Sudan spirals into chaos as protesters demand civilian rule

Sudan spirals into chaos as protesters demand civilian rule
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Pro-democracy activists have urged protesters to take to the streets Tuesday and to head to the presidential palace in Khartoum ‘until victory is achieved.’ (AP)
Sudan spirals into chaos as protesters demand civilian rule
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Updated 05 January 2022

Sudan spirals into chaos as protesters demand civilian rule

Sudan spirals into chaos as protesters demand civilian rule
  • Security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters in several locations including the area around the presidential palace
  • Protesters were also seen in videos hurling stones and spent tear gas canisters at security forces

KHARTOUM/JEDDAH: Sudan descended further into chaos on Tuesday as protesters took to the streets again to demand an end to a military coup and the establishment of a civilian government.

Up to 60 people have died in a security crackdown on demonstrations that began after the Oct. 25 coup, and intensified this week after the resignation of Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister.

Thousands of protesters took part in marches on Tuesday in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman. Young demonstrators sang, beat drums, waved Sudanese flags and set fire to tires.

They shouted “No, no to military rule” and called for the disbandment of Sudan’s ruling council headed by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, who led the coup.

Mobile internet access was blocked, and streets leading to the presidential palace and army headquarters were sealed off by troops, riot police and paramilitary units, who fired tear-gas grenades at the protesters.

Burhan had dismissed both Hamdok and the government in the October coup, dismantling a precarious power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians that had been established in the wake of the April 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar-al-Bashir.

The military chief reinstated Hamdok on November 21, a deal the prime minister accepted partly on the promise of elections in mid-2023 — but the protest movement slammed the deal as a “betrayal” and kept up its rallies.




The demos were called by a local ‘resistance committee’ in khartoum’s twin city of omdurman in response to the killing of several protesters there on thursday and sunday. (AFP)

Hamdok then resigned on Sunday — six weeks after he was reappointed by Burhan — saying the country was at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival.”

“Our three current terms after the coup are: No negotiations, no power-sharing and no compromise, in addition to the main demands of the revolution, which are freedom, peace and justice. That’s it, we have no other demands,” said protester Waddah Hussein.

Hamdok’s resignation has thrown the country into further uncertainty and “deprived the generals of the fig leaf” they used to continue their military rule, said Mohammed Yousef Al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which was the backbone of the uprising that deposed dictator Omar Bashir in 2019.

The protest movement insists on a fully civilian government to lead the transition, a demand rejected by the generals who say power will be handed over only to an elected government. Elections are planned in July 2023, in line with a constitutional document governing the transitional period.

Sudan’s largest Umma Party urged the military to relinquish leadership of the sovereign council. “This is the only way for the salvation of the nation, the integrity of the transitional period and the accomplishment of its tasks within the agreed-upon time frame,” the party said.

Talks have been underway to find an independent figure to lead a technocratic Cabinet through elections. Among names floated was that of former Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi, who resigned in 2020.

Jibril Ibrahim, a rebel leader who joined Hamdok’s government last year following a peace deal with the transitional administration, called for a political compromise to resolve the crisis.

“Let us agree to work together for the sake of Sudan,” he said.

FASTFACT

Up to 60 people have died in a security crackdown on demonstrations that began after the Oct. 25 coup.

On Tuesday, the US, European Union, Britain and Norway warned the military against naming their own successor to Hamdok, saying it would “not support a prime minister or government appointed without the involvement of a broad range of civilian stakeholders.”

The four Western powers said that they still believed in the democratic transition of Sudan, but issued a veiled warning to the military if it does not move forward.

“In the absence of progress, we would look to accelerate efforts to hold those actors impeding the democratic process accountable,” the statement read.

“Unilateral action to appoint a new prime minister and cabinet would undermine those institutions’ credibility and risks plunging the nation into conflict,” it added.

UN chief Antonio Guterres “regrets that a political understanding on the way forward is not in place despite the gravity of the situation in Sudan,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday.

On Tuesday, Burhan met with US Charge d’Affairs Brian Shukan, stressing the need to “continue dialogue between all sides to come up with a national consensus program,” according to a statement by Burhan’s office.

His office also said he had met with UN special representative Volker Perthes over “the current political situation” and discussed “speeding up the appointment of a new prime minister.”

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Tuesday that he “respects” Hamdok’s decision and called for “urgent action” to resolve the crisis.

Activists online have urged demonstrators to keep heading to the presidential palace “until victory is achieved,” according to the Sudanese Professionals Association, an alliance of independent trade unions that was instrumental in the anti-Bashir protests.

The coup — one of several in Sudan’s post-independence history — has triggered mass demonstrations and a bloody crackdown that has left at least 57 people dead and hundreds wounded, according to the independent Doctors’ Committee.

On Tuesday, security forces fired tear gas near the palace, as well as at rallies in suburbs north of Khartoum and in the eastern city of Port Sudan.

Protesters also gathered in Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman and the South Darfur state capital Nyala, taking the total on the streets across the country into the thousands.

Emad Mohamed, a witness in Wad Madani, south of Khartoum, said protesters carried the Sudanese flag and were beating drums as they chanted “civilian rule is the people’s choice.”

Demonstrators in east Khartoum “burnt car tires and built brick barricades on the streets,” witness Sawsan Salah said. Other protesters urged the military “to go back to the barracks.”

Protests calmed later on Tuesday evening. 

(With Agencies)


Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq
Updated 58 min 4 sec ago

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq

Three Turkish soldiers killed in Iraq
  • Another four soldiers were wounded during fighting, said the ministry statement, which did not say where the clash took place
  • Turkey's official news agency Anadolu said the Turkish soldiers had clashed with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

ISTANBUL: Three Turkish soldiers serving in northern Iraq as part of operations against Kurdish militants were killed Tuesday, the defense ministry announced.
Another four soldiers were wounded during fighting, said the ministry statement, which did not say where the clash took place.
Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu said the Turkish soldiers had clashed with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara and its western allies say is a terrorist organization.
The PKK has training camps and bases in autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, a conflict that has killed 40,000 people, many of them civilians.
Ankara has launched a series of operations against PKK fighters in Iraq and Syria, the latest one in northern Iraq beginning in April.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would soon launch a new military operation into northern Syria which he said was designed to create a 30-kilometer (19-mile) “security zone” along their border.
Since 2016, Turkey has also launched three offensives into northern Syria against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian-Kurdish group it considers to be part of the PKK.
Turkey wants to use these security zones to keep Kurdish militants at a safe distance — and to house some of the 3.7 million Syrian refugees currently sheltering inside its own borders.


COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM
Updated 24 May 2022

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM

COP27 will launch plans to fulfill climate pledges: Egypt FM
  • Sameh Shoukry is Egypt’s foreign minister and designated president of the summit at the World Economic Forum in Davos

CAIRO: COP27 will witness the launch of initiatives in partnership with various parties with the aim of fulfilling climate pledges, Egypt’s foreign minister and designated president of the summit said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Sameh Shoukry said Egypt’s vision for COP27, which the country will host in November, is based on the need to focus on effective and rapid implementation of countries’ climate pledges in a way that maintains the goal of reducing global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This vision also includes the importance that international climate action be based on the latest scientific facts and data regarding the phenomenon of climate change away from any politicization, as well as the need to work with all parties and partners concerned with climate action, including the private sector, which plays an important role in this regard along with governments,” he added.


Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor

Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor
Updated 24 May 2022

Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor

Omani receives Italy’s highest civilian honor
  • Award given to National Museum chief Jamal Hassan Al-Musawi

LONDON: Jamal Hassan Al-Musawi, secretary-general of Oman’s National Museum, has received the Star of Italy, the country’s highest civilian award.

President Sergio Mattarella bestowed the award via Italy’s Ambassador to Oman Federica Favi at a ceremony in Muscat.

Al-Musawi was recognized for his work in enhancing relations between the two countries, having collaborated with Italian experts on projects since 2011.

He told the Omani News Agency: “We benefited from recruiting Italian experts in the foundational phase of the National Museum, to contribute to restoring elements of the cultural heritage of Oman.”


Thousands attend funeral for slain Guard colonel in Iran

Thousands attend funeral for slain Guard colonel in Iran
Updated 24 May 2022

Thousands attend funeral for slain Guard colonel in Iran

Thousands attend funeral for slain Guard colonel in Iran
  • The killing on Sunday of Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei bore the hallmarks of previous deadly shooting attacks in Iran blamed on Israel
  • There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack

TEHRAN, Iran: Thousands of mourners poured into the streets of Tehran on Tuesday to pay their respects to a senior Revolutionary Guard member fatally shot by two gunmen on a motorcycle earlier this week, punching the air with their fists and chanting “Death to Israel.”
The killing on Sunday of Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei bore the hallmarks of previous deadly shooting attacks in Iran blamed on Israel, such as those targeting the country’s nuclear scientists.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack. Iranian officials have blamed “global arrogance,” which is code for the United States and Israel, for Khodaei’s killing.
The funeral procession snaked through the main Tehran cemetery as mourners shouted anti-US and anti-Israel slogans. A prominent poster hailed Khodaei as a martyr along with Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the top Iranian general killed in a US drone strike in 2020 in Iraq, and featured tattered Israeli, American and British flags.
“Iran is a victim of terrorism,” the banner declared, overlaid with the logos of the Mossad and Central Intelligence Agency.
Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami as well as Gen. Esmail Ghaani, leader of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force, attended the funeral.
Ghaani also offered condolences at Khodaei’s home on Monday night. Iran’s nuclear negotiator visited the crime scene, underscoring the government’s shock. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed revenge. A street in Tehran has already been named after the colonel.
The 50-year-old Khodaei remains a shadowy figure, and Iran has yet to offer biographic detail beyond saying that he was a member of the elite Quds Force that oversees operations abroad through Iran’s allied militias across the Middle East. The Guard has described him as “defender of the shrine” — a reference to Iranians who support militias fighting the extremist Daesh group in Syria and Iraq.
The manner of the slaying evoked previous targeted attacks by Israel in Iran. In November 2020, a top Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed while traveling in a car outside Tehran.
Women in black chadors wailed and wept over Khodaei’s coffin, an ornate box covered with flowers and draped with the Iranian flag and mourning symbols of the Shiite faith.
“We want revenge only,” Moghtaderi, one of the mourners, told The Associated Press at the funeral. She gave only her last name. “Enemies must be aware that we are loyal to the martyrs and their blood is so precious to us.”
Iranian security forces are still pursuing the assailants, who escaped, state media reported. Authorities have yet to make any arrests over the killing.
The procession took place as a sandstorm blanketed Iran, shuttering schools and government offices in the capital.
Meanwhile in the country’s central desert, a fighter jet crashed during a training exercise, killing two pilots, state media reported. Reports did not identify the cause of the crash at the Anarak training site near the central city of Isfahan. An investigation was underway.
Iran’s air force has an assortment of US-made military aircraft purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also has Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi planes.
Decades of Western sanctions have made it hard to obtain spare parts and maintain the aging aircraft. Crashes occasionally happen among its faltering fleet. In February, a fighter jet plunged into a soccer pitch in the country’s northwestern city of Tabriz, killing both pilots and a civilian.
Iran is believed to have modeled its F-7 fighter after China’s jet J-7 that is considered a copy of the Soviet-era MiG-21. Beijing built the aircraft for export to countries including Pakistan, Iran, Sudan and North Korea. Iranian pilots for years have used the F-7 for training, with some mishaps.
Four years ago, an F-7 similarly crashed near Isfahan during an aerial exercise because of what was later described as a technical problem.


Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion
The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores. (AP)
Updated 24 May 2022

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion

Two killed, 120 injured in Abu Dhabi gas explosion
  • Two people were killed and 120 injured in a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant in Abu Dhabi
  • The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores

ABU DHABI: Two people were killed and 120 injured in a gas cylinder explosion in a restaurant in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi, police said.
Initial reports “showed that 64 people sustained minor injuries, 56 others were moderately wounded, and two people died,” police tweeted.
The blast on Monday set off a fire that damaged the facades of six buildings and a number of stores before being brought under control, they added.
Four of the damaged buildings were “safely” evacuated, with efforts underway to find their residents temporary housing “until the buildings are completely secured,” the police said.
Pictures released by Abu Dhabi police showed first responders tending to a person on a gurney, and debris and broken glass strewn across the pavement.
A witness told The National newspaper that he heard two explosions around lunchtime.
“The first sound was small and people started calling the fire and police,” said the man, who was not identified.
“Then soon, there was a big blast. It was a really big sound. The windows shook and in some offices, the windows shattered.”
The authorities gave no indication of foul play.
However, the UAE has been on heightened alert since a Houthi drone and missile attack killed three oil workers in Abu Dhabi on January 17.