Sudan reopens airspace after revolt quelled

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Members of Sudan’s intelligence services shoot at the headquarters of the Directorate of General Intelligence Service in Khartoum on January 14, 2020. (AFP)
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People wait outside Khartoum International Airport, in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (AP)
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the headquarters of Sudan's Directorate of General Intelligence Service. (AP)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Sudan reopens airspace after revolt quelled

  • Violence biggest confrontation yet between the old guard and supporters of the new administration
  • ‘What happened on Tuesday is a revolt’

CAIRO: Sudan has reopened its airspace, the head of the sovereign council said on Wednesday, while the army said two soldiers were killed and four injured in quelling a revolt by former security agents linked to toppled ruler Omar Al-Bashir.

The violence was the biggest confrontation yet between the old guard and supporters of the new administration, which helped topple Bashir in April after 30 years in power.

In a speech early on Wednesday, the sovereign council head, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, vowed never to allow any coup to take place and added that the army was in control of all intelligence buildings.

“All headquarters are under the army’s control, and the airspace is now open,” Al-Burhan said.

 

The former security agents fought soldiers in the capital, Khartoum, for hours until government forces quelled the revolt late on Tuesday, residents and a military source said.

“What happened on Tuesday is a revolt,” Mohamed Othman Al-Hussein, the army chief of staff, said on Wednesday.

The two officers killed and four injured in putting down the revolt showed the military had been able to end it with minimal casualties, he added in a speech.

In a protest over severance packages, the former employees of the National Intelligence and Security Service also shut two small oilfields in Darfur, a government source told Reuters. The fields had an output of around 5,000 barrels a day.

Restructuring the once feared security apparatus blamed for suppressing dissent under Bashir was among the key demands of the uprising that had forced his removal.

However, once dismissed by the new transitional government, many of the security agents returned to their barracks without being disarmed, after leaving the ministries and streets they once controlled.


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 45 min 43 sec ago

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

FASTFACT

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”