US Interference in Sudan Looking to Extend Military Rule

As US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, was visiting Sudan, the Sudanese army, headed by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, staged on Monday 25 October, a military coup that toppled his political partners, foremost among whom was Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan arrested several politicians, dissolved the Sovereignty Council and the cabinet, and declared a state of emergency. He also froze some articles of the Constitutional Declaration to sidestep the proviso of handing over the leadership of the Sovereignty Authority to a civilian personality selected by the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), whose mission comes into force on 17 November 2021.

By scrutinising the measures undertaken by al-Burhan under such political tension and the articles of the Constitutional Declaration he has suspended, in can be concluded that their suspension leads to confining the authority in the hands of the army and targets the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) who had been intransigent with regards to assuming power in less than a month. Especially, as the decision to dissolve the government is constitutionally impracticable since it is exclusively down to the willpower of the FFC.

The articles suspended by al-Burhan have affected the FFC who wish to jostle with the army in order to seize power rather than continuing to act as a cover for military rule. Al-Burhan held the FFC responsible for the failure of the transitional administration. He also cancelled Article 24.3 which stipulates that 67 percent of the Transitional Legislative Council is chosen by the FFC while the remaining 33 percent is chosen by the other civilian forces after consulting the military members of the sovereign council.

As soon as he arrived in Khartoum, US Special Envoy Jeffrey Feltman met the president of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his deputy Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo and Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok. He also held a series of meetings with leaders of the Freedom and Change alliance whose divisions threaten the authority of the army. Jeffrey Feltman also met the leaders of the Justice and Equality Movement, Jibril Ibrahim, and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), Mini Arko Minawi, who split from the FFC. The US embassy in Khartoum stated that Feltman had “confirmed to the Sudanese officials that US support depended on their adherence to the transitional system agreed upon through the Constitutional Declaration and Juba Peace Agreement”.

The embassy also mentioned that Feltman had urged the Sudanese government to execute the main transitional criteria according to a set of timetables to include establishing the Transitional Legislative Council, agreeing on a handover date of the Sovereignty Council to civilians, reforming the security services, laying down a framework for the elections, restructuring the Constitutional Court and setting up the mechanisms of transitional justice.

This indicates that the problem lies in the government, the FFC and the popular protests surrounding the transition process. Feltman’s demands sidestep the timetables that had previously been agreed and reveal America’s desire to extend military rule during the transitional period; this was reflected in the demands made by US State Department spokesperson Ned Price last Friday and US Envoy Feltman to the government of Hamdok to respond to the demands of protestors such as establishing the legislative council and expanding the authority which will undermine the influence of the FFC. Feltman also called for establishing the transitional justice mechanisms, which civilian authorities have been calling for, thus giving the top brass implicated in crimes and corruption time and protection.

It seems, up until now, that America has been compelled to tackle the delicate transitional situation and divisions in the military and its struggle with the political forces by assigning the task of completing the political process to the army since the transition is yet to mature, especially with the eruption of the political struggles and the rebellion of eastern areas; this narrative was expressed by US Envoy Feltman who said the broad alliance was facing an organisational crisis and internal rifts needed to be resolved.

America’s timid denunciation of al-Burhan’s actions and calls for the return of the democratic process and resumption of the political transition are nothing but an attempt to conceal her backing of the necessary coup which took place in the presence of Feltman, and to exert pressure on the various sides of the political struggle to implement the US agenda. Feltman said the civilian and military components should cooperate to execute the main standards of the transitional period instead of striving to marginalise each other.

Moreover, the US administration’s sloganising of democracy together with its liberal values is consistent with the Democratic Party’s trends and the American campaign against the Chinese and against Islam.

Hence, the key to the enigma of this farcical saga that has been taking place in Sudan since the army toppled Omar al-Bashir and up to this scandalous American coup, lies in pursuing the visit of the US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, which involves reshuffling the pack for the time being in order to keep the components of the political equation in check, and corroborating the political structuring through the army due to the fragility of the political, security and economic situation, and the unripening transfer from military to civilian power amid the volition of the civilian authorities to push the process of transitional justice forward. This has unnerved the army commanders who dread losing legal immunity and their economic gains, and thus weakening the American endeavour to structure the Sudanese regime and shape its domestic and foreign political standpoint. This led al-Burhan to suspend the enquiry into the crime of quelling the protests of 3 June 2019 with the aim of entrenching the centrality of the army, unifying its ranks to undertake the traitorous role assigned to it by America to preserve her interests on the regional plane and suppressing the masses who are eager to rid themselves of colonialism, its culture, and its collaborators. This is why America did not describe the action of al-Burhan as a coup but rather as seizing the authority of the government, which will pave the way for resuming the political transition under the appropriate conditions.

As for America’s decision to freeze the financial aid estimated at $700 million, it was concordant with her desire to postpone the political transition since the aid in the first instance was allocated to the transitional process. Meanwhile, the statements of US officials focused on what concerns America in Sudan, namely the Constitutional Charter and the Juba Agreement which leads to a federal division and political transition on secularist constitutional grounds to which al-Burhan expressed his commitment in his putschist communiqué, thus making the coup conformant to the American trend.

Despite domestic divisions and power-hungry tendencies, and amidst popular resentment and aversion to military rule and the government of Hamdok, the conspicuous aspects of a collaboration between all the political and military forces is aimed to entrench the outputs of the constitutional charter, and aggravate the current crisis, which is being nurtured by both the army and the political forces.

Consequently, the return to the political transition and the Juba Agreement will be portrayed as a victory to the masses and their “revolution”, especially as the measures undertaken by al-Burhan have not suspended political life, which means that the coup has been designed to re-regulate the components of the political equation; this in turn explains why the secularist political parties within the FFC and their activities have not been prohibited.

LCIR © 2021

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