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The New Arab

Saudi Arabia and UAE back Sudan's new military rulers, as protesters vow to resist

Sudan's military have promised a transition to civilian control [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 April, 2019

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The UAE and Saudi Arabia have announced support for Sudan's new military rulers in a move that echoes Gulf states' support for Egypt's brutal dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have announced their backing for Sudan's new junta, after two leaders - including long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir - stepped down this week with a military council now ruling the country.

Abu Dhabi announced its backing for Sudan's transitional military council on Saturday, which will be headed by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman when General Awad Ibn Auf stepped down on Friday after just one day in power. 

"The UAE reaffirms its support for the steps taken by Sudan's transitional military council to protect people and property, wishing these steps would ensure security and stability for the sisterly country," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday evening.
UAE ruler President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan has opened up communication between the governement in Abu Dhabi and Sudan's military rulers in Khartoum.

He also pledged to open channels with the generals and provide an "unspecified" aid package to the African country, which will include "petroleum products, wheat and medicine", according to Emirati media.

UAE ally Saudi Arabia also said on Sunday it will send aid to Sudan, which will include oil, food and medicine.

"[Saudi Arabia] declares its support for the steps announced by the [military council] in preserving the lives and property, and stands by the Sudanese people, and hopes that this will achieve security and stability for brotherly Sudan," Saudi state media reported on Sunday.

Middle East analyst Sigurd Neubauer said that both countries are trying to influence the next stage of Sudan's rocky political journey with activists pledging to resist Sudan's slide from democratic transition to dictatorship.

"They're obviously trying to influence the transition process in Sudan with the strategy goal of bringing the next government closer to their orbit, he told The New Arab

"The question is: how will Egypt deal with Sudan, its southern neighbour and strategic ally of UAE and Saudi Arabia?"

 

The move echoes the Gulf states' support for Egypt's general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, following the 2013 military coup against the country's democratically-elected government.

Critics say that UAE and Saudi support for regional "security" has been used as a pretext to clampdown on pro-democracy movements following the Arab Spring and backing for brutal military dictators.

In Libya, both countries are believed to be bankrolling renegade general Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army militia has launched a punishing assault on the capital Tripoli, which is held by the internationally-recognised government.

Although Sudan's military council has pledged to guide the country towards a democracy over the next two years, activists fear the already-powerful army will use this period to entrench its authority and extinguish popular protests that have swept through the country.

A ten-member delegation from the anti-regime Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC) met with the military council late on Saturday, a move which was condemned by activists who said the movement should not negotiate with the generals.

"Hey Alliance for Freedom and Change, we didn't make this sacrifice so you could go 'negotiate,'" said one protester.

Months of popular protests and a sit-in outside the military's base in Khartoum led to the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, ending his brutal three-decade rule over Sudan.

Many of the generals in charge of the democratic transition have been linked to alleged war crimes in Sudan. 

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