Message from Beirut


By: Alsir Sidahmed – Sudanow

The Arab summit held recently in Beirut, Lebanon was a non-event except for a small dispute on the final communique. That dispute was related to Sudan and its long cherished goal of positioning itself as the potential breadbasket of the Arab world. The original communique draft included the typical stand of supporting President Omar Al-Bashir’s initiative on Arab food security adopted by yet another summit five years ago without moving one inch towards the goal of translating that initiative into a practical implementable program, Apparently Egypt intervened to qualify that draft resolution in a way that satisfies its water concerns as it harbors worries that agricultural expansion in Sudan will be at the expense of water flow.
Following the dispute it was decided to scrap the clause referring to the Sudan initiative all together.
This is yet another example to show how marginal Sudan is in the list of Arab priorities, though the incident should not be given much weight. After all the summit, a good reflection of the plight of the Arab wold itself, was least attended by heads of states. The Arab League was completely absent from all major issues of concern to the Arab world. And that is why it is not strange to find Arab investments going as far as Brazil, East Europe and Australia trying to satisfy its food security because investments don’t operate on empty rhetoric that lacks the political will.  It would have been ironic to speak about feeding the Arab world at the time the country failed in feeding itself and to the extent that what started as a riot against lifting subsidies on bread has continued for more than a month, spanning all over Sudan and as expected has turned into a political opposition program.
The Arab summit in Beirut has sent a clear message that Sudan has to look after itself alone and if there is some help here and there it will not be enough to bail out the regime and the country it is ruling.
Finding a domestic solution is the top priority and the main responsibility for that rests on the National Congress Party (NCP) since it is the main political force running the country. The starting point for such approach is to recognize the fact that there is a problem. And that problem is not the making of saboteurs, but is the making of the regime’s policies over three decades. One positive outcome of this anti-government demonstrations is that it managed to attract the young back to politics in the broader terms. Those demonstrating youth were the product of the Ingaz regime and were brought up under its policies and programs. With no job opportunities and a closed in future they understandably turned their wrath into politics.
And that is where change needs to be the necessary prerequisite to overcome the current political and economic malaise. And the question will NCP be part of this change or it will be forced on it? Clearly the longer that change takes place the higher the price will be and options reduced eventually to nil.
The wave for change is getting wider, higher and louder. The end goal is set clearly to have a system that satisfies the needs of its people in a decent life through utilization of the country’s abundant resources under the rule of law and human rights respect. The big issue is the transition from the status quo and that is where NCP could or should play a role to make such transition smooth and secure its seat on the table discussing the country’s future.
Unlike some of the parties created by the regime to provide a popular constituency, NCP is a product of a party well entrenched into the political environment and it can learn more of its experience and of those who resisted change. It happened before twice in South Africa where the party managed to stand up to a domestic crisis and ensured that necessary measures were taken to keep it as a major player in the scene. After long years in the corridors of power NCP is yet to prove that it is still a relevant player and not a government addendum.

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