A protest arranged outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London. S Li/Demotix. All rights reserved.
Sudan’s decision to join Operation Decisive Storm with Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Gulf countries to fight Yemeni Houthi rebels comes as no surprise.
The government of Sudan has no limits when it comes to its regional and international allies. Aerial bombardments were one of the techniques being used against people in South Sudan during the 1990s civil war, and more recently in the Darfur Genocide and in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions. Nuba Reports, who report from the frontlines in South Kordofan, stated that 3470 bombs targeted civilians since April 2012.
Considering Sudan’s history, the government is neither concerned with human rights nor the protection of civilians in Yemen or elsewhere. However, what is surprising is the opposition parties’ overt support for Sudan’s participation in Operation Decisive Storm.
The Sudan Shadow Government is an opposition initiative that aims to provide citizens with alternative ways of opposing the government, in an attempt to evade the conventional ideological clashes that regularly take place. They monitor government performance, and their volunteer ministers suggest alternative pursuable programs.
This time around, the initiative offered no alternatives to taking part in Operation Decisive Storm, which the government claims will improve Sudan’s international relations and economic stance.
A statement issued on the 27 March 2015 did criticize the government for exhausting its limited military resources and urged diplomatic missions to maintain regular contact with Sudanese residents in Yemen. However, the shadow government welcomed military intervention in Yemen on the grounds of breaking Sudan’s regional isolation due to close relations with Iran since 1989.
The shadow government’s statement failed to address the consequences the operation would have on civilians in Yemen, where thousands of Sudanese civilians also reside. On 26 March Altareeq reported that militias had attacked Sudanese families in Yemen. It was only on 31 March that the evacuation of Sudanese started to take place.
What’s odd is that there are concerns for Sudan’s regional legitimacy while the regime’s legitimacy is constantly being questioned by its own people—a regime that came to power through a military coup in a country that has been in endless wars ever since.
Major opposition parties in Sudan boycotted the elections that took place earlier this month, because they are refusing to give the regime legitimacy. However, representatives of National Umma Party (NUP), Sudanese Communist Party and Sudanese Baath Party support the government’s decision to join Operation Decisive Storm.
On the one hand, Mr. Fadlallah Burma Nasir, the vice president of NUP, told Alsharq Al-Awsat that the operation is taking place to protect Yemen’s legitimate president from rebellion. It is worth noting that NUP has signed a joint agreement with the Revolutionary Front—the Sudanese rebels' coalition. It would be interesting to see how the NUP would react if the Sudanese government called on its allies to eradicate rebellion in Sudan.
On the other hand Mohamed Ali Jadin, leader of the Sudanese Baath Party, cautioned against Iranian intervention. It’s worth noting that the Sudanese Baath Party is ideologically affiliated with that of Syria, which is supported by the Iranian regime in its war against the Syrian people.
Amusingly Jadin described Sudan’s participation in the operation as a step towards fragmenting institutions of political Islam, even though it is clearly being led by Saudi Arabia – the leading pillar of Wahhabism and extremism.
Sudan itself is governed by one of the oldest institutions of political Islam in the region, the Muslim Brotherhood, who took control of the government in 1989.
Sudan’s opposition stance towards Operation Decisive Storm has received a lot of criticism from Sudanese social media users. Some users questioned the Shadow Government’s statement on their Facebook page. While Ahmad, activist and filmmaker, tweeted: “It would have been more appropriate if Siddig Yousif of the communist party announced his solidarity with Yemeni people rather than supporting a military operation”.
The operation has affected hundreds of innocent people in Yemen. Yasin Alqubati, a doctor and political activist from Taaz, posted a photo of a toddler who had been burnt to death urging parties to stop the hostility and save the lives of civilians. Abdel Aziz Baraka Sakin, a novelist and Sudanese writer, commented on the photo with a dark sense of humor: "Maybe this toddler was one of the disbelievers in Yemen," pointing to the government’s justification of joining Operation Decisive Storm to protect Islam in the region.
The solidarity with the people in Yemen being expressed on social media suggests that political boundaries and nationalities are no longer tools for patriotism. The people who experienced, or are even slightly affected, by war are standing firmly against it.
It seems that political parties and initiatives need to learn more about compassion for their fellow human beings, regardless of the diplomatic gains they wish to achieve.
As such, the opposition’s motives to change the regime in Sudan remain questionable since they see no harm in justifying military operations elsewhere.