Who Dares to Invite the Elephant to the Room?

The success of the transitional period in Sudan and combating terrorism; do these things need a settlement with Islamists?


I received many comments on one of the twelve questions on US-Sudan relations posed in my last article.

The question was: “Does secularism work for Sudan? Did Sudanese people overestimate the power of secularism advocates and liberal activists – who came to power after the change – in gaining more attention and support from the international community? Why were they abandoned by the USA and Europe? Does this make secularism unpopular and give the radicals more power?”.

This big question leads us to discuss the “historical compromise with Islamists”, suggested by Al-Shafee Al-Khdir, one of the political figures who was strongly connected with the close circle around the PM Abdalla HAMADOK.
The leftists in the “Freedom and Change” ruling alliance vetoed Shafee’s historical compromise and maintained the policy of dismantling NCP and the Islamic movement.

In the same context, the youngest member in the Sovereignty Council has suggested a very advanced and pragmatic approach to this issue, “we accept Islamists who want to participate in the success of the transitional period”, said Muhamad AL-FAKI.

He did not choose idealistic criteria such as “Islamists who believe in democracy and are opposed the Bashir’s regime”.
Now, a considerable number of politicians are connecting the success of the transitional period with reaching of a settlement with Islamists or at least part of them.

The Experts’ Government is not Fitting the Bill

Although Sudanese people came with very high expectations about the newcomers – especially the experts – the performance of the civilian government after the change was extremely frustrating.

Here is one of the contradictions: while the experts’ government is supposed to be based on transparency and modernization, media reports have proven that there is a group under the name of “the farm clique” controlling the government from behind the scene and putting the entire government in a “foggy area”.

The criticism has proven again that there is an urgent need for wider involvement with all political powers because even the experts are not immune to “civilian tyranny”.

Still powerful, Look at Sudanese history

The revolutionary change cannot eliminate the power of Islamists and the deep-rooted Islamic orientation in Sudan.
The Sudanese mentality and social fabric were shaped by Islamic orientation for almost three centuries; it was not established in Bashir’s regime.

Analysts and observers should learn from the falling of the Mahdiya theocracy at the beginning of the 20th century – and then again after the independence in 1956 – the two major political parties in Sudan were established based on religious sects.

The International Community is not favoring Excluding Islamists

Friends of Sudan are divided on the best future scenario for the country; whether a democracy based on ethnic quotas system or African democracy with post-election violence, something like the Kenyan model. USA, EU, UK, France, Egypt, UAE, KSA, Qatar, and Turkey do not agree on excluding Islamists from participating in the transitional period and the elections.

Sudan was in full cooperation with the USA against terrorism during the Islamist regime. The second version of Bashir’s regime after the split of “Turabi-Bashir” was able to present the best model in the region for a country with no active terror networks or bloody incidents.

In contrast, some ideological foes of Islamists want to push them to join the “terror club” again to connect Islamism with terrorism in order to get rid of the ideology and its people, no matter what happens to the region.
Some suggest a bigger role for the ideologies of the other in order to uproot terrorism.

People who called for this confrontation couldn’t defend “Dr. Omar Al-Garray”, the former curricula manager, who was supported by Communists and Leftists but the rest of the ruling alliance quit the game and left Hamadok with no option.

Islamists and radicals woke up and launched the strongest popular campaign against the civilian government. Hamadok held meetings with Salafists and Muslim Brotherhood and took a decision in favor of their campaign to avoid more tension that might lead to extremism and terrorism.

Here is the conclusion; is it better for Sudan to be run by an absolute ruling alliance of anti-Islamists and with no elections or settlement, or to open a new chapter, calling for a wider alliance of parties and streams including moderate and reformed Islamists?

Mekki ElMograbi is a press writer on African affairs. He can be reached through his email (elmograbi@gmail.com) or his contact number +249912139350 (Whatsapp and Telegram)

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