x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

A mountain of grudges

The crisis in Sudan, as accumulated resentments boil over, is the most serious Omar Al Bashir has faced, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics today: Morsi the mortal and Syria's agony.

Mounting turmoil in Sudan threatens to segment the country and topple Al Bashir

Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir responded to all the conditions that the United States imposed on his regime, including relinquishing a third of Sudan's territory, in hope of maintaining power for as long as possible, said the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi in its Thursday editorial.

"But he may have miscalculated his options when he thought that the US and its European allies would forgive him his positions and policies," the paper said.

The protests that are quickly spreading throughout several Sudanese cities against the elevated prices of food didn't come as a result of US instigation; they happened spontaneously as the culmination of years of dismay. However, the methods the authorities chose to counter the protests could make way for foreign intervention.

International human rights organisations confirmed a large number of protesters were rounded up and arrested in Khartoum. Naturally, the US was prompt to issue a condemnation and call for their release.

Unlike other Arab governments that have opened fire on civilians, the Sudanese authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters, but there's no guarantee that matters won't deteriorate fast.

President Al Bashir was quick to accuse instigators, and threatened to counter what he qualified as conspiracy. But judging by his past experiences in crisis management, it won't be easy for him to control the situation this time, especially now that some of his prominent opponents are exploiting popular anger to wage a campaign to topple his regime.

"Popular protests like those that succeeded in Tunisia, Egypt and partly in Yemen were the last thing on President Al Bashir's mind. Sudan is victim to conspiracies plotted in the new South Sudanese state, in Darfur, and he himself is under pressure from the International Criminal Court that is after him. These are all efforts aimed at segmenting Sudan the way Yugoslavia was segmented before it," argued Al Quds Al Arabi.

Mr Al Bashir has been in power for 24 years. His rule has been marred by wars and internal and external conflicts, but the recent developments that began at Khartoum University may prove to be the most hazardous to his regime.

The opposition accuses Mr Al Bashir's regime of corruption, despotism and repression. They are calling for immediate reforms. "This isn't merely an issue of exaggerated prices; this could be the detonator of a mountain of explosive grudges that have been accumulating for more than 20 years," the paper added.

The Sudanese regime is being urged to learn from the mistakes of other Arab leaders who chose to disregard their peoples' demands and brought disastrous repercussions on themselves and their countries. It isn't too late yet for Mr Al Bashir to listen.

Leave Morsi to rule as an ordinary man

Before Mohammed Morsi was elected president of Egypt, certain people criticised him as lacking charisma and leadership, and for being merely a substitute for the Brotherhood's first candidate Khairat Al Shater, Emad Eddin Hussein wrote in the Cairo-based Al Shorouk.

But the same people used to criticise former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Anwar Sadat for turning into "Pharaohs", the writer went on.

"We want Mr Morsi to be an ordinary president, like any ordinary Egyptian, not an indispensable or iconic leader."

During his early rule, Mubarak capitalised on the air raid he had launched on Israel to stay in power for decades. "If only Mr Mubarak had hit Egypt, and ruled Israel for 30 years," some Egyptians said sarcastically.

Thankfully, Mr Morsi did not take part in an air attack, and we hope we will not be surprised later to learn that he was the real Raafat Al Haggan [a famous Egyptian spy who operated in Israel in the 1950s and '60s].

Mr Morsi can make history if he rules for all Egyptians and refuses to take orders from the Brotherhood.

To this end, he needs to build an efficient institutional government, under which the system not the individual prevails.

A president assumes power as an ordinary man, but "we make him a pharaoh, a dictator, or a semi-god, so … leave him to rule as an ordinary man".

Sacrifice the regime for the sake of Syria?

Reports from Syria indicate that the regime's forces are increasingly losing ground to defectors in the Free Army, the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan said in its editorial.

In a recent speech, President Bashar Al Assad stressed that his country is in a state of real war and that all of his policies are directed at winning it.

This only proves that the situation is critical, the writer said, especially following mounting repercussions from last week's incident where Syrian forces downed a Turkish reconnaissance jet, which in turn elicited condemnation from Nato.

On the international scene Moscow and the West, mainly the US, have been demonstrating their will to find a solution to the crisis.

"It is high time for the Damascus regime to signal its readiness to make sacrifices to save the country's social fabric that has been torn apart by recent massacres," the paper said.

Mr Al Assad's last speech, about mobilising the country's capabilities to support the war effort, doesn't indicate that any agreement among international parties at the Friends of Syria conference in Geneva today would have tangible effects on the ground.

As long as there are no ways to enforce a solution, the alternative promises to be very costly.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk