Yemen’s Interior Ministry Mourns Martyr Ibrahim Badreddine Al-Houthi as Clashes among Mercenaries in Aden Escalate

August 9, 2019


The Yemeni Interior Ministry on Friday mourned the martyr Ibrahim Badreddine Al-Houthi, who had been assassinated at the treacherous hands of the Saudi-Israeli aggression.

The ministry confirmed in a statement that it would not hesitate to prosecute and capture the puppets of criminal aggression that carried out the assassination.

In Aden, the clashes between the gunmen backed by UAE and those who follow the fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi have escalated and reached the presidential palace in Al-Maashiq as reports have indicated that a number of them were either killed or injured.

Yemen has been since March 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led Coalition, in a bid to restore control to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is Riyadh’s ally.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and injured in the strikes launched by the coalition, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

The coalition, which includes in addition to Saudi Arabia and UAE: Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, has been also imposing a harsh blockade against Yemenis.

Source: Al-Manar English Website and Al-Masirah

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النأي يالنفس Self-distancing

Sudan’s Path Forward; Advice to the Protest Movement in Light of National Security Concerns

June 10, 2019

by Aspelta for The Saker Blog

Several months of mass protests in Sudan have succeeded in ousting the thirty-year presidency of Omar Al Bashir and gaining significant international attention, with a Transitional Military Council now in place comprised of many leading officials from Bashir’s government. With negotiations between protesters and the council stalling, and with the council itself divided between military officials and the leadership of independent militias such as the Janjaweed, the country appears to be growing only more divided as the threat of state collapse and possibly open civil war looms. For the leaders of the protest movement, the future of the country largely remains in their hands – namely in how they proceed to deal with the military council and whether they can reach an accommodation. By continuing on their current path – making somewhat unrealistic demands for an immediate transfer to civilian government – a protracted conflict and the eventual quashing of hopes for reform are effectively guaranteed. An understanding of the current threats to national security, the nature of the external actors which have interests in seeing certain outcomes from a transition of power in Sudan, and the broader national interest, are all vital for the protest movement to move forward and reach an accord with the Military Council for the benefit of both parties.

It is critical to understand that the military has legitimate concerns, both for national security and for their personal security, which must be addressed if any sort of agreement can be reached. For officials personally, amnesty from trial for actions which a new republican government may term crimes against the state committed under the Bashir presidency and since remains essential to them reaching any agreement. This is critical for both the military themselves, and the leadership of the Janjaweed (Rapid Support Forces) and paramilitary forces responsible for the killings in Darfur and what is today South Sudan. By threatening these individuals with trial, and very likely imprisonment, execution and a repossession of their assets, the protesters are ensuring that these powerful individuals will be forced to employ all means at their disposal to prevent any sort of transition of power – which they will equate with an imminent threat to their own and their families’ personal survival.

Regarding national security concerns, officials in the military and intelligence will naturally be weary that the coming to power of a republican government based on a Western style system will lead to a serious undermining of the state’s security apparatus, even if temporary, which will leave the state vulnerable to external intervention by hostile states outside the country. States with their eye on Sudan’s resources, which would likely seek to exploit the deposing of the security forces and coming to power of an inexperienced civilian government, are many. Foremost among these are the Western Bloc states – namely Western European powers and the United States – which have for decades benefitted from fostering instability and division within the country. Admittedly, the policies of the Nimeiri and Bashir governments took few measures to counter Western attempts to foster separatism and foment armed rebellion in the country. Sudanese security officials and the former president have repeatedly alluded to the Western Bloc’s aspirations to “split Sudan into five countries,” all weak states and dependencies on the Western Bloc which are beholden to Europe and the United States in their foreign policymaking. Given both Western actions against the Sudanese state in previous decades, including the alleged backing of militants in Darfur and South Sudan which, due to improper and overly heavy-handed responses by the government in Khartoum sparked major conflicts, and considerable Western support for protests today, it is evident that the Western Bloc seeks an undermining of the Sudanese state through the grievances of the protestors. From messages of solidarity from Google executives, to vocal support from officials such as President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, strong comparisons are drawn to the Libyan protests of 2011, the Umbrella Revolution and Tiananmen Square incident among other examples. While the latter two failed to cripple the Chinese state as their sponsors desired, the devastating results for neighboring Libya which saw thousands of Sudanese workers brutally executed by Western backed militias are evident. The government in Khartoum appears considerably more fragile than even Tripoli did at that time, much less Beijing, which makes the Western threat particularly dire.

The second threat comes from Egypt in the north, which not only occupies a part of Sudanese territory the size of Slovenia or Israel in the Hala’ib triangle, but has also long perceived its former colony and its people with some degree of contempt and sought to assert its authority to shape Sudan into part of its sphere of influence. Access to the Sudanese resource base on favorable terms is also considered a potentially invaluable lifeline for the struggling Egyptian economy, which suffers the effects of endemic corruption, environmental decline and serious overpopulation due to uncontrolled growth. For all its faults, the Omar Al Bashir government strongly denounced Egyptian meddling in Sudan’s internal affairs, its occupation and more recent exploration for fossil fuels in the Hala’ib triangle, and its demands that Khartoum alter its foreign policy to align with Egyptian interests. Egypt seeks to engineer the coming to power of a government, whether republican or military, which is weak enough that it need comply with Cairo’s demands – whether in foreign policy, in economic concessions or in acquiescence to Egyptian territorial claims. Egypt’s strong support for the Transitional Military Council, where Arab Gulf States have supported the power of various militias in particular the Janjaweed, indicates that Cairo seeks a stable dependency in Sudan.

The Arab Gulf States for their part, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have a primary interest in ensuring continued Sudanese participation in their ongoing war effort against Iranian backed Ansurullah coalition forces in Yemen. Sudanese forces have taken the bulk of casualties against coalition units in Yemen, and formed a valuable frontline which has shielded the casualty averse gulf troops from attack. Attesting to the importance of the Sudanese presence to the war effort, a member of a Sudanese contingent in Yemen, Mohamed Suleiman al-Fadil stated in a recent interview with the New York Times: “Without us (Sudanese forces), the Houthis would take all of Saudi Arabia, including Mecca.” Gulf states have in turn provided considerable economic assistance aimed at propping up the Military Council and in particular its deputy leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – commander of Janjaweed forces. As pressure from the protests continues to grow, the Military Council’s reliance on assistance from the Gulf and resulting weakness and lack of independence will only grow.

Ultimately the protest movement in Sudan must recognize that by setting unreasonable demands and working against rather than seeking to cooperate with the government, the state overall is weakened which benefits only external powers. The three factions which today strive for power, the militias led by the Janjaweed, the military and the protestors, are all increasingly forced into a greater dependency on their external sponsors – the Arab Gulf States, Egypt and the Western Bloc respectively. As the parties continue to weaken one another through conflict, this ensures that whichever triumphs it will be a considerably weaker and less sovereign government than that of Omar Al Bashir which preceded it – which for all its faults remained largely independent in its foreign policymaking.

Should the protest movement proceed on its current trajectory, all three parties will continue to be weakened and the serious undermining or collapse of Sudanese statehood for the interest of external powers will become a real possibility. It is thus in the interests of both the nation and the protest movement to propose more reasonable terms to the military council which can unify the interests of both parties for the sake of the national interest. This can include formation of a transitional council comprised of a balance of military officials and civilian leaders selected by the protest movement – perhaps in an assembly with 55:45 representation. Demands must be not for the ousting and punishment of officials, which remain wholly unacceptable, but rather for the reform of the state to better suit national interests. A joint military-civilian government which prioritizes the protection of national sovereignty, economic and military modernization, and the protection of the rights of all ethnic groups, remains a viable alternative to protracted and seemingly unending conflict. The latter point remans particularly vital, given the use of ethnic conflict by the Western Bloc to undermine the state and the alienation of many parts of the country from the political process by the Omar Al Bashir government which increased polarization and fueled separatist sentiments. An enshrined equality for these groups, and guaranteed representation in whatever council or assembly governs the state, will be key to reducing chances of civil war and undermining Western efforts to support separatism. (A similar approach was taken by Indonesian revolutionary forces in 1945, and guaranteed participation in the political process and parliamentary representation for all ethnic groups was key to undermining Western efforts to foster division and recolonize the country.)

Finally, it is important for the protest movement not to assume that the only alternative to the corruption and stagnation of the Omar Al Bashir and Gaafar Nimeiry years is a Western style liberal democracy. States which pursue such a course in an atmosphere of serious national security threats and from a position of economic underdevelopment have almost without exception failed – with often severe consequences. A progressive and nationalist party state or military government, however, poses a far more viable alternative. The Chinese CCP, DPRK’s Worker’s Party, South Korea’s Park Chung Hee military government, Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew military government and Taiwan’s Jiang Jieshi and Jiang Jing Kuo military governments are all prime examples, some of the few, of third world states which have managed to quickly modernize and progress while retaining sovereignty and self-determination despite considerable national security threats. The writer suggests that it is by looking to these examples, and certainly not to the Western Bloc whose models have provided repeated failure and whose policies towards Sudan are demonstrably hostile, that a brighter, more secure and more prosperous future for the Sudanese state can be achieved.

Aspelta is a former resident of Sudan (2018) writing under pseudonym. Well known defence and security analyst with over 900 publications widely cited in over a dozen languages. Expert on international politics specialising in East Asia and U.S. foreign policy.



Houthi forces seize important city in southern Yemen as they make new push towards coast

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 A.M.) – The Houthi forces scored an imperative advance this week when their troops captured the provincial capital of Dhale in southern Yemen.

Backed by heavy artillery and missiles, the Houthi forces were able to expel the UAE-backed troops in Qatbah city on Friday, putting an end to their reign over the provincial capital in Dhale.

Following the capture of Qatbah, the Houthi forces pushed their way south to the town of  Sabah, where they are now involved in a fierce battle with the UAE-backed troops.

The Houthi forces are making a new push towards the southern coast of Yemen in a bid to alleviate the pressure on their troops in the northern part of the country.

With the ongoing ceasefire in the coastal city of Hodeidah, the war in Yemen has shifted to the northern and southern parts of the country.

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ثورات معقَّمة

مايو 10, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– لا يمكن إلا الشعور بالفرح لعدم انزلاق الأوضاع في الجزائر والسودان نحو الفوضى أو الخيارات الدموية، ونجاح المعنيين في الشارع والحراك الشعبي والقوات المسلحة معاً في إيجاد مساحة للخلاف والتفاهم تحول دون الخيارات التي عصفت بالبلدان التي عرفت النسخة الأولى من الربيع العربي.

– الأسئلة الكبرى التي يطرحها وضع النسخة الجديدة من الربيع العربي تتصل بغياب كامل لأي إشارة جدية لرؤية جناحي الأحداث في الحراك الشعبي وقواه من جهة والجيش من جهة مقابلة تجاه الخيارات الكبرى للدول التي تتصل بالسياسات كأن الثورة تقول إن لا مشكلة لها مع سياسات النظام السابق وقضيتها تقتصر على الشأن الداخلي. وهذا يعني أنها حركة من داخل النظام رغم الكلام المعاكس عن ثورة لأن الثورة تُعيد صياغة كل شيء وترفع صوتها على كل ما هو نافر في السياسات السابقة تجاه القضايا المتصلة بالهوية. وحتى الآن لم نسمع كلمة عن موقف من السياسات الأميركية في المنطقة وسوق النفط وثروات الجزائر الهائلة وعلاقاتها بالشركات العالمية الكبرى، ولا عن الوضع العربي ومكانة الجزائر فيه، ولا عن فلسطين التي لم تغب يوماً عن هموم الجزائريين واهتماماتهم، وقد شكلت حضوراً منذ أيام استقلال الجزائر، مع أحمد بن بلة والهواري بومدين.

– في السودان تبدو الأمور أشدّ وضوحاً، فالغريب العجيب أن السودان الذي يشارك في حرب اليمن منذ عهد الرئيس عمر البشير، لم يرد طلب عودة قواته إلى الوطن في حركة الشارع والاعتصام المستمر أمام قيادة الجيش منذ شهر ونيّف. وهو مطلب عادي طبيعي إنساني يرد في أي حركة احتجاجية في أي بلد تشترك قواته المسلحة في حرب ليس له فيها يد ولا مصلحة وترتكب فيها المجازر ويساءل قادة العالم على درجة مسؤولياتهم فيها، ويموت فيها الجنود والضباط بلا قضية. ولا يمكن إنكار العلاقة بين هذه المشاركة والمال الخليجي الذي يصل إلى السودان بما يسيء للجيش السوداني والحركة الشعبية فيه بقبول صيغة تبدو أقرب لتحويل الجيش إلى قوات مرتزقة تشارك في الحروب الخارجية لقاء المال بدلاً من القضية، والأشدّ غرابة ومصدراً للعجب أن الإعلان الوحيد الصادر عن المجلس العسكري المتصل بمكانة السودان العربية والدولية جاء لتأكيد بقاء الجيش في حرب اليمن، والأغرب أن الحراك الشعبي الذي علق بالسلبية على الكثير الكثير مما قاله المجلس العسكري التزم الصمت تجاه هذا الإعلان.

– أما فلسطين التي نثق أنها في مكانة خاصة في عقول وقلوب السودانيين والجزائريين فقد شهدت حرباً إسرائيلية دموية خلال الأيام التي كان الآلاف من شباب الحراك الشعبي يملأون شوارع السودان والجزائر، من دون أن نشهد علماً فلسطينياً أو إعلان تضامن أو هتافاً أو خطاباً يتصل بما يجري فيها، والأمر لا علاقة له بالاشتغال بالشأن الداخلي، ولا بمفهوم الانتماء للعروبة أو للإسلام، فما تشهده فنزويلا من مخاطر داخلية أكبر بكثير، ولا صلة تربطها بهوية قومية أو دينية بفلسطين، لكن فلسطين تحضر في كل محطات الحضور الشعبي فيها، ولهذا تفسير واحد هو الضوابط التي لا تلتزمها القيادة الفنزويلية كقيادة حرة، بينما تتقيّد بها القيادات الشعبية والعسكرية في الجزائر والسودان، لالتزامها بسقوف تحول دون حضور فلسطين، وتلزمها بحصر السياسة ضد النظام السابق وفي التنافس في ما بينها والنظر للنظام الجديد، بقضية واحدة هي تقاسم السلطة، ولذلك لا يعنينا ما يجري إلا بمقدار عدم الانزلاق نحو الفوضى وعدم المساس بوحدة البلاد وسلمها الأهلي، ونشدّ على أيدي المعنيين لهذا الالتزام، لكننا نعتذر عن وصف ما يجري بالثورة أو بالتغيير الجذري، طالما أن مسائل الاستقلال الوطني والمواجهة مع مشاريع الهيمنة، والالتزام بفلسطين تشكل شأناً ثانوياً لا يستحق الذكر.

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تحديد الأدوار السياسيّة العلنيّة للجيوش العربيّة.. لماذا؟

مايو 9, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

الجيوش العربية «تعود مجدّداً» لإدارة السياسة وذلك بعد أكثر من نصف قرن من التمويه بواجهات قيادية مدنية من أصول عسكرية. فرجعت قرقعة السلاح وألبسة الكاكي والبلاغات رقم «1» المتواصلة.

لماذا هذه العودة إلى العلنيّة ومن دون وسيط؟

للتذكير فقط فإنّ معظم الجيوش في المنطقة العربية قلّصت في المرحلة الماضية من أدوارها السياسية المباشرة، لكنها احتفظت بدور الداعم للأنظمة والمشرفة على تحوّل بعض جنرالاتها، قيادات مدنية ببدلات وربطات عنق من ماركات فرنسية معطرة.

لذلك فإنّ سيطرة الجيوش في أربعة بلدان عربية على السلطات السياسية فيها مثير للريبة، خصوصاً أنّ مساحاتها تزيد عن ستة ملايين كيلومتر مربع وسكانها نحو مئتين مليون نسمة مع مواقع استراتيجية هامة.

اللافت أنّ هذه العودة تتقاطع مع ثلاثة أحداث مستجدة: اندحار الإرهاب القاعدي الداعشي ذي الأصول الوهابية، ثانياً تراجع النفوذ الأميركي في سورية والعراق، وثالثاً تشكل حراك شعبي كبير وضاغط، نجح بإسقاط رئاسة بوتفليقة في الجزائر والبشير في السودان، دافعاً ليبيا نحو حرب بين بقايا جيشها بقيادة السراج. والمثير أنّ الرئيس المصري عبد الفتاح السيسي الذي وصل إلى السلطة بانقلاب نفّذه الجيش المصري في 3 أيام التقى مؤخراً بالرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، وعاد ليعدّل الدستور بما يسمح للرئيس السيسي بالبقاء في ولايات رئاسية متعددة لغاية 2030 كمدني يحكم بواسطة الجيش.

للمزيد من التوضيح، فإنّ انتفاضات شعبية جزائرية بدأت قبل أشهر عدة احتجاجاً على التدهور الاقتصادي المريع الذي أصاب البلاد بحكم وهميّ من رئيس مُصاب بجلطات دماغية منذ 2013 أفقدته الحركة والإدراك. مشكلاً واجهة لحكم من رجال الأعمال وقادة الجيش، فتحرّك الجيش عندما شعر أنّ الحراك كبير وثابت وذاهب نحو إسقاط النظام. وبحركة احتوائية انقلب الجيش على بوتفليقة مسرحيّاً معلناً تسلم السلطة انتقالياً لمدة عامين وذلك لإعادة «بناء المؤسسات الدستورية والاقتصادية وتسليمها للمدنيين»، كما زعم.

لكن الوضع الآن يدفع نحو صدام بين قيادة جيش متمسكة بالسلطة وبين حراك شعبي يرفض دور الجيش في السياسة، ما يُنذر بصدامات مرتقبة.

هذا ما حدث أيضاً في السودان التي تمكّن حراكها من إقصاء الرئيس عمر البشير، لكن قيادة الجيش سارعت بحركة مسرحية احتوائية الى اعتقال البشير وتسلّم السلطة… وهي الآن في نزاع مع حراك شعبي لم يترك الميادين مُصرّاً على حقه في إدارة السلطة السياسية.

أما في ليبيا، فالمعارك مستمرّة وسط «بازار» سياسي دولي تتنافس فيه قوى كبرى وأوروبية وإقليمية وعربية.

فمما تتكوّن هذه الجيوش؟

تتألف الجيوش العربية من طابقين: القيادة في صفوف الضباط وهم أبناء طبقات وسطى تمكّنوا بنظام الترفيع العسكري من إدراك مواقع قيادية، جرى استخدامها كثيراً في التفاعلات السياسية، حتى أصبحت تشارك كثيراً في إنتاج قراراتها.

أما الأنفار منهم فهم أبناء الأرياف الذين يشكلون جسماً وطنياً فعلياً ويمثلون كلّ التعدّدية العرقية والطائفية والقومية الموجودة في بلدانها.. هذه الشرائح هي الوحيدة التي تعبّر عن سمات أوطانها بشكل كامل، لكنها تصبح رهينة القيادة العليا المسيّسة أو التي تعمل لخدمة الطبقات السياسية ورجال الأعمال.

أما لجهة الحراكات الشعبية فإنها هامة جداً، إنما في الجزء الأول من انتفاضتها.. والتي تنبثق من أسباب اقتصادية تتقاطع مع دوافع سياسية. لكن المشكلة في أبناء هذه الحراكات أنّها تندمج في ما بينها مؤقتاً، لأنها تعود بعد انتصارها ومراوحتها إلى انقساماتها الأساسية من العرقية والطائفية والفئوية.

أما لماذا تفعل ذلك فلأنّ حركة الاندماج الوطني التاريخية الضرورية لم تحصل بين أبناء المكوّنات المتناقضة لإعادة صهرهم وبناء مواطن قابل لأن يتخلى عن طوائفه وعرقه لمصلحة وطنه.

للتنويه، فإنّ الدول المدنية التاريخية قامت فور انتصار حركاتها الشعبية التاريخية بدمج داخلي على أسس ثلاثة، العدالة السياسية والاقتصادية والاجتماعية، أيّ المساواة في الحقوق السياسية وفتح المناصب لكلّ الناس، وتوزيع المال العام على المكوّنات الاجتماعية، بعدل ومن دون تحيّز لقبيلة أو عرق أو دين، أما اجتماعياً فللمواطن الحق في الانتماء إلى الدين الذي يريده إنما من دون أن يستعمله في السياسة.. حتى أنّ الزواج هو إلزامي فقط في «البلديّة».

لقد استلزم تطبيق هذه العدالات قرناً ونصف قرن حتى لم يعُد الفرنسي يعرف مَن هو الكاثوليكي ومَن هو الأرثوذكسي. ولم يعد المواطن الأميركي يعرف مَن هو الكاثوليكي أو الإنجيلي، ومَن هو من ذوي الأصول الفرنسية او الانجلوساكسونية أو من نتاج سلالات بيضاء روسية ويونانية أو أخرى.

وهذا احتاج إلى أقلّ من قرن حتى أدركت أوروبا وأميركا وأوستراليا مرحلة الدمج لعصبيات مختلفة جرى توحيدها بالسياسة والاقتصاد والاجتماع.

الخوف إذاً موجود في العلاقات التبعية بين قيادات الجيوش والسياسات الخارجية السعودية ـ الإمارات ـ الأميركيون ـ الفرنسيون ـ البريطانيون… بالإضافة إلى ارتباطات قياداتها برجال الأعمال، وكما انّ توقيت تحركها يكشف أنها محاولة لمنع تأسيس دول مدنية او تأمين اندماج يعزز من قوة الأوطان.

فهل تمنع الجيوش إعادة بناء بلدانها؟ إنّ توقيت عودتها مشبوه، خصوصاً في حركة مواكبته لاندحار الإرهاب وتقلص الهيمنة الأميركية، فهل بإمكان الجيوش التعويض على المشاريع الأميركية الخاسرة؟

يبدو انّ الحشود تتقدّم نحو استكمال أدوارها، إنما بعد اضطرابات مرتقبة قد يكون بمقدورها ان تفرض على الجيوش التراجع التدريجي والعودة إلى الثكنات وإنهاء محاولاتها للسيطرة على الدور السياسي، لذلك فإنّ المنطقة العربية تسرع نحو اضطرابات من نوع جديد، لكنها لن تكون أكثر سوءاً من الإرهاب الذي ضرب المنطقة في العقد الأخير.

Saudi Arabia’s Sudden Interest in Sudan Is Not about Friendship. It Is About Fear

By Nesrine Malik – The Guardian

In the days following the ‘Yom Kippur’ war, after the Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, agreed to a ceasefire and subsequent peace treaty with ‘Israel,’ he faced questions at home about his climb-down. When confronted on his capitulation, he is reported to have said that he was prepared for battle with ‘Israel’ but not with America. On the third day of the war, President Nixon had authorized Operation Nickel Grass, an airlift from the United States with the purpose of replenishing ‘Israel’s’ military losses up to that point. In November of 1973, the New York Times reported that “Western ambassadors in Cairo confirm Egyptian accusations that American Galaxies were landing war equipment in the Sinai.”

There was something of Sadat’s realpolitik in the realization over the past few weeks that Saudi Arabia has no intention of letting Sudan’s revolution achieve its objective of removing the military once and for all and installing a civilian government. In the period preceding the revolution, Saudi Arabia had grown relatively lethargic and jaded about Sudan, a country it saw as good only for providing bodies as battle fodder for its war in Yemen. When Sudan’s then president, Omar al-Bashir, fearful of his demise, took his begging bowl to his allies in the region, Saudi Arabia demurred. But this lack of interest evaporated the moment it became clear that there was real power in Sudan’s streets, and Bashir was deposed.

Long gone are the days when the US was the chief meddler in the region. Saudi Arabia has taken its place as a powerful force for the status quo. Gone also are the days when Saudi Arabia’s idea of extending its sphere of influence was to sloppily funnel funds to religious schools and groups across the Arab world and south Asia. The country has now taken on a more deliberate role: to stymie political change wherever possible.

Within days of the removal of Bashir, Saudi’s purse strings loosened. Along with the UAE, it pledged a $3bn aid package to prop up Sudan’s economy and thus the transitional military government. This shot in the arm has been accompanied by an alarming and unprecedented phenomenon, a propaganda campaign launched in Saudi-owned or Saudi-sympathetic media.

Gulf News ran a profile of the current head of the transitional military council saying that “during the war in southern Sudan and the Darfur region, he served on [sic] important positions, largely due to his civic manners and professional demeanor”. “Civic” and “professionally run” are not words many would use to describe the wars in Darfur and the south of the country.

The editorial started with a panicked homage to Sudan as “one of Africa’s and the Arab world’s most strategic countries”, as if the Saudis had just caught on to the fact that Sudan was not the sleepy, pliant, begging backwater they hoped it was. A senior United Arab Emirates minister last week tried to frame the sudden interest and largesse towards Sudan as a wise precaution after the tumult of the Arab spring. “We have experienced all-out chaos in the region and, sensibly, don’t need more of it,” he lectured. But this newfound affection for oh so strategic Sudan and its civic-mannered military leaders has more to do with the Saudi royal family’s heightened insecurity about its own fate than it does with maintaining stability. The danger of a Sudanese revolution is in its optics, in the sense of possibility that it suggests. If Saudi used to care about extending its soft power across the world in order to call on alliances against regional enemies such as Iran or Qatar, today’s aggressive Saudi foreign policy adventurism can be seen in the light of its one overarching fear: regime change.

Despite its economic troubles at home, the Saudi government still sees its sovereign wealth as a massive war chest to be leveraged to the end of its own survival. Even though the Saudi royal family seems to have a total monopoly on power, executing dissenters on a whim on national or foreign soil, Sudan has demonstrated that regime change is rarely about the technicalities. It is never about the firepower that an opposition can wield against an incumbent: it is about popular will. You can’t execute everyone.

The many failures of the Arab spring have been a boon for establishment regimes across the Middle East. No good will come of change, was the conventional regional wisdom for too long. Sudan is messing with that narrative. The army and the royal family are the only two institutions that can be allowed to rule, the logic goes: when civilians enter the fray they bring with them security lapses, terrorism and incompetence. But civilian governments also threaten other nuisances: real democracy, accountability and free expression. Saudi Arabia must prevent this, under the pretense of seeking stability, with the US absent but tacitly endorsing.

And so the Sudanese protesters, still firm in their standoff with the transitional government as they demand civilian rule, can wage war against Bashir and the remnants of his regime that are still in power. But how can they take on Saudi Arabia and its powerful allies in the region, who airlift support to the government? The burden on the Sudanese revolution is now even heavier – but the reward, if it succeeds, is to shake the thrones of all despots across the Middle East.

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