Military Coup Ousts al-Bashir in Sudan

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After thirty years of autocratic rule, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir has been removed from power by the nation’s military and arrested. Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf announced al-Bashir’s arrest and that a military council will now run the nation. A two year period of military rule is being instituted, and will be followed by presidential elections. The military is apparently backing this transition to democracy, however, it must be remembered that power corrupts. Therefore, it’s quite uncertain whether these elections will ever materialize, or if this is merely a power grab by the military. Auf also announced the a state of national emergency is now in effect, along with a ceasefire, and suspension of the constitution. Sudanese airspace will be closed for the next 24 hours, and all border crossing points are closed.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, responsible for organizing recent protests against Bashir, has rejected the defense minister’s plans. It has called on protesters to remain outside of the defense ministry. Demonstrations calling for Bashir’s removal have been widespread across the country since December, 2018. Economic problems, and social issues also contributed to the growth of the demonstrations. Fuel and cash shortages in Sudan have become commonplace, and the government’s attempt to raise bread prices served as a catalyst for the protests.

Sudan has been down this road before. Peaceful popular uprisings brought about the removal of military leaders in 1964, and 1985. The main difference this time is the absence of a road map on the part of the coup leaders. Ibn Auf appears to be winging it, and this fact leads to questions about when, or even how, the intended elections and transition to democracy will ever come about.

Monday, 4 January, 2016 Update: Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties With Iran

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After the ransacking of its embassy in Tehran over the weekend, Saudi Arabia has wasted little time in severing diplomatic ties with Iran. Less than a day later, a number of Saudi allies are hopping aboard the bandwagon against Iran. Sudan and Bahrain have severed ties with Iran outright, while the UAE has recalled its ambassador in Tehran. The Emirates will maintain its trade links with Iran for the time being. The diplomatic maneuvering is happening amid a backdrop of rising tension and increasing sectarian strife in the region. As Iran’s regional power and influence rises, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia view this as an increasingly serious threat.

When announcing the severing of diplomatic relations with Iran, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused Iran of having “distributed weapons and planted terrorist cells in the region”. The Gulf States, like their Saudi ally, blame Iran for attempting to spread instability across the region. Following the execution of Sheik Nimr, Iran fired a volley of thinly-veiled threats at the Saudis, hinting that the execution will lead to imminent sectarian violence in the region. In the last twenty-four hours or so, Saudi police have come under heavy gunfire in the hometown of Nimr, while bombs have exploded in two Sunni mosques and a Sunni mosque was killed by gunmen in Iraq.

The timing of the attacks is quite suspect to say the least. Are these examples of spontaneous sectarian strife or is it happening on orders from Tehran?