Sudan’s military rulers arrest ousted president’s brothers

The military council, which took over after Al-Bashir’s ouster, said the former president was transferred on Tuesday to a prison in the capital, Khartoum. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019
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Sudan’s military rulers arrest ousted president’s brothers

  • Abdullah and Abbas Al-Bashir were arrested as part of the sweep against officials from the former government
  • The military ousted Omar Al-Bashir after four months of street protests against his 30-year rule

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s new military rulers arrested ousted President Omar Al-Bashir’s two brothers for corruption, part of a broad sweep against officials and supporters of the former government, the country’s official news agency reported Thursday.
The spokesman of the military council, Gen. Shams Eddin Kabashi, was quoted by SUNA as saying that Abdullah and Abbas Al-Bashir were taken into custody, without providing more details or saying when it happened.
The Sudanese military ousted Omar Al-Bashir last week, after four months of street protests against his 30-year rule marred by conflict, civil war and corruption. Al-Bashir is also wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committee in the western region of Darfur.
The brothers’ detention was likely another concession by the military to the protesters, who have demanded that all key figures and ranking officials from the former president’s circle be arrested. A number of Al-Bashir’s close associates and former government officials have already been taken into custody since the military overthrew Al-Bashir last Thursday.
The military council, which is now running the country, said the former president was transferred on Tuesday to Koper Prison in the capital, Khartoum, a facility notorious for holding political prisoners under Al-Bashir.

Huge crowds joined a protest outside Sudan's defence ministry on Thursday to demand that the country's transitional military council hand power to civilians, a Reuters witness said.
The crowds were the largest since former President Omar Al-Bashir was ousted a week ago and the military council took over, with hundreds of thousands packing the streets in the centre of the capital by early evening.
Protesters chanted "Freedom and revolution are the choice of the people" and "Civilian rule, civilian rule", and waved national flags overhead.
Activists who have been holding a sit-in outside the defence ministry compound in Khartoum since before Bashir's ouster had called for a mass protest on Thursday to increase pressure on the council.
It comes after an opposition coalition called this week on the military to establish a civilian-led ruling council with military representation, as well as a civilian government.
The council has said it is ready to meet some of the protesters demands, including fighting corruption, but has indicated that it would not hand over power to them.
The Khartoum sit-in was the culmination of 16 weeks of protests triggered by a worsening economic crisis in Sudan, leading to the ouster and arrest of Bashir after three decades in power.

The United States supports a democratic and peaceful transition in Sudan led by civilians who represent all Sudanese, the State Department said on Thursday, as protesters in Khartoum kept up demands that the country's military hand over power to civilians.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Sudan remained labeled by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism, and emphasized that Washington's policies toward Sudan would be based on "our assessment of events on the ground and the actions of transitional authorities."
She said the US was "encouraged" by the release of political prisoners and the cancellation by the transitional military council of a curfew.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir offered to mediate in Sudan’s political crisis. In a letter seen by The Associated Press, Kiir this week pledged his support for a transition where the rights of the Sudanese people are protected and offered to “mediate the on-going negotiations” among various groups.
Some in South Sudan are concerned that Al-Bashir’s departure will hurt their country’s fragile peace deal, which Al-Bashir helped broker. South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011, following decades of civil war.
But they new country subsequently sank into its own civil war, which ended with an agreement signed in September. The deal calls for opposition leader Riek Machar to return to South Sudan next month to once again become Kiir’s deputy, though that looks increasingly unlikely as tensions continue.
One political analyst called Kiir’s offer of mediation over Al-Bashir a “hypocritical public relations” stunt.
“It doesn’t make sense. You cannot leave your house in a mess and claim to clean your neighbor’s house,” Jacob Chol, professor at the University of Juba, told the AP.


Missile deal signals hot summer for Turkey’s transatlantic ties

Updated 24 May 2019
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Missile deal signals hot summer for Turkey’s transatlantic ties

  • Turkey says buying Russian weapons system is aimed at meeting Turkey’s defense needs

ANKARA: Turkey has until next month to cancel a multibillion dollar S-400 missile system deal with Russia, or face harsh US penalties, CNBC reported on Tuesday. 

If Ankara does not cancel in favor of buying the US-made Patriot missile defense system instead, it may also be removed from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet program, costing thousands of jobs. Turkey is currently producing about 800 parts for the world’s most advanced fighter.

The delivery of 100 F-35s to Ankara may also be halted, and other defense and industrial cooperation projects with the US may be put at risk.   

In his latest visit to Turkey in early May, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said its procurement of the S-400 was a national decision. 

However, the system, which cannot be integrated alongside other NATO systems and carries fears around data collection, has been a major source of disagreement between Ankara and Washington. 

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) used to impose sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia, could be used against Turkey should the deal with Moscow proceed, though it is thought not until Ankara takes physical delivery of the missiles, which is expected to take place in July.

Sanctions could include prohibitions on banking and foreign exchange transactions, and the denial of export licenses. 

Individuals involved may also be subject to visa denials and exclusion from the US, as well as partial freezing or confiscation of assets.

Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the US-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, says CAATSA would hurt Turkish interests, but would also limit US President Donald Trump. 

“He could technically veto (CAATSA), but the language in the legislation is not as straightforward as other waivers included in sanctions legislation. It is not a question of if Turkey will be sanctioned, it is how, and using which of the 12 available sanctions,” he told Arab News. 

“Turkey would do itself a lot of favors if it stopped saying this was a done deal and delayed acquisition to allow for more talks. But that is Ankara’s choice to make.” 

Turkish military personnel have already traveled to Russia for training on the S-400 system, but Ankara does not believe the deal will affect its involvement in the F-35 program. 

Turkish officials are also evaluating an offer made by the US in late March to sell them the Patriot system, with a decision expected by early June.

In a statement on Tuesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the country was meeting its responsibilities under the F-35 project and added that buying the Russian system aimed at meeting Turkey’s defense needs. 

“Turkey prepares itself for the possible implementation of CAATSA sanctions. In our meetings with the US, we perceive a general rapprochement on issues including the east of the Euphrates, F-35s and Patriots,” he said. 

Besides pushing Turkey away from the Atlantic alliance, the potential CAATSA sanctions would also hit the Turkish economy, which is already in recession, with the Turkish lira losing more than 40 percent of its value over the past two years.

Timothy Ash, a London-based economist, said Ankara would be taking a huge gamble if they thought Trump would block sanctions, telling Arab News it would be “catastrophic for the Turkish economy.”

Trump already doubled US tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum last year, over the detention of an American pastor on espionage charges in the country. 

“There will be very real and very negative consequences if Turkey goes through with its plans to buy the Russia system,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

An expected state visit by Trump to Ankara in July has not been officially confirmed.