Al-Bashir Wants to Cut Oil to South Sudan While His Poor Scour Garbage to Eat

By SSN Staffstarving_child_sudan

Juba — June 17 (SSN) … The Middle-east-online has interviewed the University of Khartoum economist Mohammed Eljack Ahmed who says that a growing number of people in Sudan are turning to the city’s rubbish for income in a “static economy” which is failing to create new jobs.

Sudanese have struggled to cope with soaring inflation and a weakened currency since South Sudan separated in July 2011 with about 75 percent of united Sudan’s oil production.

The lost crude accounted for most of Khartoum’s export earnings and half of its fiscal revenues.

Inflation is close to 40 percent, and Ahmed estimates that unemployment exceeds 30 percent.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that Sudan’s economy would get a boost of nearly $500 million (375 million euros) this year and about $1.5 billion in 2014 under an agreement between the two countries for South Sudanese oil fees and a package to compensate for the loss of the South’s oil at separation.

This could help ease the deterioration in living standards for ordinary Sudanese.

“If this windfall is used wisely… it will contain the rising cost of living which has been crippling everyone but especially the poorest,” an IMF official said in May, as quoted by the Middle-east-online.

But new economic uncertainty emerged this month when Sudan began to stop the flow of oil.

President Omar al-Bashir ordered the closure of the pipelines carrying South Sudanese crude because of alleged southern support for rebels in the north.

After South Sudan’s separation, the oil refineries and export pipelines stayed under Khartoum’s jurisdiction. The South halted crude production early last year during a dispute over fees for its use of the infrastructure.

Southern production resumed in April and the oil had been slowly making its way toward the Red Sea export terminal before Bashir’s surprise order to close the line within 60 days.

If implemented, the oil compensation package would last for less than four years but the revenues would “provide a very valuable breathing space” for an economy which must be restructured, including through the revitalisation of neglected sectors like agriculture, the IMF official said.

Unless the damaged farm and industrial sectors can assume a significant economic role generating employment, the long-awaited oil revenue, despite its fiscal importance, will not be enough to help scavengers, says the university economist, Ahmed.

The Fashoda Institute, a new South Sudanese think-tank, has written in its recent analysis that the real reason for President al-Bashir’s sudden bellicosity and the armed escalation has little to do with South Sudan’s alleged support for the rebellion in the southern parts of Sudan. The real reason is opposition’s credible threat to topple al-Bashir and his regime within 100 days because of the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation in the country.

Earlier on June 8, Sudan’s opposition alliance, which is comprised of over 20 opposition parties, announced a plan for the peaceful overthrow of the al-Bashir regime. “I expect the regime will fall before the 100 days finish,” said alliance head Farouk Abu Issa. The alliance’s plans include public forums and mass rallies aimed to mobilize the country’s destitute youth for peaceful protests until they are able to topple the al-Bashir government. The opposition alliance already prepared “an initiative for democratic change” that includes modalities for a transitional administration, and is “going to send this initiative to the president.” The opposition alliance intends to ask the state security services for permission to hold their first mass rally at KhartoumUniversity. “If we don’t get it, then there is another step we can take but we will not announce it now,” Abu Issa told a press conference. 

Al-Bashir’s Khartoum cannot afford to ignore the opposition’s threats to agitate and mobilize the youth. Sudan is suffering from months of inflation exceeding 40%. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate is rapidly growing to well over 20-25%, with youth unemployment in the cities exceeding 50-60%. To-date, there has been no outlet for the frustration and despair of Sudan’s urban youth. Nor was there any hope for a way out of their destitute. Now, al-Bashir fears, the opposition alliance might be offering these youth a venue for venting their frustrations and a hope for employment and betterment of life in the aftermath of a peaceful regime change 

Al-Bashir’s Khartoum has no plan for economic change or recovery. Hence, al-Bashir desperately needs a foreign distraction for the masses, as well as excuse to dispatch the poor and discontent youth far away from Khartoum. The most expedient solution is for al-Bashir to send them to fight and die for the Jihad against South Sudan.