Egypt pushes for end to US ‘terror’ blacklisting of Sudan

Asma Mohamed Abdalla, the newly appointed Sudanese Foreign Minister, meets with her Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on September 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2019

Egypt pushes for end to US ‘terror’ blacklisting of Sudan

  • Egypt wants more support for neighboring Sudan’s new civilian government
  • The US named Sudan a state sponsor of terror in 1993

KHARTOUM: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Monday that Cairo was supporting efforts to remove Sudan from Washington’s blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, a key factor hindering the African country’s economic revival.
Shoukry is in Khartoum for a one-day visit to hold talks with top officials in what Cairo hailed as a “new start” in relations between the neighbors as Sudan transitions toward civilian rule.
Egypt had been a steadfast ally of Sudanese military generals who seized power after the army ousted long-time leader Omar Al-Bashir in April following months of nationwide protests against his autocratic rule.
But previously ties between the neighbors had often been strained over the years due to trade and border disputes, although efforts have been taken by both to address the concerns.
On Monday, Shoukry held talks with new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sudan’s first female foreign affairs minister, Asma Mohamed Abdalla.
He also met General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of a joint civilian-military sovereign council that is overseeing Sudan’s transition.
Shoukry said that during his talks, which aimed to “boost relations between the two countries,” he offered Cairo’s backing for dropping Sudan from Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.
“Egypt is supporting Sudan to be removed from the terrorism list,” he told reporters.
“We have also raised this issue with the United States of America ... we will continue pushing for it in coordination with the Sudanese authorities.”
Decades of US blacklisting along with a trade embargo imposed on Sudan in 1997 has kept overseas investors away from the country, in turn isolating it from the global economy.
Sudan’s worsening economic situation was the key trigger for nationwide protests that finally led to the ouster of Bashir.
Washington lifted the sanctions in October 2017, but still kept Sudan in the terrorism list along with North Korea, Iran and Syria.
Washington’s harsh measures were imposed for Khartoum’s alleged support for extremist militant groups.
Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden used to reside in Sudan between 1992 to 1996.
Washington and Khartoum have, however, engaged in negotiations to remove Sudan from the terrorism blacklist since the sanctions were lifted.
The Egyptian foreign ministry earlier said that Shoukry’s visit “shows Egypt’s support for Sudan and to its people in achieving their demands.”
Relations between Cairo and Khartoum had deteriorated in early 2017, when Bashir accused Egypt of supporting rebels in conflict zones, including Darfur in western Sudan.
Sudan in May 2017 banned the import of animal and other agricultural products from its northern neighbor.
But for years the main bone of contention between the two countries has been Egypt’s control of the Halayeb triangle, which lies in a mineral-rich border region.
During Bashir’s rule, Sudan regularly protested at Egypt’s administration of Halayeb and the Shalatin border region near the Red Sea, saying they are part of its sovereign territory since shortly after independence in 1956.
Ties between the neighbors improved after Sudan lifted the ban on Egyptian products in 2018 following talks in Khartoum between Bashir and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
El-Sisi and other Egyptian officials had regularly called for stability in Sudan after protests erupted against Bashir in December.

Online revolution in the hands of Lebanese youth

Updated 26 min 10 sec ago

Online revolution in the hands of Lebanese youth

  • For the first five days of the demonstrations, television images transmitted live to the Lebanese public provided the incentive for people to take to the streets
  • On the sixth day, activists reconsidered social media, and WhatsApp has become the most-used platform to transmit live images

BEIRUT: The Lebanese youth revolt against tax increases and corruption began on social media with protests about a proposed levy on WhatsApp, bringing dissent from the virtual world to the real world.

For the first five days of the demonstrations, television images transmitted live to the Lebanese public provided the incentive for people to take to the streets.

On the sixth day, activists reconsidered social media, and WhatsApp has become the most-used platform to transmit live images.

The objection of Lebanese army soldiers to motorcyclists holding the flags of Amal and Hezbollah led to the protest rally in Riad Al-Solh Square in central Beirut on Monday night. This reassured those who were still apprehensive about taking to the street.

The “electronic revolution” is parallel to the revolution on the streets. It is mostly comprised of young people aged 12 and above.

Politicians should talk to these young people using modern means, which is what Prime Minister Saad Hariri has done. On his Twitter account, Hariri tweeted part of his speech after the cabinet meeting: “I will not allow anyone to threaten young demonstrators. Your voice is heard, and if your demand is an early election to make your voice heard, I am with you. You have returned the Lebanese identity to its right place outside any sectarian restriction.”

Activists leading the protests have been devising various forms of electronic attraction to motivate people to take to the street, including a video with the signature “Do you know why?” It includes songs about how to defy injustice, recounting the reasons for the revolution and filing “preliminary” demand papers summarizing the demands of people speaking on the street and in front of the cameras.

The hashtag #down_with_Bank_governor coincided with the move by some activists on Tuesday to the Central Bank of Lebanon to protest against the policy of its governor Riad Salameh. However, the response came through the same electronic means and other applications defending the governor.

Many rumors are circulating on social media, including that the president summoned the TV media for consultation and that there is a fear that the aim is to pressure the owners of the TV stations to stop transmitting live demonstrations to prevent protesters from expressing their opinion.

The most well-known action was that of the sister of the Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil resorting to social media to defend President Aoun and her brother.

Dr. Iman Eliwan, a professor of modern media, said that young Lebanese view social media as their “only platform of expression, and touching it ignited the first spark of the protests. And resorting to it during the protests aimed at activating ‘networking’ to prevent any possibility of laxity and to remain united using one language.”

And whether the absence of a unified reference for the movement is caused by this “networking,” she said: “It is possible that there may be group leaders on social media, and they consider these platforms as their strength.”

Eliwan added: “These young people express deep anger and this happens at their age. We used to say that they belonged to the Sofa Party. But they went down to the streets. They control the streets. Maybe they are marginalized in their homes and in their communities.”

Asked if these online revolutions have achieved any results, she said: “It has not reached anywhere in the experiences that we have seen in the Arab world. It can ignite the spark and activate the movement, but the horizon of this movement is deadlocked.”