If the international community won’t bring him to justice, perhaps his own citizens will. Throughout his 23 year-long stranglehold on Sudan, Omar al-Bashir has seen insurrections in the country’s South, East, and West, responding to each with criminal levels of violence. Now the North is taking its chances, walking the fine line between disobedience and disarray. Those occupying the streets of Khartoum have witnessed the monstrous capabilities of their government in the face of insurrection. From Sudan’s rebellious fringe states, scores of these protestors’ dead countrymen indicate just how high a price a regime change could be. Coupled with the ongoing carnage in Syria, it would appear that any form of sustained disobedience will warrant bleak consequences.
Needless to say, Khartoum’s populous is well aware of the humbling stakes. And yet the anti-government demonstrations have only intensified over the course of this week. Granted, these activists don’t speak for a marginalized ethnic minority and are not demanding secession. Relative to the SPLM, austerity protests are not quite the enemy Bashir has crushed in years past. And so far, police crackdowns have predominantly comprised of rubber bullets and tear gas. Yet the movement shows no signs of abating. And a criminal government like Bashir’s will certainly escalate its response in the coming days. The question on observers’ minds: is Sudan joining the Arab Spring?
If so, there are several different precedents from 2011 that the Sudan revolts could emulate. This early on, the limited participation offers little indication of which it might be. ICC warrants aside, Bashir resembles Gaddafi more than any other Arab leader, incumbent or deposed. However, the mild nature and mixed demands of the protests hints at an outcome similar to that of Algeria’s. What separates Sudan, is that armed rebellion has occurred numerous times over its recent history, with consistent and costly Northern victories. If there is to be internal strife in the North, past results indicate it could be the bloodiest of the Arab Spring’s conflicts to date. However, the nascent uprising has much more ground to cover before talk of revolution. If it goes forward, a Sudan without Bashir may not be a complete fantasy.
Follow live updates here.