Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Bashir and the 'Brotherhood'... a Losing Partnership and a Dark Era

Bashir and the 'Brotherhood'... a Losing Partnership and a Dark Era

Saturday, 25 July, 2020 - 12:00

The transition in Sudan is steadily going forward. Its experience is worthy of being studied and reflected upon regardless of the comments and criticisms put forward by some, which is predictable at this stage. Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced the replacement of military governors with civilian ones, describing it as the actual beginning of change, and the trial of Omar Al-Bashir and his men is also one of the revolution’s demands.

Today, Bashir is being tried for the military coup of 1989 which overthrew an elected government and brought him to power. This is one of several cases brought against him, not to mention the international arrest warrants issued against him after he was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region.

The Sudan which arose after independence was nothing but a cruel state governed through coercion. The colonists wanted it to be this way because it served their interests, and its leaders failed to faithfully carry out their duties, starting with just and balanced human development and the consolidation of genuine democratic practice.

I had mentioned that since 30 June 1989, the National Salvation regime in Sudan has been coercive and exclusionary, waging wars within Sudan, on top of their catastrophic failure in dealing with international issues, leading to Sudan’s addition to the terrorist list, isolating it internationally.

Even the optimistic among us could not have predicted the dramatic events and surprises that we would witness, especially given the regime's police-state mentality and the difficulty of overthrowing it. The scene was spectacular, as it embodied both commitment and self-control, the preservation of gains, maintenance of public security, and a sense of responsibility.

Bashir's relationship with Islamists goes back a long time, and both have benefited from one another. Khartoum thus became a major destination for all kinds of extremists during the 1990s, with both Carlos, Bin Laden, and other terrorists going to Sudan. At the time, his regime was accused of sending Iranian weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah during conflicts, without communicating with the authorities in Lebanon or Palestine, as well as supporting armed groups in Libya.

Historically, it has been said that Iran is among those who supported him in his rise to power in 1989, considering his coup an extension of the Islamic Revolution, and provided him with fuel when he was blockaded at the time. The continuous exchange of visits during his time in power is perhaps evidence of the depth of their relationship.

Maneuvering, deception, procrastination, and ambiguity are methods and practices mastered by the Salvation regime. Bashir continued to use them until the day he was arrested. The Muslim Brotherhood-oriented movement was established by its ideologue, Hassan al-Turabi, who developed its program which was then implemented by Omar al-Bashir, who was carefully chosen from the military cadre to take over on the night of the coup, under the supervision of al-Turabi himself, before they disagreed and diverged a decade later.

After his defection from the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1970s, Turabi, the godfather of the Islamic movement, managed to form his political project. He was able to build a large popular base among students and professionals under what was called the Islamic Front, which competed with the traditional parties, including the National Umma Party led by Sadiq al-Mahdi, and the Democratic Unionist Party led by Mohammed Uthman al-Mirghani. Bashir maintained his absolute rule, but permanence was impossible, and events started to accelerate and popular protests in major squares broke out and persisted for four months, eventually culminating in his arrest and exit from the scene after three-decades of being in power.

Some believe that what Bashir did throughout his presidency was a tactic to reach certain aims and has consequently not changed his policies and convictions. In other words, he did not leave the Brotherhood’s constellation at all, remaining under its banner despite the changes that the movement underwent.

It is no secret that the fall of Bashir’s regime is a loss for political Islam movements and represents a move forward for Sudan beyond ideological hegemony that has hindered its development and wasted its gains, heritage, and history for decades. Sudan lived through dark times when Bashir allied with the Brotherhood and adopted its thought, employing it for his political agendas, supporting them for interests and gains that are well known.

Bashir’s era was the most corrupt and repressive, and he was able to politically weave opposing countries and parties. It is also unforgivable that he supported Saddam against Kuwait. The overthrown Sudanese president kept changing his political compass and internal and regional alliances starting with the Brotherhood, to Turkey and then Iran while countries on the Red Sea saw opportunities to contain him rather than confront him because the aim was to liberate Khartoum from Iranian and Turkish influence.

Bashir’s phase has ended and the Sudanese people have started to breathe freedom and dignity and have taken over. Doing away with the deep state in countries that have roots in the Brotherhood is essential and the preliminary indicators show that Sudan is going in the right direction and has indeed begun to dismantle the Brotherhood’s deep state that had practiced terror and torture, legitimated corruption and threw the country into a spiral of poverty and regression.

Political Islam movements are opportunistic and have very limited intellectual capacities and political experience, yet nevertheless, they insist on taking power without considering the people’s demands.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks