Sudan's Coup: What Is Happening And Why?

Plus: COP26 - can the Middle East reach net zero emissions? Iran comes back to nuclear talks, Israel labels Palestinian rights groups as terrorists, Mo Salah's life will be taught in Egyptian schools.

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As leaders from around the world and other notable figures are to meet in Glasgow for the COP26 to discuss the climate crisis, I want to suggest reading one of my articles published on The New Arab. Following the IPCC report released in August 2021, I wrote an analysis on which MENA countries have taken action to combat climate change and whether the Middle East can reach net zero emissions by 2050. Read the full article here.

Sudan

As you probably already know, Sudan woke up on Monday amid a military coup. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several pro-government party leaders were arrested after weeks of tension between the military and a civilian government.

Speaking at his first news conference since announcing the coup, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said on Tuesday he had dissolved the government to avoid civil war while protesters took to the streets to protest against the takeover.

Since the coup began, security forces have clashed with protesters furious over a military coup that derailed a fragile transition to democracy and sparked international opposition. The latest death took the number of protesters killed to at least eight. Some 170 have been wounded.

Sudanese ambassadors to 12 countries, including the United States, United Arab Emirates, China, and France, have rejected the military coup.

But how did Sudan reach such a level of tension?

The country began a transition to democracy following the popular uprising in April 2019, when President Omar al-Bashir was forced to step down after mass protests.

Under an August 2019 agreement, the military shared the power with officials appointed by civilian political groups (Sovereign Council). The agreement was meant to lead the country to elections by the end of 2023. However, civilians have repeatedly complained of military overreach in foreign policy and peace negotiations. The military has instead accused civilian parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power.

In September 2021, authorities said they had thwarted an attempted coup, accusing plotters loyal to Bashir.

The tension between the military the civilian cabinet has several roots. One of them lies in the pursuit of justice over allegations of war crimes by the military and its allies in the conflict in Darfur in 2003. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking trials for Bashir and other Sudanese suspects. While the cabinet has signed off on handing over suspects, the Sovereign Council has opposed.

Another dispute comprises the probe into the killings of pro-democracy protesters on June 3, 2019, which involves military forces. Activists and civilian groups were angered by delays in making the probe’s findings public.

Furthermore, the economic crisis has sent the currency plunging and created frequent shortages of bread and fuel.

The transitional government has implemented several urgent reforms monitored by the International Monetary Fund meant for debt relief and to attract foreign financing.

However, inflation rose by over 400%, and many Sudanese occasionally protested over economic conditions.

If you want to learn more about the coup in Sudan, read this explainer by Reuters and this analysis by The New Arab.


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Iran

Iran has agreed to resume nuclear talks before the end of November 2021, according to a tweet by the country’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani.

Iran held the talks in Vienna with China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and, indirectly, the United States.

The negotiations aim to resurrect the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In short, Iran agrees to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Iran stopped complying with the deal after former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018 and imposed a maximum pressure campaign on Iran with new sanctions.

Under the Biden administration, the US has continuously called for Iran’s return to the talks. However, Washington said last month that it was working on contingency plans if Iran continues to make nuclear advances and cannot return to negotiations.

Israel

Israel has labeled six Palestinian rights groups as terrorists. Some of those organizations conduct critical human rights work to document Israeli human rights abuses and provide legal aid to detainees.

The Israeli initiative came under the pretext that these groups are affiliated with the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claiming they “constitute an arm of the [PFLP] leadership, the main activity of which is the liberation of Palestine and destruction of Israel”. The PFLP’s armed wing was active as an organized body during the Second Intifada and carried out attacks against Israeli targets.

However, the Israeli government provided no evidence to substantiate its claims surrounding the six organizations. The international community and rights groups called this Israel’s move “unjustified” and “baseless”.

Read the full story on Al-Jazeera.

Iraq

A group of Islamic State militants attacked the village of al-Rashad in Diyala province early on October 26, killing 15 people and wounding 30. Before the attack, the IS militiamen had kidnapped two people from the predominantly Shiite village in eastern Iraq and demanded money for their release. However, the family of the hostages refused to pay, and the attackers opened fire on the village.

A few hours after the Diyala incident, another group of IS militants attacked an Iraqi Army post in the Rashedia district of northern Baghdad.

IS operations have been on the rise recently. In addition to repeated attacks in Diyala, the terrorist group struck the Shiite district of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad in July, killing 30 people, and also attacked a checkpoint near the city of Kirkuk in September, killing 13 members of the federal police. Read the full reporting on Al-Monitor.

Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan quieted a diplomatic row between Turkey and ten of its allies on Monday when he rescinded threats to declare their ambassadors in Ankara personae non grata. The ten countries, including the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and seven European nations, had co-signed a letter urging Turkish authorities to release Osman Kavala, a businessman, and philanthropist, from jail. Erdoğan withdrew his threats after the countries reaffirmed their respect for the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs.

Saudi Arabia

The President of Saudi Arabia’s e-sports federation Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan said the sector can contribute billions of dollars to the local economy. Analysts predict that global revenues from Esports will grow to more than $1.08 billion in 2021 and may surpass $1.6 billion by 2024. The prince said that the sector will contribute about 1 percent of Saudi GDP by 2030. The esports industry in Saudi Arabia has experienced impressive growth in the past few years, and the Kingdom has stepped up its efforts to support it. Read the full article on Arab News.

Egypt

The career of Egyptian football player Mohamed Salah will be included in the English language curriculum for the preparatory and secondary school students in the current academic year 2021-2022, announced the Director of the Curriculum Development Center at the Ministry of Education and Technical Education, Nawal Shalaby. Students will study the life of the Egyptian player–who has become amongst the nation’s most successful figures in football history–and learn of how he has supported his country, she added. Read the full story on Egypt Independent.


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About me

My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news with a focus on the MENA region.

Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.

You can follow me on Twitter: @DarioSabaghi

Did I miss any important news from the Middle East? DM me on Twitter.


Cover photo: AFP