Sudan forces arrest protest leaders who met Ethiopia PM

Ethiopia’s prime minister arrived in Khartoum today seeking to broker talks between the ruling generals and protesters as heavily armed paramilitaries remained deployed in some squares of the Sudanese capital after a deadly crackdown, leaving residents in ‘terror.’ (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2019

Sudan forces arrest protest leaders who met Ethiopia PM

  • PM Abiy Ahmed met representatives of both sides on Friday in a bid to revive talks
  • Sudanese security forces later arrested the opposition leaders without giving any reason

KHARTOUM: Sudanese security forces have arrested two prominent rebels and an opposition leader, a day after they met the Ethiopian premier during his reconciliation mission to Khartoum, their aides said Saturday.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has emerged as a key regional leader, met representatives of both sides on Friday in a bid to revive talks between Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders after a deadly crackdown left dozens of people dead in the capital this week.
Among the protest movement delegates he met were opposition politician Mohamed Esmat and a leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Ismail Jalab.
Sudanese security forces later arrested both men without giving any reason, their aides told AFP on Saturday.
Esmat was arrested on Friday soon after his meeting with Abiy.
Jalab was arrested from his residence early on Saturday.
“A group of armed men came in vehicles at 3:00 am (1:00 GMT) and took away Ismail Jalab .. without giving any reason,” Jalab aide Rashid Anwar told AFP, adding that SPLM-N spokesman Mubarak Ardol was also detained.
“We don’t know where they are being held,” he added.
Esmat and Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, which brings together opposition parties and rebel groups with the organizers of the mass protests which have gripped Sudan since December last year.
The arrest of Jalab comes just days after the SPLM-N’s deputy leader, Yasir Arman, was seized from his home in Khartoum.
The rebel number two had only returned to Khartoum from exile late last month.
The SPLM-N has led uprisings among non-Arab ethnic minorities in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states since 2011, that Sudan’s military rulers had vowed to end peacefully after their overthrow of longtime president Omar Al-Bashir in April.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s National Umma Party condemned the detention of politicians and demanded that they all be released. 

A key protest group on Saturday announced a nationwide "civil disobedience" campaign it said would run until Sudan's ruling generals transfer power to a civilian government.
The call by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which first launched protests against longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir, came days after a bloody crackdown on demonstrators left dozens dead in Khartoum and crushed hopes for a swift democratic transition.
"The civil disobedience movement will begin Sunday and end only when a civilian government announces itself in power on state television," the SPA said in a statement.
"Disobedience is a peaceful act capable of bringing to its knees the most powerful weapons arsenal in the world."


Scramble for Syria after US withdrawal

Updated 10 min 30 sec ago

Scramble for Syria after US withdrawal

  • Turkey considers the SDF and YPG to be terrorists allied with the PKK, who have been involved in a bloody campaign for autonomy against Turkish states for decades

ANKARA: As Ankara pressed on with its offensive in northeastern Syria amid international criticism, Washington announced some 1,000 soldiers were withdrawn from the zone.

With the US departure, the attention turns to how the regional actors, especially Turkey and Syria, will operate in their zones of influence in the war-torn country where the possible escape of Daesh fighters from prisons could result in more chaos.

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Turkey considers the SDF and YPG to be terrorists allied with the PKK, who have been involved in a bloody campaign for autonomy against Turkish states for decades. The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the US.

But, whether some 50,000 YPG fighters will be integrated into the Syrian Army or will try to maintain their autonomy is still a matter of concern.

Mazloum Abdi, commander-in-chief of the SDF, recently wrote for Foreign Policy that the Kurds are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin.

Yury Barmin, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, said: “Damascus and the SDF struck a deal at the Russian base in Hmeymim to let the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) enter the Kurdish-controlled area in the northeast and deploy at the Syrian-Turkish border. The SAA is set to take control over Manbij, Kobane and Qamishli.”

However, Barmin told Arab News that a deal between Damascus and the SDF would greatly contribute to a buffer zone that Turkish President Recep Yayyip Erdogan intends to create in northern Syria, allowing Kurds to take some areas along the border without directly antagonizing Ankara. This policy, Barmin added, would be unacceptable to Moscow.

“There are now lots of moving targets and the goal of the Syrian Army — whether it will take some strategic cities or control the whole border along Turkey — is unclear for now. As Russian President Vladimir Putin is on his official visit to Saudi Arabia, his decision for Syria will be clearer when he returns home,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Barmin also noted that Russia let Erdogan operate the Adana agreement to a certain extent, under which Turkey has the right to conduct cross-border operations.

“But now, Russia would like to show Turkey its own red lines in the region,” he said.

However, Navvar Saban, a military analyst at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul, said that the Syrian regime is not capable of striking a deal without being backed by Russians, and that Moscow would not want to lose its relationship with Ankara.

“Russians always talk about the Adana agreement. We are now talking about a renewal and reactivation of the agreement with new specifications to allow Turkey to go deeper into Syrian territories. In this way, the Russians will have a bigger chance to allow the Syrian regime and Turkey to communicate. It is something that will open the diplomatic channels,” Saban said.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!”

Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said that if the US is completely out of the way, Russia and Turkey will have to either agree or contest each other to take over the US territorial control in northeast Syria. He added that this might be the most crucial race in the coming weeks.

Concerning the diplomatic channels between Damascus and Ankara, Macaron thinks that the channels were and will remain open between Moscow and Ankara since they have common interests beyond Syria.

“If Turkey had no other option, it might have to settle for controlling a few border towns, but this means Erdogan can no longer effectively implement his plan to return Syrian refugees, most notably without funding from the international community. Ankara is more likely to succeed in striking such a deal with Moscow than with Washington,” Macaron told Arab News.

Many experts agree that the Syrian chessboard will be determined predominantly by Russian moves.

“Assad has no say in what will happen next, Russia is the decision maker and there is little the Syrian regime can do unless Iran forcefully intervenes to impact the Russian-Turkish dynamics in the northeast,” Macaron said.