to maintain its presence on Facebook, which features at least four pages controlled by the RSF, which are advertising the militia veterans’ version of events. Sudanese activist Mohamed Suliman is organizing a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

In addition to combatting Sudanese propaganda on Facebook, Sudanese activists inside the country and in the diaspora are looking for ways to return internet access to the general population, so they can continue organizing protests and document government violence. Activists are organizing information-sharing networks on top of SMS and voice phone calls, but I’m also getting calls from Sudanese friends who wonder whether technologies like Google’s Loon could be used to put a cloud of connectivity over Khartoum. (The answer: maybe. Loon acts as an antenna for existing telecoms networks, and those networks in Sudan have been forced to cut off connectivity. In addition, a balloon floating 20km over a city is a very attractive missile target.)

Until very recently, the few Sudanese who had access via ADSL had been opening their wifi networks or sharing passwords with friends and inviting them to post messages from their houses. A couple of days ago I was seeing reports—unconfirmed—that even ADSL has been turned off. This may signal the start of a new phase of the crackdown.

Space Cadet@nourality

🔻🔻🔻
Last available internet route “Sudani ADSL” is now reported to be down.

This completes a dark ring over sudan as internet are now Almost completely disabled, this gives the TMC milita “janjaweed” enough lack of media attention to continue abusing and killing the Sudan.

Ahmed Abdalla@A_Abdalla

الآن قطع خدمة انترنت سوداني ADSL أيضاً
الخدمة الوحيدة التي استمرت تعمل منذ إيقاف المجلس الانقلابي الانترنت في السودان قبل عدة أيام.
الآن اكتمل التعتيم على جرائم الجنجويد في السودان والعالم يتفرج#العصيان_المدني_الشامل

85 people are talking about this

On the morning of June 10 Yassir Arman, a major figure in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, which fought a war against Khartoum leading to the independence of South Sudan, was deported from Khartoum to Juba by military helicopter.

Yassir Arman@Yassir_Arman

I have been deported against my will by a military helicopter from Khartoum to Juba. I was not aware of where they were taking me. I asked them many times. They tied me up in the helicopter together with Comrade Ismail Khamis Jalab and Mubarak Ardol.

1,201 people are talking about this

One major channel for information from Sudan in the future may be from Sudanese who are in touch with organizers on the ground who have been forced to flee the country and report from neighboring countries.

Countries are known by the company they keep, and the military government’s supporters are well resourced: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $3 billion in aid to the military leaders. Given the Trump administration’s tight ties to the Saudi and UAE governments—which have extended to overruling Congress in selling arms to those regimes—it seems unlikely that a petition to the White House to recognize the RSF as a terrorist organization will meet with approval any time soon. (By contrast the African Union—which has a regrettable history of ignoring misbehavior by African military rulers— has suspended Sudan after this weekend’s crackdown.

A few things we can do to help

It’s hard to know what to do as a private citizen when faced with a situation like the one in Sudan. Some thoughts on what might actually be helpful:

– Pay attention and ask others to do so as well. All governments, including military governments, are limited in what actions they can take by public perception. If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates understand that people are actually watching what the Sudanese military is doing, it may limit their willingness to support a government run in part by experienced génocidaires. Reporter Yousra Elbagir is reporting from the ground in Khartoum and her Twitter feed is deeply helpful. Declan Walsh, the New York Times bureau chief, is doing excellent reporting from the groundReem Abbas, a Sudanese journalist and blogger, is sharing excellent content, much of it in Arabic. Al Jazeera’s synthesis of the conflict has been excellent, but I worry that their reliance on Skype interviews to cover events may limit their coverage going forward:

– In the spirit of getting people interested in what’s going on in Sudan, I recommend Hasan Minhaj’s occasionally silly but good-hearted Patriot Act episode on Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the military government’s violent reaction.

– Pressure organizations that are helping legitimate the military government. That includes Facebook, which should not be hosting pages for the Rapid Support Forces, or for any entities associated with the transitional military government.

Sudan’s two telecom operators—MTN and Zain—are international companies which could (in theory) be pressured to violate the military’s demands that they shut down. Zain is a Kuwaiti company, which means they are heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia, but MTN as a South African company might be susceptible to shareholder pressure, lawsuits, etc. The Internet Society has released a statement calling for Sudan to turn the internet back on. It’s unclear whether they would be an organizing point for protests to pressure MTN.

– It can be difficult to get money to the ground in Sudan. While the Trump administration removed some financial sanctions on Sudan in 2017, other sanctions stemming from the Darfur conflict remain in place. My friends in Sudan have pointed me to Bakri Ali and the University of Khartoum Alumni Association USA, a US 501c3 which is using their tax-exempt status to deliver aid to democracy protesters.

It can be hard, in retrospect, to remember the excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied the Egyptian revolution and the broader Arab Spring. But after only a year of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, a military dictatorship took over. The fear right now is that Sudan could go directly from one dictatorship to another—from one Arab winter to another without an intervening Spring. Some Sudanese protesters have been using the slogan “Victory or Egypt”, looking at the return to dictatorship as the worst possible outcome. The worse outcome is even worse—it’s the prospect of systemic military violence like in Darfur, without intervention by the international community. The same folks are in charge, and we are already looking away.