Islamists in Sudan…The full experience and post-December revolution scenarios
By: Alhassan Mohammad Othman-Journalist and Founder of Fridays For Future Sudan
The political Islamic current has been part of the Sudanese political game since the early stages of the formation of the political movement in the country. As groups and political parties with an Islamic reference were formed since the pre-independence period and in the period of the first civil rule that followed the bilateral colonialism. The beginning was with a current known as the “Islamic Liberation Movement”, a current that arose in 1949 to which university students belonged, and this movement was known to confront the rising communist current at the time. Later, what was known as the Islamic Charter Front was formed under the leadership of Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, and its name was later transformed into the National Islamic Front. It carried out a military coup on June 30, 1989, which .overthrew the government of Al-Sadiq Al-Mahadi.
The political influence of Islamists in the first stage of establishment
The influence of the Islamic trend in its first stage was not in a way that could succeed in creating a great deal of weight in Sudanese public opinion. This description applies to the Islamic Liberation Movement. Later, the “Islamic Charter Front” was established in 1964, an alliance that included members belonging to ideological currents, including Sufis and Salafis, and those influenced by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. The front entered politics and benefited from the capabilities of its founder and leader “Hassan al-Turabi”, who had just come from France.
He had the greatest role in creating a program for the front and seeking to present it to public opinion in a way that would make it a competition for the dual-ruling pair at the time, the Federal Party and the Umma Party. The front’s project was Islamic, influenced by Arab Islamist currents, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt. The Front sought — according to its founder, Hassan al-Turabi — to create a similar Islamic political model aimed at empowering “religion”, and the slogans of Omar al-Bashir’s subsequent phase proved “empty of their content.”
This movement was not a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — according to its founder Hassan al-Turabi — but it sympathized with them when they were subjected to repression, persecution and murder during the era of dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser. The leader of the Charter Front, Hassan al-Turabi, played a major role in the “October 21, 1964 Revolution” that toppled the regime of dictator Ibrahim Abboud. Al-Turabi spoke in a seminar held at the University of Khartoum on September 9, 1964 about the crisis in southern Sudan. Al-Turabi explained that the problem of the south is constitutional in the first place.
Its basis is the existence of a tyrannical regime. Later the authorities imposed a ban on the seminars and got into a clash with the students of the University of Khartoum. It prevented them from holding a seminar and after that, two university students were killed. Others were injured. Al-Turabi spoke about the October Revolution in “Witness to the Age” with Ahmed Mansour about the October Revolution and said that it was “a revolution ignited by Islamists and stolen by communists.”
This description is understood in the context of the sharp disagreement between the two currents .throughout the Sudanese political stages and was later translated into many situations.
The Charter Front entered parliament in 1965 and won seven seats. The story of the dissolution of the Communist Party was understood in the context of the conflict between Islamists and communists, and its beginning was in a symposium of the Islamic Charter Front. The symposium included an intervention by a student who identified himself as a “Marxist” and then spoke in terms of insult to the Prophet’s house, may God bless him and grant him peace, and to Lady Aisha, may God be pleased with her. Then mass demonstrations erupted following this abuse. Simultaneously with it, the Communist Party issued a statement denying the student’s affiliation with the Communist Party.
The matter later developed and the Sudanese Communist Party was disbanded, and this incident demonstrated the ability of the Islamic movement to influence public opinion. Despite being a recent emerging trend, it has a small number of deputies in Parliament. It is not based on a Sufi base such as the Unionist Party and the Umma Party. Little by little, the influence of Islamists increased and they had a role in Sudanese politics, and they entered into alliances with other parties and participated in government during the period of Jaafar Nimeiri and the .era of Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, who later turned against him in 1989.
The alliance of Islamists and the military and the story of the “salvation” coup
Al-Turabi and his Islamic movement pursued a policy of “empowerment” that had a significant impact on the success of the coup of the Islamic Front on June 30, 1989. Since its first founding, the Front has sought to include members belonging to it in the army, the police, and the rest of the security institutions. And the Islamic Front benefited from its participation in power during the period of Jaafar Nimeiri. This was an important period for the Islamic trend and witnessed a broad empowerment of them, which paved the way for their coup against democracy in June 1989. A coup led by Brigadier General Omar al-Bashir. In his testimony to Al-Asr with Ahmed Mansour, the godfather of the rescue coup, Hassan Al-Turabi, said that his first meeting with Al-Bashir was one day before the coup. Nothing was known about him except that he was a member of the Islamic organization in the army.
Al-Bashir had no qualification other than that he was the officer with the highest rank among the officers who belonged to the Islamic Front. Al-Turabi chose not to reveal the identity of the “Islamic” coup until several months later, as he implemented an arrest plan that included all political leaders, including Al-Turabi himself. This is what he expressed in his famous sentence: “Go to the palace as president, and I will go to prison imprisoned.”
The coup was a continuation of years of preparation initiated by al-Turabi and his Islamic front since their early years. Al-Turabi practiced a kind of “appeasement” with the regime of the dictator Jaafar Nimeiri and pretended that he was a innocent man in public and held positions during Nimeiri’s era, including the Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs, while in secret he was working with members of the Islamic Front on the early preparation of the coup. Al-Turabi told Sha Ala Al-Asr the details of the story that lasted for years. The June 30 coup was the beginning of decades of Islamist influence and their hold on to power in .partnership with the military.
So they created a dictatorship of a different nature from the Arab dictatorships, as it was not a partnership between the military and currents with an “Arab nationalist” or “socialist” passion, as is the case in most of the dictatorships that arose in Syria, Egypt, Libya and others. Rather, it was a partnership between the military and a political current claiming It is an “Islamic striving to implement the Sharia”, but the reality shows that it practices practices that have nothing to do with Sharia, which express laws aimed at achieving justice.
The rule lasted for three decades, whose title was oppression and tyranny. A dispute occurred between al-Turabi and Omar al-Bashir in 1999, which led to al-Turabi leaving the parliament he was chairing and becoming a “fierce” opponent of Omar al-Bashir and founding the “People’s Congress” party. And he went to prison several times. Suddenly and without any prior introduction, al-Turabi retreated from his positions and entered into what was called the “National Dialogue” conference in 2015.
It is a conference that brought together a number of weightless parties and the National Congress tried to deceive the public opinion that it seeks to solve Sudan’s problems through this dialogue, a dialogue that was boycotted by the well-known opposition factions, foremost of which is the Revolutionary Front, which includes .A number of armed movements and the forces of Sudan Call and National Consensus.
“The years of rule between “corruption” and “war
Al-Turabi and his Islamic front came up with a project they called the “civilizational project”. Their rule was not a mirror of these “shiny” ideas and slogans, and they did not seek to implement this program or any other programs of action aimed at building a state and making progress. Their only goal was to raise funds and empower their party members to rule without competence and experience, an approach that greatly affected Sudan and contributed to the consolidation of administrative and financial corruption that spread widely during the rule of Al-Bashir and his regime. Even the late former observer of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, Sadiq Abdullah Abdul Majid, said in a television interview that he had witnessed all the successive governments that followed Sudan since independence.
But he did not find a government that contained corruption and sank into it like the Salvation Government. The spiritual father of the rescue coup, Hassan al-Turabi, also pointed out in media interviews about the spread of corruption during the era of al-Bashir in all state institutions, practices that contradict the Islamic idea. Which al-Turabi and al-Bashir claim that their coup came to be implemented. And it shows the deception practiced by the “geese” and their bad exploitation of religious slogans, as is the approach of tyrants who are good at playing with emotions and winning over the simple with “emotional” slogans and speeches. Sudan is ranked among the six most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International.
For years between governments and other armed factions. Hundreds of thousands of citizens were displaced and lost their homes as a result of oppression and killing, which has become a painful reality in those places. Before the war in Darfur and the two regions, another war broke out in southern Sudan, which contributed to creating a gap between the north and the south, and the southerners chose in 2011 to secede and build their independent state. The policies of the Islamic movement were a disaster for the Sudanese society and brought it into many crises, including including Sudan.
On the US terrorism list Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden resided in Sudan between 1991 and 1996, a behavior that angered the US administration and announced the inclusion of Sudan in its list of countries supporting terrorism. And the regime’s practices caused the imposition of economic sanctions on Sudan that lasted for two decades and, along with corruption and mismanagement, completed the triangle of failure that was the title of the rule of the ousted regime of Omar al-Bashir.
December Revolution and the end of the “Kizan” era
The revolution was not in its origin a revolution with an “ideological” dimension, it is the revolution of freedom against military tyranny. And the revolution of justice against injustice and the revolution of peace against the regime of war, but the Islamists did not practice a review of their experience and did not acquiesce in the people who came out in all the streets of Sudan in rejection of their rule and the tyrannical military rule. Al-Bashir described the demonstrators in many terms, sometimes as “perverse prospects”, sometimes “traitors and agents” and at other times “communists, enemies of religion.”
The truth is that the people who came out against Al-Bashir were rejecting the worn-out political system with all its spectrums. Al-Bashir’s regime is an extension of other tyrannical regimes that contributed to delaying Sudan and robbing and squandering its wealth. Sometimes it is loyal to the repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as the “Rapid Support” forces, along with other elements from other security formations, participated in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
And it is the participation that harmed Sudan’s reputation and made the international newspapers describe its soldiers as “mercenaries.” The Islamic movement needs years of review so that it can return to the Sudanese political scene, and this review will only come by disavowing those who were involved in corruption and murder. The “kyzan” experience greatly offended the Islamic trend in Sudan and will greatly affect every party that carries Islamic slogans in the future, and the people will need years to forget the pain caused by the “Kaizan.”
Although Al-Bashir’s regime does not express a real expression of the Sudanese political Islamic current. Supporters of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan chose to become an example of repression, killing and theft in the name of religion, at a time when they could have set an example and a project to be emulated in the region. Al-Turabi was involved in bringing the military to power and handing them the reins of government without thinking about the consequences of this act.
Thus,the Sudanese suffered from a tyrannical regime that ruled for three decades, which was a sequel to the years of tyranny and failure that required the ruling class in Sudan for six decades,which is the life of Sudan after independence. Many confuse the Islamic movement that ruled in Sudan with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and observers of the Sudanese political scene are mistaken when they consider the Islamic movement to be part of the “Muslim Brotherhood” organization.
Although the Islamic movement is based on ideological bases and literature, similar to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Omar al-Bashir’s current is similar to other civil movements that rose in voice after the revolution and contributed to creating an intellectual debate on issues unrelated to the path of renaissance and construction.
Including the currents that tried to impose their ideology on the entire people, and this option was expressed by what one of the leaders of the armed groups, Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu, who stipulated the application of secularism before completing the negotiation process with him to achieve peace in the regions of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and threatened self-determination for the two regions if his demands were not met.
And supported by many currents within the forces of freedom and change. She described Al-Hilu’s demands as a step that contributes to strengthening the conflict and ideological debate,which greatly contributed to disrupting the renaissance process in Sudan.